Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town © Andrew Massyn
Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town © Andrew Massyn

The magnificent Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens lie just south of the city centre and cover a huge expanse of the rugged southwestern slopes of the Table Mountain Range. Kirstenbosch was bequeathed to the nation by mining magnate Cecil Rhodes in 1895, and today contains a nursery, a research unit, a botanical library and more than 22,000 plants. Numerous paths meander through the gardens, including a Braille route for the blind. Nature lovers should note that the walks are full of lush shrubs and fynbos, the Cape's indigenous floral heritage. The gardens are indeed a natural wonderland, where visitors will find lots of space for picnics. Several incredible hikes can be started from the gardens, including the formidable Skeleton Gorge, and Nursery Ravine, which wind steeply up the mountain and generally take between four and six hours. If these difficult hikes sound a little frightening, some far gentler and shorter trails wind through the gardens. Visitors will find a tea room, two restaurants, and a coffee bar on site.

In summertime, the delightful setting becomes the venue for Sunday evening open-air concerts, when picnickers relax on the lawns, sipping wine, and enjoying the sunset entertainment. There are also outdoor movie screenings in summer.

Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands

Website: www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch

Opening times: Daily 8am to 6pm (April to August); 8am to 7pm (September to March); Conservatory 9am to 5pm

Admission: R60 (adults), R15 (children 6-18). Concessions available. Concert fees are applicable on Sunday afternoons during the Summer Sunset Concert series