Did you know?
The gardens enforce a 'carry in, carry out' policy, which bans any form of litter in the reserve.
Just 30km west of the Johannesburg city centre you will find the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, formerly known as the Witwatersrand National Botanical Gardens.
This 300ha botanical garden offers a great escape from the inner city, with lush green lawns and the opportunity to spot rare bird species. Although the garden was only founded in 1982, the site itself has been a popular destination for many decades.
Visit the gardens' Witpoortjie Waterfall and try spot the nesting pair of Verreaux's (black) eagles who call the cliffs near the waterfall home. This is the only known pair of Verreaux's eagles in Johannesburg.
Of the 600 plant species growing naturally in the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens, look out for the vast collection of lithops, small succulents that look like small stones, which are indigenous to southern Africa. The Cycad Garden and the Succulent Rockery are also worth exploring for their diverse stocks of rare plants, some endangered.
To appreciate the nature reserve and the area's rich geology, take a walk along the Roodekrans Ridge where many species of reptiles, antelope and the odd jackal can be seen. For a detailed list of all the species of plants and animals found in the gardens, refer to the Visitor Information Centre.
There are many walks and trails meandering through the gardens. Or spend some peaceful time near the Sasol Dam. Here you can visit the bird hide for an opportunity to spot some of the 226 bird species that have been recorded in the area, and even at their busiest, you'll always be able to find a tucked-away picnic spot somewhere in the Gardens.
If you'd like some special insights, then take a guided daytime walk, and in spring and summer, you can go on guided evening walks (book in advance). Regular concerts are also held here.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Tel: 086 1001278
How to get here
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are located in Malcolm Road, Roodepoort, 30km from the Johannesburg city centre.
Best time to visit
Best time to visit is spring and summer, when the flowering shrubs are in bloom.
Around the area
Worth visiting is the nearby Roodepoort Country Club, home of one of South Africa's biggest golf courses, as well as the Roodepoort Museum.
Tours to do
Guided tours of the gardens can be arranged but booking is essential.
The natural and landscaped areas are best experienced on foot. Take the 1km trail to the top of the waterfall if you want to catch a view of the eagles' nest.
What will it cost
Entrance is R30 for adults, R25 for pensioners and students (with valid student card), and R12 for scholars. Entrance is free for children under 6.
What to eat
Enjoy breakfast, a light lunch or tea at the Eagles Fare Restaurant, situated under a huge white stinkwood tree.
The gardens hosts a busy schedule of events throughout the year, including a Spring Fair with thousands of indigenous plants on sale, winter picnic concerts on alternate Sunday afternoons featuring classical and jazz music, and stargazing in early September and October.