As soon as the Garden opened we were ready with walking shoes, sun block and camera gear. Although cloudy weather threatened us soon after our arrival we managed a worthwhile exploration of the main areas of the Garden with the enthusiastic help of Andrew Jacobs, our experienced and affable guide who had worked at Kirstenbosch for 36 years.
The park’s location at the foot of the famed Table Mountain allowed us a clear view of the Cape Flats, a rare sight, our guide explained, and one we throughly took advantage of that morning. In order to stay ahead of the rain we kept a brisk pace while still making time to admire a flower, discuss a plant or snap a photograph.
In a little more than two hours we saw the highlights of the Garden, including indigenous plants and flowers, and elusive and colorful birds, before the day’s first summer downpour began. By then we took refuge in the park’s cafe, one of three dining venues, where we had a snack and waited for the rain to abate before making our way indoors to the exhibit area near the main entrance and the gifts shop in search of souvenirs.
The combination of a nature park with extensive walking paths in a safe and manicured setting with views of Cape Town, African flora and birds, including rare and endangered species, theme gardens (which we had no time to discover before the showers), snack and meal venues and souvenir shops made fans out of us. We look forward to a return visit the next time we are in the area.
Description Kirstenbosch has 528 hectares in overall size, including a cultivated 36-hectare Garden and a nature reserve. A the time of our visit it was the largest of nine botanical gardens in South Africa and the flagship of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). A popular attraction, the park hosted 750,000 visitors a year. South Africans accounted for 75 percent of park visitors while the remaining 25 percent were international visitors, especially travelers from the United Kingdom, Germany and India.
Established The park was established in 1913. There were plans to celebrate the Kirstenbosch centenary year with upgrades next year.
Handicapped Access Yes, there were wheelchair friendly areas according to a park spokesperson.
Location The drive to the park from central Cape Town was about 10 kilometers and required as little as 10 minutes depending on traffic density.
Number Of Employees 400
Owned And Managed The park was a schedule 3A Public Entity led by Tanya Abrahamse, Ph.D. as chief executive officer.
Size The estate covers 528 hectares and the developed garden is 36 hectares large. In addition to the shops and restaurants there were meeting rooms, and exhibit and concert venues.
Transportation Self driving, a hotel transfer or a tour were some of the options to reach the park.