I live 10min drive from the most beautiful garden in Africa, and one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is set against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain and definitely lives up to its reputation.
The entry into this beautiful garden is R45 so its well worth to pack yourself a picnic basket and to spend a big part of your day here. Armed only with my camera and a bottle of water my botanical garden experience started.
As I entered through the bottom gates I was greeted by the Botanical Society Conservatory, a custom-built glasshouse to grow and display plants from the arid regions that cannot survive outdoors here. These plants have a beauty of their own but I don’t think I would want to live in an area this dry and arid for too long.
Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, and was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora.
Kirstenbosch lies in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom and in 2004 the Cape Floristic Region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – another first for Kirstenbosch. South Africa should be very proud as it is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.
Outdoors, the focus moves to plants native to the Cape region and the Garden merges seamlessly with the natural fynbos and forest of the mountain. Plants from all the diverse regions of Southern Africa are also grown at Kirstenbosch, including a near-complete collection of cycads which lies in one of the garden valleys.
I simply strolled around the garden and soaked up the sounds, colours and aromas of the natural environment. I only found out later that there are free guided tours of the gardens on offer from Monday’s to Saturday’s at 11h00 and 14h00 and will definitely come back another time for this. Although walking around the garden is fascinating and everything is signposted with information boards about the plants.
In summer, a popular series of outdoor concerts are held in the gardens on Sunday evenings. I even got to attend the New Years concert here this year. A stunning way to enter the new year.