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Last updated : Nov 2009
Johannesburg Tours - Excursions
Johannesburg Tours Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Walking tours

Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust (telephone: (011) 482 3349) offers fairly easy walking tours that are around 3 hours and cost around R 150. These can be guided or self guided (pamphlets are available from Northwards, 21 Rockridge Road, Parktown, daily from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm). The Mansions & Minor Masterpieces walk investigates the stately Sir Herbert Baker designed mining magnate homes of Parktown and the artworks that decorate them. From Cliff to Forest starts at Westcliff (another historic suburb) and ends in Forest Town, where the Zoo and Military History Museum are situated.

Pre History to Present covers the ancient Stone Age sites on Melville Koppies, the Louw Geldenhuys farmhouse, the heights of Northcliff, Emmarentia Dam and the Botanical Gardens. Departure points differ depending on the tour chosen.

Walktours (telephone: (011) 444 1639) organises longer guided walks, which take 4 to 8 hours and cost R 70 to R 400 per person. Routes include Sophisticated Sandton, which explores Africa’s richest shopping, business and residential areas, Natural Johannesburg, which follows the Braamfontein Spruit (stream) and Sand Spruit trails, Historic Johannesburg, covering the Central Business District, 1st suburbs and Alexander Township, and Johannesburg by Night, which includes nocturnal Zoo animals, clubs and restaurants in Sandton, Rosebank or Melville. Departure points change depending on the tour chosen.

Bus Tours

The Parktown and Westcliff Heritage Trust puts on irregular guided bus tours, such as Winsome, Wiley and Wonderful and Magnates and Miners, each 90 minutes long, according to a quarterly schedule. Departure is from Northwards, 21 Rockridge Road, Parktown.

Springbok Atlas Safaris (telephone: (011) 396 1053, facsimile: (011) 396 1069) organises full or half day tours (pick up from hotels) to Central Johannesburg, Soweto and Gold Reef City. Prices for bus tours range from R 65 to R 150 per person.

Other Tours

Joburg’s Gay History Tour (telephone: (011) 717 4239, email address: gala@library.wits.ac.co.za). The gay Joburg tour takes in sites of past and present importance to the struggle for gay rights in South Africa.

Heliadventures Helicopter Tours and Safaris (Telephone / facsimile: (012) 344 5435) offers helicopter flips over Johannesburg and surrounding interesting sites, as well as game viewing for the more daring.

Historical Flights (telephone: (011) 978 5625 or 5685) runs slow and low champagne flights over Johannesburg, in older historic aircraft – such as the SAA Junkers JU52. The 2 hour balloon tour costs R 375 per person.

Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris (telephone: (011) 705 3201-03) offers sunrise tours over the magnificent Magaliesberg Mountains in a huge colourful hot-air balloon. The flight (R 1200 per person) lasts for about an hour and is followed by a fantastic freshly prepared hot breakfast with champagne, upon landing. Balloon excursions depart from the Balloon Safaris Country Base in the Magalies River Valley, near Hartebeespoort Dam, 65 kilometrtes (40 miles) north of the city.

Excursions for half day

Witwatersrand National Botanical Gardens

Best kept secret may be one of those tired clichés but it certainly applies to this spot, within a 1hour drive from anywhere in Johannesburg. Against the backdrop of the stunning Witpoortjie waterfall, this garden covers nearly 750 acres (300 hectares) and includes both landscaped and natural veld (open savannah) areas. The natural vegetation is an assortment of grassland and savannah, including 600 naturally occurring plant species. There is also the chance for people to see a breeding pair of majestic Black Eagles nesting on the cliffs.

A restaurant (Café Clivia) is located at the heart of the gardens, in the shade of 2 magnificent white stinkwood trees. The gardens (telephone: (011) 958 1750, facsimile: (011) 958 1752, email address: botanic@mweb.co.za) are situated on Malcolm Road, Poortview, Roodepoort, and are best accessed by minibus taxi from Noord Street to Brits, or Rustenberg via the R 47. Visitors should ask to be dropped off at Doreen Road. The gardens are open daily from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm and cost R 10.

Johannesburg Lion Park

This is a 500 acre (200 hectare) lion reserve and breeding research station, featuring over 60 lions (including a pair of the famous white lions on loan from Johannesburg Zoo). Other animals include black gemsbok, wildebeest, impala, blesbok, zebra and ostrich. The Lion Park (telephone: (011) 460 1814, email address: lionpark@cknet.co.za) is situated off the R55, between the R512 and Cedar Avenue, Nietgedacht. The majority of Johannesburg travel agents offer guided tours. It is open daily 8.00 am to 4.40 pm and costs R 75 per car for independent visits.

Excursions for a whole day

Cradle of Humankind

This 47,000 hectare (117,500 acre) site, surrounding Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai and the environs, starting 35 kilometres (22 miles) northwest of central Johannesburg and extending for another 20 kilometres (13 miles), was announced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 1999. Dozens of limestone caverns, predominantly the Sterkfontein Caves, have produced findings as outstanding as Mrs Ples (the 1st complete Australopithecus (southern ape man) skull to be discovered) and more recently, Little Foot, a 3.3 million year-old hominid skeleton.

The heritage area also encompasses hiking and horse trails, a Rhino and Lion Park, a cathedral-esque show cave, craft centres and the remnants of the Witwatersrand’s first goldmine. The Cradle of Humankind Exhibits (telephone: (011) 355 1348, facsimile: (011) 333 0667) are best reached by car or on a guided tour. However, it is possible to get to the area via minibus taxi from the Noord Street rank (visitors should ask for Rustenberg and to be dropped off at Sterkfontein Caves). The caves (telephone: (011) 956 6342) are open Tuesday to Sunday 9.00 am to 4.00 pm and admission costs R 15. The Rhino and Lion Park (telephone: (011) 957 0109) is open weekdays 8.00 am to 5.00 pm and weekends 8.00 am to 6.00 pm and admission costs R 28. Kromdraai Conservancy (telephone: (011) 957 0241) run the hiking trails at R 50 per day per person, these must be arranged in advance.