Eco-Travel Itinerary: Painting Jozi green

We all know the world is pretty much on fire due to climate change, unfettered resource consumption and burgeoning carbon footprints in various industries - including the travel sector.

From transport to water-intensive tourism activities to unsustainable practices, eco-tourism initiatives are incredibly important to change people's perceptions of a destination, especially in our cities.

The sprawling urban landscape of Jozi built on the mining industry might not sound like you'd find many eco-friendly options here, but the City of Gold is greener than you think.

On your next visit to the city, here are some top spots and activities to make your travels a little more friendly to Mother Nature.

READ: The best things in life are free: 10 ways to explore Johannesburg without spending any money 

Transport

From the Metro to Gautrain you can travel from suburb to suburb, but if you're keen to see the main attractions your best bet is the red City Sightseeing Bus. Their main starting point is in Rosebank with a hotel shuttle that runs through Sandton as well as offer a Soweto Tour extension.

Some major stops on their route include Zoo Lake, Constitution Hill, Braamfontein, Newtown and Gold Reef City. 

Accommodation

In Klipriversberg Municipal Nature Reserve you'll find the Thaba Eco Hotel in Joburg South. The four-star hotel focuses on 'xeriscaping' to keep their environmental impact limited - this refers to the conservation of water through creative landscaping.

They also offer Eco Drives - similar to game drives these excursions emphasise the ecosystem of the area, from the plants to the animals. 

For something even more luxurious, take a look at The Peech Boutique Hotel in Melrose. Chic elegance is coupled with eco-friendly practices like waste reduction, energy conservation, bottling their own water and being Fair Trade certified. 

WATCH: Taste of Radisson: The hotel group that loves to feed you 

Parks

The city is dedicated to their green spaces that break the block of buildings with stretches of nature, so head to one for a relaxing picnic or stroll.

The most famous is Zoo Lake where dams and lush trees are home to a variety of birdlife - you can also rent a boat to glide across the lake with no impact on the environment.

Another spot is Delta Park - it's one of the largest parks in the whole of Johannesburg. And arguably, also one of the prettiest. Go watch others walk their dogs or get lost in the walking trails, the 'sensory trail' and check out the bird watching hides. From here you also have excellent views of the Jozi skyline.  

SEE: A Jozi suburb just made it onto the top 50 coolest neighbourhoods in the world  

Markets

Johannesburg loves a community market - there's so many to choose from!

The most famous of all is The Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein - the focus is on good food that's sustainable every Saturday.

You can also check out the Bryanston Organic Market for pesticide-free produce on Thursdays and Saturdays and the Fourways Farmer's Market on Fridays on a proper farm homestead where you'll feel at one with nature. 

Restaurants

Eateries that use locally sourced ingredients is the name of the game when it comes to a green travel itinerary, and Jozi can deliver.

Next to the Lanseria Airport you'll find the family-run Culinary Table Restaurant - where fresh food is prepared using ingredients picked from their own garden. 

For more organic cuisine head to Jackson's Real Food Market with branches in Bryanston and Kyalami. Their pledge includes using hormone-free grass-fed meats, locally sourced fruits and vegetables, SASSI Green List seafood and serving biodynamic wines and local, preservative-free beer. 

If you're thinking gourmet, in Rosebank you'll find oneNINEone where international food is made with South African flair with seasonal produce and by using everything they can to reduce food waste. 

READ: Top restaurants across Jozi to try this summer 

Activities

Many of Joburg's suburbs are extremely walkable, especially on a graffiti tour through suburbs like Westdene, Brixton, Maboneng and Doornfontein. You'll see buildings being revived as well as limit your carbon footprint. 

Another option is also a cycling tour - there are many township tours in Alexandra and Soweto that is a lot more intimate than touring from a minibus, and other suburbs like Maboneng also have these tours. 

But what's a trip to the Big City without a little bit of shopping - and if you want eco-friendly products made with sustainable practices head to 44 Stanley in Braamfontein. The 1930s industrial space was transformed into a mixed-use development and many of its shops and eateries are eclectic, Fair Trade and eco-conscious. 

And when you've finally had enough of the city lights, head to The Living Room also in Maboneng. The rooftop cafe will surround you in greenery - like a real urban jungle - and while they book out for events they have open days as well as Super Cool Saturday events will get you pumping. 

As long as you're surrounded by nature, walk your way through attractions, eat good and use public transport, you can be a true green warrior on your travels!

PICS: Jozi loves graffiti

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