Pretoria National Botanical Gardens
Hike Overview: Pretoria National Botanical Gardens
Spend the day hiking, exploring, picnicing and geocaching in the pristine Pretoria gardens. The popular gardens offer a tranquil setting for a wide range of activities – like trail running events, guided walks, garden parties and art exhibitions – but beyond all of that, and beyond the perfectly manicured lawns, are some amazing hiking trails waiting to be discovered, and that is why we love the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens.
Go Outside Rating: ****
Trail Type: Day outing
Total Distance: 3-6 km’s
Location: Pretoria East, Pretoria
Path Markings: Adequate
Path Conditions: Excellent
Parking: Yes, uncovered
Cell Reception: Yes
Bookings: Not required
Access Road: Paved, great condition and easy to find
Facilities: 2 Restaurants
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PRETORIA NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
Like all of the Botanical Gardens in south Africa, the Pretoria Gardens are a place where the community comes together, certainly to enjoy the gardens, but also for a host of other reasons. This is evident as soon as you enter the gardens. You will always find picnickers spread across the lawns, the restaurants bursting with tea drinkers, moms shadowing their kids at the waterfall and birders marching towards the wetlands.The gardens are full of life – and full of hiking trails, that criss cross its 76 Hectares.
The man made Waterfall at the park entrace is quite beautiful and it marks the start of the Dassie Trail – the best hiking trail to follow to see the full layout of the gardens. The Dassie Trail leads around the waterfall, offering some lovely shaded view points and then veers to the right, towards the ouskirts of the Gardens.
Although well maintained, the path markings on the Dassie Trail don’t always make sense. There are many areas where you can easily end up going in circles, or missing out certain stretches of the track. But all of the little zig zags and wrong turns are beautiful, and the general direction is always clear.
The Dassie Trail passes all the must see sights within the gardens, like the cycad gardens the succulant gardens as well as some surprising views of the vast surrounding suburbs. Towards the end of the loop the landscape changes quite dramatically, first to wide open grasslands and then to a bustling wetland area. Being able to see so many different landscapes is a highlight while hiking within the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, especially considering the central location of the gardens within Pretoria East.
The Dassie Trail is between 3 and 6km, depending on how many wrong turns you take… it can be extended or shortened very easily though, as many extra paths and loops veer off the main trail.
The gardens are bursting with birdlife and many small animals. If you don’t see Dassies on the Dassie trail then you have done something wrong! You should also keep an eye out for lizards, Water Monitors, Bush Babies, Verreaux’s Eagles and even Otters. But the most magical sighting within the gardens has to be the mass migration of the brown-veined white butterfly – when thousands of these beautiful creatures fly over the gardens on their way to Mozambique. (This occurs between December and February.)
Between the waterfall, the secret trails, two top class restaurants and the migrating butterflies there is no reason not to put your takkies on, and head to the Pretoria National Botanical Gardens. It guarantees a day of fun… and magic.
Pretoria Botanical Gardens
Video Date: 11 June 2017
A winter evening spent hiking the Dassie Trail at sunset.
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The hiking trails are seldom busy, but for a really secluded and unique experience we recommend visiting the gardens in the late afternoon, especially on a Sunday. The sunset views are unbeatable and the isolation of the vast gardens makes it an extra special experience.
The gardens are open from 8:00 to 18:00 daily (last entry at 17:00).