If you’re planning a trip to Cape Town, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden should definitely be on your itinerary! We spent a few hours exploring these beautiful gardens, but had we known how much there was to see, we would have brought a picnic and filled an entire afternoon. Here are 7 reasons to visit Kirstenbosch…
1. For the unique Cape Flora – the Cape Floral Region is the smallest of the six different floral kingdoms in the world, located only on the southwestern tip of South Africa. Kirstenbosch showcases thousands of the plant species only found in this region. We visited in September, which is springtime in South Africa, and the spring flowers were in full bloom!
2. To walk the Tree Canopy Walkway – if you’ve seen photos of Kirstenbosch already, you’ve probably seen a photo from the Tree Canopy Walkway—at least that was what had first drawn my attention to Kirstenbosch. This bridge, inspired by a snake skeleton, winds through the trees and then out over the gardens with an awesome view!
3. To see some dinosaurs and a tree that is the very last of its kind – The Cycad Amphitheatre is an area of the gardens that features plant species that are millions of years old. Cycads are a unique type of evergreen trees, including the Wood’s Cycad, of which only one clump has ever been found. It was moved to Kirstenbosch and is fenced to protect it as it’s the last tree of the species and is extinct in the wild. Among the cycads are sculptures of five different dinosaurs that once lived in Africa!
4. To do some amateur birdwatching – In additional to dinosaurs, keep an eye out for some of the more than 100 species of birds that have been recorded in the gardens. Even if you don’t know anything about birdwatching (like us!), you’ll spot many blue-headed South African guinea fowls, all around the park and maybe some more rare birds too.
5. To explore the Useful Plants Garden – Walk through this small garden to see some plants that are not just pretty to look at but have a practical use too. The garden features plants that were traditionally used for medicinal purposes, to thatch roofs or weave baskets, and to make herbal teas and other drinks.
6. To learn about some of the plants from South Africa’s 5 other flora regions in the conservatory – South Africa boasts some of the most diverse wildlife and plant life in the world and in the conservatory, you can see some of the plants that can’t grow outdoors in the Mediterranean-like climate of Cape Town.
7. For a view of the back side of Table Mountain – Kirstenbosch is located at the base of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, on the opposite side of the mountain from the entrance to Table Mountain National Park, around past downtown Cape Town. The backdrop of Table Mountain along with the colorful spring flowers was stunning!
Now that I’ve convinced you to visit Kirstenbosch, here a few things to know when planning your visit:
- The entrance fee for adults is 75 ZAR ($5USD)
- Kirstenbosch is a “no bins” garden so there are not trash cans in many parts of the park. Visitors are expected to carry their own trash out of the gardens to throw it away. Keep this in mind if you’re planning to bring a picnic with you!
- They offer free 90-minute guided garden tours a few times a day during the week. Check the schedule online beforehand if this interests you – we missed one by half an hour because we didn’t plan ahead.
Make sure to add Kirstenbosch to your list of things to do in Cape Town! Looking for more ideas, check out our post on taking a day trip down the Cape Peninsula!
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