Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute and arguably one of the most famous botanical gardens in the world. Situated on the lush green slopes of the southeastern side of Table Mountain it is a mere 20 mins drive from the city center.
It is not certain how the Gardens got its name but it is probable that the land somehow became associated with one of the members of the Kirsten family, and became known as Kirstenbosch (Kirsten’s Forest). In 1895 Cecil John Rhodes purchased Kirstenbosch. He planted the magnificent avenue of Camphor trees. He bequeathed the land to the Nation.
Harold Pearson took over the garden, and Kirstenbosch was set aside for a National Botanic Garden in 1913. It covers 528 hectares, of which 36 hectares are cultivated. The rest is natural forest and fynbos, supporting indigenous wildlife.
Your guided experience will meander through the trails above the garden through the lush green Afromontane forest. View some of Cape Towns oldest indigenous trees including the South African national tree, the Real Yellowood. Learn about the first planted Wild Almond Trees and how they marked the start of a long history of segregation in South Africa.
After passing numerous ravines and trickling streams and waterfalls you make your way into the scrubby mountain fynbos which is the richest of the worlds plant kingdoms. With over 1500 species on Table Mountain alone, your guide will point out the flowering species at the time and learn about the vegetation’s importance on an ecological scale.
The fynbos bleeds into a plantation of alien eucalyptus and other species which are slowly being removed. You will learn about the importance of alien control in conserving the fynbos and take in some beautiful scenery on the trail.
Ending back in the gardens you will have the opportunity to walk on The Boomslang an aerial walkway that was commissioned in 2013 and celebrates the Centenary of Kirstenbosch. Inspired by a snake skeleton, it is 130m long and 12 m high and is an excellent vantage point of forest and mountain in the background.
Meander through some more fynbos and down to the Dell. This is a haven of tall trees, paths, cool shade, and running water. The Cycad garden is just above and home to plants species that are 340 million years old.
As you move out of the garden your guide will show you some of the useful fynbos species that have been medicine and food for people for thousands of years.
We hope you will enjoy the walk, stimulate all your senses, learn about this world heritage, and leave with lasting memories.