A Boomslang you'd want to step on

2014-05-21 11:22

Kirstenbosch and walkway trend in SA, as the Tree Canopy Walkway opens

2014-05-20 12:37

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens' Tree Canopy Walkway is finally open! Check out the video to find out why so many people are so excited.WATCH

“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.”  

A favourite quote from ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ and one that certainly rings true for the the breathtaking new Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in Cape Town.


Well, you'd think a structure of such magnificent design, relative height, and trendworthiness on Twitter would be easy to find.

But, let me tell you… it’s not.

I was slightly late for my appointment with Adam Harrower, a horticulturalist at Kirstenbosch and project manager for the walkway, so I decided to pick up the pace and set out through the magical rainy morning garden at a jog.  

The man at the gate had shown me exactly how to get to the Boomslang, as the walkway is affectionately known, using a simple map.  It looked easy enough. 

However, my usual impeccable sense of direction obviously hit a bit of a pre-9am wobble and before I knew it I was huffing and puffing away in a maze of trees, flowers, shrubs and aloes, not sure where to turn next.  

It was completely by chance that I finally stumbled upon the start of the curving bridge and took my first steps. Rather aptly, the Boomslang is hidden away right in the very heart of a lush thicket of trees known as the Arboretum… or the Enchanted Forest.  

As I walked along, first mesmerized by the fairy-like leaf canopy overhead and soon after, as it cleared, gaping at the spectacular view, I mused over the perfection of its obscurity. Would it have been as enchanting had it been more exposed? I think not.   

Take a look at our gallery, tracing the development of the Boomslang Treetop Walkway.

The fact that Adam, who knows the garden through and through, agrees, says a lot.  

“The arboretum is one of the least-visited parts of the garden. People mostly follow the wider paths that lead to the Dell and the Protea Garden and tend to avoid exploring the ‘thickety’ areas. So, hopefully the walkway will attract more people to this part of the garden,” he says.        

Snaking through trees and branches, the 130-metre-long walkway sways ever so slightly from side to side, sparking only the slightest release of adrenaline and adding to the overall organic experience.  

Adam says that although it may feel a little unsteady at first, the galvanised steel and wood structure is completely safe and sturdy.  

Designed by architect, Mark Thomas, the curving walkway, which reaches its peak at about 12 metres, echoes the shape of the existing pathways in the garden and the snake-skeleton-inspiration becomes clear when you start studying it closely.  

A strong spine undershoots the wooden bridge, while curved railings mimic a ribcage and the diamond-shaped mesh hints at closely packed scales.  

According to Adam, the idea for an aerial walkway has been a long time coming, but finally came to fruition last year when they decided to undertake the project as part of Kirstenbosch’s centenary celebrations.

“We wanted to celebrate our Centenary (1913-2013) with a project that would be spectacular, unique and long-lasting. This walkway, which had been on the backburner for many years, fit all the criteria and was a perfect way to mark the event in Kirstenbosch with something permanent,” he explained.  

After almost a year of construction work, the Boomslang is finally open to the public and has already received a few visitors.  

“We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors and are really excited about how it all turned out,” Adam said. 

What you need to know:

Cost: Once you've paid to get into the gardens its completely free! Entry to the garden is R45 for adults, R25 for students and R10 for children (6 -17 years). 

Is it safe for kids: Completely - just keep an eye on them, especially close to the benches where they may be tempted to clamber around.

Is it wheelchair friendly? Yes

Check out the Tree Canopy Walkway website for more details.

Have you been or are you going to check out the Boomslang? Send us your pics and thoughts to pics@news24travel.com

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Read more on:    travel  |  travel south africa


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