5 Questions To Ask Before Using Minibus Taxis In Gauteng

Minibus taxis are the most popular mode of transport for most of South Africa’s population. In fact, the taxi industry is made up of 90% minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).

These taxis are the most available and affordable form of public transport in most urban areas in South Africa. Despite the advantages associated with minibus taxis, the disadvantages sometimes outweigh the advantages. That’s why we put together 5 questions to help you overcome challenges associated with using minibus taxis in Gauteng. Make sure you have answers to the questions – for every trip. We recommend finding a friendly taxi driver, local or fellow Nigerian who can answer all these questions a day before your trip.

1: What is your destination?

Know the name of the destination (e.g. Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo), and street address (e.g. Jan Smuts Ave & Upper Park Dr, Parkview, Johannesburg, 2193).

Quick safety tips:

  • Do not get off in unfamiliar places or in the middle of nowhere.
  • If you are unfamiliar with your destination. Check it on Google Maps so that you know what to look out for.
  • If possible travel at a reasonable time, preferably not at night time.
  • Tell someone where you are going and update them as often as possible

Of the 36 lives lost daily on South African roads, 3 (8%) are killed in taxi related incidents (Arrive Alive, 2018).

2. Will the minibus taxi drop you off at your destination?

Unfortunately, the taxi will not always be able to drop you off at your final or preferred destination. Taxis follow a predetermined route, known only by taxi drivers and frequent passengers. Try to check out Taximap; the website publish up-to-date information regarding minibus taxi routes, price, hours of operation, and other relevant information for minibus taxis in Johannesburg and for many other major South African cities.

The taxi industry consists of about 150 000 minibus taxis (Arrive Alive, 2018).

3. What time must you be at your destination?

Once again, taxis take a predetermined route that doesn’t always favour the passenger. Leave early to avoid being late. Waiting and travel times can be very long when using taxis so allocate two or three hours for waiting and traveling. Peak hours are early in the morning (there are many passengers going to work) and late afternoons (there are many passengers going home from work).

During peak hours, there are long queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and a low number of taxis. During off peak hours, there are short queues of taxi passengers, long waiting times and high numbers of taxis. 

Minibus taxis in South Africa make the front passenger count the taxi fare

4. Where do you get minibus taxis to your destination?

Find out where you will be getting a taxi from. Is it from a taxi rank or by the side of the road. Which hand sign must you make to make the taxi stop? See this comprehensive multimedia information from Alberton Record on hand signs to make in order to catch a minibus taxi in South Africa. If you are going to a taxi rank then make sure you are standing at the right queue. If you are not sure that you are standing in the right queue then ask queue marshals, locals and taxi drivers.

Try this greeting.

Sure boss, please where can I get a minibus taxi to Joburg Zoo?

5. Where in the minibus taxi should you sit?

If you are early or lucky enough to choose where to sit, make sure you do not sit in the backseat or the front passenger seat. Choose any other seat (maybe one close to the window, if you prefer) and you should be comfortable.

Do not sit in the front passenger seat of a minibus taxi if your mathematics and multilingual skills are poor. 

Whoever sits in the front passenger seat is expected to collect and count all the taxi fare. If you have never done this before, then you’re lucky because it is daunting. Both the driver and passengers can be very unforgiving about their money. Passengers want their change before they get off at their destination. The driver wants all his money, so if someone did not pay then you will be blamed. Most taxi passengers speak the local South African languages and not English. With that said, being a Nigerian and sitting in the front seat of a taxi in South Africa are like oil and water. They don’t mix!

But then, remember to be conscious of your safety on South African roads and more importantly if you are travelling with kids. SA Taxi Foundation puts pedestrian injury as the leading cause of death in children. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of road safety tips.

On a final note, remember to plan ahead before you dash out for your first minibus taxi ride by writing out your answers to the 5 questions above; this will guarantee a pleasant minibus taxi ride for you. And don’t forget to share your South African minibus taxi experience in the comment section below.

Recommended: Read about road safety in South Africa 

Related Article: James Hall Museum of Transport – Affordable South African Tourist Attraction

Night life at Iyana Ipaja, Lagos

Welcome to the city that never sleeps. No wonder they say the life of the Lagosian is on the road!

This is Ọjà Alẹ́ (Night Market) and it is 10pm at Iyana Ipaja Bus Stop in Lagos State. I am here for fresh Ofio (tigernuts) and dates from Mallam Musa.

Iyana Ipaja in Yorùbá language means ‘the junction to Ipaja road’. Iyana Ipaja is a settlement community and also doubles as one of the busiest commercial hubs on Lagos mainland.

Tribute to Meruschka Govender, Our Mzansi Girl

Mzansi Girl, Meruschka Govender

A year or two ago, my husband introduced me to a blog by Meruschka Govender – a travel activist, experience seeker, and tourism thinker. Meruschka started her travel blog, Mzansi Girl, in July 2012.

On the 27th of August 2019, Meruschka posted her final blog post ‘Where are South Africans flying to?‘.

Today, I was deeply saddened to read that Meruschka Govender passed away in mid-January 2019. Bizcommunity and Traveller24 reported that Durban-born, Meruschka Govender (38) passed away after a private battle with cancer. My sincere condolences to the Govender family. Meruschka might have passed away but she touched many lives and left many memories.

Tribute to Meruschka Govender

I hope that this tribute to my husband and I’s favourite girl in Mzansi will help to spread her memories wider. Meruschka was well-known to the travel industry and happily shared her love of travelling with South Africa on her blog and social media platforms.

Here are some interesting things about our Mzansi Girl.

  1. Meruschka’s first independent African travel experience was backpacking from Joburg to Malawi via Mozambique in 2003.
  2. She started blogging as a ‘micro-blogger’ via Twitter during the 2010 World Cup. She used Twitter (@MzansiGirl) to share her love for Africa with the world.
  3. She was born in Durban and travelled to 40+ countries but Johannesburg/ Joburg was her first love.
  4. 16 months after starting her blog, Meruschka Govender resigned from her day job to focus on sharing the African travel love.
  5. Prior to starting the Mzansi Girl Blog, she spent 8 years working in the tourism industry. She ran a backpacker hostel, to working for South Africa’s only tourism NGO and eventually working in tourism policy in national government.

Rest In Peace to Meruschka Govender, our favourite girl in mzansi. Thank you for filling our lives with your remarkable experiences and memories.

Read related articles about travel

Image Credit: Image Credit: Meruschka Govender (Mzansi Girl)

Lagos Vs Jozi – A South African’s Review

Lagos Vs Jozi

Shawn Greyling is a Writer and one of the coolest Oyinbos in Jozi. He wrote a great review of Lagos (Lagos Vs Jozi) on Jhb Live. His first impression of Lagos was both hilarious and a little hard to read.

In case you don’t know: Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city (similar to Jozi in South Africa). The Yoruba people of Nigeria (like my husband) call it Eko. There are many clear similarities and differences between Lagos and Jozi. In fact, there are many news articles that have labelled the two cities as both friends and foes. That is why I enjoy reading reviews of both cities, more so when South Africans are reviewing Lagos. Consequently, I could not resist when I came across Shawn Grelying’s review of Lagos.

Shawn Greyling’s first impression

Lagos Vs Jozi

“At first sight, Lagos is like giving a blind man a front-row seat to the Armageddon, along with the ability to see for the first time.” – Shawn Greyling

Lagos Vs Jozi

[Lagos] “is an explosion of noise, of traffic straight from hell and smog that would leave a Greenpeace junky grabbing at his Ben Sherman shirt sleeve to cover his mouth.” – Shawn Greyling

Lagos Vs Jozi – the conclusion

Although his first impression indicated a form culture shock, Shawn ended having a great time in Lagos. He ended up thinking that Lagos competes with Jozi for the best city in Africa.

Lagos Vs Jozi

On the drive back to the hotel I thought to myself, “Lord, Joburg’s got competition when it comes to being the best city in Africa…” – Shawn Greyling

Read the Shawn Greyling’s Lagos Vs Jozi article on http://www.jhblive.com/Reviews-in-Johannesburg/places-to-stay/lagos-vs-jozi/4554

You can connect with Shawn Greling on:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/shawngreyling
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shawn.greyling/?hl=en
Twitter: https://twitter.com/inshawnwetrust

Quick facts about Lagos

  • Lagos’ Third Mainland Bridge is the second largest bridge in Africa.
  • The tallest building (160m) in Nigeria (Nigerian Telecommunication Company – NITEL) is in Lagos.

Related Article: Jozi – Location, People, Airports, and Tourism

Jozi – Location, People, Airports, and Tourism

Jozi

Jozi and Joburg are pet names for Johannesburg, which is the largest city in South Africa. Johannesburg is located in Gauteng, one of nine provinces in South Africa. The word Gauteng means the place of gold in Sotho, one of the eleven official languages in South Africa. Jozi’s coordinates are 26.2041° S (South), 28.0473° E (East). According to the City of Johannesburg, there are seven regions in Jozi.

Jozi - Where is Jozi

A map of Gauteng with Johannesburg highlighted in red

The people in Jozi

The City of Johannesburg has a population of 4,4 million; 76,4% are black people, 12,3% are white people, 5,6% are coloured people, and 4,9% are Indian or Asian. (Statistics South Africa Census, 2011).

Jozi people
Johannesburg Park Station

Airports in Joburg

There are three airports in Jozi, Oliver Reginald Tambo International in Kempton Park (popularly referred to as OR Tambo International), Grand Central Airport in Midrand, Lanseria International Airport in Lanseria, Rand Airport in Germiston, and Palmietfontein Airport.

Jozi Airport
Rand Airport

Universities in Joburg

Joburg is home to two of South Africa’s best universities, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

Jozi Universities - University of Johannesburg
University of Johannesburg (UJ)

Tourism in Joburg

Some of the top things to see in Joburg are historic sites, landmarks, animal parks, flea markets, private animal sightseeing tours, and street markets. Here are some popular tourist activities:

  • City Sightseeing Joburg Bus for exploring the Carlton Center, Apartheid Museum, Constitution Hill and much more.
  • Soweto’s Orlando Towers has bungee jumping, where you can jump from a suspension bridge with a rubber cord around your feet.
  • Apartheid Museum deal with 20th century South Africa, at the heart of which is the apartheid story.
  • Joburg Theatre is the “home to Joburg Ballet, Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s Peoples Theatre Company – performing throughout the year to children between the ages of 3 and 13 – and one of the country’s most respected community development projects in the arts, the tiny ‘black-box’ theatre known as space.com”.
  • Johannesburg Planetarium at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits)
Jozi Tourism - City Sightseeing Joburg
City Sightseeing Joburg

Related Article: Johannesburg Zoo in December – Travel Review

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of Johannesburg’s hiden travel treasures. I found out about the centre on a Sunday morning during my 10-kilometer hike to Auckland Park. The Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is one of many destinations that make Johannesburg a great travel destination.

Fun things to do in Johannesburg

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The moment I found out about Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, I added it to my list of fun things to do in Johannesburg. Sadly, it is closed on Sundays so I couldn’t go inside the centre. Therefore, it has to go on my list of fun places to visit in Johannesburg.

I will visit Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Prior to finding out about this centre, the only thing I knew about Sophiatown was that there were forceful removals of Black South Africans at some point in history. This is why I was happy to have found that the
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre has preserved the history of Sophiatown. Before I visit the centre and share my travel experience, here is what I found out about the Sophiatown of old.

Sophiatown: Past, Triomf and Present

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

There are three properties in the Sophiatown area that survived the oppressive South African apartheid government. After the destruction of most of the properties during apartheid, the area was renamed ‘Triomf’ which means ‘Victory’ or ‘Triumph’.

It literally means “we (the white people) now have victory over this area and we have dominated it for our use”.

Prior to the destruction of Sophiatown, the area was famous for its rich multicultural flavor. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, Sophiatown was a melting pot of tribes and races. Several notable artists, politicians and jazz musicians congregated to have conversations and to use their talents to condemn the racist government of their time. It was a breeding ground for anti-apartheid activists.

Trevor Huddleston and Dr. Alfred Xuma

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Trevor Huddleston’s and Dr. Alfred Xuma’s houses are two out of three houses that survived the demolision of the old Sophiatown. Trevor Huddleston was a local priest in the old Sophiatown. His house was next to Dr. Alfred Bitini Xuma’s house. Dr. Xuma was an exceptional medical practitioner in his time and he was a former president of the African National Congress (ANC).

We won’t move movement

Trevor Huddleston, Ruth First, Nelson Mandela, and Helen Joseph were some of the anti-apartheid activists who condemned the destruction of Sophiatown. They were part of the ‘we won’t move movement’ when the Sophiatown area was razed to the ground by bulldozers on 9 February 1955. This was done to give way for new housing developments for white people (whites only areas).

Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre
Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

Over 2000 fully armed policemen partook in the forceful removals of Black, Coloured, Indian and Chinese people who were living in Sophiatown.

Meadowlands

Black people were relocated to a township in Soweto called Meadowlands. The sad relocation inspired the soulful music of Sibongile Kumalo and others. Thandi Klaassen’s even gave a tribute to Sophiatown in her ‘Together As One’ album.

“Sophiatown was indeed the place they all knew. It was where their dreams came true until the white man came to break it down”.  –
Thandi Klaassen’

Several other artists sang beautiful melodies about the pain of the forced removal of Black people from Sophiatown.

Freedom at last

Thankfully, apartheid’s head has been crushed and Sophiatown’s heritage of multi-plurality has been restored. The rich flavors of art have returned. Life in its fullness is now free for all.

If you have additional information about Sophiatown or Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre, please share it with me in the comments section. I would also love to read your personal experience of life in Sophiatown. I hope to share more photos of my experience at the museum as soon as I visit.

Google Map of Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre

The address of the Sophiatown Heritage and Cultural Centre is 71-73 Toby Street corner Edward Road, Sophiatown, Johannesburg. For more information, you can call the Centre on 011 673 1271 or visit their website on www.sophiatownthemix.com.

Related article: Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Nigeria – Lagos summer travel checklist

Nigeria travel tips

Nigeria is an interesting and unique country that everyone should travel to at least once in their lifetime. In this article, I will take you through what you need to pack when you are traveling there.

If you are a first-time traveler to Nigeria, please ensure that you read the entire article. I wrote this article with you in mind.

First-time traveler to Nigeria?

Although I live in Johannesburg, I was born and bred in Nigeria so I am confident that the tips in this article will help you.

Nigeria’s weather and climate

Nigeria has two basic weather seasons; dry and wet seasons.
This is typical of most tropical countries. The dry season is winter and it starts in November and ends in March. In contrast, summer is a rainy season in Nigeria; it starts in April and ends in October.

Nigeria and tourists

The weather in Nigeria is generally hot throughout the year. However, there are varying weather temperatures. The hottest month in Lagos, Nigeria is February with temperatures averaging 28°C. In contrast, July is the city’s coldest month with an average temperature of 24°C.

What you should pack for the trip

Considering the predominantly hot climate in Nigeria, it is important to plan ahead before visiting Nigeria. You should aim to dress for comfort and convenience.

Below is a list of items to travel with and tips to bear in mind while packing your travel suitcase.

Tackle the heat with sunglasses, hat, umbrella, sunscreen, wipes, and a water bottle.

  • I recommend that you pack polarized sunglasses with a UV filter. The sun’s rays can be hazardous to your eyes so you should protect yourself.
  • Pack a broad-brimmed hat to keep your hair, skin, and eyes cool. You will need to cover up because the sun’s ray can be unbearably hot in Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Pack a small fold up travel sun umbrella to shade you from the sun. Come rain or shine, you will be covered.
  • I find wet wipes to be very useful in weather conditions associated with dust and sweat. They come really handy for neatly cleaning out your face and palms.
  • Sunscreen prevents sunburn, skin cancer, and skin irritation. Protect your skin by adding sunscreen to your traveling bag.
  • Nigeria is hot. Therefore you will need to stay hydrated. You should pack a water bottle and buy bottled water from reputable stores when outdoor. 

Unfortunately, most taps are dry in Nigeria. Moreover, the water from most government taps is not suitable for human consumption. Therefore, drinking directly from the government taps is risky.

The state of water in Nigeria
Nigeria weather

Cotton. Cotton. Cotton.

  • Cotton underwear absorbs your body’s sweat. That is because Cotton is a natural fiber that significantly helps to prevent sweat. Lightweight cotton underwear is breathable and will ensure the flow of air around your bikini area.
  • Ensure that the swimwear that you pack has cotton linings. The swimwear will come in handy on days when you want to soak in your hotel’s swimming pool or at any of the popular Lagos beaches.

Similar to Durban, Lagos is a coastal city with several beaches.

Nigeria - Lagos beach
  • Cotton socks will help contain the sweat from your feet and prevent that stinky foot smell we all dislike. This will also help when you are visiting religious or cultural centers where it is compulsory for you to take off your shoes e.g. churches, mosques, and monarch’s palaces.

Nail clippers, open toe shoes, jackets and boots

  • Pack nail clippers. In hot weather conditions, your toenails can be a breeding spot for germs, cut your nails as often as possible.
  • Ensure that you pack open toe shoes i.e. sandals or flip-flops (Nigerians call them slippers). They are comfortable, convenient and easy to wear in the heat.

It is commonplace to experience sudden weather changes. The weather can change from been hot to cold. In situations such as these, you will need a jersey, sweater or jacket.

Side note: Due to the heat, air conditioners are popular features in homes, offices, and cars in Nigeria.

  • Bonus Tip: Wear your heaviest shoes or boots when flying. It lightens your luggage load.

Related Article: Thinking of leaving Nigeria for South Africa, read this first.

Johannesburg Zoo in December – Travel review

African zebras fighting at the zoo

Whether you call it Johannesburg Zoo or Joburg Zoo, the zoo in Johannesburg can be a good spot for a family picnic. How do I know? Well, my husband and I recently visited Johannesburg Zoo for the first time.

Pitori to Jozi

We are still new to Johannesburg so it took a while for us to start exploring it. Phela growing up in Pretoria (Pitori), we were told horror stories about Johannesburg (Jozi). Those Jozi crime stories were enough to keep me away from the city of gold. If it wasn’t for my job and husband, I doubt that I would left Pretoria for Johannesburg.

Entrance and parking fees at Johannesburg Zoo

Enough about Pretoria. We’re in Johannesburg now so let me tell you about our first trip to Johannesburg Zoo. We went to the zoo on a Monday afternoon in December. The first thing we did after parking, was to escort our son to the restrooms. We used the restrooms near the zoo’s covered multi-level parking, which is spacious, ample and secure. After paying for parking (R16 per car) and entrance (R80 per adult and R55 per child), the unfriendly zoo staff granted us access. The zoo staff and security guards didn’t feel like being helpful on that day. To add to that, the signage was faded and confusing.

Johannesburg Zoo
The Johannesburg Zoo entrance

Joburg Zoo has ATMs, food trucks and picnic areas

Despite the cold welcome, we enjoyed watching and (in some cases) interacting with different animals. We started by the birds section so we saw birds, birds, birds and more birds. It was getting boring for me. Luckily, my two favourite people (Akin and Akin) didn’t mind much. Johannesburg Zoo has several food trucks that sell food but I packed a picnic bag full of food. My husband generously carried the heavy picnic backpack everywhere we went. Unfortunately, I forgot the picnic blanket so we had to sit at the concrete bench and chair sets. Luckily, Johannesburg Zoo has a lot of those sitting arrangements – chairs, benches and tables. I was happy to see that Johannesburg Zoo had ATMs on site and rubbish bins throughout the zoo. We bought ice cream from one of the food trucks that had a card machine before venturing off again.

Tiger, woods and a lonely elephant

Eventually, we saw a tiger. It looked exactly like the tiger on the Tiger Brands logo but it was a lot bigger than I expected. We also saw one lonely-looking elephant. The elephant’s home was surrounded by peacocks that appeared to be ready to reproduce. They were running around freely everywhere – some didn’t have their colourful feathers anymore. That was a sad sight. On a brighter note, we also saw a rhino, lemurs, monkeys and antelopes.

Peacocks at the Jozi Zoo
The peacocks at the elephant house

Late for the Amazon Exhibition

However, the Amazon animal section, where marine animals, are kept was closed. It was our fault, we arrived a bit late to the zoo. The Johannesburg Zoo is open weekdays and weekends (Monday – Sunday) from 08:30 – 17:30 but the Amazon section closes around 3pm. Trying to get my family to leave the house early (together) is like pulling teeth. It is painful to endure and horrifying to watch (all at the same time).

The tale of the fighting zebras

Speaking of horrifying moments, we came across the zebras. I have always found zebras to be peaceful and uneventful but not this time.

Zebras fighting
The infamous fighting zebras

Yoh! The zebras at Johannesburg Zoo were wild. They were so wild that even my son (who can also be wild) was a bit scared.

African zebras fighting at the zoo
Another angle of the fighting zebras

The boy and zebra

We walked through a narrow passage and passed some white cranes (and squirrels) on our left. The zebras were on our right hand side. My son and I were walking ahead of daddy (who was admiring the cranes even after having seen a billion birds). My son then decided to run and to my surprise the zebra ran along him (behind the mesh fence). This boy showed no fear and continued to run with this wild zebra.

A boy with a zebra at the zoo
My son and the zebra he tried to befriend

After I asked my son to stop playing with the zebra (in a not so quiet tone), we proceeded to the other side to see more zebras.

This time, we saw sets of zebras, two of which were fighting like wild animals

Yes, I meant to write that!

The end and the beginning of the next visit

The smallest zebra kept on going back for round after round of kicks, bites and what sounded like insults from the bigger zebra. It was interesting to watch at first until the small started zebra crying. This was my first time hearing a zebra cry over and over. These fighting zebras went at this for almost 20 minutes. They were still fighting when we left them.

On my next visit to the Johannesburg Zoo, I am going to check on those fighting zebras. Wish me luck!

To find out more about Johannesburg Zoo, visit their website. We have more travel reviews of places in Jozi – e.g. Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review.

Westdene Dam in Johannesburg – Travel Review

Westdene Dam

The Westdene Dam is part of the series of connected streams flowing through Johannesburg. The dam was designed to reduce the impact of flood peaks and erosion potential of nearby spruits. It is also a park and a facility that supports plant and animal life.

Where is the Westdene dam?

The Westdene Dam is located near the South African Post Office (on Thornton street), the University of Johannesburg (Auckland Park, Kingsway Campus) and UJ sport fields. Entrance to the dam is free and it operates daily (weekdays and weekends) from 6am – 6pm.

Where is Westdene?

Westdene is predominantly a residential area located between Melville and Triomf in Johannesburg. It is close to Johannesburg City Business District and it is a place of choice for student accommodation.

My visit to the Westdene Dam

Although I live around Westdene, I drove and hiked past the Westdene Dam for more than two months before my visit to the dam. I remember staring at the dam’s beautiful free ranging team of waterfowls through its ClearVu security fence. Hiking over the cycle and pedestrian skywalker gave me an impressive view of the Westdene Dam. But, I was always shocked to find this interesting place often deserted. This peaked my curiosity and I wanted to find out what the Westdene Dam was all about and to share my experience.

Ducks, geese and playground at Westdene Dam

Ducks and geese at the Westdene Dam

I eventually found time to visit on a Saturday. Entering through the Lewes road access gate, my first encounter was with a raft of ducks I had been admiring from across the road. Neatly organised in two groups, they scrambled through trash left behind probably by visitors. The ducks were easy going and beautiful. The team of waterfowl I came across were made up of different breeds ranging from the yellow-billed duck, white-faced duck, Egyptian geese, snow goose and the Toulouse geese. They mind their business and pose no threat to visitors.

Playground and outdoor gym at the Westdene Dam

The Westdene Dam is an interesting community recreation area that offers great views, amazing relaxation spots, functional outdoor full body gym equipment and a well managed children’s playground.

The playground at the Westdene Dam

The outdoor gym equipment at the dam is great for members of the community to keep fit, for free. All the equipment comes with instruction labels which make them public-friendly. The kids section is also packed with different outdoor recreational equipment that is safe, structured and modern.

The gym at the Westdene Dam

Restrictions at the Westdene Dam

A number of rules are on display on the public boards around the dam. Some of the prohibitions include:

  • The littering and dumping of refuse.
  • Setting up of any sort of fireplace, braai or bush burning.
  • The riding of motorcycles are disallowed in the park but bicycles are acceptable.
  • Alcohol and drug use is highly forbidden
  • Camping is not allowed
  • Loud music is forbidden
  • Guns and any forms of dangerous weapons are forbidden
  • Sleeping at the park is not allowed
  • Feeding of the ducks and geese are prohibited
  • Trading within the park is forbidden
  • Swimming in the dam is not allowed
  • Fishing is not allowed
  • Boat riding is also forbidden

Permissions at the Westdene Dam

Meanwhile, the following activities are allowed on The Westdene dam:

  • Cameras
  • The use of the playing ground by kids however, adult supervision is advised for children below the age of 10.
  • Bicycle riding
  • Pets are allowed

Westdene dam bus disaster memorial

A memorial for school students stands on the dam’s northwest bank which is at a corner close to the Westdene Dam wall. The memorial stone which was built in 2009 represents the remembrance of 41 school children who lost their lives after their double decker school bus lost control, ramped through the road barricades on the bridge and drowned in the Westdene Dam on the 27th of March 1985. It remains one of the darkest moments for the Westdene community.

The park at the Westdene dam

The dam has a park with open grass fields, an appealing landscape and giant trees. Taking a seat on one of the concrete benches (near a curvy footpath) is a great way to observe the tranquility of nature. You will notice the intermittent quacks of the marching ducks and geese scavenging the park and marvel as they suddenly nose dives into the water. The sweet chirping and singing of the birds also add to the tranquility of the dam. The Westdene Dam is a pleasant and therapeutic distraction from the seriousness and busyness of life in the City of Johannesburg.

The park at the Westdene dam

The award winning dam

The Westdene Dam is a great initiative of Johannesburg City Parks and Joburg Zoo. It has even won a number of awards, including the South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Gold Award for Specialised Landscape Design as well as the SALI Silver Award for Environmental and Water Wise Landscaping in 2017. In the spirit of maintaining the award-winning scenery, Joburg City Parks should consider providing more trash bins and constructing public toilets.

Entry into the Westdene Dam is free

The Westdene Dam is a free, safe and pleasant place for quality quiet time during the day. It offers a host of opportunities for personal and family recreation.

Please feel free to share your comments, questions or experience of the Westdene Dam. You can also read our review of the James Hall Transport Museum in Johannesburg.