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~ I dont blog about things to be liked. I blog about things that I like ~ ... so that one day, on my death bed, I will have said and done what I wanted to do, and die peacefully without regrets.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says..' Oh shit....She's awake'

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hiking Trail Tokai Arboretum

Hiking Trail: Tokai Arboretum
Name of Reserve / Area: Table Mountain National Park
Nearest Town: Tokai, Constantia, Bergvliet
Province: Western Cape
Country: South Africa

Duration of hike: 2 Hours.

Directions to get there: From Cape Town CBD, take the M3 south. Follow the road, until you get to the Retreat Turnoff. At the top of the off-ramp, turn right into Tokai Main Road. Follow this road straight until you get to a fork in the road, keep right and follow until you get to a T-junction. Turn left at the T (by the Tokai Manor House), and follow the dirt road until you reach the parking area. This is a very popular mountain bike route, and you are bound to find all the local riders gearing up for their ride up the treacherous Tokai Forest mountain - comes highly recommended, especially the single track down!

Contact Information:
Listers Place Tea Garden
021 715 4512

Best time of year to go: Any time is perfect. The trees provide ample shade for a hot summers day.

What costs did you incur to do this hike: Nothing.

How safe is it: Fairly safe. As always, keep yourself protected at all times with a mace spray or shocker.

Fresh Water: As long as you stay within the Tokai Arboretum area, you should be fine.

Difficulty: any unfit person can do this.

Pets: No dogs allowed.

From the car park, you will find the entrance to the Tokai Arboretum on your immediate left. This is where you will also find the Tea Garden called Listers Place, named after the original person who created this beautiful park, Joseph Storr Lister.

The only point of reference that we could find, was this sign board. I was amazed at the great detail of this map - only to be found on this board.

The first thing that came to mind, is that when I find a tree with number on it, I will run back to this signboard, look up the number - see what it is and then try to locate it on this map or the other way around.

For all intense of purposes, this was not my idea of what was to be a fun Arbor day!

After wondering around for about 15 minutes, acquainting ourselves with the Tea Garden, the ablutions and the one and only map, Alex and I decided to just walk up the garden path anyway and enjoy the outdoors.

With much to our delight, we found this stunning little river flowing near by. There was also a designated short walk up the river if you wish to follow this easy path.

One can not explain the feelings of complete tranquility that these trees provide you with. Its something you just have to come and experience for your own.

After we completed a circular route around the river, we headed back down into the Arboretum area, to explore some more special trees.

Tokai Arboretum
This is a experimental forest that was planted by Joseph Storr Lister in 1886 with the aim to research and understand the economic viability of which plants will be able to grow in South Africa. The forests and plantations in and around South Africa is a direct result of this project. Lister sourced these trees from all around the world (can you imagine the work that must have gone into sourcing these trees more than a hundred years ago?) and planted them here. Today we are fortunate enough to be able to walk through a forest with giant trees from every corner of the world.

Im not sure one can find anything more special than this? Sadly its been neglected by the local authorities, to which we hope something will be done about this soon.

(1166) Below are 2 images of the Californian Redwood - USA.

below: Two unknown trees (had no numbers)... and oh so beautiful!

(644) Saltwater Paper bark Tree - Western Australia.

(1240) Apply Myrtle - Australia

(551) Cork Oak - origin could not see.

(504) Canary Pine - Canary Islands

(510) Maritime Pine - Northern Africa

(674) Mexican Cypress - Central America

Once you have completed your walk, you can enjoy a refreshment at the Listers Place Tea Garden.

How will I rate this hike?
Mmmm, well I have some concerns to the upkeep of this (what can be a breathtaking) spot. On a glance - poorly maintained.

The only sign we could find that would guide us was a very detailed map by the front gate. Lori - who runs the Tea Garden with her mother, said she has requested numerous times for months now from Sanparks to give her information about the area - but nothing has ever come their way. I believe as a National Heritage site, this site is poorly maintained and has been neglected 100%.

I think my high expectations was my downfall. Someone needs to step in here and give this site the justice it so dearly deserves.

I contacted SANPARKS and spoke to the local Regional Manager's assistant who promised he will get back to me. Lets hope someone will be able to take some action to give this very special project its well deserved recognition.

My recommendations would be the following:
1. Promote this National Heritage site.
2. Clear signage on the pathways are vital.
3. Trees need to be marked with proper labels and not just numbers.
4. Detailed z-folded maps can be provided for visitors or small booklets with all the tree's information in them (at a cost maybe).
5. Tea Garden needs a serious upgrade. Right now, its a tuck-shop barely trying to stay on its feet - understandably with the weekend traffic being its only clients. A small amount of enthusiasm will get the tourists and locals here in a flash - if they only knew about it!
6. The original Historical Center inside the Tea Garden house needs to be restored. It burnt down a short while ago, and all that was restored was the building - nothing inside was replaced.

Any other recommendations or suggestions will greatly be appreciated.

We had so much fun being here, and really hope that this beautiful site will not be allowed to fall apart.

Feedback was received on 1 September 2009: Click here

Easy Walks in the Cape Peninsula

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