Considered one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is no slouch in the location stakes. The stunning 36-hectare gardens are set against the eastern slope of Cape Town's Table Mountain and overlook the city with views to the Hottentots Hollands Mountains in the distance.
Established in 1913, Kirstenbosch was the first botanic garden in the world to devote its grounds solely to indigenous flora. The gardens are also part of a 528-hectare natural reserve of protected mountainside and forest to support a range of flora and fauna, which borders the Table Mountain National Park. Within the gardens, you'll find over 7,000 species of plant including an extensive range of the unique plant life of the Cape Flora, called fynbos – a hardy thin-leaved plant, as well as flora from the various regional areas of South Africa. Rare and threatened species are among the botanical examples on display with delicate indoor plants within the Botanical Society Conservatory.
The pleasant layout and scenery of Kirstenbosch attracts not only tourists but Cape Town locals who come to enjoy the natural surrounds, art exhibitions and musical concerts during summer. The gardens contain meandering and looping pathways with designated sections to explore including a rockery, ponds, a Fragrance Garden, Braille Trail and Protea Garden. Highlights include the Bird Bath – a stone pool surrounding a spring, a large Cycad Garden and ever-changing African stone sculptures. To visit Kirstenbosch when the largest number of plants are blooming and when the fynbos is at its best, spring and early summer is most optimum time to go, although the gardens are beautiful during all seasons of the year.
Entry to Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden is Rs42 for adults, Rs10 for children aged six to 17 and free for kids under six years. To visit, Kirstenbosch is 13km and a 24-minute drive from downtown Cape Town. From the city, take the M3, turn right at Rhodes Drive and follow the signs to the gardens.