Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town
High on any visitor’s list of things to do in Cape Town, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is over 528 hectares of some of the world’s most beautiful gardens that lie literally at the feet of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
Capetonians have a decided advantage if they’re botanical society members, as they’re free to come and go at will. Sneaking in just as the crowds begin to leave for a quiet evening stroll in this magic kingdom of diverse fynbos flora and natural forest becomes a weekly or even daily joy.
Catching a glimpse of the large bird population, the Egyptian geese and the resident meercats as well as strolling through the cultivated garden, which displays collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall parts of the country, is just part of why one comes here.
There’s a water-wise garden, a fragrance garden, which in the heat of a summer’s day is overwhelming, a garden that explains the medicinal uses of South African plants and the Dell – one of the oldest parts of the garden featuring tree ferns and shade loving plants.
Themed walks are also available, and for those who find walking rather daunting, there are golf carts with local guides who whisk you around to see all the important bits without having to swelter in the heat. And Skeleton Gorge/Nursery Ravine caters for the avid hiker.
During summer, from December to March, there is a series of musical sunset concerts held on the lawns that are extremely popular. Opposite Kirstenbosh a craft market is held at the stone cottages on the last Sunday of every month, except during the heart of winter, and there are several restaurants, a shop and a nursery.