If you’re a head-over-heels nature lover, a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens should be right at the top of your Cape Town bucket-list. The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens in the world. It has also won the highly esteemed ‘International Garden of the Year’ award. This not only makes Kirstenbosch Gardens one of the top attractions to visit in Cape Town, but one of its most magnificent natural gems too!
Besides its vast natural beauty and top garden status, Kirstenbosch offers visitors an endless variety of things to do and see. Not to mention some exciting adventure experiences! Here are the top 5 reasons to visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, although we could easily name a hundred more.
#1 HIKING & WALKING TRAILS
Avid hikers can enjoy a variety of hiking trails and walking routes when visiting Kirstenbosch. The Kirstenbosch estate can be explored via five main trails of differing levels of difficulty. All the trails are well-maintained, logged footpaths or gravel roads and are sign-posted, making it easy to navigate.
The Braille Trail and Boekenhout Trail are ideal forest walks for those pressed for time and the not so fit. The Stinkwood Trail is a relatively short exploration of the oldest part of the forest with some of the largest trees. The Yellowwood Trail and Silvertree Trail are long hikes that take you up to the waterfall and around the estate, through both forest and fynbos. It is also possible to climb Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch up Nursery Ravine or Skeleton Gorge. With such an amazing variety of trails, there is something for every keen hiker and adventurer.
#2 CENTENARY TREETOP CANOPY WALK
The famous centenary treetop canopy walk is reason enough to visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The famous Centenary Treetop Canopy Walk, also known as the ‘Boomslang’, has fast become a fan-favourite Kirstenbosch attraction for both the young and young at heart.
The Centenary Treetop Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. The Walkway takes visitors from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, boasting spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Garden. The Centenary Treetop Canopy Walk is approximately 130-metres-long and is wheelchair-friendly.
#3 BIODIVERSITY & FAUNA & FLORA
Founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s rare flora and fauna, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a World Heritage Site renowned for its remarkable biodiversity and vast fauna and flora. Located right at the base of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is one of the most incredible displays of indigenous natural beauty you’ll find anywhere in the city. Kirstenbosch covers an area of 528 hectares and is filled with more than 7,000 plant species, 2,500 of which are from the Cape Peninsula.
Kirstenbosch forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cape Floristic Region is the world’s smallest, yet most diverse floral kingdom. It is one of only six floral kingdoms in the world and is the only one that occurs entirely in one country. Here you’ll find a glorious diversity of fauna and flora entirely indigenous to Cape Town.
Kirstenbosch also boasts a number of beautiful and unique gardens that are worth every second of exploring. Some of these gardens include the Botanical Society Conservatory, art at the Sculpture Garden, the Protea Garden, and the Cycad Amphitheatre which features life-size models of dinosaurs – this is a real winner with the kids!
Besides Kirstenbosch’s glorious diversity of flora, it is home to over 125 bird species – making it any bird enthusiast’s dream come true. If you’re a bird lover, make sure you visit Colonel Bird’s Bath (also known as Lady Ann Barnard’s Bath).
You will also encounter several reptiles, squirrels, ducks, frogs, and invertebrates as well as amphibians such as the Chirping Frog, the Cape River Frog, and the critically endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog when visiting the Kirstenbosch Gardens.
#4 HIDDEN GEMS
One of the best things about the Kirstenbosch Gardens is the fact that it offers so much more than meets the eye. Besides its obvious natural beauty, it is home to several hidden gems and secret spots. This makes exploring the gardens an exciting adventure that should be on everyone’s bucket-list. From secret caves and glorious waterfalls, to gurgling streams and hidden trails, there is so much to discover when visiting this Cape Town natural gem.
#5 PICNIS, NURSERY, TEA ROOM & MORE
Besides being one of the most beautiful natural gems and gardens to visit in Cape Town, the Kirstenbosch Gardens is one of the best picnic spots in the Mother City. Boasting beautiful, lush lawns, stunning mountain views and large shaded trees, it makes for the perfect morning, mid-day, or afternoon picnic. The large lawns also mean there’s tons of space for the kiddies to run around, making it great for enjoying a fun day out with the whole family.
On top of being one of the most scenic picnic spots in the city, Kirstenbosch is home to a lovely tea room, variety of restaurants and curio shops as well as an amazing nursery and garden centre. The Kirstenbosch Gardens Tea Room is perfect for enjoying a leisurely cup of tea and something sweet to eat before or after exploring the beautiful gardens and everything it has to offer.
If you’re a plant lover, a visit to the Kirstenbosch Garden Centre is an absolute must when visiting Kirstenbosch. From bulbs, succulents, groundcovers, trees, and shrubs, to climbers, fynbos plants, herbaceous and so much more, the Kirstenbosch Garden Centre has everything your nature and plant loving heart desires. The garden centre can be accessed via a separate entrance from the car park and restricted to ticket holders only. You will also find a variety of incredible restaurants and curio shops when visiting Kirstenbosch.