22 November 2011

Kirstenbosch - Pride of the Cape


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are anything but boring! Watch the Sunday lovers snuggled up under a tree, order a Gourmet Picnic to be enjoyed on rolling lawns or just simply soak up the pleasure of amazing freedom, flora unique to the Cape, and those magnificent views of Eastern Table Mountain.

Kirstenbosch is not a tourist trap - it's uniqueness is enjoyed by all Capetonians and everybody welcomes visitors - we cannot be selfish and keep these wondrous gardens all to ourselves!

A part of the garden hosts many varied African Sculptures - mainly in the Shona tradition from Zimbabwe. They range from huge to smaller and all are available for sale if you want something truly unique. Sculptures change as some are sold so there is always something new to look at. Art exhibitions are held regularly in the hall (free entry) it's a great opportunity to buy a South Africans artists work.

For colour in the gardens August to October is usually best as many of the "fynbos" plants flower during this time. However, every season has it's own brand of beauty so there is never a "wrong" time to visit. Perhaps when the Cape rains set in for the day, it would be best to seek a warm fire and some hearty soup!

The origin of the name Kirstenbosch is not proven but seems to relate to the Kirsten family. The estate went through many years of neglect until the Botanical Society was formed in 1913 - many years of hard work have resulted in the magnificent gardens that we see today.

The walks are all paved until you get further up the mountain onto the hiking trails such as Skeleton Gorge, Nursery Ravine or Silvermine Trail. For the fitness fanatics, these are great runs up the mountain!!!! Do take care as the trails can be slippery and always walk in a group.

Kirstenbosch is a Unesco World Heritage site and covers 36 hectares so don your walking shoes to enjoy all the parts of the garden, such as the Fragrance Garden, the Protea Gardens, the Erica Garden, Cycad Amphitheatre, the Dell and the old Camphor trees in Camphor Avenue which were organised/planted by Cecil John  Rhodes way back in 1890's. Guided Tours are available Mondays - Saturdays.

Summer Concerts on Sundays are a must - sitting on the vast expanse of lawn with hundreds of other like-minded people who are settled with their picnics and drinks to enjoy music with a difference in the gardens.

There are 2 restaurants in the gardens but our favourite remains the Kirstenbosch Tea Room where you can enjoy breakfasts, light meals, gorgeous sandwiches with a difference or English Tea for Two!

Don't miss Kirstenbosch!

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