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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden at Betty’s Bay in the Western Cape lies within the protected Kogelberg Biosphere, an area deemed to be ecologically diverse and a sensitive and important ecosystem. The 10ha cultivated gardens are beautifully laid out with paths meandering through the many indigenous plants. Above the gardens and hugging the mountain slopes is a further 190ha of natural vegetation that includes fynbos, forest, rivers and two waterfalls.
The botanical garden was first established in 1955 by the land owner who named the gardens Shangri-La Nature Reserve. With the help of convicts he cut a hiking trail up to Bobbejaanskop peak and after his death, his wife constructed a bridge over the river. These features are still a part of the gardens. The reserve name was later changed in his honour to the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden after it was taken over by national parks authorities.
Follow the hiking trail via the waterfalls to reach Disa Kloof where the beautiful red disa orchid grows in well-watered and shady spots. The disa appears during the month of January. Birds are attracted to the diverse flora in the region and one to look out for is the rare protea canary. Animals in the natural section include baboons, several small buck species and mongoose, while the Cape leopard is occasionally spotted.
A bright and sunny restaurant on the premises serves up light meals and a conference centre is available for hire alongside. There is also a nursery selling indigenous plants.
The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden is on the Betty’s Bay main road that travels between Gordon’s Bay and Hermanus. The garden is open throughout the year and due to its convenient location and beautiful scenery, is fast becoming a popular wedding venue.