Kirstenbosch botanical garden is one of my favourite places in Cape Town. The garden perfectly encapsulates the diversity of the Cape floral kingdom. There’s so much to see and do unsurprisingly so as the Cape Floral Kingdom has more flora species than the entire United Kingdom. This lush botanical garden is located along the eastern slopes of the magnificent Table Mountain. I recently got to visit Kirstenbosch again with my sister and mom as the garden celebrated spring by providing free entry tickets in local newspapers. I have been to Kirstenbosch several times and I’m a local. In this guide I will list my favourite spots in the garden, how to get there and other useful information along with a few of my photos of Kirstenbosch gardens.
The scent garden
The scent garden allows you to smell the plants and flowers. You can also tough the flora and there are boards explaining everything in Braille. The garden was design for people who are blind. In my city many spaces still do not cater to people with disabilities and I remain touched by the efforts of Kirstenbosch to change that.
The tree canopy bridge
The bridge is fairly new and unfortunately for me every time I walk on to it’s crowded. The bridge actually moves a bit from side to side when it’s windy or when there’s many people walking along it. The view of the garden below is remarkable. There’s greenery and mountains and on a sunny day perfect blue skies. I will be going back to Kirstenbosch to get the crowd free photo I long for.
The protea garden
For those of you who don’t know the King Protea is South Africa’s national flower. It’s also the name of our national cricket team. The thing about Proteas is that they only grow in the Cape region. You won’t find them anywhere else in the world. They are colourful and oh so pretty. Proteas make for Instagram worthy photos. Proteas grow along the mountain regions in Cape Town but, if you want to see them without hiking head over to Kistenbosch’s Protea Garden.
Summer Concerts Series
Kirstenbosch is home to recurring events. For me the summer concerts series is the best Kirstenbosch garden event. Every summer local and international artists perform at the amphitheatre of the garden. Concert goers can bring their own picnic baskets and alcohol. You can also buy food and drinks if you don’t feel like packing your own basket. Lawn chairs are allowed and you can hire a chair many people just take along picnic blankets. I went to see Goodluck a local band play with my sister. The best part of the experience is that the backdrop of the amphitheatre is the mountain.
There are a few sculptures in the garden. There’s a bust of Nelson Mandela. There are also other lovely sculptures and a sculpture garden to. If you want to spot them all visit the official website to find out where they are located and go on a sculpture tour of Kirstenbosch botanical garden.
The art gallery
You can go see amazing art for free. Many of the artworks tend to be of landscapes. Some of the artists feature Kirstenbosch and or its flowers in their works. The gallery only features paintings. Many are on canvases but there are smaller pieces and works on paper. The prices of the painting range from the more expensive to the affordable. A painting from this gallery certainly makes for a terrific souvenir or gift.
Is Kirstenbosch wheel chair friendly?
To an extent yes parts of the garden is not accessible as Kristenbosch is located at the bottom of a mountain slope. Some trials are also covered in mulch to add to the gardens aesthetic. All the gardens entrances are wheelchair friendly there is wheel chair friendly parking. The shops and restaurants are all wheelchair friendly. The area around the Visitors Gate, parts of the Dell, the amphitheatre, fragrance and sculpture garden are all wheel chair accessible. These spaces are flat with paved pathways. There’s a wheel chair accessible route to the tree canopy walk way to. The official site of the gardens does advise wheelchair users to bring along assistance if they are able to if they want to access steeper parts of the gardens. I will say that my family wouldn’t take my brother to Kirstenbosch on a busy day. His walking is a bit unstable and he uses a wheelchair at times. He is mentally disabled; strangers tend to make him anxious. During the week, on a sunny winters day is a better day to go to the gardens, early or later to. This will ensure that it isn’t that full which makes it easier to navigate.
For a map on how to get to the tree canopy walkway and more information go to: https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch/
How do I get there?
Drive a car
If you are driving from the city take De Waal Drive in the direction of Muizenberg. At the Rhodes Drive intersection turn right towards the mountain. From there on follow the signs to Kirstenbosch gardens. The signs are big and clear. You can get free parking at Gates 1-3(Kirstenbosch, 2018).
Take the public bus
The Golden Arrow bus stops at the garden. This bus departs from Mowbray station and one daily bus leave from the Golden Acre bus terminus which is close to Cape Town Station. This bus only operates from Monday to Friday and excludes public holidays. The Kirstenbosch gardens bus stop is located underneath a huge fig tree at the Bell Tower Gate. If you continue left on the road you will get to Gate 1, The Visitors centre.
For more information on the bus times and routes call the Golden Arrows toll free number from a landline at 0800 65 64 63. If you call from your cellphone you will be charged for the call. Arrive early as the buses leave on time.
Take the red tour bus
The red bus officially named the City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus stops at Kirstenbosch gardens. Take the mini peninsula tour line of the red bus. The bus stops at the gardens 15 times a day during summer. The first bus to Kirstenbosch arrives at 9:50 and every 20 minutes there’s a bus during summer. In winter there’s a bus every 35 minutes. The bus stops at Gate 1 right in front of the Vida-e Café. For more information go to http://www.citysightseeing.co.za
Note for wheel chair users: The red bus is wheel chair friendly and the staff is more than willing to help wheel chair users if need be. Most of the older Golden Arrow bus isn’t wheel chair friendly. I advise wheel chair users to take the red bus to Kirstenbosch instead of the public bus.
What are the operating times?
Daily from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm in summer (September to March).
Daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm in winter (April-August).
When is the best time to go?
The garden has different plants blooming all year round. The different seasons have different advantages and disadvantages. Cape Town winters are wet and windy. The drought has not changed this. This leads to muddy trails and wet grass not optimal picnic weather. On the other hand there’s less visitors on winter days. Summer time sees bigger crowds along with bright blue skies. I went a few weeks ago just in time to see the spring blossoms. These flowers only bloom from 1 September till the end of September. Kirstenbosch is appealing all year round. It is a must do and should be on your Cape Town bucket list.
How much are the entry tickets?
Kids under 6: enter for free
Scholars 6-17 years old: R20
SA Students with a student card: R40
SA pensioners with an ID: Free Tuesdays (except on public holidays)
Can I buy tickets online?
You can buy tickets from webtickets.co.za or directly at the entry gates.
Tel: +27 21 799 8783
Ticket office: +27 21 7998782
Address: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
Have you been to Kirstenbosch gardens? Let me know in the comments what you thought of it if you have. Thanks for reading. Feel free to post a comment. If you want to ask me questions or provide suggestions please do. I’m open to chatting and online collaboration.
Wishing you happy travels!
xxx Nikki xxx