It is located on 15 hectares of landscaped gardens and waterways within an extensive private nature reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. NIROX Sculpture Park is 45 minutes from the centers of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
The reserve was named after ornithologist-mammal gist, J Austin Roberts, born in Pretoria in 1883, and largely self-taught. He was to produce a number of standard South African reference books on both birds and mammals, and was tragically killed in a motor accident in 1948.
Walter Sisulu is one of the 8 botanical gardens managed by the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The gardens consist of around 30 hectares of landscaped garden and 270 hectares of natural vegetation (Rocky Highveld Grassland). Witpoortjie Falls are the centre piece to the gardens. Walter Sisulu features a Waterwise Garden, Cycad Garden, Succulent Rockery, Fern Garden and arboretum.
Situated on 60 hectares of scenic valley bushveld, within easy access of both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is safe-haven to the widest selection of indigenous raptors in southern Africa.
Named after Jonas Bergtheil, this museum is situated in the leafy suburb of Westville, almost midway between Durban and Pinetown. The museum is housed in Westville’s oldest building (c.1840) featuring massive stone walls and hand-hewn timber floorboards.
The Durban African Art Centre Association provides thousands of unemployed artists and craftspeople with opportunities of self-employment and economic upliftment and the ability to earn a sustainable living.
Huge granite masses – seamed, split, shaped and sculptured by time and the elements – form an array of giant whalebacks and castellated kopjes that cover 3000 square kilometres of Matabeleland South Province. Much of the country’s history has been written and played out within the confines of the Matobo Hills – from the time thousands of years ago when ancient bushmen used the granite faces as a canvas for their unique and extraordinary art, to more recent times, when black and white met in war and peace.
These are the Matobo Hills, located south of Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo. Forty thousand years ago the caves and crevices carved out of these rocks became home to Zimbabwe’s earliest inhabitants, the “San”. Twenty thousand years later “San” artists began painting on the walls of caves and rock shelters, using special pigments and natural minerals that have survived the onslaught of climate and time.
The story of the Ndebele from when they are forced out from present-day South Africa by a coalition of Afrikaners, Griquas and Zulu to the establishment of modern-day Bulawayo can appear confusing.
During Mzilikazi’s reign as King there are four different capitals (Gibxhegu, Mahlokohloko, Inyathi and Mhlahlandleia) He was succeeded by Lobengula who established a new Gibxhegu and then renames it koBulawayo (this is the where the Site Museum is situated) and finally Umhlabathini, or the second koBulawayo, the site of modern-day State House. This was in keeping with tribal custom; the royal towns of Matabele kings were never intended to be permanent and whenever a King died, the capital moved and the old royal town was burned.
Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is the ideal location for anyone interested in the park’s wildlife and birds, to those in search of serenity, identity and the extraordinary history of this World Heritage Site
The Island Nature Reserve is located approximately 25 km from Port Elizabeth and is accessed via the Seaview Road turn off along the national road. The Reserve comprises 480 ha of indigenous Alexandria coastal forest and boasts tree species such as Outeniqua yellow-wood, white and hard pear as well as white milkwood.
Jump into a pool of refreshing mountain water and escape the city just an hour outside of Cape Town when you hike to Crystal Pools near Gordon’s Bay. By “refreshing”, of course, we mean quite cold—in true Cape Town fashion. But after 45 minutes to an hour of hiking at the Steenbras Nature Reserve, it comes as sweet relief from the heat.
The first pool is about 45 minutes from the start of the trail and you can stop here for a snack or break in the shade. For some serious swimming and kloofing opportunities, it’s best to hold out for the second pool, which is another ten to fifteen minutes up. There is also a waterfall, which you can stand below and enjoy an open-air cold shower. It’s only a 2km hike, but your legs will beg to differ. It starts out fairly easy but the climb gets tough. If you’re up for the challenge you can keep going after the second pool to the third pool that offers more swimming opportunities and an excellent view of the area.
The Company’s Garden is Cape Town’s green lung. This oasis right in the centre of the city is a favourite for both locals and tourists. The site is important historically, and is a thriving urban space where buskers strum guitars while office workers sun themselves over lunch hour. There is plenty to do, but here are our top six things to…
The Company’s Garden was first built as a refreshment station for the trade route that rounded the tip of Africa between Europe and the east. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company would stop by after months at sea and stock up on fresh produce grown in the garden—hence, “The Company’s Garden”.
There is so much to explore in terms of history inside the garden. Near the Adderley Street entrance a statue of Queen Victoria stands overlooking the Slave Lodge, while a statue of Jan Smuts looks on. Just over the road is the St George’s Cathedral, known as the “people’s church”—even during the apartheid era, all races were welcomed. It was also the starting point for the 30,000-strong demonstration led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1989—and where Tutu coined the phrase ‘rainbow people’ to describe the diversity of South Africa’s population.
Regarded as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch – or rather, the land on which it sits — was bequeathed to the government by Cecil John Rhodes.
Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, a mere 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch includes a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, a garden that features 2500 species of plants found on the Cape Peninsula, a Protea garden (best seen in spring!), a braille trail, and a cycad amphitheatre. There is also a glasshouse – the Botanical Society Conservatory – which houses plants from the continent’s more arid regions.
If you have little ones, you simply must take them to see the cycad amphitheatre. Dotted among the cycads are life-sized anatomically correct sculptures of dinosaurs and a pterosaur! Kirstenbosch also features a sculpture garden, where you’ll find an ever-changing exhibition of African stone sculptures, and bronze animal sculptures by Dylan Lewis. Your kids will also enjoy a walk along the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – affectionately known as the Boomslang. This 130-metre steel-and-timber bridge snakes its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum, providing stunning views of the Garden and the Cape Flats.
The Tsingy was the first refuge for the inhabitants of the island and it is located 820km west of Antananarivo. The Tsingy offers one of the most spectacular landscapes in Madagascar. This is why it was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site, followed by the Bemaraha park. You will be able to admire these fabulous landscapes with sharp spikes.
The Tsingy was classified as UNESCO World Heritage in 1990 and occupies a part of the limestone plateau of the same name that is a part of the Bemaraha National Park which was classified as UNESCO World Heritage in 1997. The Tsingy is one of the most spectacular landscapes of Madagascar with its network of rifts, crevasses, and limestome blocks that are carved in sharped blades.
The primary forest is formed by two distinct protected ares – the Analamazoatra special reserve and the Mantadia national park. The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is only about three hours from the capital.
Almost the whole park is formed by primary forest which has never been modified by human beings. It is also a refuge for many animals and plants. Thus, it is not uncommon to come across a multitude of species: lemurs, birds, chameleons, and insects of all kinds.
Dar Es Salaam Zoo is a zoological park in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The zoo is located in the Kigamboni-district in the eastern part of the city, 37 kilometers from Downtown Dar es Salaam. The Dar es Salaam Zoo is best known for having many animals endemic to Tanzania, including but not limited to giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, antelopes, tortoises, gazelles, monkeys, hyenas, lions, leopards, snakes, and several species of birds. There is also a kids’ zone with slides, swings and jungle-gyms.
Mamba Village is East Africa’s largest crocodile farm with over 10,000 crocodiles of varying age, size, and type including white crocodiles and newly-hatched baby crocs. The village also has a giraffe pen, an ostrich enclosure, a marine aquarium, and a botanical garden.
The Museum aims to interpret Kenya’s rich heritage and offers a one stop for visitors to sample the country’s rich heritage both for education and leisure. In addition to the museum, visitors are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities, as well as botanical gardens that offer a serene environment.
Covering 400,000 acres as at year 2000, the Douala-Edéa Wildlife Reserve boasts an 80% tropical lowland equatorial forests and 15% Atlantic mangrove, including Lake Tissongo. Established in 1932, the reserve was designated a wildlife park in 1971.
This Sudan National park is found in Sudan (northern Sudan). it was gazetted as a protected area under Sudan National parks and reserves in 1935 on the banks of river Dinder after which it was named. other rivers cross in the park include Rahad river.
The park covers an area of 7,1823sq km. It is also listed as UNESCO Biosphere reserves together with another Sudan National park. Dinder Sudan Park is known for its bird watching adventures and is an important Ramsar site in Sudan.
The area of the reserve is along with a transitional eco-system of two exotic vegetation zones namely Ethiopian High plateau and the Sudanese arid Sahara. The types of vegetation in the park include meadows, riparian forests, acacia woodlands and open savannah grasslands.
Madam Tinubu, the Nigerian businesswoman and patriot, after whom the prominent Lagos landmark, “Tinubu Square,” is named lived in the area in the 19th century and was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Western Nigeria, to a trading family. Tinubu square is by Broad street, CMS, Marina – and the Brazilian quarters in Lagos Island .
This National Forest Reserve on the outskirts of the city covers an area of 7,500 acres of tropical rainforest. While wildlife is rather hard to spot, there are walking trails, a lake, an arboretum and a great picnic area.
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary situated outside of picturesque Regent Village is only 30 minutes from Freetown. Located along the Regent/Bathurst mountain road, this sanctuary for orphaned and habituated chimpanzees is a refuge for human visitors as well. Offering daily scheduled visits, as well as 6 eco-huts for overnight stays, Tacugama is the perfect place for those wishing to escape the heat and hustle of Freetown and enjoy fragrant forest breezes in the company of some extraordinary creatures. The Sanctuary now offers self-catering accommodation in the form of 6 beautifully crafted lodges.
Established to rescue orphaned and captured chimps, the facilities expanded to encompass two large reserves. Tacugama has been featured in various wildlife programmes and magazines. A rescued albino chimp at the sanctuary also helped to bring it to international attention. Sadly, the albino chimp is no longer alive but the sanctuary continues to grow from strength to strength.
These endangered animals share 98.6 per cent of their DNA with humans and their complex social behaviours and human-like tendencies are fascinating to behold. The story behind Tacugama is just as riveting. Established in 1995, this sanctuary, which covers 100 acres of rain-forest and watershed, is home to 90 chimpanzees that have been victimized by the illegal hunting, capturing, and selling of their species. During the conflict, Tacugama staff smuggled food to the chimpanzees and pleaded with the rebels to spare their lives. Don’t miss the extraordinary experience of viewing these intelligent beings up-close in their natural habitat.
Visit The National Museum, located inside Sultan Park, which is on the island of Male. The park is situated where the Royal Palace once stood. The museum is housed in the only remaining building of the Royal Palace. A comprehensive collection of royal artifacts is on display: among the noteworthy pieces are several thrones, ceremonial parasols, sedan chairs and some boxes with intricate lacquer designs. There are many statues and other pieces gathered from around the country: statues of monkeys, Buddha heads, Bohomala sculptures, divine figurines, etc. The museum building also houses the National Library and an exhibition space that is regularly used to display Maldivian art.
Sultan Park is also a symbol of Maldivian history. It once played an integral role in the lives of the local people as a popular leisure park. The scenic lawns featured tropical plants, ponds with lilies and large shady trees but are rarely visited by locals today. Two imposing iron gates grant entrance to the park, opposite the Islamic Centre on Medhuziyaaraiy Magu.
A lot of people, and me among them, believe that Ras Mohamed does not belong to this world with its extraordinary environment and its unique location. The air here is cleaner and even smells different than any other place of Egypt.
The Botanical Garden in Eilat is a gem of serenity and peace in Southern Israel. Located at the northern border of Eilat, the garden was created on the site of a former military outpost and built on stone terraces in Israel’s first organic farm. Inside there are plants from all over the world, streams and waterfalls, bird sanctuaries, and even a rain forest. It is difficult to believe this is located in a desert, a place that barely gets any rain.
There are more than 1,000 different types of trees, bushes and plants in Eilat’s Botanical Garden. This oasis is maintained by a man-made watering system. As visitors walk through the garden, they can check out the three viewpoints where they can peer out over the Red Sea and the surrounding mountains.
Choose to wander the pathways with a map or schedule a private or group guided tour. The garden is very family-friendly.
Timna Park is located about 25 km (about 17 miles) north of Eilat in Israel’s Negev Desert. One of the largest attractions in the south of Israel, the park, set in a beautifully majestic desert setting, has amazing history and geology, and a number of unexpected activities including those on the lake (yes, a lake in the desert!). Timna Park covers about 15,000 acres in a horseshoe-shaped valley surrounded by steep cliffs, with Mount Timna, the world’s first ever copper mine, standing tall in the center. Daily tours to Timna Park are available from Eilat.
Solomon’s Pillars are towering sandstone columns. Perfectly formed, in fact, so perfectly formed that you might not believe that they are the work of nature. But they, as with the rest of the amazing geology and landscape of Timna Park, are the work of nature alone, the result of strips of volcanic magma frozen into the cliffs. This scenery truly is the thing dreams are made of.
Snaking across Timna Park are hiking trails short and long, for all levels of experience. From these, visitors can witness the amazing works of nature, and ancient man in the mines, as well as the amazing wildlife, plants and trees, which makes the desert their home, surviving in the harsh arid conditions. Within the park, rather uniquely for the desert, is a small lake, and pedal boats are included in the ticket price. For kids, there are also activities such as sand bottling (the region has a unique colored sand), and other craft activities.
On Sir Bani Yas Island, the Arabian Wildlife Park is home to more than 10,000 free roaming animals and takes up more than half of the island. Visitors can now get up close and personal, at eye-level, with the island’s giraffes from a purpose-built viewing platform made completely from recycled materials.
Or you can take 4x4 Nature & Wildlife Drives of the park in specially made vehicles accompanied by expert staff. Alternatively, you can book a three-hour tour - there are many Arabian Oryx, gazelles and giraffes, along with hyenas and cheetahs.
Jubail Mangrove Park is the first self-contained educational, nature and leisure destination of its kind in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Visit and explore a haven for avian and marine species native to Abu Dhabi at this serene mangrove sanctuary.
The Park aims to enhance the awareness, appreciation and understanding of the important ecological function of the mangrove habitats that include protection of the Abu Dhabi Coastline and supporting biodiversity.
A meandering boardwalk will take you through the mangroves and allow you to discover Abu Dhabi in its true essence.
With over 1700 animals, including a majestic pair of white tigers, a 31-year-old, 300kg-plus Siberian bear, lions, cheetahs and dozens of zebras housed in the zoo’s ‘Predators’ and ‘Wild Animals’ enclosures, the Emirates Park Zoo in Al Bahia, a north-east suburb of the UAE capital features a park-wide ‘misting system’ which keeps animals and patrons cool in the summer months.
As the name suggests, Creek Park sits right on the edge of Dubai Creek – making it really stand out from the other green spaces in the city.
It’s also the second largest park in Dubai, featuring vast acres of lawns, botanical gardens and children’s play areas. Although this retreat is in the centre of the city, you can enjoy sprawling lawns and endless views of the creek.
Stroll along the paved promenade, watch the dhows bobbing in the water, or enjoy a show at the theatre. You can even explore the park by renting a bike for just a few dirhams.
Popular with picnickers, there are plenty of barbecue spots spread across – just one of the many free facilities you can enjoy at the park. Families will especially appreciate the mini golf, a go-kart track and numerous playgrounds designed to keep the little ones happy.
Mushrif Park in Dubai is so big that you can actually drive through it. It is the ideal spot for family picnics, and strolls under shady trees.
Mushrif Park was opened to public in 1982 by the Dubai Municipality, and spans 5.25 square kilometres in the eastern part of the Dubai city in Deira. It is 15kms away from the Dubai city centre on airport road, leading to Khawaneej area.
Mushrif Park has an international village, comprising 13 models of Arabic and English houses. The park also includes entertainment services such as electronic games, barbecue and trip areas, pool services, child games areas, sport playground (including basketball, volleyball and handball), walking and bicycle tracks, prayer rooms, green areas, restaurants, canteens, train ride services, camel and horse riding, park theatre, and facilities for people with special needs.
The horse and camel riding areas introduces visitors to the traditional life pattern, wherein there are camels, horses, Bedouin tents, goat, well etc. Visitors get to ride camels and horses and will get to know the Bedouin lifestyle, while enjoying a picnic. The Park’s theatre can accommodate 500 people where musical concerts are performed during holidays, Eid and other special occasions.
Al Mamzar Beach Park is another one of Dubai’s hidden gems that's well frequented by residents. The park covers an enormous 106 hectares, adjacent to Mamzar beach near Hamriya Port and Deira. Five separate beaches make up the Mamzar beach area, all surrounding the park. The huge space is packed with family-friendly facilities and entertainment to keep kids of all ages satisfied.
Take advantage of more than two-dozen public barbecues, grassy picnic areas, changing rooms, beaches and pools. They’re also monitored by lifeguards with kid-friendly swimming areas.
Park yourself by the lagoon, or if you’d like to check out the park in its entirety, hop onboard the Park Train. This takes you around the whole area – another great way to entertain the kids. The park is also equipped with a musical amphitheatre which hosts performances from time to time.
Whether you stay just for a few hours or the whole day, you’ll have a great time at Al Mamzar Beach Park. It’s only a short drive past Dubai Creek – perfect for a picnic or family day out.
Over 500 butterflies live on Al Noor Island in the Butterfly House, one of the most popular tourist places in Sharjah. The Butterfly House itself is a feat of modern architecture, with the outdoor structure made of perforated steel and ergonomic design to let in sunlight. With temperature and humidity controlled interiors, the structure houses over 20 different species of butterflies, including the exotic Tailed Jay, Emerald Swallowtail, Pink Rose and Malachite. The house also has comprehensive information on the region’s native species. This destination has many fun things to do with kids in Sharjah, with a dedicated children’s area and an array of butterflies in different shapes, colours and sizes. Trying to spot camouflaged butterflies and watching newborns take flight is arguably among Sharjah’s most exciting summer activities for kids.
To reach the Butterfly House, take the bridge to the island, which is just right across the water from the Al Noor Mosque; among the most striking Sharjah landmarks. Tour the displays of thought-provoking contemporary art and sculpture pieces. Then follow the boardwalk through a tropical botanical garden, one of the popular parks in Sharjah, and you’ll find the Butterfly House. It is hard to miss with the uniquely shaped steel glistening in the sunlight. End the day with a meal and drink at the organic cafe and find the perfect souvenir to take home.