Hiking is a popular activity in Johannesburg. It’s a fantastic escape from the chaos of daily life and a chance to breathe fresh air while enjoying the stunning views of nature. South Africa’s biggest city has massive green spaces to enjoy a scenic hike, which is not surprising given that it’s home to one of the biggest man made urban forests in the world. Below, check out some of the best hiking trails near Johannesburg.
Amber Close is a loop trail about 5 kilometres long located near Johannesburg. It’s a moderately challenging route that should take less than two hours to complete, depending on your physical abilities. As a popular hiking route in Johannesburg, Amber Close can get crowded on some days, although there are various areas along the trail where you can enjoy some solitude.
The Amber Close loop trail is situated within the Kloofendal Nature Reserve. It’s one of the first nature reserves in Johannesburg, occupying 128 hectares of land. Recognised as the area where gold was first mined in Johannesburg, the hiking trails in Kloofendal have remains of early gold mining activities. There are many other hiking trails in the Kloofendal Nature Reserve aside from the Amber Close loop. During your hike, watch out for unique wildlife, such as mongooses, mole rats, black-backed jackals, gerbils, hedgehogs, and more.
You can also join organised walks where you will be with a guide as you explore the Kloofendal Nature Reserve. The reserve is open every day, including public holidays, and is about 25 kilometres from the Johannesburg city centre.
Modderfontein Nature Reserve
Another place to enjoy scenic hikes in Johannesburg is at Modderfontein Nature Reserve. It’s a 275-hectare nature reserve that aims to preserve the indigenous flora and fauna in the area while offering a vast open space where visitors can enjoy nature while in Johannesburg. There are many hiking trails within the Modderfontein Nature Reserve, but the most popular of these is the Duck Hiking Trail, a 5-km loop that’s generally easy to conquer.
Depending on your hiking abilities, it will take an average of 1 hour to hike the entirety of the Duck Hiking Trail. You could come across rare bird species during your hike, making it a popular area for birding. Since it’s a popular trail, expect to meet many hikers along the way, although there are still many areas where you can enjoy peace and tranquillity.
If you want to hike further, you can conquer longer routes within the reserve, such as the 10 km or the 15 km hiking route. The trails are well-marked, so there’s no need to worry about getting lost. Regardless of the path you wish to take, you are guaranteed incredible views when hiking the Modderfontein reserve.
Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is one of the most popular safari destinations in South Africa. It’s a game reserve set in a crater of an extinct volcano. As one of the best wildlife reserves in South Africa, Pilanesberg safari is perfect for walking as you can experience a thrilling adventure here.
As you hike throughout the park, you will be rewarded with dramatic landscapes, not to mention an incredible variety of wild plants and animals. Like the other popular safari destinations in Africa, Pilanesberg is home to the Big Five, which refers to lions, black rhinos, elephants, buffalos, and leopards. On your walking safari, a guide will take you through hiking trails while sharing some interesting information about the nature reserve.
Exploring Pilanesberg on foot is such an amazing experience. It’s a great way to immerse in nature as you soak up the gorgeous views of the unspoilt wilderness while discovering some fascinating wildlife. It’s ideal for photographers who want to capture wild animals up close from various angles.
Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
Occupying an area of 125 hectares, the Johannesburg Botanical Garden is a great place to hike as you take in the breathtaking views of nature. The massive green space is a haven for families and a great spot to enjoy a picnic. There’s a short trail within the botanical garden that’s only 0.8 miles long, perfect for beginners and kids.
What’s great about hiking the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is you will come across an attractive mix of plant species along the trails. The garden contains exquisite plant species like cactuses, aloe, emblem, euphorbia, sansevieria, and more. There are also indigenous cacti, which you won’t find anywhere else. One of the garden’s highlights is the succulent collection housed in glass houses, which consists of rare South African succulents. Some plants came from other African countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Madagascar, Ethiopia, and more.
The Johannesburg Botanical Garden is home to the 7.5-hectare Emmarentia Dam, which you’ll come across during your hike. Two smaller dams fed the dam, which is home to many aquatic birds. It’s also a popular spot for boaters and canoeists. The Johannesburg Botanical Gardens also host the occasional outdoor concerts and kite-flying competitions, exhibitions, shows, and meetings.
Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve
The Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is a stunning nature reseve about 11 km from Johannesburg. It occupies an area of 640 hectares and consists of lush grasslands and wooded hills. As one of Johannesburg’s most popular destinations for hiking, the Klipriviersberg has many hiking trails, such as the Wildlife Loop.
The Wildlife Loop is more suited to experienced hikers since the trails are a bit challenging, and the length is about 15.9 kilometres, taking an average of five hours to complete. It’s a popular hiking trail in Johannesburg and can get crowded during the hiking season. Make sure you wear appropriate hiking shoes to be comfortable throughout the journey.
Aside from the Wildlife Loop, another trail to consider when hiking in the Klipriviersberg is the 5.5-km Bloubos trail. Unlike the Wildlife Loop, which is a bit challenging, the Bloubos trail is an easy route which will only take less than two hours to complete. Of course, it depends on your hiking abilities.