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    Mist in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa



    Among the world's great gardens, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa ranks way up there. Their location on the eastern slopes of Cape Town's famed Table Mountain is hard to beat, accentuated by the breathtaking flora and fauna of the region, make it a truly glorious experience. The garden was established in 1913 on the estate of the last owner, Cecil Rhodes, a renown industrialist and pioneering figure in South Africa's history.



    Guinea hens at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    Guinea hens wander through the gardens at Kirstenbosch.


    A full day is needed to get a real appreciation for the magnificence of the place. It is well laid out and self guided tours are a breeze. They offer guided tours Monday to Saturday. Don't miss a walk on the "boomslang," the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway. It's an aerial bridge winding above and through the trees of the Arboretum. Boomslang means tree snake, an obvious local choice of name for the walkway.

    There are restaurants and cafes or you can pack a picnic to enjoy on the lawns. A restaurant near Gate # 1, Moyo, specializes in local African dining and visitors can try a variety of local dishes.


    Moyo Restaurant  at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    Moyo Restaurant, specializing in regional African food, located near Gate # 1.


    And there is art, lots of great art set among this wonder of nature. Summer Sunset Concerts feature great acts and draw thousands who bring picnics to enjoy while they revel in music and nature. There are revolving exhibits in a gallery near Gate # 2 just below the cafe and there are a couple of magnificent sculptures by local Stellenbosch artist, Dylan Lewis. The setting of each sculpture is permanent but the works are changed every so often.



    Dylan Lewis sculpture at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    Stellenbosch artist, Dylan Lewis, sculpture of a cheetah chasing a buck located at Gate #2.


    And then there is the Sculpture Garden. It is a delight to stroll through the magnificent grounds finding stunning works of art tucked among the profusion of plant life. It drizzled with rain occasionally the day I visited and the clouds pouring over the mountain added to the atmosphere. I sat in a shelter and sketched as I waited for the sky to clear. It was so peaceful and calming I could have sat there all day.



    Anne Jenkins sketch at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    My quick sketches in the Sculpture Garden as I waited for a short rain to pass.


    Most of the sculptures are by regional artists, with the majority in the Shona style of Zimbabwe. This is a rough grey hewn texture accentuated by smooth shiny, mostly black, black surfaces. Springstone or Opal Stone the the two most common stones used. Apart from the sculptures on display around the gardens, there are works for sale in Mambo Sculptures, located in the Visitor's Center.



    Shona Sculpture at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    One of the Shona sculptures tucked in to the lush foliage.


    Don't miss the Protea Garden. This most beautiful of South Africa's indigenous plants is stunning in it's variety. Fynbos is unique to the Cape, so be sure to do the Fynbos Walk. The Botanical Society Conservatory is definitely worth a visit for the variety and explanations on the succulent plants of the region.


    shona sculpture at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    Another of the Shona sculptures set slightly out on to a lawn area.


    South Africa has the most gorgeous variety of trees, and Kirstenbosch boasts some wonderul specimens. You walk through lanes shaded by overlapping tree tops. The size of some of the trees takes your breath away. In fact, the whole garden does this. It is a rewarding day, or two, if you're lucky to be able to spend more time here. Getting there is easy from Cape Town, probably the easiest is to take the hop on hop off tourist buses, or MyCiti buses. Hire a car, get a ride with someone but don't miss the splendor of the Kristenbosch National Botanical Garden.



    walkway at  Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in South Africa
    One of the walkways under a canopy of trees.








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    Public Disclosure-- Please Read
    I recently learned of a FTC law requiring web sites to let their readers know if any of the stories are "sponsored" or compensated.  American Roads and Global Highways' feature writers are professional travel writers. As such we are frequently invited on press trips, also called fam trips. Most of the articles here are results of these trips. On these trips most of our lodging, dining, admissions fees and often plane fare are covered by the city or firm hosting the trip. It is an opportunity to visit places we might not otherwise be able to visit and bring you a great story. However, no one tells us what to write about those places. All opinions are 100% those of the author of that feature column.  

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