|Besides the urban forest all our B&Bs lie in the heart of a greenbelt of parks. The 54-acre Zoo is well worth a visit, offering day and occasionally night tours. Cross the road to Zoo Lake – walk around the lake, picnic under the trees, feed the ducks or enjoy lunch and a glass of wine at Moyo Zoo Lake. A sophisticated African dining experience can also be had at their Melrose Arch venue.
At only 6kms from the city centre is the more formal Emmarentia Botanical Gardens a great favourite over weekends where locals come to canoe and sail on the dam, walk their dogs and enjoy the beautifully laid-out formal gardens.
A longer trip will take you much further west to the less formal (and in a more spectacular setting) Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden featuring indigenous gardens against a backdrop of the Witpoortjie Waterfall – and with luck you might spot the black eagles who have made their home there.
The James and Ethel Gray Park is within walking distance of Melrose. Besides being a bird sanctuary, it has set aside a portion where you can make like Tarzan and swing through the trees using ropes at the new Acrobranch Adventure Zone. It is open on weekends from 9-5.
Not enough time to visit the Kruger National Park? You still have the opportunity of spotting the “Big 5” by taking a daytrip to the Pilanesburg near Sun City. Leave around 6 in the morning, about a 2 hour drive, and enjoy a day in the bush. Set in the crater of a long extinct volcano, the Park covers an area of 55 000 hectares with nearly 200 kilometres of roads for either self-drives or guided drives. Other opportunities for seeing wildlife, albeit not in their natural habitats but closer to Joburg,is the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve which is a privately owned reserve in the greater area of the Cradle of Humankind. It covers approximately 1 600 ha on the typical highveld of Gauteng. You can even have your photograph taken with baby lion, cheetah or tiger cubs. The Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre is about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg in the Magaliesberg. Initially a cheetah breeding project but now other endangered animals are also bred there - the African Wild Dog, the brown hyena, servals, Suni Antelope and riverine rabbits. In the vicinity of Hartebeespoort Dam is the Elephant Sanctuary where you can join a morning or afternoon group and learn about elephant habits, behaviour, different personalities and anatomy through up-close and personal interaction. You get an opportunity to touch, feed and even walk trunk-in-hand with these magnificent animals.