Things have felt so heavy and serious for all of us lately so two Fridays ago my mom and I took the kids to the Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens in Kloof, Kwazulu Natal. By chance I had driven past the entrance that is on 88 Kloof Falls Road the weekend before, when some tall giraffe sculptures standing tall and proud surprised me as I drove along standard suburbia roads. The Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens are owned by well-known architect Peter Amm who lives on the sprawling property and they were opened to the public in October last year. If you are looking for something different to do with your family on the weekend, a visit to the gardens won’t disappoint!
Trees so tall that we felt so small
From the minute we got out of the car we were in awe of the staggeringly tall trees all around and how little we suddenly seemed in relation to this expanse of nature. With each step through the extensive gardens, Covid worries and concerns seemed to recess further from our current thoughts and my mom and I simply reveled in feeling like children again!
“There’s no map but stick to the path with the red arrows and enjoy!” advised the lady who welcomed us. And so began a few hours of admiring spectacular botanical beauty and more than 125 fascinating sculptures in all shapes and forms dotted around the jungle-like gardens!
Kloof Ammazulu sculpture gardens – An eccentric place, perfect for explorers
The kids skipped ahead and loved exploring little paths off the track and shouting to us about what fantastical creature they were suddenly gazing up at! Sculptures of hippos were hiding in the bush and enormous dragon flies happily fluttered in the sky. An gigantic man with spikes covering his body looked was waiting to astound us by his size as we turned a bend, and he made us feel like we were in a Sci Fi movie! A muscular pegasus was frozen mid-flight as if a magic wand had caused time to stand still, while the legs of elegant giant flamingos stood parallel with thin tree trunks in a secret forest area. The Kloof Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens is a place for the curious and you just never know what extraordinary sculpture awaits you around the next corner!
Play like a kid and be enchanted by the varied textures and colours that fill the gardens
We climbed up a huge wigwam structure decorated with real furry teddy bears, to enjoy a panoramic view of all the shades of green and a few minutes later were greeted by the warm smile of a boy mannequin welcoming us to enter a giant tepee! Oh the glee to be a kid again! Down another of the maze like pathways there was a ‘room of horrors’ filled with all sorts of fascinating paraphernalia to look at from a distance and life size silver men with angels wings played in the trees above (be aware that their nakedness will likely result in some questions from younger folk!).
Amazing abstract art made from repurposed materials at the Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens
My favourite sculptures in the gardens were brightly coloured abstract flowers made from blue drinking water bottles and all sorts of other recycled materials, and the enormous colourful ferris wheel like structures – the things that fun fairs and carnivals of dreams are made of. The horses that have been crafted from hundreds of intricate metal shapes carefully welded together were also so enchanting.
It’s the type of place that will leavs even the wisest of minds with a sense of wonder and belief that surely in the middle of the night while we are all fast asleep, these forest creatures come to life! The glorious shade everywhere really makes this outing manageable even on the hottest day in Durban and only when we stepped into the full sun did we remember what a warm day it was.
Delicious gourmet toasted sandwiches for lunch
After all the walking we were happy to sit at the ‘Ping Pong Pagoda’ restaurant situated close to the entrance to the Kloof Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens. The restaurant’s quirky name matches its physical appearance very well as a Pagoda is a tower in Eastern Asia, and upon entering the park and seeing the restaurant ahead of us, I had such a sense that we were in Thailand! Like the rest of the gardens – you feel so far from being in Kloof KZN because the whole experience of being there seems wonderfully ‘out of this world’!
The toasted sandwiches on offer are anything but ordinary and perfectly match the delightfully unusual and surprising tone of the gardens! Flavours like pork belly and chargrilled pineapple, and aubergine and pesto are advertised on a black board and are prepared with the utmost care in the open kitchen area.
An incredible collection of sculptor Andries Botha’s work
With the aroma of toasted sandwiches in the air while we waited for lunch, we visited an undercover area close by to view Peter Amm’s amazing collection of artworks by world renowned South African sculptor Andries Botha. Some may recall how his beautiful elephant sculptures that were commissioned as a part of beautifying the city of Durban for the Soccer World Cup were tragically defaced and damaged in 2012. His eclectic and diverse collection at the Ammazulu Sculpture Gardens is fascinating to see and ponder the meaning of.
Ammazulu Sculpture and Gardens Precinct opening times and entrance fees
The gardens are currently open from Thursday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm. Entrance is R50 and children under 10 get in free.
A must see for anyone visiting Kwazulu Natal or living here
If you are looking for something different to do in Kwazulu Natal this magical place full of whimsy is so worthy of a visit and I hope you enjoy the escape as much as we did!
To read about another magical nature walk our family did in Accra Ghana see my post Beautiful Baobab Encounters on a hike in the Shai Hills in greater Accra