Long renowned as one of the world’s finest botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch is also unique for being the first public garden of its kind to feature exclusively indigenous plants. The wealth of plant life native to South Africa makes Kirstenbosch a fascinating attraction. More than 7,000 varieties of plant, from the verdant areas around the cape as well as more arid regions, are housed within the garden’s 88 acres (36 hectares).
Wander the well-paved trails through the Aroma Garden and the Herb Garden and make your way to the Fynbos Walk. Fynbos is the name given to the family of plants exclusive to South Africa, and helpful signs along the way explain what you are seeing. Other areas include the Cycad garden, with various varieties of the ancient, palm-like plant on display, and the greenhouse with a huge baobab tree.
Find out more by taking a guided tour. Free walking tours are run every morning, while tours conducted from golf buggies run every hour for a small charge.
Keep your eye out for the permanent exhibition of Zimbabwean stone sculptures and don’t miss the popular concert series that runs every Sunday during the summer months.
Keen hikers may want to tackle the Skeleton Gorge trail, which leads you from the gardens up the eastern slope of Table Mountain. Alternatively, take one of the less strenuous trails in the 1,300-acre (528-hectare) area of protected land that extends beyond the boundaries of the botanical garden.
When it’s time to refuel, a café and restaurant near the entrance serve snacks, salads and larger meals. It’s free to top up your water bottle from the freshwater spring.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the center of Cape Town and there is free on-site parking. Public buses from Cape Town also go to and from the garden, which is open daily, with longer opening hours in summer. There is a small charge for entry.