Western Cape Tourist AttractionsUpper Liesbeek River Garden
The Liesbeek River is reputedly the oldest urbanised river in the country. The first river ever named by Jan van Riebeeck, he called it after a little river in the Netherlands. Today about 70% of it is canalised.
You'll find the Upper Liesbeek River Garden along the only stretch that isn't canalised, across the way from the Paradise Road intersection of the M3.
Liesbeek River is only 9 km long and arises as several streams off the eastern slopes of Table Mountain above Kirstenbosch, winding through Bishopscourt, Rondebosch, Newlands, Rosebank, Mowbray and Observatory, eventually emptying into Table Bay at Paarden Eiland.
The Upper Liesbeek River Garden is in Bishopscourt Village, alongside the river on land regarded as 'undeveloped public open space'. It is funded and maintained by the Bishopscourt Residents' Association, City Council, personal trusts, and local estate agents. In other words, the locals have taken it upon themselves to create an environment for themselves.
Until 2004 this area was largely overgrown with alien vegetation and used as a dumping ground. Locals worked to remove invasive alien vegetation, replacing it with indigenous riverine plants, in a bid to maintain a healthy river and to make it safe for people to use the area.
Rivers, vleis and wetlands are under threat throughout the country, and so this river garden became an example of what role rivers can play in the daily lives of a city's residents. On the banks of the river is a boardwalk and there are a variety of benches, picnic areas and paths dotted in amongst the paths and plants.
Dogs have to stay on leads, but it is a safe space for children and is wheelchair friendly. Children can discover crabs, tadpoles and indigenous fish and then use the natural rock stepping stones to criss-cross the river onto either bank.