Kirstenbosch and Claremont

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places on earth. It touches me every time I visit. Fog is back in the Cape, mysteriously draping itself over Table Mountain – yesterday was a great day to see the garden.

It’s hard to say which Kirstenbosch delight is best – fragrant gardens with pristine fynbos, forested areas, dramatic mountain views, gourmet restaurant, exotic birds, stone sculpting, or the gallery of South African artists. It’s a big dose of beautiful!!

James Yates – Namaqualand in Bloom

I visited the art gallery and especially liked the landscapes of James Yates. The current exhibition – Professional Cape Artists – features paintings, ceramics, and wooden sculpture of popular local masters. The exhibition is on display between 16th February and 11th March.

Cape Dutch Manor House

Dutch Colonial House

Southey Cottage Claremont

Cape Dutch Manor House

Cape Dutch Manor House

Other favorite artists include Bill McGill, Mieke Teijema, Lionel Smit, and Tony Butler. It was too much trying to sort names with each piece. I took the curator’s card.

James Yates

I hiked a close-in trail, had lunch, and enjoyed the spectacular stone sculptures perfectly placed throughout the grounds. Families were relaxing and picnicking on a lush carpet of grass.

Bill McGill

Kirstenbosch’s water shortage isn’t as dire as Cape Town’s. Its irrigation flows from a different source – surface runoff and streams in Window Gorge and Nursery Ravine.

Gorges, Buttresses, Ravines Table Mt.

Nelson Mandela by Tony Butler

Chemicals aren’t used in Kirstenbosch’s drinking water. It’s “extracted from boreholes that tap deep into the Table Mountain Aquifer 200 ft. below ground level”. The drinking water from the aquifer is of “such high quality it could be bottled”!

Everyone is taking the drought very seriously. It was nice drinking fresh spring water, washing my hands, and flushing the toilet without feeling guilty. Most public toilets in Cape Town have hand sanitizer dispensers. Sink water is turned off.

James Yates

James Yates

James Yates

This trip I’m exploring Claremont – a leafy suburban neighborhood 6 miles south of Cape Town. Although nothing beats the energy and excitement of Cape Town, I wanted to experience  a new area.

Lionel Smit

My B&B is between Claremont and Rondebosch, both are growing suburban areas surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and Cape Dutch architecture. The University of Cape Town is nearby. It’s quite a change from the daily city chaos in Maputo!

Lost in Rondebosch, Constantia & Bishopscourt…

Cape Dutch House

Today was a day of continuously getting lost. It was my first day of hiring a car and driving myself around Cape Towns suburbs. Renting a GPS is South Africa is ridiculously expensive (?) so I’m traveling via maps alone. Decided to stay near Cape Town and spend more time at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden but made a wrong turn off the M3 highway… After that mistake I got lost in Rondebosch, Constantia, and Bishopscourt (that I know of) until eventually finding the long way to Kirstenbosh about mid afternoon. All of these areas are in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. None is a bad place to get lost.

Rondebosch lies along the eastern slop of Table Mountain and is where the first group of Dutch East India Company employees settled along the Liesbeek River in the 1650s. Named after a river in Holland the Liesbeek was originally called the Amstel or Versse River. It starts in the mountain gorges above Kirstenbosch and empties into Table Bay. Today Rondebosch is the main campus of the University of Cape Town.

Guinea Fowl

Constantia is one of the oldest and most affluent suburbs of Cape Town. It’s best known for its wine. The Dutch Colonial Governor of Cape Town established Groot Constantia (Great Constantia in Afrikaans) in 1684. Other Constantia wine farms include Steenberg (Mountain of Stone), Buitenverwachting (Beyond Expectations), Klein Constantia (Small Constantia), and Constantia Uitsig (Constantia Outlook). Many of the homesteads along the Constancia wine route are excellent examples of Cape Dutch architecture. The Dutch established a number of estates and farms in the Constantia area. When the British settlers took over in the 1800s they bought many of the farms and turned them into country residences.

The last suburb I visited before finally stumbling upon Kirstenbosch was Bishopscourt, a small, wealthy, residential suburb which supposedly has about 300 households.

Egyptian Goose

Kirstenbosch is a fascinating place with much to offer including exotic plants and birds, views, and interesting, unusual large sculptings throughout the grounds. The smells are divine. During this visit I saw many birds including guinea fowl, Egyptian geese (odd-looking birds with big red feet), and many I did not recognize. Just learning the names of a small number of the birds and plants at Kirstenbosch is a formidable task. I plan to return to Kirstenbosch often. It’s a very special place!

The next outing will be to Muizenberg on the Cape’s Indian Ocean side as I venture further away from Cape Town. A friend from the last trip to Cape Town, Bobby, will go with me on some of the outings. One of Bobby’s sons lives in Santa Barbara and she promises to come visit me the next time she’s in the US.