Kirstenbosch is a famous botanical garden, founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique indigenous flora, nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The garden is one of nine National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes.
The garden, established in 1913 by Henry Harold Pearson on land bequeathed by Cecil John Rhodes, includes a large conservatory (The Botanical Society Conservatory) exhibiting plants from a number of different regions, including savanna, fynbos, karoo and others. Outdoors, the focus is on plants native to the Cape region, highlighted by the spectacular collections of proteas. From the gardens several trails lead off along and up the mountain slopes and these are much used by walkers and mountaineers. One of the trails, up a ravine called Skeleton Gorge, is an easy and popular route to the summit of Table Mountain.
Built in 2013-14 to celebrate the centenary of Kirstenbosch in 2013, the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and informally called ‘The Boomslang’ (meaning tree snake), it is a low-maintenance, low-impact sculptural raised walkway.
The Walkway takes the visitor from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, Garden and Cape Flats.
The Boomslang is 130 m long, narrow and slender, with a few wider view-point areas, and lightly snakes its way through the canopy, in a discreet, almost invisible way. The walkway is crescent-shaped and takes advantage of the sloping ground; it touches the forest floor in two places, and raises visitors to 12 m above ground. It is more than just a traditional boardwalk – like a snake, it winds and dips.
The Arboretum (over which it winds) is situated between the Protea Garden, Cycad Amphitheatre, the Dell, Mathews Rockery and the Concert Lawn.
The project cost R5 million ZAR to complete and was constructed via collaboration between Mark Thomas Architects and Engineers Henry Fagan & Partners consulting engineers.