Boat Picnic on Zoo Lake for Spring

Ok, I’m going to confess something to you, my readers, that I’m ashamed to admit and probably shouldn’t. In my 13 years in Joburg, I have never rented one of those awesome row boats on Zoo Lake.



I know, I know! How can I claim to be a Joburger when I’ve ignored something as fundamental as this for 13 years? But this got me thinking that it can’t just be me, I can’t be the only person who hasn’t tried it and if that’s the case, then I challenge you to commit and get this one ticked off your must-do list! Your Facebook friends are going to hate all your awesome photos while you get a morning of tranquil relaxation that simply can’t be beaten!


So last week I set out to Zoo Lake to make things right and I have to say, it was more than worth it! I met my wife at the Moyo parking area (they have security guards, so there’s no need to stress about your car). My wife brought our picnic basket and packed it with some essentials as well as a blanket which you can lay down to make your ride a little smoother.


You rent the boats from the Lions Boating Club which is found just across from Moyo, and despite never answering their phone, are actually always there and ready to rent. They seem to be refurbishing a lot of the equipment at the moment from the looks of things, so will most likely turn out a little more ‘vintage’ looking by Spring.


So we paid our fees and got handed obligatory tickets, because the guy literally hands them to you and then takes them back a second later to redeem them. It’s bizarre but hey, I figured that if I sat at Zoo Lake all day refurbishing boats I’d probably be a stickler for procedure too. He was also very friendly, which is all I really care about.


We spent roughly an hour out on the water, had an awesome picnic and almost fell asleep to the sound of the fountain pattering down on the lake. I recommend this to anyone looking to break Spring in with style!

Tips for the perfect day

  • Take an umbrella for summer visits, the boats don’t have canopies
  • Grab some cheese, crackers and wine to really make it special.
  • Take a picnic blanket and a pillow or two if you really want to take it easy.
  • Row against the ‘tide’. Otherwise you will find yourself stuck on the far end of the lake and will most likely struggle rowing back.
  • Book two hours per person because you’d rather have more than enough time, than stress about getting back mid picnic.
  • Take a book or tablet for reading material, that’s really the fun of it.
  • Take sunglasses, even if it’s winter, the glare can be terrible.

Address: Zoo Lake, Parkview, Johannesburg

Cost: R10 per adult per hour; R7.50 per child (Under 14) per hour and a minimum charge of R15 per boat.

by Byron Marais

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All photos by Byron Marais.

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