Forget everything you know about gardens and take a walk on the wild side in South Africa’s spectacular network of botanical gardens and nature reserves. With the gorgeous Lanzerac Estate Hotel and Spa as your base, you can uncover the entirety of the Cape Floristic Region, declared a UNESCO Heritage Site for its stunning plant life. Here are the spots every flora and fauna enthusiast has to see in the Stellenbosch area.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Widely recognised as the most beautiful garden in the whole of South Africa, Kirstenbosch is just an hour’s drive from the Lanzerac Hotel and Spa. Dedicated to preserving and promoting South Africa’s native plants, this garden has won 29 gold medals out of 33 appearances at the Chelsea Flower Show.
With a large conservatory exhibiting plants from different African regions, spectacular outdoor gardens showing off native Cape plants and hiking trails up the slopes of the famous Table Mountain, this incredible garden has something for everyone.
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
This rugged reserve is a hop, skip and a jump from your home base in the Stellenbosch wine region, making it easily accessible for even a half-day trip. And, with mountain biking, incredible hiking trails, three rivers and a handful of waterfalls to discover, lovers of outdoor activities will enjoy any time spent out and about on one of these dusty trails.
While you discover the waterfalls and mountain views of Jonkershoek, keep your eye out for the more than 1,100 plant species native to this stunning spot, and fauna that includes leopards and baboons.
Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden
Succulent lovers, rejoice! An hour’s drive from the Lanzerac estate is the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, whose mission is to preserve succulents and plants that thrive in arid, desert environments.
Of this garden’s 154 hectares, just 11 have been actively cultivated. Along the winding paths and in the greenhouses of the cultivated area, discover more than 3,000 varieties of succulents and 400 indigenous plant species. In the wilds, segments are dedicated to rare and endangered varieties. But watch your step as you wander – shrub hares, mongooses and three species of tortoise call this botanical garden home sweet home.
Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden
For those wishing they could stay out of the wild, a day passed at the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is in order. The oldest university botanical garden in South Africa, this delightful idea was pioneered by lecturer Augusta Vera Duthie, who in 1902 started growing plants for research and practical purposes next to the university’s main building. In 1922 the garden was moved to its current site and a garden curator appointed.
Relatively small in size, a vast array of amazing plants have been wedged into the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden. From South Africa’s largest publically available collection of Bonsai to eerie insectivorous – or carnivorous – plants, this fascinating spot will make an amateur naturalist of anyone.