By: Jabu Gumede (@JLilay)
Hidden in the western hills of Johannesburg, The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens lie on a mountain overlooking Constantia Kloof. Used mostly as a picnic venue for families and friends, the garden offers a place where the grass is always green, trees are exotic and the views are breath-taking.
Location: Malcolm Rd, Roodepoort 1739, South Africa
Open Hours: 08h00 to 17h00 daily (including public holidays)
Famous for its majestic waterfall and vast wildlife, the garden has been voted ‘The Best Spot to Get Back To Nature’ by the Best of Joburg Readers Choice Awards for nine years in a row. With a 3.5 km hike, the garden is an ideal place to go and get a worthwhile workout. It also includes the Outdoor Green Gyms that are perfect for ending off a cardio session. (A tough but invigorating workout!)
Being my first hike , I took on the invitation to the garden with a sense of excitement. It was right inline with my ‘New Year’s resolution’ to find alternative forms of exercise and staying active. Upon arrival, I remember thinking, “what a beautiful park”. It looked like it could easily be in Cape Town or Mpumalanga, but here it was, a hidden gem in the city.
We began our hike after taking in the picturesque waterfall. A sign informed us that the hike should take about two and a half hours. It didn’t seem bad until I saw the steps. Prepare yourself for a ladder of steps ranging from pretty shallow to quite high and steep. About half way up, there is a landing above the waterfall which serves as a great resting spot.
After climbing your way up the stairs, you finally reach the hills peak. Being there, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and peace. The air is different: fresher, crisper and certainly well worth the hike. This view works as the perfect backdrop for “selfies” and a moment to gather peace, pray or meditate.
The way down was less challenging. however, because of the slippery rocks, hikers should walk with caution to avoid ankle injuries. Surprisingly, we made it down in one and a half hours! I had fun (and I burned five hundred calories). I urge you to do it with a group of your girls on a Sunday afternoon and when summer rolls by, you’ll be glad to be sporting a transformed booty, toned legs and some good memories of DMC’s.
For more on wildlife, visit South African National Biodiversity Institute page.