Johannesburg Zoo – South Africa

The Johannesburg Zoo was established in 1904 to serve as a natural reserve and habitat and for rare and endangered wildlife species such as elephants, lions, deer, and bushbucks while also playing an important role of enhancing tourism in the country at a time when tourism was not seen as a major economy impacting sector in South Africa.

The center currently has a land size of 200 hectares, a great expansion on the original size when it was established in 1904, making it one of South Africa’s biggest wildlife centers with a grand animal population of 2000, involving 320 different species.

Statistically, the Johannesburg Zoo has one of the most impressive visitor populations, receiving an average of 500,000 tourists annually from different parts of the world and other parts of South Africa.

Note to Tourists

Johannesburg Zoo like most tourists attractions has no breaks and works all year round including holidays, with visiting time ranging between 8:30 am to 5:30 pm even though it is advisable to visit in the morning or at noon and at worse around 3pm if you do not intend to spend the night at the reserve.

Tourists are not allowed to tour the zoo on their own and must do so under the guidance of a tour guide; this is to ensure the safety of visitors and keep them from harm’s way as some sections of the zoo are deemed a No-Go area.

For tourists who would like to spend the night at the zoo, there are accommodation facilities in the park, readily available for rent at small fees.

Current Animal Statistics

As of 2017, the zoo had precisely 2096 animals made up of 5 species of spiders, 25 fish species, 128 bird species, 47 species of reptiles and 20 species of frogs, making it one of the most densely populated reserves in South Africa.

Inside Johannesburg: The Mandela House

Johannesburg is home to many wonderful and incredible attractions; from amazing parks to wildlife reserves and museums, but perhaps the most standout of all these attractions is the Mandela House also known as the Mandela National Museum, located in Orlando West, on the Vilakazi Street.

The one-storey brisk house was originally built in 1945 and occupied by the former South African president and freedom fighter between 1946 and 1962 when he moved out following a series of attacks on his life in the building which left the brisk house ridden with bullets.

After successfully fighting the apartheid system and gaining his independence to lead the country into a new era of democracy in 1994, Mandela decided to donate the house to the state and did so officially in 1997, three years into his presidency.

Mandela National Museum
Mandela National Museum

The house was then converted into a museum which houses the records, letters, pictures and personal belongings of Nelson Mandela especially during the period when he lived in the house and was a leading political figure in the fight against apartheid.

More interesting, unlike most museums where artefacts had to be brought in from elsewhere, exhibitions within the Mandela House Museum such as furniture, citations, letters, and personal belongings were not brought in from elsewhere but were items that Mandela himself had placed in the house before its conversion into a museum.

Today, the facility is among the most visited tourist attractions in South Africa, with a visitor population that exceeds a million annually, a feat which made the United Nation recognize the house as a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Touring Johannesburg: The Must-Visit Apartheid Museum

The Apartheid Museum, located in Johannesburg, is arguably the most historic and iconic museums in Johannesburg and South Africa as a whole. The museum which was established after the fall of the infamous apartheid system in 1992, preserves memories of the horrific events that took place during the apartheid era especially in relation to the treatment of Black South Africans and the incarceration of Black political leaders like Nelson Mandela.

Inside the historic museum, tourists can find graphics portraying the apartheid era and how life generally was back in the days. Also there are hundreds of artefacts and replicated monuments from the apartheid era on full display in the museum with the most popular being the segregation entrance which sort to portray how blacks and whites were racially segregated in South Africa, with Blacks having to enter certain places using different entrance from that of the whites.

Apartheid Museum
Apartheid Museum

The Museum was originally built in 2001 by the South African government under the leadership of Nelson Mandela to remind South Africans of the atrocities of the past and the need to never go back to such a period but rather live in harmony and unity as one people with equal rights and freedom irrespective of race or culture.

As a museum dedicated to the preserving the history of South Africa’s past and teaching people the need not to revisit that dark era, the Apartheid Museum occasionally holds festive events in the course of the year to mark and celebrate the end of apartheid.

The Museum is opened to people of all races and people from all cultural background including non-South Africans who wish to visit the facility to learn a bit about the apartheid history of the Rainbow Nation.

Tourists who intend to visit the museum are advised to make an early reservation, at least a day to the visit in order to get the best experience as the facility is one of the busiest attractions Johannesburg.

The Lion Park and Safari Walk – South Africa

The Lion Park and Safari Walk is located in the Northwest part of South Africa, precisely Johannesburg in the Gauteng province and is situated on a new 600 hectares land in the Cradle of Humankind (a paleoanthropological site).

The park is home to several wildlife animals in the canidae and cat family including Lions, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dogs and antelope. Prior to this, the reserve was solely dedicated to the housing of only Lions until a decision was taken in 2015 to introduce other Wildlife species and also relocated the animals to the Cradle of Humankind, their current location.

As of 2017, the park had an estimated 80 lions including the very rare white lion which is almost on the brink of extinction. Like most wildlife parks, the animals in the park inhabit different sections of the reserve without mingling and tourists who seek to tour the facility would have to tour these different sections if they want to catch glimpses of all the animals.

For instance, antelopes in the park are found in a section called the Antelope area where they live with other animals like zebra, impala, blesbok and warthog but are very much far away from the more dangerous carnivorous animals like the Lions and Cheetahs.

As a park that prides itself as being a modern reserve that offers great services to tourists, Lion Park boasts of some world standard and amazing facilities within the park including  restaurants, children’s playgrounds and conference centres.

With regards to interactions with animals in the park, authorities banned visitors from cub interaction in 2015 due to the dangers that came with it as spontaneous attacks by mother lionesses were recorded. This was however reintroduced a year later but under very strict supervision after it was realized that the ban on cub interaction had led to a drop in the number of visitors to the park.

Tourists are however allowed to freely have interactions with herbivorous animals like Giraffes and Zebras and even handfeed them with they so wish as these animals pose no danger to visitors while being very friendly towards humans in general.