“There it is! There’s the boomslang!”
It’s not every day that I’m excited about a tree snake, and this day is no exception. The Boomslang is not some slippery cold thing with a forked tongue come to haunt my waking hours, but rather the name of the tree canopy walkway at Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town’s botanical gardens situated at the foot of iconic Table Mountain. Excited, I hurry towards the curved steel and timber structure, stopping only to read the informative placards along the way. Gareth, a little less enthusiastic to be walking across something that raises him 12m above the ground, follows hesitantly. But the view from the walkway across the gardens and over the Mother City more than makes up for any lingering fear of heights.
Established in 1913, Kirstenbosch was the first botanical garden in the world with the express aim of preserving the country’s unique flora and indigenous plants. Today the gardens cover 36 hectares and more than 7000 species of plants are cultivated here, along with a variety of animals and birds that call the gardens home. Kirstenbosch forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
We can definitely see why it’s such a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. The gardens are absolutely beautiful, even if botany isn’t your first love, and it’s the perfect place to step away from the bustle of the city to unwind and get back in touch with nature.
We meandered along its winding paths, ooh-ing and ahh-ing whenever we encountered a particularly beautiful patch of flowers. We let our imaginations wander through the clutches of a particularly ominous looking tree whose roots seemed like they were stretching out to grab innocent bystanders and devour them. We pretended to understand the art in the park. We chased a family of goslings across the green, green grass and into the peacefully burbling stream.
If you’re ever in Cape Town and you need to step away from it all for a few hours, then I would highly recommend a visit to Kirstenbosch Gardens. In the shadow of Table Mountain, the picture-perfect backdrop, surrounded by the scents of fynbos and flowers, the buzzing of bees and the chirping of birds, you’re sure to find the stress of the city melting away, leaving you renewed and invigorated for whatever else the city may have in store for you later.
Have you ever visited Kirstenbosch Gardens? Do you make time to visit botanical gardens when travelling? We think you should! Tell us about your favourite spots to get away from the bustle of city life for a few hours.
For more posts in the Western Cape Whirlwind 2015 series, click here.