Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The best gardens in Cape Town, as well as one of the seven most magnificent gardens on earth, Kirstenbosch is draped against more than 500 hectares of Table Mountain’s eastern slopes – an extraordinarily green wonderland designed to blend imperceptibly with the fynbos-clad mountain. With the noted exception of the almond hedge (planted by Jan van Riebeeck in 1660 to indicate the ‘border’ of his colony and protect his animal stock from the indigenous Khoi people), some magnificent oaks, and the Moreton Bay fig and camphor trees planted by Cecil John Rhodes, everything you encounter is indigenous. It’d be impossible to get to grips with even a fraction of the 9,000 or so species that grow here (many of them endemic, i.e. growing nowhere else on earth) but there are guided tours and audio guides that will at least give you an introduction to the Cape Floral Kingdom, the world’s smallest and richest. You can seek out the fragrance garden, elevated for easier access to the scents; a pelargonium kopje (hill); a protea garden; a sculpturerngarden; and a section with plants used for muti (medicine) by sangomas (traditional African healers). Or you can join in with the locals who come to laze on the lawns, their children exploring the burbling brooks, and simply luxuriate in the setting – the perfect antidote to a rough night on the town. There are a couple restaurants, and probably the funkiest time to visit is during the weekly Summer Sunset Concerts (see Party, Live Music) that draw massive audiences to the green lawns every Sunday evening.