Venue: Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Location: End of Malcolm Road, Poortview, Roodepoort
Costing: Entrance is R35 for adults, R25 for pensioners and students and R12 for scholars
Run by SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute), the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens is a tranquil environment in the heart of Roodepoort, Johannesburg.
I am a fairly regular visitor to the Gardens as it provides a break away from the urban jungle and a great opportunity to get some photographs of birds and other wildlife. I enjoy taking a leisurely stroll along one of the Garden's many winding walkways. It is very easy to get lost and forget that I am still essentially in a city.
The Gardens were established in 1982 and have been a hotspot for local and international visitors since. With over 600 species of plants, 220 species of birds and other various fauna, it is the perfect spot to hone your knowledge and learn.
Be aware that the gardens have a "carry in, carry out" litter policy, so please do take your own bag for rubbish when you visit.
Of course, one of the main features of the Gardens is the Witpoortjie Falls, at the base of which is a lovely recreational area where you can set up your picnic in the shade of one of the trees,
If you are lucky, you will get a sighting of the Verreaux's Eagles that nest in the Roodekrans rock formations alongside the waterfall. Often, photographers can be found with binoculars and tripods in hand, hoping to get the perfect shot of these majestic birds.
There are several hiking trails for the beginner and more enthusiastic hiker. The Geological Trail is worth doing, but set aside a few hours for this and keep an eye out for notorious Highveld storms!
Some of the other features include:
- Succulent garden
- Cycad garden
- Water garden
- Fern trail
- Geological Garden
There is a fun outdoor gym located in one of the nooks, where you can test your fitness on various types of equipment that work off your own weight.
For those who are feeling peckish, the Eagle's Fare Restaurant is a great place to stop and rest. They offer a reasonably priced menu with something for everyone and lovely, friendly staff. The manager is also present and attentive, which I like to see! The food is very good and I highly recommend something from their selection of gourmet burgers.
The Gardens also hosts many outdoor concerts, most recently of which was South African legend Johnny Clegg. It is quite something to watch great local talent with the backdrop of the waterfall and mountains.
And if you feel like creating or adding to your own personal slice of heaven, there is a nursery where many indigenous plants are available for purchase. The staff are very knowledgeable and have a selection of reference books handy should you have any questions.
Hints and tips:
- There is no ATM, although the shops do have credit card facilities
- Wear comfortable, closed shoes as some of the walkways are a little rugged, particularly if you want to head up one of the hiking trails
- Sunblock is essential!
- Picnics are welcome, but don't forget a blanket or camping chairs too
- Get there early to ensure a good parking spot