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Pretoria, The Jacaranda City of South Africa

My favorite time to visit Pretoria (also known as Tshwane) is around mid-October to mid-November when the ornamental Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. This is the time when Pretoria gets all dressed up in purple, colloquially called Jacaranda City, as a result. 

A fun fact of Pretoria is that despite it being known as the Jakaranda city, it is actually Johannesburg that is the South Africa city with the most Jacaranda trees! The nursery owner William Nelson is credited with bringing the Jacarandas to Johannesburg.

"The goal is to die with memories, not dreams." - Unknown

Jacaranda trees Pretoria travel and home
Jacarandas in bloom
Jakarandas Pretoria South Africa Travel and Home

The spectacular blooms are also the first indicators that it’s time for university students to prepare for their final exams! So, it’s quite appropriate then that the Jacaranda tree represents wisdom, wealth, rebirth, and good fortune. In fact, according to legend, if a Jacaranda flower falls on your head, you sure are in for some good fortune!

The Jacaranda trees were brought into South Africa from Argentina, and later also from Brazil. Thus, not an indigenous tree.

In 1888 two Jacaranda trees came into South Africa. They were planted in Celliers Street by JD Celliers and stand inside the grounds of Sunnyside Primary School.

There is plenty of controversy about the exact date when the Jacarandas came into Pretoria. Some say it was in 1888, while others claim that the Jacaranda trees on the corner of Stanza Bopape and Eastwood streets are the oldest ones in the city. It’s also been claimed that the Jacarandas from Brazil came into South Africa in 1829. 

The blossoms create their own beautiful carpet as they drop to the ground. If you drive over such a purple carpet, do yourself a favor and roll down the car’s windows. Drive slowly and listen to the sounds of the blossoms popping under the wheels. It sounds like popcorn popping! Of course, it can be quite slippery then so be careful when you walk on the blossoms that cover the sidewalks.

Another Jacaranda treat is to explore Pretoria and find an avenue of these trees. There are many such avenues, you won’t struggle to find them. The suburb of Waterkloof is lined with the Jacarandas. Truly an amazing sight. The joy of this travel tip is that you get to inhale the soft sweet honey smell of the Jacaranda blossoms. Once popped they have a soft musky smell to them.

Sunrise, Jacaranda trees in Waterkloof Pretoria South Africa travel and home

South Africa’s administrative capital city Pretoria is also the home of the rare white Jacarandas. In fact, Herbert Baker Street in Groenkloof (Pretoria) is the only street in South Africa with an abundance of white Jacarandas.

White Jacaranda in bloom Pretoria South Africa travel and home

Over time, they multiplied and classified as invasive tree species. At one stage the government started taking the trees down, to the disgust of the residents. The outcry was so loud, that the chopping down of the Jacarandas stopped. Instead, a new decree was published. Today, you’re not allowed to plant new Jacaranda trees in South Africa, while you may keep the existing ones.

Slowly the face of Pretoria will change over the month of October as these beautiful trees will disappear. Apparently, the Jacaranda trees live for up to 2 centuries. And in this time, as they die, they will be replaced by indigenous trees instead.

Jacaranda trees in Pretoria South Africa travel and home

Half-Day, Full Day, Multi-Day Experiences

Out-of-season travel bargains in Pretoria

The high season is usually over public holidays such as Easter and Christmas. So, if you travel to Pretoria in October you not only get to witness the Jacarandas’ beautiful display, but it’s less crowded because the students are studying. 

The summer school holidays are over most of December and usually runs a week or two into January. During this time accommodation prices are higher than usual. Thus, another reason why you should visit Pretoria in October.

Things to do

Pretoria is so well located that besides just the activities in Pretoria alone, you stand to enjoy a variety of memorable day trips. 

The sightseeing guide for Pretoria will give you information on the best places to see and things to do in and around Pretoria.

Rietvlei nature reserve Pretoria travel and home

Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Pretoria

…is about 4000 hectares (40 km2) in size and a great half-day family excursion. The reserve has various hides, and the roads are also well-maintained. There is an abundance of birdlife in the reserve, so I suggest you pack your binoculars, have your camera fully charged, and add a bird book to a basket with some snacks and drinks. 

Read more about the reserve before you plan your trip, so you are informed of their latest news. For instance, you won’t see the Big Five here. But the tranquility of the reserve more than makes up for it. It really is a place to chill after a busy week! In addition, it’s a few minutes by car to get here. It’s worth visiting to re-connect with Mother Nature at Rietvlei Nature Reserve in an otherwise busy lifestyle or travel program.


Travel Tip(s)

  • Use reputable providers so you enjoy a trouble-free, safe, and secure holiday in South Africa.
  • Scroll down to the end of the article to get the addresses of the various points of interest covered in the article. 
  • Usually, Rietvlei Nature Reserve’s gates open at 07h00. From the last week of June to the first week of July, you can get some great sunrise moments while sipping away at a steaming mug of coffee. But you must be at the gate the moment it opens, and don’t forget your coffee. Nature at its best!

An excursion to Cullinan is synonymous with Pretoria. Cullinan is famous for the discovery of the largest rough gem-quality diamond ever found. Known as the Cullinan Diamond, it was named after Sir Thomas Cullinan, the diamond’s owner at that time.

Indigenous gardens University of Pretoria engineering vaculty aloes travel and home 3

The Manie van der Schijff Botanical Garden

…is famous for about 3 000 plant species over approximately 3.5 hectares of the University’s Hatfield west campus. 

Voortrekker Monument Pretoria Gauteng South Africa travel and home Paul Kruger boardroom
Voortrekker Monument front facade Pretoria travel and home
Voortrekker Monument

The Voortrekker Monument

…in Pretoria is also the home to South Africa’s President Paul Kruger’s meeting room. The enormous granite monument (constructed in 1949) commemorates the Voortrekkers who left the Cape Colony between 1835 and 1854. 

Altogether, there are 299 steps to climb when you visit this hilltop beauty. 

Union Buildings

Union Buildings in Government Avenue. Allow an hour for a walking tour of the grounds in front of Union Buildings and a photo opportunity with the Madiba (Nelson Mandela) statue.

Anton Smit is one of South Africa’s most famous artists. He speaks his own language through his art and is the embodiment of poetry.

The Anton Smit Sculpture Park is a must-do half-day sightseeing activity if you’re into sculpting. Even if you’re not, you will walk away amazed at such talent to create the most astonishing artwork.

There is a small restaurant for light refreshments which I recommend. It’s a lovely little set-up where you can relax with a true sense of tranquility.

Anton Smit’s work can be seen all over the country but in particular at Menlyn on Main in Pretoria.

How to get to Anton Smit Sculpture Park

The only way to get here is to drive either in your own vehicle or book a reliable taxi service. I recommend the first option. 

  • 46 min (65.9 km) via the N4 highway and R25
  • 57 min (64.6 km) via the M6 and R25
Anton Smit Beeldhou Park Pretoria RSA South Africa travel and home Statue
Anton Smit Sculpture Park & Gallery

Other places in Pretoria that are worth seeing are:

If by now, you want to head on over to Pretoria for your next bucket list holiday, then let’s plan your trip with a few travel tips and travel pointers.

How expensive is Pretoria?

The above costs are average travel costs collated from real travelers. Therefore, it’s a great travel tool when it comes to your travel budget and planning your dream vacation.

Re-Cap of 13 activities in and around Pretoria, South Africa's Jacaranda city

  • Jacaranda selfies.
  • Rietvlei Nature Reserve, 14 Game Reserve Ave, Rietvallei.
  • Cullinan Diamond Mine.
  • The Manie Van Der Schijff Botanical Garden, University of Pretoria.
  • Voortrekker Monument, Eeufees Rd, Groenkloof 
  • Sammy Marks Museum.
  • Union Buildings, Government Avenue.
  • Church Square, central Pretoria.
  • Fort Schanskop fortress, Eeufees Road, Groenkloof.
  • Jan Smuts House Museum, Jan Smuts Avenue, Centurion.
  • DIY picnic lunch at the Freedom Park Heritage Site.
  • Freedom Park Heritage Site & Museum, Koch Street and 7th Ave, Salvokop.
  • Anton Smit Sculpture Park, Black Eagle Avenue, Aquavista Mountain Estate, Bronkhorstspruit.
diy day trips pretoria tshwane voortrekker monument freedom park heritage site and museum picnic
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