The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are seen by many as the lush, beating heart of Cape Town. Located just behind Table Mountain in the suburb of Newlands. This area has grown to be as green as it is due to the high levels of rainfall. The gardens were cordoned off to be used as a place to cultivate indigenous plant species native to the country more than 100 years ago.
Kirstenbosch Gardens sees many locals and tourists throughout the year and receives high praise for its natural beauty. The gardens also offer free guided tours that depart from the entrance starting at 11 AM and continuing through to 2 PM. These tours happen daily throughout the week with the exception of Sunday.
Many locals of Cape Town agree the botanical gardens are one of the most well-known tourist attractions found within the city.
What To Expect When Visiting The Kirstenbosch Gardens
The gardens are a prime spot for those looking to have a casual picnic or walk along its many forested paths. Something to look out for while exploring are the many statues that dot the landscape, all made by different local sculptors. The main entrance to a well-known hiking trail known as Skeleton Gorge is located further up the gardens on the lower slopes of Table Mountain
There are many concerts that happen in the gardens, with performances by local and foreign bands. These concerts mainly occur during the summer months and generally bring many onlookers from all around the city centre and its surroundings.
There are many species of indigenous flora to be found within the gardens, including medicinal, herbal and fragrant sections. Many visitors find that they can spend an entire afternoon taking in the sights and relaxing on the rolling lawns located within the gardens themselves.
In recent years a new creation was opened to the general public in Kirstenbosch Gardens, The Boomslang (which means “The Tree Snake” in English). This particular walkway extends high up into the tree canopy overlooking the gardens, giving you a full panoramic view of the area and its surroundings.
The Boomslang was built in 2013 to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the gardens being officially open. In the evening, the views from the boomslang are beautiful. As the sun sets behind the towering Table Mountain, washing the sky in differing hues of orange and purple.
Kirstenbosch Gardens Entry Fee
The Kirstenbosch entry fee is R40 for adults, R25 for South African students with valid student cards and R10 for children up to the age of 18. Children under the age of 6 are permitted entrance into the gardens for free.
History Of The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
No less than a century ago, the beautiful area we know as the gardens today was nothing more than an earthy patch of farms. The area was bequeathed to the South African government by Cecil John Rhodes back in the early 1900s.
Up until 1913, nothing much happened to the area itself. However, a chance arrangement allowed for a botanist by the name of Harold Pearson to start transforming the land. He spent many years turning it into a haven for indigenous South African plant life both common and rare. The garden now contains thousands of indigenous plants collected and cultivated from all across South Africa.
The Cape Floristic Region, which is a UNESCO world heritage site, includes the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
There are many notable features peppered throughout the garden grounds such as the Colonel Bird’s Bath which was built over two centuries ago. This bath is a large bricked pool that collected spring water that ran off from Table Mountain supplying fresh water to the area.
Another feature is Jan Van Riebeeck‘s Hedge which was planted back in the early 1600s, well before the gardens themselves were created. Unfortunately, all that is left of this ancient hedge is a few wild almond trees.
The oldest part of Kirstenbosch is known as The Dell, some archaeologists have discovered stone tools and carvings buried throughout this location. The archaeologists agree that these unearthed relics are of the indigenous tribes that lived in the area many thousands of years ago, well before the Dutch and English settlers arrived from Europe.
In June 2015, nine life-sized dinosaur exhibits were built in the gardens to attempt raising awareness of the ancient cycad plants, which are highly endangered. These plants are as old as the dinosaurs themselves and even survived the cataclysmic extinction event when the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs decimated the world.
The Best Time To Visit Kirstenbosch
The weather in Kirstenbosch is usually quite mild. On a hot day, you can easily find trees to sit under the shade of. Many locals and tourists agree that the best time to visit Kirstenbosch is on a day when the weather is mild. August and September are lovely months to visit.
In the summer months, wind speed can pick up fairly quickly. However on a calm day, the temperature can be very pleasant for a picnic.
Visiting early in the morning or later in the afternoon ensures that you can find the best places to set up your picnic as the gardens are busiest during midday. It is important to keep in mind that the gardens are open from 8:00 in the morning till 18:00 in the evening when planning your trip.
The spring months in Cape Town last from early September to October and are also a fantastic time to visit Kirstenbosch Gardens. The wildflowers and many other forms of plant life bloom throughout these months creating spectacular scenery.
Many of these plants have small informational signs placed near them that can give you more interesting facts about the species. This allows visitors to learn something about the wide variety of plants while still taking in the sights.
Final Thoughts On The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The gardens are a truly spectacular area of greenery where you can enjoy your time with friends and family. There are many sights to see in the area as well as restaurants and the occasional concert.
Be sure to arrive relatively early so that you can spend the day exploring all this wonderful area has to offer and take in the sights. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is truly a wondrous area to be experienced!