Capetonians are justly proud of the unique and diverse indigenous plant life of the Cape Floral Kingdom, known as fynbos, and there is no better place to discover the region’s floral diversity than Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. The Kirstenbosch Estate borders the Table Mountain National Park, and the garden merges seamlessly with the natural fynbos and forest of the mountain. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – making it the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.
Few of the world’s botanical gardens can match the sheer grandeur of Kirstenbosch’s setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. More than just a garden, the 36-hectare Kirstenbosch – which was established in 1913 to promote and conserve the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa – is part of a 528-hectare estate that includes protected mountain slopes supporting natural forest and fynbos along with a variety of animals and birds.
These extraordinarily beautiful and tranquil gardens sustain over 22 000 different plant species from all over southern Africa. Those that cannot survive outdoors, such as plants from the arid regions, are grown in the Botanical Society Conservatory. Over 7 000 plant species are in cultivation at Kirstenbosch, including many rare and threatened ones.
Enjoy walks suited to all levels of fitness, landscaped picnic spots and restaurants offering light refreshments. The Botanical Society’s volunteer guides, who are brimming with knowledge and insights into the garden, lead free guided walks for those seeking a more in-depth experience. Discover the ‘Boomslang’ Treetop Canopy Walkway, a 130m-long curved steel and timber bridge that snakes through and over the trees of the Arboretum, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, gardens and the Cape Flats.
And on Sunday afternoons from November to April, bring a picnic and join local Capetonians for the live open-air music performances that have become synonymous with summer in the city.
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