Kirstenbosch NBG - The most beautiful garden in Africa.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden lives up to its reputation as the most beautiful garden in Africa, and is one of the great botanic gardens of the world.  Few gardens can match its magnificent setting against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.  

Kirstenbosch main lawn in early summer

Kirstenbosch was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa, and was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country's indigenous flora. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site.

You don’t have to be a gardener or plantsman to appreciate the beauty of this remarkable place. There is something for everyone and for all ages at Kirstenbosch: plant seekers, bird watchers, photographers, art lovers, picnickers, walkers, hikers, families, and those looking for peace and quiet or a delicious meal in beautiful surroundings.

Plant seekers will discover new and interesting plants from all over southern Africa among the thousands of species growing and flowering at Kirstenbosch. Desert plants are on display in the Botanical Society Conservatory. Proteas, pincushions, buchus and heaths along the Fynbos Walk. Trees and shrubs from all over southern Africa in the Arboretum where the Tree Canopy Walkway gives visitors a different perspective on the trees and spectacular views of the Garden and surrounding countryside.  Plants with aromatic leaves and/or fragrant flowers are in the Fragrance Garden, growing raised beds to make it easier to reach and smell them.  Medicinal, edible and useful plants are in the Useful Plants Garden.  Rare and threatened plants are in the Garden of Extinction. Find out more on the Virtual Tour.

Best time for flowers. Every season has its charm and its flowers, but spring (September and October) is spectacularly colourful at Kirstenbosch, when the lower lawns and slopes of the Garden are clad in rippling fields of orange, yellow, white, purple and blue daisies from Namaqualand or covered in dazzling purples, pinks, white, orange and yellow Vygies, also known as Mesembs, Midday Flowers or Ice Plants.  It is uplifting to experience the vibrant living colour and energy of these plants and to see the bees and birds that enjoy them too.

Bird watchers will have plenty to see and hear at Kirstenbosch. Birds are ever present and remarkably unafraid. A sighting of a colourful Sunbird is a sure thing.  Keep a look out for the long-tailed Sugarbird, endemic to this region, and a Spotted Eagle Owl or two. A handy pocket guide to the birdlife of Kirstenbosch is available at the Botanical Society Bookshops at Gates 1 and 2.

Kirstenbosch is a great place for all photographers; it offers scenic landscapes, a wide diversity of flowers and plants throughout the seasons, birds, insects and other wildlife, as well as many opportunities for memorable selfies. The light is best in the morning, and the sun disappears behind the mountain in the afternoon. Make sure your battery is fully charged and there’s lots of space on your memory card.

Art lovers will find an outdoor exhibition of African stone sculptures in the Sculpture Garden, life-size dinosaur sculptures in the Cycad Garden, and various other artworks on display in the Garden. Check our events page for any other art exhibitions that may be on when you are visiting.

Kirstenbosch is the perfect place to picnic, or visitors can have breakfast, lunch and tea, coffee and snacks at one of three eateries and the Garden. Enjoy your meal inside, on the deck or order a picnic hamper or your lunch to go, and eat in the Garden.  Kirstenbosch is a ‘no bins garden’, to discourage litter-feeding vermin like rats, so visitors are asked to take the remains of their picnics home and dispose of it responsibly. 

Walkers and hikers are spoiled for choice at Kirstenbosch.  There are a number of walks and trails through the Garden and the natural area of Kirstenbosch. Get the Walks and Trails brochure from the Ticket Office and choose the trail to suit your time and level of fitness.  Hikers can climb Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch, either via Skeleton Gorge or Nursery Gorge to Maclear’s Beacon, but remember to wear the correct gear, bring water and a good map and don’t leave too late in the day.

Free guided walks are offered Monday to Saturday at 10 am and 2 pm – meet at the Information Desk in the Visitors’ Centre (normal garden entry fee applies). Or take a tour of the garden in the shuttle car, leaving from the Visitors’ Centre on the hour from 9 am to 3 pm, ideal for those pressed for time or not able to walk up the slopes – buy your ticket at the Ticket Office, additional to normal garden entry fee.  

Kirstenbosch is in Rhodes Drive, Newlands, about 13 km from the city centre and is signposted on all major roads.  If you can’t get to Kirstenbosch by car, hop on the CitySightseeing bus, the mini peninsula tour stops at the Garden 6 times a day, 7 days a week.  

Don't miss these special Garden features:

● Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway  ● Dinosaur sculptures in the Cycad Amphitheatre  ● Fynbos Walk  ● Botanical Society Conservatory (Glasshouse)  ● Spring Flowers Display  ● The Dell and Colonel Bird’s Bath  ● Fragrance Garden  ● Useful Plants Garden  ● Sculpture Garden  ● Van Riebeeck’s Hedge  ● Camphor Avenue  ● Pearson’s Grave  ● Mathews Rockery  ● The Koppie and Pelargonium Garden  ● Peninsula Garden  ● Forest Braille Trail  ● Water-wise Garden  ● Garden of Extinction  ● Garden of Weeds  ● Vlei Garden  ● Beyond the Garden

Last updated on 18 August 2015
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