At 9am on an unusually chilly morning of 19 February, 14 slightly sleepy Jenman staff members, a guide named Todd, a 2-year old toddler, and 17 very energetic children from Rosmead Primary School decided to brave the hike from Constantia Nek to the world famous botanical gardens of Kirstenbosch. The reason? Well firstly, many of us at Jenman could do with a bit of exercise (especially me) but more than anything – to show these inquisitive kids the natural beauty that lies right on their doorstep.
Rosmead Primary School located in Claremont, Cape Town, was established in 1940 under the auspices of the Coloured Affairs Department to serve the local communities. With the implementation of the Group Areas Act and forced removals during Apartheid, the Rosmead community was dealt a heavy blow as the majority of citizens was displaced to the Cape Flats and areas further afield. Despite the odds, many parents continued to send their children to Rosmead Primary since it was the only one of many “coloured” primary schools to have survived in Claremont.
The school has 738 pupils and the majority of children commute from townships to attend. Due to parents’ limited income, school fees are only R70 per child per month (the equivalent of 3 Euro) which does not cover all school operational costs.
So why did we at Jenman feel the need to take children from an underprivileged school on a hike up a mountain they see every day? Well, the shocking thing is that the majority of pupils had never visited Table Mountain, been on a hike or nature walk, and, while they have been preached to about the importance of conservation, they had actually never had someone show them why it is important to protect the Cape’s nature.
We began our hike full of gusto as the kids raced ahead to the shame of many of the adults. Garth Jenman, owner of Jenman African Safaris, lead the hike and pointed out interesting fauna and flora along the way. We regularly stopped to take a closer look and to listen to our experienced guide’s Todd detailed explanations.
As soon as we got hiking, the sun crept out from behind the clouds, and we were blessed with perfect weather for a morning on the mountain. Sugarbirds and butterflies of all shapes and sizes came out to great us – much to the amusement and delight of the children.
On reaching Kirstenbosch, we stopped briefly for a bite to eat before allowing the kids to get rid of the rest of their pent up energy by climbing trees, running on the grass and exploring the Boomslang (the new canopy walkway).
All in all, we were lucky enough to see some pretty spectacular sights: hunting birds of prey, proteas in full bloom and even a hungry tortoise enjoying the breakfast buffet of Kirstenbosch Gardens.
The hike ended with some much needed downtime on the rolling lawns of the gardens. While the children looked for frogs and crabs, the adults caught their breath and nursed the stiffness that had creeped into their joints. We ended the hike by taking one of our cool Jenman tour vehicles back to the starting location.