Kirstenbosch is a famous botanical garden, founded in 1913 to preserve the country’s unique indigenous flora, nestled at the eastern foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. The garden is one of nine National Botanical Gardens covering five of South Africa’s six different biomes.
The garden, established in 1913 by Henry Harold Pearson on land bequeathed by Cecil John Rhodes, includes a large conservatory (The Botanical Society Conservatory) exhibiting plants from a number of different regions, including savanna, fynbos, karoo and others. Outdoors, the focus is on plants native to the Cape region, highlighted by the spectacular collections of proteas. From the gardens several trails lead off along and up the mountain slopes and these are much used by walkers and mountaineers. One of the trails, up a ravine called Skeleton Gorge, is an easy and popular route to the summit of Table Mountain.
Built in 2013-14 to celebrate the centenary of Kirstenbosch in 2013, the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and informally called ‘The Boomslang’ (meaning tree snake), it is a low-maintenance, low-impact sculptural raised walkway.
The Walkway takes the visitor from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, giving spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, Garden and Cape Flats.
The Boomslang is 130 m long, narrow and slender, with a few wider view-point areas, and lightly snakes its way through the canopy, in a discreet, almost invisible way. The walkway is crescent-shaped and takes advantage of the sloping ground; it touches the forest floor in two places, and raises visitors to 12 m above ground. It is more than just a traditional boardwalk – like a snake, it winds and dips.
The Arboretum (over which it winds) is situated between the Protea Garden, Cycad Amphitheatre, the Dell, Mathews Rockery and the Concert Lawn.
The project cost R5 million ZAR to complete and was constructed via collaboration between Mark Thomas Architects and Engineers Henry Fagan & Partners consulting engineers.
I checked – the last time that we’ve had an outing to the world famous Kirstenbosch gardens was back in early 2012 in celebration of Ryan’s birthday. Well, fast forward three years and things have gotten a fair bit busier – after all, Mom and Dad now have four lovely grandchildren to dote on instead of just little Jessica as it was back then! :)
With Chantelle off from work on Sunday, I thought a nice family picnic out to Kirstenbosch would be just the ticket, but as it turned out, neither Claire, Riley, Ryan or Robert could make it, meaning that in the end it was to be a day out for the kids and the grandparents – which is never a bad thing anyway!
Leaving the gale force winds of Gordon’s Bay behind, we made the trek through to Table Mountain, where on arrival we were rather surprised to find that the main parking area at Kirstenbosch was already full – meaning that we were diverted to the overflow parking area.
Eventually we had trudged our way up to the gardens, bought our tickets (Kirstenbosch really is worth the R50 entrance fee), and set about trying to link up with Monty and Cheryl, who had arrived a little earlier than us (we were held up leaving from home thanks to an epic throw up from Emily that pretty much decimated her entire cot!).
The hook up didn’t go quite as smoothly as planned though – Monty and Cheryl had managed to come in via a different gate to us, and in the end, Kirstenbosch is simply too big to rely on luck in terms of randomly spotting another couple that you’re looking for!
After lots of huffing and puffing, marching about, and a lot of frustrated phone calls, we did eventually find one another, and more importantly, found a delightful little picnic spot close to a dam (so, so many overly friendly birds!) and with a LOT of shade to cover us for the day.
Mom and Dad on the other hand managed to miss out on all the shenanigans (they went to church first), by cleverly arriving a lot later and thus simply having us meet and lead them back to the picnic site! No hassle, no fuss! :)
Apart from a minor incident with a park official who wanted to fine Dad for bringing a chair in (honestly, we didn’t know that you are in fact not allowed to do so), what followed was a wonderfully tranquil day of lazing about, grazing on all sorts of picnic food, rolling around on the grass with the kids, and of course catching up on all the news, like Monty and Cheryl’s recent trip to Warmwaterberg Spa and Mom and Dad’s trip to New Zealand.
We did of course HAVE to also check out the recently unveiled Boomslang canopy walk, a park addition which I have to really commend it must be said. A beautiful bridge with fantastic views, and a cleverly implemented idea at that.
I think we were probably in the park for something like five or six hours if not more, and at the end of a long day (we all got rather sun burnt – even Jessica now that I look at it), with the crowds flowing in for the evening’s Goldfish music concert, we packed up from our little spot and bid a fond farewell to everyone – bringing to an end what can only be described as a day of perfect relaxation.
And pictures? Or course I caught more than just a few with my trusty old Huawei phone:
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Related Link: http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch
Despite Friday being a bit of a write off thanks to a horrible stomach bug that saw me throw up at work, go home early, and then crash into bed and sleep for pretty much the whole evening, Saturday was 300 hundred times better thanks to having woken feeling 100%, having enough time to faff around the house and get Jessica ready, before Chantelle, Jess and I took a drive in traffic to the mall, to pick up a last minute addition to my brother Ryan’s birthday present as well as hand in Chantelle’s broken Samsung Windows phone for repairs.
Amazingly enough, despite having lost time thanks to us having left a little later than planned and then the increased traffic on our way to the mall, Chantelle managed to get us in her little green Getz all the way through to Kirstenbosch with two minutes to spare, just in time to meet up with Mom, Dad and Ryan, who were busy pulling their car into a new parking space, having arrived a little earlier to suss out the perfect picnic spot.
Unlike Gordon’s Bay where the wind had been pumping non-stop throughout the night and into the morning (so much so that we dissuaded Evan and Natasha from coming through to take Evalynne to the beach here in our part of the world), Kirstenbosch was absolutely, breathtakingly picture perfect – not a breath of wind, radiant sunlight, and of course that spectacular, leafy view.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve last visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, so I have to admit to having been quite pleased when the Facebook event notice came through inviting us out to Kirstenbosch for a family picnic in celebration of Ryan’s big 29th birthday.
Claire had been tasked with saving the earlier selected spot, the perfect shady area under a bushy thorn tree, on top of luscious green grass and next to the stunning “cheetah attacking a springbok” statue, and most important of all, close enough to the entrance of the Botanical Gardens that Mom would be able to comfortably make it with her still recovering knee.
And of course, the first thing everyone did on arrival was dump the gear and remove the shoes, with Jessica being plucked from her pram and being thrust straight in as the centre of attention (or entertainment if you must).
After a bit of lazing around and taking in the splendour around us, Ryan began to break out the food from his dazzling array of cooler boxes and shopping bags, revealing a huge spread that catered to everyone’s taste buds. At this stage Riley had also joined us after finishing up at his Kung Fu practice, and so we all dug in, filling the afternoon air with the sounds of chomping, chatter and of course loads of laughter!
We spent a good couple of hours in the Gardens before eventually packing up and hitting the road, but everyone was quick to agree that this had been a fantastic family day out and a great way to celebrate Ryan’s birthday, so much so that Chantelle is now pretty sure what we’re going to be doing in December to celebrate her 32nd! ;)
(Oh, and a reminder to myself – taking Baden Powell because it should be a nice scenic drive home and not too roundabout a route, doesn’t really work when a) the road is busy and b) the cars are driving rather slowly along it! Oh well, at least we did get home in the end!)
P.S. Check out the Kirstenbosch Picnic photos here.
In celebration of Ryan’s 29th birthday, he invited the Lotter Clan out to join him on a picnic in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. As it turned out, he couldn’t have asked for a better day – or prepared a better outing! :)
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Even though it has been running for a good 20 or so years already, this year marked the first time ever that I attended the Rotary-organised Carols by Candlelight fundraising function held at Kirstenbosch and all I can say is “Wow, I really should have done this sooner!”
As always, Kirstenbosch provides the most beautiful of backdrops to this very special Christian celebration of all things Christmas, and as per usual when it comes to hosting musical events, the grassy venue was absolutely packed with friends and families sharing in this very special event. For a change, Chantelle and I actually arrived pretty much on time and thanks to some nifty placeholding by Retha, her mom, dad, brother and sister-in-law, there was more than enough space for us to lay our blankets down and relax in style. Andri, Malcolm & Corban joined in as well, not to mention Andri’s Mom and Dad, Sister and even Gary and Michelle, making us a pretty big bunch in the end!
Of course, what is a visit to Kirstenbosch without snacks, and so we arrived with our little cooler bag packed to the brim with sausage rolls, cheese and chocolates and after a little munching and chatting, we got down to business as the event finally got underway. Now I must say, Rotary certainly did a fine job of organising the event, and together with primary sponsor Pick ‘n Pay, they made sure that each entrant received a candle, waxy paper bag in which to put said candle and finally a song sheet, containing the full list of all the carols that were to be performed on the night. They also made sure that there was ample parking on hand, enough ticket attendants in the front, ushers, emergency services and even a big tent at the back selling some much needed coffee and snacks – which Chantelle and Retha thoroughly appreciated of course!
We were led into the carols themselves by an absolutely brilliant Cape Town brass band and men’s choir and soon found ourselves happily singing along and waving our candles about as we watched the classic nativity play unfold on stage down before us. The event was an absolute success and a beautiful thing to partake in, meaning that if you are a Christian and have never done this with your family before, I would seriously urge you to join them next year for a stunning example of carols done right! :)
(P.S. Still, I was amazed that no one managed to burn Kirstenbosch down to the ground. It’s like one giant fire hazard up there I tell you! :P)
I was shocked to my core on Saturday evening when Chantelle and I finally found parking at Kirstenbosch for the Carols by Candlelight celebration that was about to take place – not at the fact revolving around just how easy it had been in to find parking for a change, but rather at this oldish white woman and her daughter (probably in her late twenties) that had just locked up their car, scooped their picnic basket up and departed, completely oblivious to the frantically barking dog they had just left behind.
Chantelle and I couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Here was one of those little white fluffy lapdogs, locked up in a car with no open windows (well, it didn’t look like there were any open), left to unhappily bark away as its owners happily attended the Kirstenbosch event that would go on for well over an hour and half, not taking into account the long wait time spent waiting for it to start, seeing as everyone had been urged to get there early in order to find sitting space before things got underway.
Sure it wasn’t hot as the sun was steadily beginning to set and they were parked under some big shady trees, but c’mon, who does that sort of thing? Surely it would have been more humane just to leave the poor animal behind at home?
But no, this heartless ‘animal lover’ decided that it was in the dog’s best interest to accompany them to the concert and stay behind in the car – because obviously that’s the best thing to do, right?
Anyway, all I can hope is that the dog did eventually stop barking, peed and pooped all over its owners seats and then settled down to gnaw the seat covers off.
Well, I can hope can’t I? :(
Okay, so maybe the title is a bit of a white lie as in all honesty, only Saturday ended up being busy as all heck, but after the sociable week we enjoyed coming up to the weekend, Chantelle and I more than DESERVED Friday evening and Sunday off for a change! :)
An unfortunate turn of events led to Chantelle having to work on Friday evening (despite it being her off weekend) and as such I found myself returning to an empty home, clutching a bag of KFC for two to my chest. However, my forlornness at losing Chantelle to work was quickly replaced with euphoria as I set about clocking Mirror’s Edge (fabulous game despite its iffy animated cutscenes) and then jumping straight into the pile of titles Albert loaned to me, including Frontlines: Fuel of War, Dead or Alive 4, Call of Duty and Tom Clancy’s HAWX (though the latter didn’t want to load off the disk properly, so I’ll have to scratch trying my hand at that one!)
And thanks to the tip from Ryan that my TV actually features an audio out port, by the time Chantelle finally arrived home, the entire car park was booming with the blistering sounds of war being cranked out through my surround sound system! :)
Of course with Chantelle home it was off with the games and on with the TV, where animated DVD fare was to reign and the night was finally sealed off with the rather strange choice of Poena is Koning, which was worth its weight in terms of some very stupid laughs and giggles.
Saturday arrived and Chantelle and I kicked into overdrive, hitting the shops early in order to get this year’s Christmas shopping done. After a hilarious mix-up that saw me trying to pick up cricket pads that had been held in stock for Dean at the wrong store, we hit the mall proper and thanks to our well thought out list, managed to get everything bought in a record amount of time with minimum fuss. With the shopping done, it was back home to quickly drop everything off, before jumping back into the car and heading out to visit with Dean and Zania, the first time we had done so since the birth of little Zandea.
Naturally, on arrival and sight of the little baby, Chantelle’s motherly instinct kicked into overdrive and so I got comfy, drank a beer, nibbled on chips and watched the cricket as Chantelle played mom, ending with little Zandea falling fast asleep in Chantelle’s arms, after having first been properly sated by Dean (with a bottle, not his breast).
From there it was over to Tygervalley in order to finish off the last items left on our Christmas shopping list as well as pick up the necessary picnic snacks for the evening, before quickly popping in at Monty’s stronghold in order to pick up some skirts that Cheryl was mending for the guesthouse.
After that quick hi and bye, it was then on the N1 and off to Kirstenbosch, where we joined up with Andri, Malcolm and Andri’s whole family, Michelle and Gary, and Retha and Retha’s whole family to enjoy the annual Rotary-organised Carols by Candlelight celebration, more of which I’ll talk about tomorrow (and even put up a few pictures) – but as a teaser I’ll simply say that the evening was an absolutely stunning success and you couldn’t have asked for a better turnout, nicer weather, more spectacular view or even a more special event if you wanted to. (Oh and our snacks were pretty damn awesome too! Mini cheesies for the win!!)
It goes without saying then that by the time we did finally arrive home back in Gordon’s Bay, we were so poop tired and exhausted that we pretty much just fell into bed, quickly dozing off into that oh so very welcome blackness of mind-numbing sleep.
Sunday morning saw us actually sleep in for what feels like the first time in ages and despite our earlier mumblings of wanting to hit the beach or park and get some sun on our rather oh so white bodies, we ended up pretty much lazing the entire day away in front of the TV (the classic animated Superman series rocks I tell you!), wrapping Christmas presents (we’re all set for the big day now) and scheduling some blog posts, breaking only for a single trip through to the Pick ‘n Pay across the road in order to secure the raw materials needed for the awesome braai I was about to conduct.
The braai was awesome.
The not doing much trend then continued, with more TV, ice-cream and comic book reading, until eventually we couldn’t keep the pretense of being awake up for much longer and we both hit the sack, completely chilled and relaxed, ready for the week ahead.
Well on that front, I am at least. Leave starts on Thursday for me already you know! Oh, it’s good not to work in the service industry sometimes if you ask me! :P
Nothing rings in the festive season like attending the annual Kirstenbosch Carols by Candelight experience with family and friends!
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