February 15, 2013
A walk in the park – Cape Town’s love affair with nature
Cape Town is so much more than a walk in the park, it IS the park! The city is surrounded by a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Cape Floristic Region – the world’s smallest and most diverse floral kingdom. Around 70 percent of its approximately 9 600 species are not found anywhere else in the world, and this uniquely fragrant and medicinal nature’s garden is right on your doorstep, along with a number of other key flora and fauna destinations.
Green Point Urban Park
This 2010 World Cup legacy space – adjacent to the Cape Town Stadium – has been adopted by the citizens of Cape Town. Open to the public seven days a week, the Green Point Urban Park offers a biodiversity garden and spaces for outdoor lazing, cycling, chatting, reading, exercising and soaking up the sun. Walks, picnic spots, water features and play areas means it’s perfect for a family outing too.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Another favourite among residents and visitors is Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Established for the sole purpose of conserving indigenous flora, today it is an established haven for plant and birdlife. Garden path walks, historic features, picnicking spaces, tactile herb and perfume gardens, contemporary exhibits, the Botanical Society Conservatory, shops, art, a nursery, restaurants and a series of Summer Sunset Concerts in the amphitheatre means it’s a destination worth more than an hour or two of your time.
Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park runs the length of the Peninsula from Cape Point to Signal Hill. It boasts fynbos-covered mountains and views of blue waters fringed by white, sandy beaches. The park offers open access points for hiking, forest walks, picnicking and mountain biking, as well as pay points at areas where conservation fees are applicable.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
A trip to Cape Point is as much about the destination as it is about the journey, so make it a day trip – stopping off at quaint seaside towns and visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach along the way. Once there you’ll feel the majesty of this narrow strip of land that juts out into the powerful Atlantic Ocean at the tip of the Cape Peninsula. With spectacular views of private bays and rolling green hills, it provides a sanctuary for fynbos and fauna, and is home to a number of historic shipwrecks and the most powerful lighthouse in South Africa. While you’re there plan a lunch break at the magnificent Two Oceans restaurant.
If you are staying in the Constantia Winelands or southern suburbs it’s worth popping in at Die Oog, a sanctuary and nature reserve in Bergvliet. Die Oog provides a sanctuary for the region’s native flora, birds, reptiles and mammals such as porcupines and the Cape clawless otter. It’s also an important breeding site for amphibians like the endangered western leopard toad.