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Written by: Catherine Browne

The South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) manages 10 national botanical gardens dotted across the country, each offering a unique experience and endless opportunities of learning, enjoying and engaging in nature.

SANBI and the Botanical Society of SA have been strategic partners for over 100 years, and this Heritage Day they are calling all South Africans to celebrate and enjoy our natural heritage by visiting one of the 10 botanical gardens:

1. Kirstenbosch (Cape Town)

This world renowned garden of sheer grandeur on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is more than just a garden – it is a tourism hotspot, place of recreation, conservation and learning. This garden is also home to the Botanical Society of South Africa head office.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa/Adam Harrower
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa/Adam Harrower

2. Harold Porter (Betty’s Bay)

Situated in the heart of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest, extending from mountain slopes to the coastal dunes of the Overstrand district, these gardens are renowned for their waterfalls and amber pools.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

3. Karoo Desert (Worcester)

A truly unique gem, this garden displays a wide variety of South Africa’s desert and semi-desert plants at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range. The garden showcases a large succulent collection and is most popular to visit when the annuals/vygies are in bloom during spring.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

4. Hantam (Nieuwoudtville)

Take your time to enjoy the array of flora and fauna that call Hantam National Botanical Garden home. The first national botanical garden in the northern Cape.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

5. Kwalera (North of East London)

The youngest of the SANBI national botanical gardens. Wild and raw beauty awaits and magic is found in the dune forests and surrounds. Unfortunately this garden is not yet open to the public.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

6. KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzburg)

This tranquil garden specialises in the conservation of plants from the eastern regions of South Africa and of rare and endangered species from elsewhere.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

7. Free State (Bloemfontein)

On the outskirts of Bloemfontein this garden spans between picturesque dolerite koppies. An experience not to be missed.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

8. Water Sisulu (Roodepoort)

Voted the best place to get back to nature in Gauteng for the past nine years – this garden is an escape in the middle of the city. A breath-taking waterfall, outdoor gym, children’s area, restaurant, and birding opportunities make this a must visit.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

9. Pretoria

This urban oasis offers a pristine getaway situated in the eastern suburbs of South Africa’s administrative capital. A 35 mere high quartzite outcrop divides the garden into two sections offering visitors two worlds to explore. This garden is also home the SANBI head office.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

10. Lowveld (Nelspruit)

This garden is characterised by two rivers crossing, the Crocodile and Nels Rivers. Spectacular waterfalls and an African rainforest containing fascinating vegetation from the coastal belt as well as Limpopo Province, are only a glimpse of what’s to be seen and enjoyed.

© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa
© South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), partner of the Botanical Society of South Africa

Botanical-Society-MyPlanet

Members of the Botanical Society of South Africa enjoy free entrance to explore the wonders these gardens have to offer. Membership subscription fees contribute towards conservation and enviro-education initiatives. Sign up for membership here and enjoy a host of other membership benefits. Show your support to the Botanical Society of South Africa by adding them as a beneficiary on your MyPlanet card.

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