I Know A Spot! Hiking in & around Jozi during lockdown: Our 4 top picks
The ins and outs of the ups and downs of Joburg’s coolest hiking spots! We’ve done the digging and have picked out our top 4 hiking spots to safely hike and get outdoors in lockdown!
Here’s how we see it: it’s almost impossible to regret going out, moving your body, working up a sweat and seeing some beautiful views whilst you’re at it - unless you happen to have a 27 Hours situation which we very much doubt.
Johannesburg, South Africa has a collection of incredible terrains for hiking and trail running with trails that range from dry, savannah-like scenes of Kings Kloof to lush river trails in the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Since moving to Level 3 Lockdown, we have started to see a shift away from manically baking banana bread (while you’re here, check out this blog on 3 delicious and healthy smoothie recipes to try!) and doing strange dances made by teenagers on the internet (not entirely but mostly) to using our time intentionally and valuing the opportunities we get to spend time doing the things we love and that bring health to our minds and bodies.
A Little Reminder
Before we get into exploring some seriously great hiking trails around the Johannesburg area, we do urge you to be mindful of the capacity of the trails you go to. There have been a few instances of overcrowding which a) doesn’t make single trails very enjoyable and b) isn’t an ideal way to be socially distancing. Wear your mask around other hikers and in any of the amenities. If you do see tons of cars in the parking lot, maybe have a backup plan and keep you hiking parties to a minimum. Okay, that’s it! Now, let’s see what we’ve got here.
1. Hennops Hiking Trail
Found off the R511 and 10km South of the R105 Junction, the Hennops Hiking Trail is a (very worthwhile) 45-minute drive North of Joburg. What sets this trail apart is the appeal it may have to any historians or anybody with a keen interest in South African anthropology with historical sites that give hikers a glimpse into the history of the Anglo-Boer war and evidence of old dolomite mines.
These trails also offer the adventure factor of a suspended bridge used to enter all the trails or a cable car operated by a pulley system. The hikes range from easy to moderately difficult, and you can find the distances and elevation gain of the trails here.
2. Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge
Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is the place to go if your posse is perhaps not only composed of enthusiastic hikers. Cradle Moon offers not only over 30kms of trail to hike or cycle but the option of open water swimming in the nearby lake and a (very tempting) restaurant should you feel that a relaxing meal may be more soothing than galavanting through the open plains.
Let’s talk more about hiking!
The lodge offers you the opportunity to hike diverse trails where you will see various wildlife including zebras and giraffes whilst knowing that you are quite literally in the surrounding area of the Cradle of Humankind - that’s some pretty exciting stuff! This is a great hiking spot to earmark for the next time you have foreign visitors (come on borders, please open!) who want to explore what Johannesburg has to offer. The lodge can be found at plot 59 Beyers Naude Drive, Muldersdrift.
Fair warning, hikers and runners must take heed of cyclists as the mountain biking trails can be technical and prone to sharp corners. Keep each other safe!
3. Kings Kloof
If you are both keen to take a bit of a drive outside of the city and are perhaps a little bit more of an experienced hiker we suggest you take a drive to the Kings Kloof trails found on Laurentia Farm. These trails offer an impressive range of birdlife and various routes that will take you through rivers, up rocky mountains, around natural pools of water and down into wonderful valleys.
The shortest trail is 14km and the longest one is 22,5km with tricky terrain including steep downhills and the aforementioned river crossings. Although we do believe you are capable of whatever you put your mind to, we highly recommend you wake up early and make sure you are well-rested, well prepared and aware of your own fitness level and hiking abilities.
4. Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
If the hiking trails above made your heart drop to your stomach, please do not be discouraged. Being amongst nature is something to be enjoyed and taken in at your leisure - which is why we have also included the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens on our list of where you should be walking in Johannesburg. This is a really great one for the whole family and super kid-friendly.
The perks of the garden are easy to see in its beautiful flora and fauna, including the opportunity to sight the black Verreaux’s eagles. The longest trail is 3,5 km meaning you can start your hike mid-morning and head to the park’s cafe or pack your own picnic and enjoy your day out and about!
Tips and tricks to tackle the trails
If you’re a Lara Croft hiking equivalent - you can go forth and prosper at this point! If you’re in the market for some free advice, however, stick around a little before we say goodbye:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
- Leave no trace - you are a visitor on your trail and it is imperative the environment is protected.
- Go in a group or let people know where and when you will be hiking (remember when we joked about the 27 Hours situation?)
- Sunstroke is not a good time so slap on the sunscreen and wear your hat!
- Keep an eye out for snakes under any rocks or shady spaces you are using for leverage.
- Look up and around. There is so much to learn from immersing yourself in nature - enjoy being a part of the bigger picture!
- Just a head’s up, you might have to phone and book at some hiking spots for crowd control and safety reasons, so make sure you do your research before just pitching up at a place.
Let’s keep our heads up and hearts strong as we tackle Lockdown Level 3 together, looking after ourselves and each other.
Yours in hassle free health insurance,