As we head into summer – and the festive season – it’s the ideal time to get outdoors into our wild places and appreciate South Africa’s extraordinary natural world.

Hiking does all this – and much more. It’s great for your fitness, health and happiness, you can make new friends by joining a hiking group, and you can explore somewhere new, especially South Africa’s magnificent national botanical gardens around the country.

In particular, the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden (NBG) offers wonderful hiking opportunities. Members of the Botanical Society of South Africa enjoy free entry into these gardens.

Hike at Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden

Located near Krugersdorp in Gauteng, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden is truly one of Johannesburg’s natural escapes. When visiting the botanical garden you can hike the geological trail, that starts at the magnificent Witpoortjie falls.

The Walter Sisulu NBG Geological Trail is rated as having a moderate level of difficulty and is a 3.9 km circular route. The trail takes around 2.5 hours to complete and showcases the varied and fascinating geology of the Witwatersrand, with interpretation provided by the Geological Society of South Africa.

After you have enjoyed your hike, why not complete your visit with a picnic? There are many beautiful shady spots to enjoy and relax in the gardens in the summer heat.

Become a Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc) member, and you can enjoy access to all the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) national botanical gardens – and their hiking trails – free of charge. Just show your BotSoc card, or your membership barcode on your cell phone at the entrance gate at any of these gardens, and you’re in.

Always bear these hiking safety tips in mind:

  • Check the weather forecast: Plan your hike for a day when the weather forecast is good. Look for a day with good visibility and not too hot weather.
  • Plan for all conditions: The weather may change while you are out and about. So pack warm clothing on a hot day and sunblock on a cool day, in case conditions change. Always pack a fully charged cell phone loaded with the emergency numbers.
  • Wear the right footwear: The best footwear for hiking is closed shoes or boots with good grip that have been worn in before you start your hike. This will give your feet good support and keep you comfortable on your hiking journey.
  • Bring enough water and food: Bring at least 2-3 litres of water per person on a hot day, depending on the length of your hike. And pack more snacks than you think you’ll need, like nuts and dried fruit.
  • Never hike alone: Even if you are hiking a route you know, it’s best to hike with others who can seek help if needed.
  • Know your route: Download the route to your phone to access it even if there is no cell phone signal. Or bring a paper map to guide you, in case your cell phone batteries run out.

To find out more, or become a BotSoc member for free garden access, visit Botanical Society of South Africa

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