Trend-spotting: July’s most popular features

The global fight against the coronavirus pandemic and living in a months-long nationwide lockdown has been an interesting time to be the publisher of an essential city guide to one of Africa’s most underrated destinations, Johannesburg.

As the lockdown has continued and the city has gradually started to open up under South Africa’s ‘risk-adjusted strategy’, we have continued to work harder than ever to bring together fresh, compelling and informative content that showcases the many brilliant small businesses and interesting local attractions that make Johannesburg special. We don’t know when, or how, the world will reopen after Covid-19, which makes becoming an active and responsible tourist in your own city all the more important.

Trending this month: Renewed interest in nature and the outdoors has been a driving interest among would-be local tourists and in July as more parks and private and public nature reserves reopened and the government announced that it would start easing restrictions on domestic leisure travel, Joburgers have been hungry for the great outdoors.

Here’s a look at our five most popular website features on this July:

10 isolated off-the-grid escapes for an incredible holiday in South Africa

Klein Rivier Stone Mountain Cottage

South Africans have been staying at home for a long, long time now and the thought of an off-the-grid getaway, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, is definitely top of the wishlist for Joburgers hungry for a holiday. The idea of having a ‘digital detox’ somewhere with no phone signal and wifi also holds an extra special appeal given how much time we are now spending glued to our screens. So much so that more than 230 Facebook users shared this month’s top feature with their friends, which had more than 300,000 views on social media!

From the majestic Drakensberg mountains and the vast desert landscapes of the Karoo to the forests of the Outeniqua mountains, the bushveld of the Kruger and the stunning Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, we present our guide to 10 incredible isolated getaways for the perfect off-the-grid South African holiday. Get those bookings in and start planning your summer holiday escape now! Read it online here

Hiking in and around Joburg – Gauteng’s best hiking trails

De Wildt Adventure Trails

If social media is to be believed, then ‘hiking is the new banana bread‘. Everybody is trying their hand at it and they’ve got the Instagram shots to prove it.

While banana bread came and went (are you still making banana bread?), we think hiking might just be here to stay. Multi-day hikes along the Eastern Cape coastline remain a travel dream for Gautengers for now (leisure travel is still confined to the province in which you live), but the reopening of local hiking trails is already helping thousands of novice hikers find a new interest in trekking. And what better way to build up fitness for a bucket list summer hiking holiday in South Africa’s most famous mountain ranges, than by taking on some Gauteng day hikes on winter weekends.

Week after week throughout June and July more than 2,000 Joburgers have logged on to read our online guide to the best hiking trails near Joburg. From the Magaliesberg to the Cradle, the lesser-known Ezemvelo and Joburg gems like Modderfontein Reserve, Klipriviersberg and Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, read our guide to the best hiking trails to take on near Joburg this weekend (and what to know before you go). Read it online here.

Joburg’s most beautiful parks

The Wilds. Photo by James Delaney

Shortly after South Africa announced its state of emergency, the gates were closed on Joburg’s public parks and gardens as part of lockdown restrictions. As of June private hiking trails reopened to the public, although we had to wait until July 15 for Joburg’s dozens of public parks to finally reopen for exercise purposes. And boy were people excited about it!

Like many other parts of city life, Joburg’s parks reopened in ‘stages’ and as of August 3 all public parks, as well as botanical gardens, are now open again for the public to enjoy. Perhaps underappreciated by non-Joburgers is the great wealth of beautiful green spaces this city has. Read our guide to Joburg’s most beautiful parks here.

Countryside holidays in Gauteng – from boutique luxury to rustic self-catering

Sunrise at Kloofzicht Lodge & Spa

In early July, we had a false start with the reopening of hotels for leisure travel, when the government briefly announced intra-provincial leisure travel (within your province) was allowed, before quickly retracting their statement saying it was a mistake. Happily as of July 30 the government has confirmed that you can indeed now go on a much needed holiday at a hotel, guesthouse or lodge in the province where you live.

From rustic tented camps to luxurious boutique hotels and some delightful isolated cottages in hidden beauty spots, we took a look at some great places to book a countryside getaway in Gauteng. Read it online here.

Outdoor dining – Joburg cafes with great gardens and terraces

Spilt Milk, Melville

Throughout July across South Africa restaurants and cafes have begun the process of tentatively reopening after months of lockdown for sit-in diners. For many the choice place to sit is outside, especially as Joburg’s weather is finally beginning to show us some early signs of spring warmth, and across the city venues have been redesigning and expanding their outdoor spaces to entice Joburg diners back into restaurants.

If you want to eat out this month and support South Africa’s struggling restaurant industry, we’ve put together a guide to lovely lunch destinations in Joburg with the prettiest courtyards, streetside terraces and spacious gardens. Read it online here.

Also trending in July

Booze deliveries Way back in May (which sometimes feels like it was about three years ago) our special guide to independent bottle shops, wine merchants and craft beer and spirits makers who were taking pre-orders for booze deliveries in and around Joburg truly captured the imagination of an alcohol-parched city. It remains our most popular feature of the year with more than 75,000 website hits (and counting) and continues to be a favourite with readers. Read it online here and get your pre-orders in.

China Mall Party decorations, fast fashion, school supplies, homeware, toys, fabrics, electronics and of course, Personal Protective Equipment, you can find pretty much everything at China Mall. Joburg has more than one ‘China Mall’ and our at a glance guide to what you can buy where is a source of never-ending interest. Read it online here.

Cradle Moon Lakeside Lodge This expansive private reserve, just 30 minutes drive from Sandton, has recently become one of the most popular Gauteng destinations among Joburg day-trippers, and one of the most popular tourist attractions on our website this July. Read our review of Cradle Moon here.

Lockdown Level 3 in South Africa – what you can and can’t do The regulations and rules that guide South Africa’s various ‘lockdown levels’ are now almost constantly being adjusted, especially the so-called ‘Advanced’ Level 3. On a weekly, and sometimes even a daily, basis we have been updating our guide to what exactly you can, and can’t, do under the current Level 3. And with good reason. It remains one of our most read features in July. Read our guide to South Africa’s Level 3 rules here.

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