Guys, I did it! The first obstacle has been conquered! I actually got out of the house and onto the road without procrastinating… too much… It’s true what they say, the biggest step is just to get out of the house. So, after procrastinating actually getting up, taking a shower, cleaning a bit, and doing my utter best to waste time to not do this on my own (You know… Conquering a park filled with strangers). I finally made my way to Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens.
I was not disappointed at the slightest. The gardens are absolutely beautiful.
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So, grab a cup of your favorite coffee (mine is Organo Gold), and let’s get right to it.
Upon entering you are greeted by the lovely receptionist and the distant sound of the Witpoortjie Waterfall. The staff members were friendly, helpful, and welcoming from the moment I arrived. It was so nice to just see other people who wore friendly faces. Perhaps my mood was slightly affected by it being the first day out in nature by myself for the first time in more than three years.
The first section of the gardens was filled with artists displaying their beautiful creations on the upper lawns and an amphitheater on the lower lawns hosting the running event for the day. I was almost run over a few times by the runners and they almost made me feel guilty for not being in on the action.
The upper lawns lead into the bird and butterfly garden, adorned with lovely wooden canopies, eco-benches, a wooden arch, and numerous little winding pathways throughout. The waterfall was calling me, so I wandered back onto the main pathway to go and seek it out.
The gardens are filled with little streams adding to the tranquility of the park. A little way down the main pathway, you will find the Eagles Restaurant and the eco-play area for children. In the distance, you can see the rocky outcrop peaking through the trees. Crossing a little bridge, you will see the waterfall peaking over the canopy, draped over the rocky outcrop.
The waterfall area is probably the most conserved of the Gardens, with no picnicking allowed on the perfectly kept lawns. This presented the ideal setting for a photo shoot (Mind you, there were a few photo shoots being held when I arrived there). The waterfall cascading over the rugged, outcrop is absolutely beautiful and deserves a moment of your time to take in its beautiful splendor.
Walking up the hill away from the waterfall, you are greeted by a pathway that, initially, definitely did not seem fit for my ballet pumps. However, the walkway soon shifted into a broad paved walkway. This is the section of the Gardens that felt the most solitary. I had only encountered two parties along this section of the route.
This section of the route leads to the themed gardens, adorned with an eco-gym and numerous park benches placed throughout. The pathway leads to a boardwalk that passes through a small wetland. This section of the park is perfect for birdwatchers. There is even a little bird hide located along the boardwalk.
This adventure is one that I will remember for a long time. Between the luscious views of the waterfall, the many ecosystem types, the winding paths, and the lawn filled with parkgoers locked in the “Happy baby” yoga pose. It was a whole moment.
If you are planning on exploring the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens, make sure you bring the right shoes along. I did not know what to expect and how the routes would be like – I wore ballet pumps (instead of my normal running or hiking shoes). This was a big mistake on my part. I got massive blisters on my pinky toes because of this. Also, if you are anything like me… You tend to wander from the main path more often than not. This is not conducive when wearing ballet pumps, I guarantee you.
My only remark for improvement would be the placement of more maps in the gardens. Especially when you are new to visiting the gardens, finding your way through the maze of trails, walkways, and pathways, can be quite overwhelming. Eventually, I just hopped on a trail hoping to find my way out of the Gardens before closing time.
All and all, I’d happily go back, there are a lot of trails and pathways I’d love to explore. Besides that, the waterfall really is a sight to behold. Couldn’t help but have Mumford & Sons’ Hopeless wanderer stuck in my head for the entirety of my trip to the Gardens.
This 30 Before Thirty list is off to a great start! Off to the next adventure!
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