Exploring our 10 national botanical gardens

Posted by Imogen Searra on 4 December 2018

South Africa has incredible biodiversity. To celebrate and preserve this diversity, the country has 10 National Botanical Gardens within nine of its provinces. The most visited and famous of them is Kirstenbosch in Cape Town, but all ten are well-worth exploring.


1. Kirstenbosch

Nestled in the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens presents some of nature at its finest. Celebrated as one of the world’s finest botanic gardens, there is no shortage of fauna and flora to admire.


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🌿Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

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Kirstenbosch Gardens stretches over 528 hectares. There are two restaurants you can visit: the Tea Room and moyo. Alternatively, you can bring along a picnic basket and meander through the gardens until you find the perfect spot to spend the day. However, keep a look out for cheeky guinea fowls looking for the chance to sneakily steal a morsel of your picnic food.

The gardens are open 365 days a year. In summer (September – March) gates are open from 8am to 7pm and in winter (April – August) from 8am to 6pm. There are plenty of ways to experience the gardens; during the summer months you can go to watch a film under the stars at the Galileo Open Air Cinema or attend a Summer Sunsets concert on Sunday evenings, while guided tours of the grounds run all year round (book one here).

Entrance fee:
Adults R70, students R40, scholars R20, children under 6 free
Senior citizens get free entry on Tuesdays, except those falling on public holidays

2. Hantam

Located in the Northern Cape, the Hantam Botanical Gardens span across 6,000 hectares. The gardens cover areas of Nieuwoudtville Shale Renosterveld, Nieuwoudtville-Roggeveld Dolorite Renosterveld and the Hantam Succulent Karoo, making the Hantam gardens an extremely unique place to visit. During flower season, the gardens erupt into a bright spectacle of wildflowers.


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Wonderful flowers near Nieuwhoudtville at the Hantam Bot Gardens. Pic shot on the Panasonic GM5 and 12-32mm lens.

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The gardens are open 365 days a year, with seasonal opening and closing times. From November to July, gates open from 7:30am to 4:30pm, and from August to October the gardens are open from 8am to 5pm. You can book a guided tour of the gardens here.

Entrance is free except during flower season, when adults pay R20, senior citizens R12, students R15 and children R12.

3. Harold Porter

The Harold Porter Botanical Gardens is near Betty’s Bay within the Cape Fynbos region. From the forest, marshes and heathlands, to the famous amber rock pools and waterfalls, the Harold Porter gardens are perfect for hikers, strollers and those who just fancy having a leisurely picnic.


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There are various garden tours to choose from, leading visitors down various paths. There is also a guided tour for those wanting to learn more about the plant and animal life in the gardens. For information on booking tours, go here.


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Protea & ocean

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The garden’s gates are open from 8am to 4:30pm during the week and from 8am to 5pm on weekends and public holidays.

Entrance fees: Adults R28, senior citizens R18, students R18, scholars R10 and children under 6 free


4. Free State


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The Free State National Botanical Gardens, found just outside of Bloemfontein, cover more than 70 hectares. The area is made up of both grasslands and woodlands, and 400 plant species exist within it.

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My favourite thing to do is to go where I’ve never been 🐾🌍 #borntoexplore #adventureawaits

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Additionally, the gardens are home to 124 bird species, 54 reptile species and just under 50 mammal species. The full list of wildlife in the gardens can be viewed here. As well as self-guided tours, you can choose to go on a guided tour to gain some inside knowledge. Go here to find booking information.


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koggelMANder CAMouflage #nohastags

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The Gardens are open from 8am to 4:30pm during the week and from 8am to 5pm on weekends and public holidays.

Entry fees: adults R25, scholars R12, senior citizens R20, students holding a valid student card R15 and children under 6 free.


5. Walter Sisulu

These gardens have been voted the best place to get into nature in Gauteng for 9 consecutive years, and it’s no mystery why. They boast a rich ecology of plant ecosystems including woodlands and bushveld. As a result there is a wide range of birdlife, with 226 species for twitchers to seek out.

In addition to the prolific birdlife, there are a number of reptiles, insects, amphibians and mammals in the Walter Sisulu gardens. Be on the lookout for tortoises, caracals, hedgehogs, porcupines and black-backed jackals on your next visit.


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Gates are open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Sunday.

Entrances fees: adults R50, senior citizens free on Tuesdays, students R30, scholars R15 and children under 6 free.


6. Pretoria

In the heart of South Africa’s administrative capital lies the picturesque Pretoria National Botanical Gardens. With 76 hectares to explore, these gardens provide an escape from the noise of the city.


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Here you’ll find over 220 bird species, an abundance of mammals and various reptiles. To learn more about the vegetation and wildlife within the gardens, a guided tour is definitely recommended. For booking information, visit the Pretoria gardens website here.

Gates to the gardens open at 8am and close at 6pm everyday, however no visitors will be allowed entry after 5pm.

Entrance fees to the gardens are: adults R35, senior citizens R15 and free on Tuesdays, students R20, scholars R15, children under 6 free.


7. Karoo Desert

At the base of the Hex River Mountain and covering 154 hectares, this astonishing National Botanical Garden is worth driving 120km from Cape Town for.

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Green desert life #desert #westerncape #karoobotanicalgardens #mountains #worcester #discoverthecapebra

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The diverse desert vegetation brings with it some of South Africa’s favourite animals: the dassie, the angulate and leopard tortoises and the majestic spotted eagle owl, to name but a few. During the spring, the gardens burst into colour when the Namaqualand daisies bloom.


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Nature always wears the colours of the spirit 🌹

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The gardens are open from 7am to 7pm, Monday to Sunday, 365 days a year. For a deeper exploration of the gardens, you can go on a guided tour. Booking information can be found here.

Entrance fees to the gardens vary between high and low season and are:

Low Season (1 Nov – 31 May): adults R10, senior citizens R5, students R7, scholars R5

High Season (1 June – 31 Oct): adults R22, senior citizens R12, students R15, scholars R10


8. KwaZulu-Natal

Not only are these gardens diverse in flora, there is a mix of themed gardens that visitors can explore. The Cycad Garden, Permaculture Garden and Zulu Demonstration Garden (a visitor favourite) all ought to be on your must-see list. Take a guided tour of the grounds to find out more about these lush grounds. Booking information can be found here.


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Visitors can look out for the Cape clawless otter and Africa’s smallest antelope, the blue duiker, in the wetlands and other open spaces in the gardens.

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Red hot pokers. #Aloes #LazySundayAfternoon #HuaweiP8Lite

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Gates are open from 8am to 5pm Monday to Sunday between May and September, and 8am to 6pm everyday between October and April.

Entrance fees to the gardens are: adults R27, senior citizens R20, students R20, scholars R15, children under 6 years free




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Once a year go somewhere you have never been before. #botanicalgardens #lowveldbotanicalgardens #gogreen #mpumalanga

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Two rivers intersect these exquisite gardens, the Crocodile River and the Nels River. This convergence brings a spectacular cascading waterfall which can be seen from the Cascades and Nels viewpoints. Taking a guided tour is an interesting and insightful way to view the Gardens. Booking information can be found here.


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#lowveldbotanicalgardens #nelspruit #mbombela #southafrica #waterfall #cascades #nature #wow #pixel2 #pixel2photography

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The savanna vegetation of the gardens rings true to its location and consists of of an amalgamation of Lowveld Bushveld and Sour Lowveld Bushveld flora. The gardens are a bird-watcher’s dream, with over 243 species. The gardens are also home to 75 reptile and amphibian species combined.

The mammal life is also very impressive. You might be able to spot some Vervet monkeys or a hippopotamus on your visit.

Entrance fees to the Gardens are: adults R35, senior citizens R35, free on Tuesdays, students R20, scholars R15.




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There’s a sunbird in the arborescens … this guy (only the males are so colourful) is feasting on the aloe blooms

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Kwelera National Botanical Gardens will be South Africa’s 10th National Botanical Garden when it opens. Developments will begin in the 2018/2019 Financial year and the gardens will cover 10 hectares. Kwelera is the first botanic garden to be established in the Eastern Cape and surrounds the Kwelera Nature Reserve.


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Beautiful flowers on this beautiful day next to the sea. I am guessing that is some sort of legume

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The Wild Coast is a special part of the country, where wildlife, vegetation and human history intersect. The gardens will boast a show of lavish biodiversity. The reserve site and beach can be accessed and are open to the public.

For more information on any of the Gardens, visit SANBI here. Alternatively, for any fauna and flora information, download the official SANBI booklet here.

Please note:

Entrance fees are subject to change during special events or concerts. All South African senior citizens and students are required to present the correct form of identification/ valid student card upon purchasing entrance tickets to receive discounts.

Image: Pixabay



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