Joburg's Inner-city Nature Reserve

Last updated: Jun 05, 2015

I love city life, but every now and again I need to see some trees, walk on a muddy path, see animals, and breathe the fresh air of a nature reserve. Sometimes you just need to get out of the city and enjoy the great outdoors.

Well if you live in Joburg then you don't have to drive too far to enjoy the beauty of a nature reserve (and it's free to the public). At just 10 kilometres from the city centre, the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is the perfect place to go to get some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle.

Nicknamed 'Johannesburg's Jewel of the South', the reserve is popular with birders, hikers, wildlife lovers, and those (like me) who just enjoy being surrounded by nature and having fresh air in my lungs. The reserve stretches over 680 hectares and is home to around 240 large mammals such as black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok, red hartebeest and zebra as well some smaller animals including dassies, scrub hare and yellow mongoose.

There are around 20 kilometres of beautiful walking trails to be enjoyed through the reserve's vast grasslands. Varying in difficulty the trails wind through the reserve allowing you to enjoy the scenic views as well as the best of the fauna and flora. The flora is actually quite unique as it's situated between two biomes, grassland and savannah, making for interesting plant life in the reserve. And with 215 different species of birds having been recorded in the reserve, it is also a very popular stop with birders.

The reserve is also of historical, geological and archaeological significance. A number of artefacts from the Stone-Age have been found in the area, and it seems that it used to be a hunting ground. After the Stone-Age, Sotho speaking Tswana people lived in the area from the 1400s, and following that it became the farm for a Voortrekker farmer called Sarel Marais in the 1850s. The reason there is such a concentration of history in the area is because of the perennial stream that runs through the reserve. This stream was also a major source of water for early Johannesburg, and the ruins of the Vierfontein Dam are still visible today.

There is no entrance fee to the reserve and it is open to the public from sunrise to sunset seven days a week. If you're looking for a place to stretch your legs, enjoy fresh air and an abundance of animal and plant life in a historically significant environment, then Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve is a great place to visit.