This week we have escaped to Cape Town to visit one of the most acclaimed botanical gardens in the world. Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, is regarded as one of the greatest in the world and is renowned for its diversity of the Cape flora.
Initially, an overgrown farm overrun by hordes of pigs, the land was transformed in 1913 by clearing the land and constructing pathways for easy access. Because of the challenging topography, it meant that most of the work had to be done manually, so things were quite slow, to begin with. It took approximately 10-15 years for the first features of the gardens to be established.
The Gardens and Exhibitions
Kirstenbosch covers approximately 528 hectares of land (cultivated and protected natural forest) and it is famous for only growing indigenous South African plants, with more than 7,000 species.
Make sure to look up and see how many different birds you can spot, there are more than 125 varieties of indigenous birds.
Take the kids for a journey through time and discover five live-size dinosaurs. The tin sculptures are by David Huni and are a stark reminder of how the beautiful cycads are on the brink of extinction because of humankind’s actions.
Although a permanent exhibition, these stone sculptures are ever-changing. All designed by artists following the Shona traditions originated in Zimbabwe, they represent not only social issues but also spiritual and traditional themes.
Make sure to also check out the two animals situated by the Centre of Home Gardening, Nelson Mandela’s bust located by the pepper-bark tree, and the Cape clawless otter in the otter pond.
Also known as Boomslang (tree snake) this canopy walkway is a winding steel and timber bridge that runs above the treeline. Take a walk to discover amazing views of the gardens and the Cape Flats from this unique vantage point.
One of the best things to do at the Kirstenbosch is to pack a picnic, locate the perfect spot and enjoy a family meal immersed in nature. You can even pick up a picnic hamper from either the African-themed restaurant Moyo or the Kirstenbosch Tea Room.
Walking and Hiking Trails
Kirstenbosch offers a variety of walking and hiking trails to suit all levels of difficulties. All of the paths are incredibly well maintained, signed posted, and are easy to navigate. There are currently seven trails to choose from based on your time and level of fitness, everyone is bound to find something just right for them:
- Braille and Boekenhout trails are easy walks that do not take up too much time.
- Stinkwood trail is perfect to explore the old part of the forest and discover some of the biggest trees.
- Yellowwood and Silvertree trails are perfect if you fancy a longer hike and stop by some waterfalls
- Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge trails will take you all the way to the top of Table Mountain.
Outdoor summer concerts are usually held on Sundays between November and April. The concerts are usually held on the lawns and are the perfect way to end the day enjoying music and a breath-taking sunset. Like many things with Covid, these might have been affected, so please check with the venue beforehand.
Have you visited the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens? Let us know your favorite thing about them in the comments below!
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