Botanical Gardens with a Difference
Just outside Worcester, and approximately a hundred and twenty kilometers from Cape Town, lies one of the best water-wise gardens in South Africa and the only actual succulent garden to be found in Africa. The Karoo National Botanical Garden was first established in 1921 and was located near Matjiesfontein, but to make the garden more accessible to visitors and tourists, the garden was moved to its current location in 1945. Today, the Karoo National Botanical Garden is the gem of South Africa, and allows visitors to get close to some of the most exquisite and colorful plants found in the drier, arid parts of the country.
Eleven hectares of the garden is cultivated, while the rest, which covers a hundred and forty-four hectares, forms part of the flora reserve and has a variety of trails and special features for visitors to explore. During the flowering months, a small fee is charged for entrance into the garden, but throughout the rest of the year access is free of charge. And it is usually the months of August and September that attract the most guests, as this is the time when the Bokbaai vygies are in bloom and the garden transforms into an ocean of color.
Four hundred of the plant species found in the Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens are occurring plants and more than three hundred species that are protected. In spring (August, September and October), and depending on rainfall, visitors can look forward to seeing Bokbaai Vygies, Namaqualand Daisies, Felicia, Gazania, Drosanthemum and Lampranthus. By early November, Babiana, Freesia and Sparaxiz start to bloom. Summer is very hot and dry, but those brave enough to take on the sun will not be disappointed, as Crassula plant species take the focus off the heat. It is as if the garden transforms itself with every season, and not one visit to the garden is the same as the next.
The network of trails and paths is almost eight kilometers in length and there is a four hundred meter Braille Trail and a thousand meter Shale Trail, which is accessible for wheelchairs. Other features for visitors to explore, is the succulent collection, indigenous plant display, herb garden, Khoisan cooking shelter, plant maze, the world’s biggest artificial Quiver Tree Forest and the plant shop, where visitors are able to purchase a small piece of the gardens to take home. The restaurant offers tasty refreshments and is completely wheelchair friendly. Guided tours are also available and with almost thirty thousand visitors coming to the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden, the staff is well trained and very informative. To experience the true beauty of the desert, the diverse plant life, and the animals and birds that call it home, the Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens is a wonderful attraction and the perfect opportunity to discover the magnificence of nature.