September 21, 2014

A Walk Among the Trees

South Africas's Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Boomslang canopy walkway allows visitors to experience the magical gardens from a different perspective. A stunning, tranquil walk among the trees.

September 11, 2014

What Dreams May Come

Fall Foliage Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
Does anyone remember the movie 'What Dreams May Come'? During the film Robin Williams character searches the afterlife for his wife through some very surreal, color saturated gardens. I'm beginning to think it may have been filmed here. That, or we've stumbled upon one of Claude Monet's colorful canvases, only bigger, a whole lot bigger! This extraordinarily beautiful and unique place was rightfully selected as a World Heritage Site. 
From the unique and iconic Table Mountain to the truly dramatic coastlines, beautiful mountain passes and valleys further East, to the semi-arid regions to the North, each area is home to a diverse group of rare plants. You may find you'll pinch yourself while here because this place is truly a dream come true.

Kirstenbosch-Botanical-Garden-201.jpg Good to KNOW

There are nearly a thousand nationally and international recognized World Heritage Sites across the globe. Ideally, protected to preserve and conserve their natural beauty or cultural and historical significance. Eight of these sites are in South Africa and were declared World Heritage Sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
They are:
The Cape Floral Region, the fynbos vegetation region (indigenous flowering scrubland), of Western and Eastern Cape Province, South Africa is one of the richest and most diverse floral areas in the world. Recognized for its natural beauty and scientific importance, 70% of its floral species occur nowhere else on the planet. Table Mountain National Park, which is part of this remarkable wilderness area, has more plant species in its 22,000 hectares than Britain or New Zealand. In total, the site covers 553,000 hectares of land that are particularly rich in plant species, representing nearly 20% of Africa's flora. The unique flora of the region is of particular value to science as there is a huge diversity and density of Fynbos species within a relatively small area. The species density in the Cape Floral Region is also amongst the highest in the world and it has been identified as one of the world's 18 biodiversity hot spots.

more, good to KNOW Kirstenbosch botanical garden

If you have limited time or just can't bare all that hiking you can see nearly every indigenous plant in South Africa at  Kirstenbosch. Against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain sits this amazing botanical garden. Established in 1913, it was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. Set aside to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa. It is time well spent.

Conebush Proteas Kogelberg Reserve SA
Succulents are among South Africa's botanical wonders

September 7, 2014

A Walk in the Clouds

Rise early. Put on your walking shoes or hiking boots. Prepare to be amazed! Just outside of Cape Town, looming large and inviting, is the crowning jewel of an amazing South African national park, Table Mountain. The park stretches roughly 60 km from Signal Hill around Cape Town then south to Cape Point, encompassing one of the most incredibly scenic mountain chains in the world. Fringed by beautiful valleys, forests, bays and beaches, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. South Africa has the rare claim of eight World Heritage sites, each an area of extraordinary beauty and importance. Table Mountain is also listed on the New 7 Wonders of Nature (a  2001 global pick initiative). Table Mountain is South African's precious jewel among jewels. Recognized for its rich, diverse flora, it forms a partial border for the thriving, cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. Table Mountain National Park is actually divided into three separate sections. The Table Mountain section includes Signal HillLion's HeadTable MountainDevil's Peak, the Twelve Apostles (actually 17 peaks), and Orange Kloof. There are a number of hiking trails accessible from Cape Town for exploration. If you are super fit, you can walk up Table Mountain in roughly three hours. Thankfully, the Table Mountain Cableway carries visitors from the Lower Cable Station to the top, allowing visitors to avoid the arduous walk up and offering spectacular views along the way.

"70% of its floral species here occur nowhere else in the world." Rich in floral biodiversity the park is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom World Heritage Site, said to be one of the most diverse floral areas in the world. Fynbos, an ancient type of vegetation developed over millions of years, is the most abundant plant which produces magnificent flowers in spring (September/October).

Although larger predators and large herbivores disappeared from the park at the hands of the European settlers long ago, smaller mammals are still found in the park and some large herbivores are being re-introduced. Sadly, the animals are gone, but the parks spectacular beauty and amazing views make up for the lack of wildlife.

You may even get to walk among the clouds. 

Table Mountain's "Table Cloth" 
Photo by Samantha Reinders for The New York Times
Photo by Alice e Marco