The Leopardskloof Trail

The Harold Porter Botanical Garden is situated in Betty’s Bay, a small seaside holiday resort village about 90 km from Cape Town. It is a little sibling to the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town and is managed by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). It borders on the Kogelberg Nature Reserve and is home to the short, but interesting Leopardskloof Trail, as well as having access routes to the longer trails of the Kogelberg.

Access to the Leopardskloof Trail is through the Botanical Garden and a gate key has to be collected and a refundable deposit paid. Keys are not provided after 13h00 and hikers have to be off the trail by 16h00.

A longer zig-zag route up the side of the Mountain to the border between the Garden and the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. A permit is required to cross in to the Reserve and this leads to some much longer, interesting hikes in Kogelberg Mountains behind.

What to expect:

The trail starts effectively from the entrance of the formal Gardens and it is pleasant to spend some time enjoying the laid out paths, structured beds of diverse plant species and the information provided about the different types of Fynbos and the importance of  each of the biomes of the area. The paths become less formal as one moves out of the structured garden and after crossing the wooden bridge over the river the trail becomes more of a mountain path. Close to the river the Afromontane forest provides a pleasant shady walk, with the path crossing the river several times. The river crossing higher up is via stepping stones of rocks and boulders and the path has tree roots and smooth river rocks in places, so one has to watch ones step. Eventually there is a large pool and a waterfall, with a series of wooden ladders that take you to the next level with more pools and waterfalls marking the end of the trail. The return is via the same route.

Timing: Betty’s Bay is about 1½ drive from Cape Town. This is a short 1½ km walk that is more about enjoying the environment and the waterfalls, than having a long hike. For the trail and to allow time to enjoy the garden one needs at least 2½ to 3 hours. It is not an environment that you want to rush through.

There are times after heavy rain that the Leopardskloof Trail may be closed as the river can’t be crossed, but the Gardens are worth a visit on their own. We often explore this trail on our way to other longer trails in the Kogelberg, Hermanus, Stanford and Walker Bay area.