19 Dec 2014 | By Sun International
Park Off in Johannesburg
One of the greenest cities in the world, Johannesburg offers residents and visitors alike 2 343 reasons to relax. Why 2 343 reasons exactly, you ask? That’s the number of parks in Johannesburg. Living up to its green reputation, Joburg is filled with thousands of leafy retreats for everyone to enjoy - but it wasn’t always this way.
Over a century ago Johannesburg was a something of a park itself - before the discovery of gold there was little else to the landscape besides the rolling grasslands. Fast-forward a couple of decades and a whole lot of gold later and Joubert Park, the city’s first park was established in 1906.
Did you know? Joubert Park is named after the town’s first mining commissioner sent to explore the city’s then newly discovered gold reserves.
While Johannesburg is best known for its urban delights, visitors to the city should make a point to explore the parks in Johannesburg for a full-spectrum view of one of Africa’s most dynamic cities.
To help you out on your outdoor adventure, check out this list of the top 3 must-see parks in Johannesburg:
Joubert Park: the first and most memorable
You know that a park is special when over 20 000 people a month make time to pay it a visit. Situated in the center of the city behind the equally famous Noord Street taxi rank, Joubert Park is the epitome of Johannesburg’s vitality.
Alive with activity, the park functions as a green space for a chess club, aftercare and clinic. Besides working fulltime as a functional space, Joubert Park is also a shady oasis perfect for some good old fashioned rest and relaxation.
Tip: Art lovers take note! The park is also the location of the must-see Johannesburg Art Gallery.
Staying in one of the hotels near the Gautrain? Great! Joubert Park is easily accessible for Gautrain users all you have to do is catch the Gautrain to Park Station and board the Rea Vaya C3 bus. Easy!
Johannesburg Botanical Gardens: the rose of the city
With over 20 000 indigenous trees in the park, you might forget that you’re only a few kilometers away from the city centre. Stretching over 81 hectares and surrounding Emmarentia Dam, the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is described as a “glorious emerald of a park”.
While we completely agree with this description, the park’s Shakespearean garden filled with fragrant roses and herbs makes us think that perhaps the park would be better described as a “glorious rose of a park”. Either way, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better picnic spot.
The Wilds: the park with a view
Often used as a wedding venue, this 16 hectare park is the perfect romantic escape found on the outskirts of Houghton, one of Joburg’s most affluent suburbs. Opened in 1938, this evergreen park is a great visit in the winter months when Joburg seems dull and grey.
Tip: Make sure you visit the sundial at the peak of The Wilds for an incredible view.
Did you know? It is only a 15 minute drive from The Maslow Hotel’s plush Sandton accommodation to The Wilds in Houghton.
Tell us: What is your essential ingredient for a perfect picnic in the park?