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Exploring Cape Town’s Biodiversity Hotspots

The earth is divided into six floral kingdoms. These regions produce rare vegetation that can’t be found anywhere else on the planet… and Cape Town is one of these regions.

Despite being the smallest of all six flora kingdoms, it has the highest density of plant species in the world, coming in just shy of 9000 different types. 

The Mother City is also rich in both land and sea animals and is considered internationally as THE global biodiversity hotspot. Come with us as we explore how you can find (and enjoy) all our city’s natural gems while promoting sustainable tourism in Cape Town.

Table Mountain National Park

Stretching across 220 square kilometres, Table Mountain National Park lies on the southwestern tip of the African continent. This iconic landmark is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and home to diverse flora and fauna. Towering rugged mountains, sheer cliff faces, and stunning coastal beaches are complemented with rich fynbos vegetation.

The crowning jewel of the park is, of course, the 7th Natural Wonder of the World, Table Mountain, which can be accessed via hiking trails or the aerial cableway. 

The park offers a network of delightful paths, allowing visitors to explore its natural wonders while observing the abundance of wildlife. 

Rock climbing, paragliding, mountain biking, and picnicking are also popular outdoor activities. Adventurers can also trek to the southern tip of the park to visit the Cape Point lighthouse or investigate several mysterious shipwrecks.

Helderberg Nature Reserve

Found on the southern slopes of the Helderberg mountains in Somerset West, the Helderberg Nature Reserve is brimming with exciting activities to see and do.

The reserve is bursting with an array of plant and animal life. Picnic spots dotted all over the area allow you to take a break and have a bite to eat, while drinking in your surroundings. 

Traverse a whopping selection of eight trails, ranging from a short 2.2km walk to an 8-hour adventure. The reserve also has an informative Environmental Education Centre, where visitors can learn about conservation, biodiversity, and the unique fynbos ecosystem of the region.

Rondevlei Nature Reserve

Teeming with over 230 bird species, hippopotamuses, and a small population of caracals, Rondevlei is one of the few remaining freshwater wetland areas in Cape Town, essential in conserving the region’s biodiversity.

This reserve is famous for its breeding colonies of waterbirds, including the endangered Cape Gannet.

There is a network of boardwalks and bird hides in key areas, allowing visitors to study the wetland habitat and observe the birdlife without disturbing their natural behaviour.

Have a picnic or a braai (barbecue) at one of the designated spots, enjoying mother nature at her finest.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve

Magnificent views from the hilltop give visitors a 360° vista of the city at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.

Not only is this area the largest conserved piece of Swartland shale renosterveld, but it also is a key ecological corridor for animals.

The 388-hectare area has nearly five hundred different plant species, twelve of which are threatened with extinction. There are also 24 mammal species and a plethora of different birds, reptiles and bugs.

Want to hike or bike?

There are five trails to choose from, ranging from easy to challenging, and are great for the whole family.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Established in 1913, to preserve the unique flora of the Cape region and to showcase the country’s diverse plant life, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was the first botanical garden in the world devoted to a country’s indigenous plants.

Sitting on 528 hectares of lush Cape landscape, this area is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

The garden boasts more than 7000 species, including various fynbos, proteas, cycads, and a wide variety of other plants.

The garden plays a vital role in the conservation of South Africa’s plant biodiversity. 

It conducts research, conserves rare and endangered species, and contributes to the protection of the Cape Floristic Region.

Kirstenbosch offers various amenities for visitors, including restaurants, picnic areas, guided tours, and the Boomslang Canopy Walkway, a raised platform that meanders through the tree canopy.

About Us

Cape Town Tourism is the city of Cape Town's official Regional Tourism Organisation, responsible for tourism marketing, visitor and industry services.

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