Surprisingly, Pietermaritzburg, capital and second-largest city in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa doesn’t feature a huge amount of tourist attractions. However, it is home to one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden.
Situated along Mayor’s Walk, in the western suburbs of Pietermaritzburg, the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden was first established back in 1874, with the garden being home to cultivated plants from both eastern South Africa and the Northern Hemisphere.
A member of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the garden features a century old lane of plane trees, leading northwards from the entrance, and a forested hillside with a number of footpaths. The Dorpspruit, a tributary of the Msunduze River, flows at the base of the hillside.
Other attractions include the Insect Hotel, Clivia Dam and theme gardens including the popular Zulu Demonstration Garden, Cycad Garden and a Permaculture Garden. It also boasts a Children’s Play Area, is one of only a few SANBI National Botanical Gardens that has braai facilities. (There is also a small restaurant on the premises, as well as a weekly Farmers Market that occurs on the grounds.)
As you might imagine, the is a lot of bird life to be spotted in the garden, with something like 180 species already noted as being present!
(One of the most interesting things that I saw in the garden was the so-called paper tree, with bark literally the texture and softness of damp paper!)
I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in the garden as what I might have liked to (I was after all, only in the area due to a business meeting earlier that morning ), but this lush, green and shade soaked botanical garden is most definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area and crave a moment of peace and tranquility!
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Related Link: KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden