JCI Geological TrailEnquire Now
13km from Roodepoort
+27 86 100 1278 www.sanbi.org.za
Moderate difficulty; Suitable for children
A network of paths leads through the diverse landscape of the well-maintained Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens – home to one of the few remaining patches of Bankenveld vegetation in Gauteng.
The short but strenuous JCI Geological Hiking Trail commences at the bottom of the magnificent Witpoortjie Waterfall, where the Crocodile River tumbles over a 70-metre cliff. In the breeding season, from March to September, you’ll often see Verreaux’s (black) eagles soaring in the sky and might spot their nests in the cliffs to the left of the waterfall. They are one of 230 bird species that have been recorded in the gardens and the area also supports a diverse range of plants, including cycads and succulents.
The path then climbs to the top of the dramatic 200-metre cliffs before continuing along the Roodekrans Ridge. It’s a stiff walk, but the scenery is fantastic and interpretive boards along the route give information on the various geological features.
About half way along the trail, there is a magnificent panoramic view from the top of the ridge looking out to the north, so this is a good spot for a break before descending back down into the Botanical Garden just above the Sasol Dam.
The trail, which is clearly marked, takes about two-and-a-half hours, so carry water and, since it extends beyond the boundaries of the main gardens, it is advisable to hike in a group. The gardens are open daily from 8am to 6pm (with last entry at 5pm) and charge a small entrance fee. Picnics are permitted (but no braais or gas cookers) and there is also a bird hide, cafeteria, shop and indigenous plant nursery.