It’s September, and you’ve touched down in Johannesburg and booked into AtholPlace House & Villa. We do suggest just relaxing at AtholPlace and enjoying the sparkling pool, lush gardens, brilliant food and individual personal service, but we can also recommend getting out and about to explore the city we love and affectionately call Jozi or the Place of Gold.
We especially look forward to September because it’s Spring, the weather is warming up, and it is Tourism Month. After the long, dry winter months, locals celebrate the change in season and the upcoming summer rains. Nothing announces the onset of summer in Johannesburg quite like the first dramatic thunderstorms and the anticipation that the Jacarandas will soon be in bloom. Visitors come from all over the world to enjoy this purple spectacle that happens in October. AtholPlace has a couple of magnificent examples right on-site. If, however, you would like to venture out, we can suggest centrally situated Rosebank, where you can take a walk along Tyrwhitt Avenue and Oxford Road and then stroll into the suburb of Melrose. Here, you will witness the full extent of the Jacarandas as they line the roads en masse.
If walking is your thing, Johannesburg offers a wide selection of organised walking tours, including heritage walks, inner-city walks and one of our favourites, an urban nature reserve walk. Head to The Wilds, which is a 16-hectares of koppies, foot trails and natural waterfalls. Since 2013, local artist James Delaney has been spearheading improvements to the park, including opening up the foot trails and hiking paths, maintaining indigenous flora and introducing art crafted from laser-cut steel and painted or powder-coated in bright colours. Look out for owls, bushbabies, monkeys and buck, which decorate the park.
If you are in the market for a bit of retail therapy, souvenir hunting or general shoppertainment, head for Sandton City, Africa’s most iconic shopping centre. Defining the Sandton skyline, this prestigious setting is home to over 375 of the world’s most coveted retail brands and embodies all the glamour of world-class shopping, dining, and leisure. This mall boasts some of the most exclusive retail and leisure experiences in Africa; Sandton City has firmly established itself as the leader in innovation, fashion, and entertainment.
Art enthusiasts can head to the Keyes Art Mile, which is known to be the hippest, coolest and most vibrant art hub in Johannesburg. Keyes Art Mile is the nucleus of Rosebank’s transformation into a major creative and cultural destination in Johannesburg. Increasingly referred to as the city’s most creative high street, the art precinct forms a collective of established galleries, contemporary showrooms and edgy exhibition spaces, super-stylish workspaces, award-winning restaurants, culinary cafes and casual eateries and international and local high-end design stores. Pop into a number of galleries, including Everard Reed, which is South Africa’s oldest commercial gallery, as well as CIRCA and TMRW (featuring art and technology).
If you are interested in art but are looking for a slightly different experience - you could try a Johannesburg Street Art & Museum Walking or E-scooter Tour. This takes in two famous areas in Johannesburg: Braamfontein & Newtown and is a good option for those interested in History, street Culture and street art. You will visit Constitution Hill Human Rights Precinct which includes a living museum that tells the story of South Africa's democracy, The site is a former prison and military fort that bears testament to South Africa's turbulent past. Wits Art Museum (WAM) is also on the route and here you can enjoy pieces of African artwork ranging from historic to contemporary. This leading museum has a collection of 11,000 African artworks from the 19th century to the present, including traditional, modern and contemporary. The WAM Cafe is a great place for lunch, coffee and light snacks.
Those keen on natural history can take a short drive north to Maropeng, which is the official visitor centre of The Cradle of Humankind, where our human ancestors have lived for more than 3 million years. The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa and is the world's richest hominin site, home to around 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils. Close by, you find the Sterkfontein Caves, which is well known as one of the main fossil sites of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The caves are under the ownership of WITS ( University of the Witwatersrand), whose scientific teams have been responsible for the main excavations at the caves and within the World Heritage Site. This area has abundant dolomitic limestone ridges, which create unique preservation conditions resulting in a particularly rich fossil history. These fossil sites have produced more hominin fossils than any other sites in the world, and you can inspect 15 different sites in the core area.
Once back at the urban oasis of AtholPlace House & Villa, settle down in our library and ask our barman to serve you a well-deserved gin and tonic made with a South African craft gin. We are pretty partial to Inverroche, which has become synonymous with great gin. Their famous Amber Gin is infused with fynbos hand-picked from the aromatic blooms found amongst the dunes along the Cape Southern Coast.
So - who says there is nothing to do in Johannesburg?