Weekend Walking – in The Wilds Nature Reserve

Rob and I have been meaning to do one of the organized walks in The Wilds for months, and finally, today was it.  The Wilds is often referred to as Joburg’s “forgotten park”, and because of its proximity to Hillbrow,  has been avoided for many years as being too dangerous to walk in.  A few years ago, James Delaney, an amazing artist living nearby, decided to rehabilitate this 40 acre forested park. He and a whole bunch of volunteers pulled weeds, cleared underbrush, and painted park benches. James says,  “Owls have always played a special role in my life.  To get people to visit The Wilds again I installed 67 metal owl sculptures, in honour of Mandela’s 67 years of public service. It worked – hundreds of people have now been to the park to see the owls, and the park has come back to life as a public space.”

Inspired by these words, we arrived at the park to find a handful of walkers, and definitely not the group we were expecting.  Alas, I had read May for April!  To console ourselves, we bought coffee from the travelling Craft Coffee vendors, Lovejoy and Neo, who work for Craft Coffee in Newtown.  Craft Coffee is one of several small sophisticated roasteries which have opened in the Joburg CBD – more of speciality coffee in a later blog.

Coffee from Coffee Craft travelling van

Right next to the coffee vendors is a marvellous embroidered collage.  “Tree speak”

Embroidery collage

My favourite bit of the collage..

Educate a woman and you educate a nation

Stone paths criss-cross and ramble through the hilly “koppies” (little hills) with many brightly coloured benches along the paths inviting one to sit and relax.

Stone paths criss-cross throughout the reserve with brightly coloured benches along the way

James Delaney’s Wild Owl Metal Sculpture Project is inspiring and has brought people back to the park.

Owl Project by james Delaney

The owl sculptures hang in a grove of yellowwood trees in the middle of the Wilds.

One of 67 Wild Owl Sculptures by James Delaney

It would be a fun outing with children, trying to spot all the owls.

White Wild Metal Owl sculptures

The Wilds land was donated to the city on the condition that the land remain in its natural state. The park is hilly and planted with thousands of indigenous trees and other native flora, crisscrossed by many winding stone paths.  There are amazing views of the Johannesburg skyline from different angles.  We walked up to the sundial, which is the highest point of the Wilds.

Sundial at the highest point of The Wilds

The Johannesburg skyline views are amongst the best from here.

Skyline from the sundial vantage point

Along the way we met fellow walkers, with their German Pointers.

Fellow walkers with their German Pointer (who got lost)

So many inviting benches along the way to stop and rest, or stare at the different views.  A charming shady spot …

Beautiful shady spot to stop and reflect

The Walk continues across the bridge over Houghton Drive to the other side of The Wilds with different viewscapes.

Bridge over Houghton Drive to the Eastern side of the Wilds

The Wilds  has secure parking just off Houghton Drive and full-time security at the entrance.  Take a few friends and take a picnic to the park, or check dates and book online for the next organised walk with James Delaney.

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