CapeTownMagazine.com

Braving the botanicals on a hike

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.
 
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

Braving the botanicals on a hike

Hiking in Kirstenbosch Gardens is a picnic

There’s something to be said for fresh air. It can shake off those spreadsheet cobwebs, and uncurl fingers clenched from typing in its gentle breeze. And, this natural remedy is just 15 minutes from the centre of Cape Town.

Kirstenbosch Gardens, the largest of nine National Botanical Gardens in South Africa, is more than just a place to picnic and hike: it’s also a living museum, a haven for the country’s historic horticulture. The large majority of plants are indigenous, with a few minor exceptions (and with good excuses).

Get nasal in the Fragrance Garden, educated in the Useful Plant section, and blown-away in the Protea Garden. There’s is so much to see, touch, and experience: only a full day’s attention will do.

Today we’ve decided to have a picnic before our walk, Kirstenbosch was after all named one on the best picnic spots in the world by National Geographic—who are we to argue?

We spread our red blanket on the bright green grass by the duck pond; we’ve come with the perfect picnic. Duck pâté (how fitting), baguette, strawberries, Toulouse sausage, and ripe Camembert; all sourced from Italian Deli, Giovanni’s in Green Point.

Fingers feeling appropriately unclenched, I change into a pair of Hi-Tecs. They’re called V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi, and are sturdy hiking boots. An odd choice you may think for these lush, garden wanderings, but actually they’re perfect for the diverse terrain. This is after all a bio-diversity epicentre; and that means a multitude of soil types to contend with.

What to bring

  • A picnic; and make sure it’s no ordinary one either. Check out our listing of gourmet shops in Cape Town.
  • Sketch book; take a leaf out of artist Gill Condy’s book and commit foliage to folio.
  • Garbage bag. There are only dustbins outside of the park, keep it tidy and leave no trace.
  • Hiking shoes. You won’t know how far you’ll want to venture until you get there.
  • Shade, in some form, as although there are plenty of trees to dream under, the gardens are very popular.
  • Money, there’s an entrance fee (see in the footer), plus you can buy indigenous plants from the nursery as well as eat in the restaurant. 
  • Children of all ages.

Routes

Braille Trail
Easy

This route, which starts and ends at the Fragrance Garden, is suitable for unsighted people to walk unassisted, and the plants are labelled with Braille signs.  It’s a short circular route through a natural forest and patch of wetland.

Duration: Shouldn’t take longer than 15 minutes.

Boekenhout Trail
Easy to Moderate

Starting at the Old Dam, the wow-factor of this hike is the unusual views of the mountain. It can be steep in some places.

Duration: Just under a kilometre, bank on 30 minutes.

Stinkwood Trail
Easy

Prized for its wood, the stinkwood population has been severely decimated, so although there aren’t many mature stinkwoods, it’s an area of rehabilitation for the species. Still a pleasant forest walk, look out for pioneer forest trees such as, keurboom, bladdernut and wild peach.

Duration: Roughly an hour, unless you decide to read under a tree.

Yellowwood Trail
Moderate

Start at the Fragrance Garden and follow Skeleton Stream to Skeleton Waterfall, cross Nursery stream twice and you’ll end up where you started.

Duration: Clocking in at 3km, this route could take you two hours, depending on your fitness level.

Silvertree Trail
Moderate

Start at Gate 3 and see the beauty of Kirstenbosch in its entirety. This hike crosses the estate via the 300 metre contour path. The views are jaw-dropping.

Duration: three to four hours.

Smuts Track up Skeleton Gorge
Difficult

This one’s for the adventurous. Set off at the Fragrance Garden, and follow Skeleton Stream up Table Mountain. The climb up the gorge is steep and can be dangerous, especially during wet weather. Your ascent is aided by ropes and ladders. (It’s recommend you bring a map of Table Mountain along)

Duration: Up to six hours.

Nursery Ravine
Difficult

A very steep climb heading straight up Table Mountain. Hundreds of steps will lead you through forest and more rocky areas. The cherry on top is Hutchinson Dam.

Duration: Four hours, plus.

What to look out for

The flora is obviously the focus, and be prepared to spend hours in the flowers. But there are also small buck, reptiles and birds. Plus there’s manmade art to admire too.

Trivia: Visit the granite Celtic cross which marks the grave of the garden's first director, Professor Harold Pearson, it reads: 'If ye seek his monument, look around.'

By Malu Lambert | photographs by Antonia Heil

 

Kirstenbosch Gardens
Rhodes Drive | Newlands | +27 (0)21 799 8783

Opening times:
September to March (summer) 8am – 7pm
April to August (winter) 8am – 6pm

Rates: Adults, R40; SA Students (with card), R25; children (6-17years), R10; Under 6 years, free.

Plus, rock out in the gardens with Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts 2011/12, or watch a movie under the stars in Kirstenbosch at The Galileo Open Air Cinema.

Check out our Facebook album of our day, and follow us on Twitter to find out where (and what) we’ll be hiking next. Plus, subscribe to our weekly newsletter for a seven day weather forecast.

Cape Town Events Calendar
January 2019
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31

Banyana_BanyanaFREE TICKETS: Banyana Vs Netherlands At ...

SA’s women's football team take on their Dutch counterparts in preparation for their ...

motocross_flat_trackFirst Look At A New Type Of Motocross ...

Mixing the dirty excitement of motocross with the slick speed of Nascar, flat track oval ...

tigger_2_royaleOn Bended Knee, Out At Sea, Aboard The ...

Turn the Tigger 2 Royale catamaran into your personal Love Boat, with their special ...

Galilieo_RupertSaturday Nights at The Galileo Open Air ...

Kick back, sip wine and relax with a country movie screening experience

silver_forestKick Off 2019 In Silver Forest's Lap Of ...

Who says that self endulgence needs to end after the festive season? Rejuvenate yourself ...

Jack BlackBeers and Bands at Jack Black Brewery ...

Every Friday night the Jack Black stage is lit up with local talent

green and veganA Pop Up Vegan House Party

Go home with a vegan power couple for a unique culinary experience

downward facing adopt a dogSay Namaste And Support The Pups

Bring your yoga mat, water, love for dogs and community spirit

Knife 6A Meal and Sparkling Wine on the House ...

Knife will treat you to a free meal on any Saturday that falls in the month of your ...

Camissa Tour 5 2015Get A Unique Sunday Gospel Experience ...

Embark on a spiritual Sunday journey through one of the Mother City’s most soulful ...

Glowing Rooms 3Get a Great Saving on 3D Mini-Golf with ...

Pay a special rate for entrance into SA’s first 3D space-themed glow-in-the-dark ...

Om Revolution vinyasa poseHave an Outdoor Yoga Experience with ...

Embrace your inner yogi outdoors

Langarm The Fugard Theatre 4Award-winning David Kramer Brings ...

Some of South Africa’s most established stage performers take to the stage in this ...

OX Seals 04Smile: You Get 10% Off Seal Snorkelling ...

Up close with wild Cape fur seals in small, intimate excursions that are super special, ...

kiff kombi craft beer Craft Beer Safari with Kiff Kombi Tours

Here’s how to experience the best in Cape Town’s craft beer scene and get 15% off ...

Roast and Co Daily: Two Hours of 2-For-1 Specials at ...

Plus: Half-price on all “To Share” plates – see what’s on the menu here

Coco Safar 7The Saturday Spoil: Luxury Breakfast at ...

Sea Point’s premier all-day cafe offers a breakfast worth waking up early for

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownSave on your kids’ birthday party ...

Make your kids’ birthday party extra special with outdoor laser tag with Battlefield ...

Kaapse Stories at The Rockwell TheatreDinner and a Show with Rockwell Theatre

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. What happens in Cape Town gets told to your mom, ...

Radisson Blu 12Save on Having Your Dream Wedding at ...

Have a stress-free wedding when hosting it at this city location

Leopard's Leap Harvest Table 1Savour the Lekker in What's Local at ...

Discover South Africa through its flavours and traditions at a family-table event ...

V&A Food Market 3Free Live Music and Affordable ...

With 42 artisanal street food vendors and retail products and free live music every ...

Fire and Ice Weekend PartyParty in the Fire & Ice Hotel Lobby ...

Live DJ, killer cocktails, 38 gourmet milkshakes and the chance to meet exciting new ...

Beluga Live Music Event 2Live Music Every Saturday at Beluga

Enjoy fresh and vibey live music every Saturday at Beluga

Just Like Papa 6Pop into Just Like Papa this Saturday ...

Gold-class vicar knives, Swedish-made hunter’s hatchets and one-of-a-kind handcrafted ...

Vergenoegd_duckrun1Cheer On The Ducks At Vergenoegd Löw

Bring the kids along to experience the Duck Parade

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.