A view of Table Mountain from the deck of the MSC Opera


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch showcases the splendour of Cape flora (with minor exceptions, only indigineous flora is cultivated). Set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain (the traditional postcard photos of Table Mountain are from the northern end), Kirstenbosch is beaten only by the V&A Waterfront as the most-visited tourist attraction in Cape Town.

In March 2014 the Boomslang Aerial Walkway opened to the public.

bench in Kirstenbosch


A typically bushy area in Kirstenbosch, with the orange lions ears blooming beneath Lion's Head.

Kirstenbosch bush - lions ears

Blueberry bush, diospyros glabra.

Blueberry bush in Kirstenbosch

Christmas Berry, Chironia baccifera.

Christmas Berry, Chironia baccifera, at Kirstenbosch

Albertinia thatching reed.

Albertinia thatching reed

Coral aloe.

coral aloe at Kirstenbosch

Fire bush in between orange lions ears.

fire bush

King Protea (South Africa's national flower) in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town.

King Protea in Kirstenbosch, Cape Town

Paint brush, haemanthus albiflos.

paintbrush plant, haemanthus albiflos

Otholobium hirtum

otholobium hirtum in Kirstenbosch

Mother in law's tongue

mother in laws tongue plant in Kirstenbosch

Maagpynbossie in Kirstenbosch

Maagpynbossie in Kirstenbosch

Lion's ear

Lion's ear

Sickle leaf conebush

sickle leaf conebush in Kirstenbosch

Silver tree

Silver tree in Kirstenbosch


Varkore plants in Kirstenbosch

Wild rosemary

wild rosemary in Kirstenbosch

Wild dagga

wild dagga in Kirstenbosch


Whilst sitting picnicing, you can expect egyptian geese to stroll up to you.

egyptian geese at Kirstenbosch

guinea fowl in Kirstenbosch


Kirstenbosch restaurant

Incidents at Kirstenbosch

27 Jan 2007

Muggers armed with knives struck 7 hikers in 2 separate groups. A female victim said she was walking on the contour path with 3 friends, 2 women and a man, about 100 metres from Nursery Ravine when three men came jogging towards them. "Two moved to the front and the other one remained behind until they circled us," she said. "They all had knives and took our backpacks, cellphones and valuables."

19 Nov 2006

Two groups, each consisting mostly of females, were robbed at knife-point within 15 minutes of each other, during this Sunday afternoon. Both robberies were reported to the Claremont police station but no police had come to the scene to take statements. (IOL)

28 Sep 2006

A 65-year-old regular visitor to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Tineke du Toit, was walking on her own at about 9.30am when she was robbed of her cellphone on the contour path near Skeleton Gorge.

Oct 2003

A (St Cyprians) schoolgirl's (Saran Leech, 17) ponytail became tangled in an automated curtain at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (outside the fernery), and she was partially scalped. Saran was standing next to the automated curtain when it began rolling up. Her ponytail got caught and she was hauled up with it. Her friends lifted her by her feet and legs in an effort to take the weight off her hair. Eventually Saran's hair was cut off with a pair of scissors, but not before part of her scalp had detached from her profusely bleeding skull. (IOL)


Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with Table Mountain in the background (Dawn Govender)


The estate covers 528 hectares of diverse fynbos flora & natural forest. Kirstenbosch cultivates only indigineous South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country.

It's an awesome place to go for a Sunday picnic.

Hazy flowers (by Victor Geere)

There are several special gardens:
- Fragrance garden
- Medicinal garden
- Peninsula garden - with about 2500 of the Cape Peninsula's plant species.
- Protea garden - best in winter, when the proteas, conebushes & serrurias flower
- Restio garden - focuses on variety of texture & form found in the reed family
- The Dell - the oldest part of Kirstenbosch, with Colonel Bird's Bath & several shade-loving trees
- Useful Plants garden - an extension of the medicinal garden
- Van Riebeeck's hedge - planted in 1660 & used to protect the cape colony's cattle
- Water-wise garden - demonstrating how to garden with minimal use of water

Kirstenbosch lawn (Dawn Govender)

History of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens


The Botanical Society funds an automatic irrigation system to keep the gardens green in summer.


With public support, Kirstenbosch fends off an attempt by the City of Cape Town to build a freeway through it.


Kirstenbosch becomes a state-aided institution.

1 July 1913

With backing from Sir Lionel Phillips (philanthropist & politician), Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are established, covering 134 hectares (today it is 199 hectares).

10 Feb 1911

"This is the place", are the words spoken by a gathering of botanists who went on a cart drawn by a horse searching for some land they could use to built a new botanical garden. A botany professor at the South African College was part of the group, Henry Pearson, who for 2 years promoted the vision of a national botanical garden at the site.


Cecil John Rhodes buys the land around Van Riebeeck's hedge and bequeaths it to the people of South Africa (Rhodes dies in 1902).


Jan van Riebeeck orders a hedge of wild almond to be planted to mark the boundary of the Dutch settlement and to protect the settlers' cattle from Khoikhoi raids (Part of the hedge survives and is preserved as a national monument). The hedge was planted by shipwrecked French refugees.


Muscat Grapevines are planted at Kirstenbosch.


Jan van Riebeeck orders appoints a forester in the area to supply timber to the Dutch East India Company.

Before Van Riebeeck

Area of Kirstenbosch gardens is occupied by the pastoralist Khoikhoi people.

200m years

Kirstenbosch's cycads date back 200 million years, a time when there weren't any flowering plants, and dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Kirstenbosch Hut (Dawn Govender)

Meaning of "Kirstenbosch"

"Kirsten" means "Stone Church" in Dutch, and "bosch" means "bush" or "forest".

guinea fowl in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch is a popular venue for concerts