I don’t know how I have managed to live in Joburg for over 2 years now and only got around to visiting the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden a couple of Sundays ago. I have known about this park for a long time now and it is located only about 40 minutes from our home, but somehow we never managed to stop in. This is a stunning garden, a perfect place to spend a day out relaxing on the well-kept lawns and/or hiking around the reserve.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
The garden is open everyday from 8:00 to 17:00 and there is an entrance fee of 40 ZAR (increase as of April 1). There is a lot of secure parking though when we arrived around noon we were quite far from the entrance. If you are doing a proper picnic and have too much to carry, you can even hire a porter to help schelp all of your stuff to your chosen spot for your picnic.
Since we didn’t plan ahead for a picnic, we decided to try out the on-site restaurant. While the views are lovely and the service was friendly, the food was sadly just average. Next time we will definitely picnic.
Restaurant with a view
Probably the most popular attraction in the garden is Witpoortjie Falls, a 70 metre (230 foot) waterfall. There is some work being done on this area so some of the walking paths are currently closed.
For the energetic folks, there is a hiking trail that starts next to the falls and if you make the climb, you will be rewarded with some amazing views. The trail is 3.5 kilometres long and supposedly takes about 2.5 hours for the entire loop. There is also a warning at the start to hike in groups, though I have not seen any reports of any issues here. Since we were just 2, we chose to just hike to the very top and come back down the same way as there were quite a few people doing just that. If anyone knows more about the security situation here, please let me know as we will certainly be going back one day.
Falls from above
Views for days
If you are lucky, you may get to see some nesting Verreaux’s Eagles at the top but luck was unfortunately not on our side. The views however, were stunning and well worth the rather steep and rocky hike up.
River heading towards the falls
After heading back down, we took a long stroll on the many footpaths to explore the rest of the garden.
We stumbled upon a cool outdoor workout centre
Fynbos I think? Anyone?
For bird-lovers, a visit to the bird hide is a must. We didn’t have time to stay very long so we didn’t see too much except some ducks, but I will certainly spend more time there on a future visit.
View from the bird hide
If you are looking for a great day out near Joburg, I highly recommend you spend some time here at the garden. We really enjoyed our Sunday and I am sure we will visit again soon.