Johannesburg Day Trips

Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park, South Africa © Nithin bolar k

Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is South Africa's oldest, largest and best-known wildlife conservation area, home to a huge variety of wildlife and most famous for its 'Big Five' viewing opportunities. Visitors have an excellent chance of seeing lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo and rhino among the enormous variety of wildlife, including over 140 species of mammals, 500 species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. Situated on South Africa's northeastern border, Kruger is a primary destination for international tourists, and is visited by more than half a million local and international visitors every year who are attracted by the different safari options as well as the park's excellent range of visitor facilities and choice of accommodation, from luxurious game lodges to cottages and camping. Because of the park's popularity, it is advisable to book far ahead for both day visits and extended stays. Bookings can be made through the park's website. Kruger is a year-round destination, but the game viewing is at its best in the winter months, between June and August. The park is more lush and the landscapes more beautiful in summer but it gets very hot and the animals are more difficult to spot. The Kruger Park is generally very safe and tourists should be in no danger if they abide by the rules and treat the animals with respect; these are, after all, wild animals in their natural environment and some of them can be dangerous if they feel threatened.


Warmbaths © Southern African Places cc


The area known as Springbok Flats is part of the Great Rift Valley and lies on the national road north from Johannesburg. Bela-Bela town is located on the area's edge. Still commonly known as Warmbaths (the name officially changed in 2002), it is famous for its hot mineral springs. The springs yield about 20,000 litres of water every hour, all of which is enriched with sodium chloride, calcium carbonate, and other minerals. The town is a popular spa and holiday resort. The main resort, Warmbaths, has a large indoor pool with underwater jets, outdoor hot and cold swimming pools, jacuzzis, a wave pool, and several water slides. The resort also includes facilities for waterskiing, go-karting, quad biking, pedal boating, miniature golf, archery, tennis, squash, and volleyball, as well as several shops and restaurants. Accommodation is varied but the resort is open to day visitors as well, who can enter anytime between 7am and 5pm daily.

Exhibition at the Maropeng Visitor Centre
Exhibition at the Maropeng Visitor Centre © thomas_sly

Cradle of Humankind and Maropeng Visitor Centre

The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains a complex of dolomitic limestone caves, including the well-known Sterkfontein Caves, where the fossil Australopithecus africanus (nicknamed Mrs. Ples) was found in 1947 by Dr Robert Broom and John Robinson. 'Mrs Ples' is estimated to be between 2.6 and 2.8 million years old and ranks high on the long list of australopithecine discoveries for which Sterkfontein is now famous. At present, only the Sterkfontein Caves and the Wonder Cave are open to the public. The Maropeng Visitor Centre is a stirring, world-class exhibition space, focusing on the development of humans and our ancestors and evolution over the past few million years. The museum has fun interactive exhibits which the whole family will enjoy. Visitors should note that the best option for fully appreciating the visit is buying the combination ticket for the caves and the museum. However, this ticket is only available before 1pm as the tour takes some time. There are a number of restaurants at the centre, both upmarket and casual, and some picturesque picnic sites for those who prefer to bring their own food. There is a range of accommodation at the centre for those who want to spend a night or two.



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