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The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed to be one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. It is magnificently situated on the eastern foot of Table Mountain, known to feature the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora. Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to preserve the unique flora in the area and was the first in the world to conserve and showcase a country’s indigenous flora. This was administered by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The name is said to originate from the surname of the 18th century manager of the land, J.F. Kirsten, and it’s combined with the Dutch word for ‘forest’ or ‘bush, bosch.

Diverse Fynbos Flora and Natural Forest

Kirstenbosch covers an area of 528 hectares filled with more than 7,000 plant species, 2,500 of these from the Cape Peninsula. A total area of 36 hectares is cultivated and the rest is a protected area supporting the two main vegetation types, namely, the forest and fynbos. Kirstenbosch’s well-cultivated garden displays collections of southern African plants including many rare and endangered species. The forest lies in the kloof and on the slopes below the highest peaks. The fynbos at Kirstenbosch is at its best from August to November.

 

 

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Do you know where this epic tree is in #capetown? It is known as Van Riebeek’s hedge, and has a bit of a dark history. This type of tree is called a Wild Almond but is actually part of the protea family. Read about it on our website to lean more. Follow @secretcapetown for more and tag us or use #secretcapetown to be featured. Photo by @funforlouis . . . . . #cityofcapetown #amazingcapetown #seecapetown #visitcapetown #thisiscapetown #ig_capetown #southafrica #southafricaza #visitsouthafrica #africa #ig_southafrica #thisisafrica #capetownmag #instagramcapetown #weheartsa #capetowntourism #westerncape #capetownsouthafrica #meetcapetown #capetownetc #thisisafrica #southafrica #capetowntravel #explorecapetown #kirstenbosch #kirstenboschbotanicalgardens #vanreibeekshedge #kirstenboschgardens

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Wildlife in Kirstenbosch

Kirstenbosch is home to a wide variety of animals, indigenous birds, reptiles, frogs and invertebrates. Birds are abundant at Kirstenbosch, you can spot more than 125 species. Several amphibians such as the Chirping Frog, the Cape River Frog, and the critically endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog live in Kirstenbosch.

Many animals live and breed in and around this botanical garden. But are generally active at dusk, or during the night, and hide during the day.

Exploring the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch is popular with both locals and visitors alike. It welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world each year who come to explore its natural diverse environment. Garden highlights include picnics on the lawns; the Colonel Bird’s Bath among tree ferns and shade-loving plants at The Dell; Van Riebeeck’s hedge; the Fragrance Garden and the Sculpture Garden. Kirstenbosch also presents a variety of art exhibitions, both outdoor exhibitions of long and short-term duration, as well as indoor art shows and exhibitions in the various venues within the garden. Try the VoiceMap Walking tour of Kirstenbosch for more in-depth exploration. But the WiFi can be fickle in the Gardens, so rather download it beforehand.

Related: Emma’s Top Five Spots in Kirstenbosch

The Tree Canopy Walkway

Affectionately known locally as ‘The Boomslang’, which means “the tree snake”, it’s a canopy walkway winding above the treeline, offering a completely unique vantage point over the gardens. Perfect for a leisurely stroll to take in the panoramic views above the treetops.

 

Summer Concerts and Cinema

This world-famous Garden is a stunning venue for an outdoor concert. Every summer, the gardens host a popular series of outdoor concerts on Sunday afternoons. Keep an eye on the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts Facebook page for the line-up. And the New Year’s Eve Concert is quite a treat.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema hosts outdoor movie nights on Wednesdays during the summer months. They offer a variety of movies in the unrivaled natural surrounds of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. There is no better way to spend a summer evening in Cape Town than enjoying a concert or a movie with your family in a magical setting!

 

The Moyo Restaurant

The restaurant offers you a truly African experience in the heart of the African “jungle”. You can feast on a traditional African dish, while listening to authentic African music. Between your courses live performers entertain you, and if you want to really connect with the culture, you can request the Wishy-Washy ladies to paint your face after washing your hands. They serve a special lunch buffet on Sundays from 12:00 to 16:00. And a dinner buffet on Fridays from 18:00 to 22:00. Visit moyo.co.za for more information.

Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 11:00 to 18:00; and Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday from 09:00 to 18:00

The Botanical Society Conservatory

The conservatory exhibits plants from a number of different regions including savanna, fynbos, karoo, and others, focusing on plants native to the Cape region. The conservatory also highlights spectacular collections of proteas. This part of the Garden is most magnificent in winter and spring when the proteas, conebushes, and serrurias are in bloom.

Follow the Trails

You can explore Kirstenbosch via a number of walks and trails. Exploring the many shady trails is one of the best ways to discover its beauty. A number of trails will lead you through the natural forest and fynbos surrounding the developed garden. There are also several trails which will take you to the top of Table Mountain, from which point you can hike to the cable car station. These trails leading off along the mountain slopes are a favourite of hikers and mountaineers. Read our post Top 5 Hiking Routes Up Table Mountain to learn more about the Skeleton Gorge route.

Volunteer guides conduct tours of the Garden from Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. Should you wish to explore Kirstenbosch on your own, a map is available at the Information Office for a nominal fee. Stroll around the country’s premier botanical garden and discover the diversity of South Africa’s extraordinary flora.

Entrance to The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

During the summer (September to March) the Garden is open every day from 08:00 to 19:00. In winter (April to August) it is open from 08:00 to 18:00. The Conservatory is open every day from 09:00 to 17:00.

Entrance fees:
Adults: R70
South African Students (student card): R40
Scholars/Learners (6 to 17 years): R20
Children under 6: Free
BotSoc members (with membership card): Free
South African Senior Citizens (with ID): Free on Tuesdays except public holidays
Buy your tickets online at WebTickets.

Visit the Kirstenbosch Gardens website for more information.