The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens in Roodepoort are considered to be one of the most tranquil places in Gauteng to commune with nature. The gardens are characterised by rocky highveld grassland vegetation, with patches of dense bush alongside streams and in the kloofs. The dominant feature of the 300ha space is the Witpoortjie Waterfall, above which a pair of Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle nest.
A self-guided trail worth hiking at the gardens is the JCI Geological Hiking Trail. It incorporates parts of the interesting geology of the Witwatersrand, which has some of the oldest and most important rock formations in the world. The trail was created in 1997 in collaboration with the Geological Society of South Africa with funds donated by JCI Limited.
From its start at the base of the waterfall, the trail follows a roughly circular route that takes in the upturned 2 950-million-year-old Orange Grove Quartzite over which the waterfall cascades. The fault line which forms the cliff face is pointed out, as well as interesting rock types and a vista to the north and east which overlooks the Johannesburg Dome, a major geological formation.
The trail winds through the nature reserve ridge portion of the botanical garden along which you may catch a glimpse of mountain reedbuck, reptiles and insects and grassland bird species. In spring you can view wild flowers, and year round you can see trees such as the Wild Medlar (Vangueria infausta), Stamvrug (Englerophytum magaliesmontanum) and the Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia.
The trail is approximately 3.5 km long and takes about two and a half hours to walk, with time for rests. There are no refuse bins and hikers are asked to take their refuse home for recycling. It is suggested hikers walk in groups, wear proper walking shoes and a hat, and to take drinking water along.
There are other trails that can be undertaken in the gardens, where you can also book guided walks.
Telephone: 086 100 1278
Address: End of Malcolm Rd, Poortview, Roodepoort
Location: 27°50’40.7"E 26°05’13.8"S Long 27.84463 Lat -26.08716