Johannesburg, South Africa Adventure Travel Guide


Johannesburg, South Africa


Northern South Africa in the Province of Gauteng, about 500 km inland from the Indian Ocean.

Climate and Geography

Johannesburg RSA (Republic of South Africa)is the world’s largest city that’s not situated beside a river, lake, or ocean. It’s located about 500 km inland from the Indian Ocean in northern South Africa at an elevation of 1753 m above sea level on a plateau called the Highveld. There are hills to the north and west of the city, and the land to the east is flat. Johannesburg, with more than 10 million trees, may well have the largest man-made forest in the world. Although it’s not situated on a major body of water, the spring-fed streams that run through the city help to form two of South Africa’s largest rivers, the Limpopo and Orange Rivers.

Johannesburg has a subtropical highland climate. Temperatures in the city are generally quite mild because of its altitude. In the summer (October to April) temperatures the average high is about 25°C, but can climb to over 30°C.  Although the climate in Johannesburg is mostly dry and sunny, afternoon thundershowers are common during the summer and most of the annual average 713 mm of rain falls during this time.

The winter is a sunny and dry season. Daily low temperatures generally hover around 4-7°C, but can drop below zero resulting in frost on the ground. Snow, however, is rare.


With 3.9 million people in its 1645 square kilometers, Johannesburg is the most populous city in South Africa. Johannesburg is a very important city, not only to South Africa, but to all of Africa. With two large international airports, including O.R. Tambo International Airport (the largest and busiest airport in southern Africa), Johannesburg is a thriving transportation hub. Subesequently, most visitors to South Africa pass through Johannesburg at least once during their visit. Johannesburg is also a base for many of South Africa’s large-scale gold and diamond mining companies and is a common setting for important business and political meetings. Some estimate that as much as 10% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is generated in Johannesburg.

Despite its economic and transportation importance, Johannesburg does not have a large tourism sector, probably due in part to the city’s reputation for crime. Although many visitors have no problems during their visits to the city, it is important to exercise caution and remain alert when visiting Johannesburg. The lack of tourism in the city, however, should not be taken to indicate a lack of attractions. There is a lot to see here to see, especially for those interested in wildlife and anthropology. About 50km northwest of Johannesburg is the Unesco World Heritage Site, The Cradle of Humankind, a 47,000 Ha site, which includes a complex of limestone caves and the sites of some of the most important archaeological discoveries in history. The site also includes the 1200 Ha Lion and Rhino Nature Reserve, which breeds numerous endangered species such as Siberian Tigers, Bengal Tigers, and White Lions. Nearby is also the Sterkfontein fossil site, one of the richest sites of hominoid bones in the world. Lions and other game can be seen at the Lion Park nature reserve, which is near Lanseria, where you can pet baby lions and feed giraffes. The 1500 Ha Kruegersdorp Nature Reserve is a 40-minute drive from the city center, and the De Wildt Cheetah Center, located in the Magiliesburg, breeds cheetah, wild dog, and other endangered species.


  • Paragliding
  • Hang gliding
  • Sky diving
  • Bungee jumping
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Kayaking (river and lake)
  • Canoeing
  • Caving and spelunking
  • Hiking/trekking (all levels)
  • Ziplining
  • Rock climbing (all levels)
  • Abseiling
  • Mountain Biking (novice to expert)
  • Horseback Riding

On a Budget?

A full list of Johannesburg hostels can be found here.

Hotel accommodation in Johannesburg is also plentiful and varied.

Have Insurance?

I like to use World Nomads. It’s not too expensive and signing up is fast and straightforward. They also have pretty good coverage for sports equipment like surf and snowboards, but it varies depending on your country of origin, so be sure double check. You can get a free quote on their website.



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Images (in order) courtesy of undoneAxel BührmannbabasteveAxel Bührmann350.orgsea turtlebabasteveandre.vanrooyengareth1953andre.vanrooyenfanz, and andre.vanrooyen on Flickr.

Suggested Reading

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The information on this page was provided by My Johannesburg Info If you want to know more about Johannesburg they are the people to ask.

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2 thoughts on “Johannesburg, South Africa Adventure Travel Guide”

  1. Hi Matt
    Johannesburg is the most populated city, not the third most populous in the country as you stated in your article. Other than that, it is a well researched and factual article, thank you.
    Julia (a Johannesburger) 🙂


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