One of the highlights of our Cape Town tour was visiting Kristenbosch Garden. It was established in 1913 as the first indigenous botanical garden in the world. Kristenbosch is part of the Cape Florisitc Protected Areas Site,one of only 154 natural World Heritage Sites, and the only natural World Heritage Site to include a botanical garden! There are over 4,500 plant species being cultivated in this 528 hectare estate,many of which are rare or endangered, and the Cape site boasts the world’s highest levels of endemism(species that occur nowhere else): 31.9%. Although you can access Table Mountain from the garden,
we took a more gentle walking tour. Thanks to careful labeling (and our knowledgeable guide),
we were able to learn a lot about the various plants, and I particularly loved the huge King Proteas, South Africa’s national flower. Egyptian geese and other unusual birds grazed quietly on the lawns,
reminding me that there is no garden quite like this in America! One recently added highlight of Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a graceful aerial walkway that glides like a snake twelve meters up through the tree tops.This gleaming structure has been nicknamed the boomslang
because it’s shaped like a snake’s skeleton.
It’s a whooping 130-meters long and made from galvanized steel and timber. However, the walkway reminded me more of a sky-high swinging bridge
than a snake, because it moves when you walk!It also twists and turns in artful suspension so it can withstand the winds but still let you feel the breezes while enjoying a birds’-eye view of Kirstenbosch Garden below, distant Table Mountain, and the Hottentots-Holland peaks. As a lover of beauty and the out of doors, I was entranced!
Although I was delighted by everything, I was particularly excited when our guide showed us a spotted Eagle-owl snoozing in the sun with her little chick. We have owls around our home, but in twenty-three years of searching, I’ve only caught a few dim glimpses on dark nights. To see owls in their natural environment unperturbed by our presence was a unique experience I never even thought to hope for. Africa was full of great surprises! “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end” (Ephesians 2:20-21).