A walk or picnic in this floral kingdom is a must on any itinerary of the Cape.
Kirstenbosch is a 20-minute drive from the city centre. Take the M3 towards Muizenberg, turning right at the traffic lights on to Rhodes Drive, Newlands, and follow the signs to Kirstenbosch. Entrance is R45 for adults, R10 for children (six to 17 years) and free for kids under six.
When to go
The gardens are open 365 days a year, 8 am – 6 pm (April to August) and 8 am – 7 pm (September to March).
What to see and do
Few gardens in the world can compare to the majestic setting of Kirstenbosch, encompassing 36 ha within a 528 ha protected mountain estate against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. More than 7 000 species of Cape flora, as well as plant life from the diverse regions of Southern Africa, are cultivated here. The garden is also home to a wide variety of bird life and small animals.
See South Africa’s national flower in the Protea Garden, wander along the herb-scented Braille Trail or take a stroll along the newly constructed ‘boomslang’, a 130m long wheelchair-friendly canopy walkway, which winds its way through the arboretum, with incredible views.
Walks and talks
Audio systems are available in English and German (R40 per handset) from the Visitors’ Centre at Gate 1. Free guided garden walks take place from Monday to Saturday at 10 am and 2 pm (with an extra tour at 11 am on Tuesdays), starting at the Visitors’ Centre.
Once you have explored the garden itself, there is a gentle trail that starts on the periphery and leads to Cecilia Forest or Constantia Nek via a contour path. You can also climb Table Mountain from here, though this is markedly more strenuous. Routes via Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine range from three-and-a-half to seven hours. For the less energetically inclined, hop on a golf cart for a tour of the garden (tours depart on the hour between 9 am and 3 pm daily, for R55 pp).
Where to eat
For a hearty meal with traditional fare and flair, head to Moyo near the Visitors’ Centre. You can have your face painted before sitting down to an à la carte or buffet feast. The Kirstenbosch Tea Room at Gate 2 offers scrumptious breakfasts and light meals in a relaxed space. There’s also a Vida e Caffé located at the Visitors’ Centre, where coffee lovers can get their fix before an early-morning stroll.
For more information, call +27 21 799 8783 or visit www.sanbi.org.
Photography Gareth van Nelson/HSMimages.co.za