The awe of Cape Town’s various wildlife is only matched by the beauty of our parks and gardens. If you take the time to stroll or hike through them, you’ll often find yourself transported to a world of fresh clean air, earthy green smells, and a landscape of colours, trickling rivers and wild fauna. Even in the heart of our city guests are spoilt with stunning gardens, and we recommend that you pay a visit to all of them.
When you’re in the city centre, we highly recommend you pay a visit to the Company Gardens. As rich in history as it is in fauna, the gardens are an oasis in the city that was once used as a refreshment station for sailors when the Dutch East India Company set up a colony here. Fresh food and herbs were grown there, and canals full of spring water provided sailors with fresh water for their trek back to the Netherlands. Today it’s a lush garden of ancient trees, colourful flowers, a vast array of animals and a collection of art and history museums.
Another park that goes back as far as the 1800s is De Waal park, home to 143 different types of trees. Formed as a decorative accent to the nearby reservoir, the park became the host of bands, tea parties, picnics for citizens across Cape Town, all the while growing in size and with a steady growing collection of trees. Today one can walk their dogs in the park, or relax on a blanket enjoying the fresh air and scenery.
Nearby, Green Point Park sprawls across lawns and a lazy river, boasting exercise gyms for adults and play parks for children. Lush lawns and fauna offer plenty of space to enjoy picnics, and there is a biodiversity garden to explore and enjoy. Dogs are welcome everywhere except the biodiversity garden but must be leashed at all times. Greenpoint Stadium looms nearby for those wishing to take a tour.
On the other side of the mountain, the Arderne Gardens lies at the foot of the hills, where years ago Ralph Henry Arderne set up his home and estate. Over the years he built a great garden with trees and other fauna from all over the world, with Japanese ponds and paths winding through lawns. This land would later be purchased by the municipality to turn it into a public park for the public to enjoy. Today people frequently host wedding pictures and parties there or go on tranquil strolls beneath the trees.
Nearby, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is one of the largest collection of fauna in the world, covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes. Its history goes as far back as 1660, and many years later with the help of Henry Harold Pearson, a botanist who dedicated his life to the garden, became the thriving collection of plants we see today. It’s a stunning location for picnics, strolls, and wedding pictures. Enjoy the shade of trees, many African sculptures, sprawling green lawns and thriving ponds before strolling through various gardens, learning all about the flowers native to South Africa. The garden is also a host to many concerts and shows in the summer months.
Not far from Zandvlei is the Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Rondevlei is home to about 230 bird species and a variety of small mammals and reptiles native to the Western Cape. The vlei is also home to a population of hippos, who can be best seen at night. The park has a long riverbank that can be explored, and the river itself can be explored via cruises and guided tours. There are various viewing boxes and towers scattered across the park for admiring the fauna and animals without disturbing it. Visitors can also find a terrarium and aquarium, the Leonard Gill museum and an environmental education centre with lecture theatre and resource centre. For those wanting a longer stay, Imvubu Nature Tours offers secluded overnight accommodation within the reserve.
On the other side of the peninsula, Oudekraal beach park is a nature reserve open to the public where visitors can enjoy a welcoming braai area amongst the boulders, generous parking, and a pleasant stroll down to a secluded beach paradise of white sand and boulders. The clear water is great for swimming, and while picnicking on the sand visitors can enjoy the coastal fauna and greenery around them.