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TThe Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden is perfect for those longing to get away from the hustle and bustle of Johannesburg without having to travel too far. Visit a wonderful waterfall and unwind in the company of many birds and animals.
Just 30km west of the Johannesburg city centre you will find the Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden, formerly known as the Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden.
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 that 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 garden, 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 there
The Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens are located in Malcolm Road, Roodepoort, 30km from the Johannesburg city centre.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit is spring and summer, when the flowering shrubs are in bloom.
Things to do
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. Guided tours of the gardens can be arranged but booking is essential. Worth visiting is the nearby Roodepoort Country Club, home of one of South Africa's biggest golf courses, as well as the Roodepoort Museum.
What to pack
You can pack a picnic for the gardens but everything you bring in must be taken out with you. The gardens are best explored on foot so make sure you wear comfortable shoes and pack sunscreen, water and a hat.
What to eat
Enjoy breakfast, a light lunch or tea at the Eagles Fare Restaurant, situated under a huge white stinkwood tree.
- Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
- Johannesburg City Parks
- Botanical Society of South Africa
- City of Johannesburg