The KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden in Pietermaritzburg is home to many rare species of plants and birds. Many of the plant species attest to the gardens' Victorian past, particularly the magnificent Plane Tree Avenue, planted just after the turn of the 20th century, in 1908.

Did you know?

Owing to its extensive wetland, the garden is rich in frog life.

Established in 1874, the Pietermaritzburg National Botanical Garden was created primarily to grow trees for distribution throughout the then-Natal colony and as a collection point for indigenous, rare and beautiful plants. Today the garden grows, displays and conserves plant collections from the grasslands of the east coast of South Africa.

Its nursery sells a wide range of summer rainfall indigenous plants as well as a number of threatened and rare plant species.

Various small mammals that shelter in the forest and wetland may be spotted in open parts of the garden. These include the blue duiker, Cape clawless otter, greater cane rat and small-spotted genet. Vervet monkeys, bats, 117 butterfly species and 180 bird species have also been recorded, largely due to the diversity of habitats in the garden.

Birding enthusiasts are advised to take to the Turraea Trail, where forest, thicket and lake habitats attract numerous species, or the Forest Trail, where birds of prey and tree-loving birds such as the forest weaver and chorister robinchat may be seen.

Large lawns, flowerbeds and massive trees in the Display Garden attract the likes of the buff-spotted flufftail, orange-breasted bush shrike, croaking cisticola and malachite sunbird, among many others.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden
Tel: +27 (0)33 344 3585

How to get here

Pietermaritzburg lies 80km inland from Durban along the N3 highway.

Best time to visit

The garden is open 365 days a year from 8am to 6pm (October to April) and 8am to 5.30pm (May to September).

Around the area

Nearby attractions include the Voortrekker/Msundozi Museum, the KwaZulu-Natal Museum and Golden Horse Casino.

Tours to do

Guided tours of the gardens are available between 9am and 3.30pm, but booking is essential.

Get around

The garden has routes and trails, and caters for wheelchairs, which may be hired on site.

What will it cost

Entrance is R18 for adults and R12 for senior citizens, students and children. Entrance to the garden is free for children under the age of six.

What to pack

Birding book and binoculars.

What to eat

Picnics are a popular option.

Best buys

Plants sold at the nursery.

Related articles