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.

Along with ten artists, celebrate the 13th annual Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival.

---

Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of what’s happening in the city, ‘burbs and dorpies. Join our newsletter and get quick access on the go by adding us to your mobile home screen for the ultimate guide to discoveries in Cape Town.

Follow and like us on TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagramPinterest for updates.

Cape Town Events Calendar
июля 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

sounding_the_voidDiscover the Art of Listening At A ...

A free audio exhibition exploring fantasy islands, suits that give you a different ...

goudini8Get Married At Goudini Spa And Stay in ...

It’s a 6-sleeper with panoramic views of the Breedkloof valley.

Soetes and Soup - 1Winter-Style Wine Pairings

Wineries in the Breedekloof Valley are pairing their wares with a winter winner

penny_for_a_laughMore Proof That Laughter Is Good For ...

Riaad Moosa, Conrad Koch, Sifiso Nene and more come together to raise funds for a rural ...

the_hotel-plays_hotel_barA Tennessee Williams Classic at a Hotel ...

The Vineyard Hotel brings back The Hotel Plays series with an American masterpiece

Basic Photography WorkshopBoost Your Instagram Skills

Learn basic photography skills at a venue with lots of photo opportunities

Kinky BootsSmash-Hit Kinky Boots Now On At The ...

With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award

kiff_kombis_wine_beer_2019Buckle Up For A Beer Safari

Sample the best that Cape Town’s booming craft beer industry has to offer (and let ...

onomo_tacoTacos and Sangria at a Friday Fiesta ...

Tuck in while you soak in the atmosphere of the city centre

ghost_walksWalk With Ghosts In A Haunted Village ...

Discover the mysterious Lavender Lady, an unsinkable coffin, butchering barbers, exhumed ...

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

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

devonvalenew2Share A Double Brandy Special At ...

Enjoy a true South African sundowner at this picturesque venue just outside of ...

moyo_eden15Draughts for R25, R39 Cocktails Every ...

You, a couple friends, sitting at the Corona surfboard tables with your feet in the ...

cartelbraai5Friday Lunch Sorted: Lekker Braai At ...

End off the working week with a braai under the umbrellas in Green Point – food's ready ...

Jack BlackBeers and Bands at Jack Black Brewery ...

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

La Paris_Bistro3Farm-Fresh Fare and Live Music Fridays ...

What an awesome vibe: Top Franschhoek chefs’ lunch favourite is now open till late (one ...

Wine FliesA Wine Tour Like No Other With Wine ...

Experience the best wines the Western Cape has to offer, all while having fun with Wine ...

camissatownship_newEmbark On A Township Eco-Friendly ...

Enjoy this interactive excursion to the bustling community of Langa

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

hq friday feels HQ Friday Feels: Dinner and Dancing on ...

Chill jazzy beats while you enjoy dinner, then the dance floor opens at 9pm till late

Park Inn_Rooftop1Friday Night Live DJ on the Rooftop at ...

Forget the traffic: watch the sun set to cool SA house vibes with after-work sundowners ...

Coco Safar Dinner NEW 2Indulge In Dinner and Dessert At Coco ...

And now they have added couture alcoholic cocktails to the menu at this all-day cafe

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 ...

surfing muizenbergLearn To Surf Or Perfect Your Skills In ...

New to the surfing game? You’re in good hands at African Soul Surfer

African Soul Surfer Backpackers in Cape TownBook a Surf and Yoga Retreat at the ...

This week-long surf and yoga camp includes breakfast, accommodation and all your ...

Vergenoegd_duckrun1Cheer On The Ducks At Vergenoegd Löw

Bring the kids along to experience the Duck Parade

trail_and_yogaRevive your fitness at this winter ...

Find zen and learn about nutritious food to help you keep your body in top shape

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

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