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South Africa Holiday: Travel Blog - Kirstenbosch By a South African (Dec. 2006)

Experience the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town from a South African's point of view, with Juanique Pretorius.

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Lazy Sunday afternoons...

On warm Sundays at dusk, Capetonians can be found splayed across well-manicured lawns enjoying the music performance of the day. Their surroundings, none other than thousands of indigenous fynbos species beautifully preserved thanks to the likes of Professor Pearson, the garden's first director, and many others dedicated to protecting unique indigenous varietals.

The making of ...

Due to the continuing generosity of government grants for such-like projects, the director began his labour of love in the early 1900's with a Dell and some Cycads. The final product is a botanical wonder laid down on the eastern slopes of the great sentinel, Table Mountain quietly awaiting the adoration of determined hikers and reticent strollers alike.

The birds and the bees

True to any bio-diverse area, African wildcats, buck, baboons, Herons, Ibis and Kingfishers live off the gardens' riches. Kirstenbosch's vegetation evokes the feeling of being on the set of Lord of the Rings, where at any moment the Yellowwood, Cherry wood and Mountain Cypresses may rise up and re-arrange themselves in order to assert their normally silent power.
The 548 hectares also house theme gardens which include Fynbos, Waterwise Demonstration, Useful Plants and Fragrance gardens as well as a Braille Trail.

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Finger on the pulse

Kirstenbosch is a regular hub when it comes to assuming environmental educational responsibility. The new Research Centre houses the Ecology and Conservation Subdirectorate, which implements various technical programmes dedicated to various areas of conservation and research.
The Gold Fields Environmental Education Centre regularly offers programmes to the underprivileged while the Harry Molteno library specialises in carrying pertinent literature, not to mention the Compton Herbarium, dedicated to no less than 750 000 specimens indigenous and endemic to the country's winter-rainfall regions.
The Visitors' Centre comprises a Botanical Society Bookshop and gift store as well as the Old Mutual Conference and Exhibition Centre, used widely for related events and exhibitions. There is also a restaurant and coffee shop for refreshments.
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