Every human needs a bit of shinrin yoku regularly. Literally meaning ‘forest bathing’ in Japanese, shinrin yoku is the act of getting into a green space for therapy and relaxation purposes.
In Cape Town, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by nature and mountains aplenty. These are the best, easily-accessible green spaces in the Mother City for city-dwellers looking to proclaim their roots with nature.
I have a love affair with Newlands Forest and I don’t care who knows it. Pine trees were introduced to the eastern slopes of Table Mountain 200 years back and what you have now is a large, mystical pine forest with some parts so dense you’d expect to see fairies. From the ancient milkwood trees along Littlewort Trail to the dense, montane forest along the Woodcutter’s trail leading up to Newlands Ravine, there’s a little something for everybody here and makes for a great weekend or after-work walk.
Green Point Eco Park
Close to the city centre is the very awesome Green Point Eco Park, a green oasis alongside Cape Town Stadium. The park tells the story of indigenous Cape Town through signage – from herbs and animals to the Khoi people. Take an hour or two to stroll through this beautiful tribute to Cape Town.
Constantia Green Belt (Silverhurst Trail)
A picturesque trail that starts off at Constantia Main Road. Expect to be immersed in nature within a minute of leaving your car – follow the stream over the wooden bridge toward Silverhurst Estate. This walk is a hit with dogs!
Liesbeek River Trail
Named after a small river in the Netherlands, the Liesbeek river is the oldest urbanised ‘river valley’ in South Africa which has a constant supply of spring water from Table Mountain and the Newlands spring. I wouldn’t recommend drinking it by the time that water has made it to suburbia, but a walk along the river from Newlands to Mowbray is a great way to unwind. Afro-montane vegetation lines the river, making it great for bird-watching. Start at The Vineyard Hotel and head towards Rondebosch.
Rondebosch Common is a 40-hectare piece of land in the city’s southern suburbs that is very unique – it is the only surviving pocket of ‘Cape Flats Sand Vegetation’ in the world. Once used as a military camp, the national monument is ideal for strollers, joggers, birdwatchers and nature lovers.