It may not be the highest walkway through a forest canopy, nor the longest or the most thrilling, but it may just be the most invisible. I didn’t even know where in the gardens the new, much-anticipated Kirtsenbosch Boomslang walkway was until boom, there it was – right in front of my face on the enchanted forest floor.
In fact, to be honest, I didn’t even know where Kirstenbosch‘s enchanted forest/arboretum was despite having lived in Cape Town for most of my life and spent my fair share of time at the gardens. But that is exactly why Alice Notten, Kirstenbosch’s interpretation officer, conceptualised the walkway in the first place; because this dark, forested and ‘spooky’ part of Kirtsenbosch was basically deserted by guests but boy, oh boy, did we not know what we were missing all of these years!
Once you are on the tree-top walkway you are treated to spectacular views of Kirtenbosch and onwards and outwards over Cape Town and up the surrounding mountains, granted they are not covered in cloud as they were on the day I visited.
The 130 metre long walkway structure is robust, encompassing and undeniably magnificent but oddly not imposing at all. The architect says the structure was inspired by a skeletal-like appearance or that of a rib cage and indeed the walkway, with its high handrails, does seem to enclose itself around you, engulfing you into the body of the gardens.
The Boomslang was a name which was argued about and fought over, and even decided against at one stage, due to the reference to Ratanga’s Cobra and the “scary” connotations but as one of my companions said she would rather her children came here to Kirstenbosch to play than to a theme park and during construction of the walkway three real-life boomslangs where found by workers, so aptly the name stuck.
This snake-like walkway slithers and slides herself through the established Kirstenbosch forest to give you a view of the gardens like no other while taking you close to and around some of the interesting trees found here. The eventual plan is to integrate the tree-top walkway with a self-guided tree walk through the gardens, visiting over 80 species that can be found within the forest.
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