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JJust 30km west of the Johannesburg city centre is an amazingly quaint experience fondly known as the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden.
Formerly known as Witswaterstrand National Botanical Garden, the 300-hectare garden is home to a number of rare bird species, which you can spot while lying peacefully on the lush green lawns that date back to 1982. It has been a popular venue for outings ever since and has been voted the best place for a nature escape in Gauteng for several years.
Take your time when visiting this special part of Gauteng. There is a wonderful nursery, a gift and bookshop and a restaurant; and over Christmas and on selected weekends, the grounds play host to sundowner concerts. The star of the show is the garden itself with a succulent rockery, a cycad garden and a water garden with water-loving plants. Take the whole family, this outing is for everyone!
UUpon visiting the garden’s Witpoortjie Waterfall, you’re afforded an incredible opportunity to lay your eyes on a 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.
Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden
OOf 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. The natural vegetation of the area is known as “Rocky Highveld Grassland” and consists of savannah and grassland.
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 garden, refer to the Visitor Information Centre. A tour can be organised in advance.
There are many walks and trails meandering through the garden. Or if you just want to relax, then you can 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. Even at the garden’s busiest, you'll always be able to find a tucked-away picnic spot somewhere.
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).