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Parks and Gardens in Cape Town

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Regarded as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch – or rather, the land on which it sits — was bequeathed to the government by Cecil John Rhodes. Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, a mere 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch includes a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, a garden that features 2500 species of plants found on the Cape Peninsula, a Protea garden (best seen in spring!), a braille trail, and a cycad amphitheatre. There is also a glasshouse – the Botanical Society Conservatory – which houses plants from the continent’s more arid regions. If you have little ones, you simply must take them to see the cycad amphitheatre. Dotted among the cycads are life-sized anatomically correct sculptures of dinosaurs and a pterosaur! Kirstenbosch also features a sculpture garden, where you’ll find an ever-changing exhibition of African stone sculptures, and bronze animal sculptures by Dylan Lewis. Your kids will also enjoy a walk along the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – affectionately known as the Boomslang. This 130-metre steel-and-timber bridge snakes its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum, providing stunning views of the Garden and the Cape Flats.
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Crystal Pools Hike
Jump into a pool of refreshing mountain water and escape the city just an hour outside of Cape Town when you hike to Crystal Pools near Gordon’s Bay. By “refreshing”, of course, we mean quite cold—in true Cape Town fashion. But after 45 minutes to an hour of hiking at the Steenbras Nature Reserve, it comes as sweet relief from the heat. The first pool is about 45 minutes from the start of the trail and you can stop here for a snack or break in the shade. For some serious swimming and kloofing opportunities, it’s best to hold out for the second pool, which is another ten to fifteen minutes up. There is also a waterfall, which you can stand below and enjoy an open-air cold shower. It’s only a 2km hike, but your legs will beg to differ. It starts out fairly easy but the climb gets tough. If you’re up for the challenge you can keep going after the second pool to the third pool that offers more swimming opportunities and an excellent view of the area.
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Company's Garden
The Company’s Garden is Cape Town’s green lung. This oasis right in the centre of the city is a favourite for both locals and tourists. The site is important historically, and is a thriving urban space where buskers strum guitars while office workers sun themselves over lunch hour. There is plenty to do, but here are our top six things to… The Company’s Garden was first built as a refreshment station for the trade route that rounded the tip of Africa between Europe and the east. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company would stop by after months at sea and stock up on fresh produce grown in the garden—hence, “The Company’s Garden”. There is so much to explore in terms of history inside the garden. Near the Adderley Street entrance a statue of Queen Victoria stands overlooking the Slave Lodge, while a statue of Jan Smuts looks on. Just over the road is the St George’s Cathedral, known as the “people’s church”—even during the apartheid era, all races were welcomed. It was also the starting point for the 30,000-strong demonstration led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1989—and where Tutu coined the phrase ‘rainbow people’ to describe the diversity of South Africa’s population.
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The Island Nature Reserve
The Island Nature Reserve is located approximately 25 km from Port Elizabeth and is accessed via the Seaview Road turn off along the national road. The Reserve comprises 480 ha of indigenous Alexandria coastal forest and boasts tree species such as Outeniqua yellow-wood, white and hard pear as well as white milkwood.
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Mapungubwe National Park
Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is the ideal location for anyone interested in the park’s wildlife and birds, to those in search of serenity, identity and the extraordinary history of this World Heritage Site
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African Bird Of Prey Sanctuary
Situated on 60 hectares of scenic valley bushveld, within easy access of both Durban and Pietermaritzburg, the African Bird of Prey Sanctuary is safe-haven to the widest selection of indigenous raptors in southern Africa.
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Walter Sisulu National Botanic Garden
Walter Sisulu is one of the 8 botanical gardens managed by the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The gardens consist of around 30 hectares of landscaped garden and 270 hectares of natural vegetation (Rocky Highveld Grassland). Witpoortjie Falls are the centre piece to the gardens. Walter Sisulu features a Waterwise Garden, Cycad Garden, Succulent Rockery, Fern Garden and arboretum.
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Nirox Park
It is located on 15 hectares of landscaped gardens and waterways within an extensive private nature reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. NIROX Sculpture Park is 45 minutes from the centers of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
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BERGTHEIL MUSEUM
Named after Jonas Bergtheil, this museum is situated in the leafy suburb of Westville, almost midway between Durban and Pinetown. The museum is housed in Westville’s oldest building (c.1840) featuring massive stone walls and hand-hewn timber floorboards.
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African Art Centre
The Durban African Art Centre Association provides thousands of unemployed artists and craftspeople with opportunities of self-employment and economic upliftment and the ability to earn a sustainable living.
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The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
The reserve was named after ornithologist-mammal gist, J Austin Roberts, born in Pretoria in 1883, and largely self-taught. He was to produce a number of standard South African reference books on both birds and mammals, and was tragically killed in a motor accident in 1948.
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Matobo Hills
Huge granite masses – seamed, split, shaped and sculptured by time and the elements – form an array of giant whalebacks and castellated kopjes that cover 3000 square kilometres of Matabeleland South Province. Much of the country’s history has been written and played out within the confines of the Matobo Hills – from the time thousands of years ago when ancient bushmen used the granite faces as a canvas for their unique and extraordinary art, to more recent times, when black and white met in war and peace. These are the Matobo Hills, located south of Zimbabwe’s second-largest city, Bulawayo. Forty thousand years ago the caves and crevices carved out of these rocks became home to Zimbabwe’s earliest inhabitants, the “San”. Twenty thousand years later “San” artists began painting on the walls of caves and rock shelters, using special pigments and natural minerals that have survived the onslaught of climate and time.
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Old Bulawayo
The story of the Ndebele from when they are forced out from present-day South Africa by a coalition of Afrikaners, Griquas and Zulu to the establishment of modern-day Bulawayo can appear confusing. During Mzilikazi’s reign as King there are four different capitals (Gibxhegu, Mahlokohloko, Inyathi and Mhlahlandleia) He was succeeded by Lobengula who established a new Gibxhegu and then renames it koBulawayo (this is the where the Site Museum is situated) and finally Umhlabathini, or the second koBulawayo, the site of modern-day State House. This was in keeping with tribal custom; the royal towns of Matabele kings were never intended to be permanent and whenever a King died, the capital moved and the old royal town was burned.
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Bemaraha National Park
The Tsingy was the first refuge for the inhabitants of the island and it is located 820km west of Antananarivo. The Tsingy offers one of the most spectacular landscapes in Madagascar. This is why it was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site, followed by the Bemaraha park. You will be able to admire these fabulous landscapes with sharp spikes. The Tsingy was classified as UNESCO World Heritage in 1990 and occupies a part of the limestone plateau of the same name that is a part of the Bemaraha National Park which was classified as UNESCO World Heritage in 1997. The Tsingy is one of the most spectacular landscapes of Madagascar with its network of rifts, crevasses, and limestome blocks that are carved in sharped blades.
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Andasibe-Mantadia National Park
The primary forest is formed by two distinct protected ares – the Analamazoatra special reserve and the Mantadia national park. The Andasibe-Mantadia National Park is only about three hours from the capital. Almost the whole park is formed by primary forest which has never been modified by human beings. It is also a refuge for many animals and plants. Thus, it is not uncommon to come across a multitude of species: lemurs, birds, chameleons, and insects of all kinds.
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Dar Es Salaam Zoo
Dar Es Salaam Zoo is a zoological park in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The zoo is located in the Kigamboni-district in the eastern part of the city, 37 kilometers from Downtown Dar es Salaam. The Dar es Salaam Zoo is best known for having many animals endemic to Tanzania, including but not limited to giraffes, zebras, crocodiles, antelopes, tortoises, gazelles, monkeys, hyenas, lions, leopards, snakes, and several species of birds. There is also a kids’ zone with slides, swings and jungle-gyms.
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Mamba Village
Mamba Village is East Africa’s largest crocodile farm with over 10,000 crocodiles of varying age, size, and type including white crocodiles and newly-hatched baby crocs. The village also has a giraffe pen, an ostrich enclosure, a marine aquarium, and a botanical garden.
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Nairobi National Museum
The Museum aims to interpret Kenya’s rich heritage and offers a one stop for visitors to sample the country’s rich heritage both for education and leisure. In addition to the museum, visitors are treated to a variety of shopping and dining facilities, as well as botanical gardens that offer a serene environment.
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Douala-Edea Wildlife Reserve
Covering 400,000 acres as at year 2000, the Douala-Edéa Wildlife Reserve boasts an 80% tropical lowland equatorial forests and 15% Atlantic mangrove, including Lake Tissongo. Established in 1932, the reserve was designated a wildlife park in 1971.
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TINUBU SQUARE
Madam Tinubu, the Nigerian businesswoman and patriot, after whom the prominent Lagos landmark, “Tinubu Square,” is named lived in the area in the 19th century and was born in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Western Nigeria, to a trading family. Tinubu square is by Broad street, CMS, Marina – and the Brazilian quarters in Lagos Island .
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Parc du Banco
This National Forest Reserve on the outskirts of the city covers an area of 7,500 acres of tropical rainforest. While wildlife is rather hard to spot, there are walking trails, a lake, an arboretum and a great picnic area.
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Dinder National Park
This Sudan National park is found in Sudan (northern Sudan). it was gazetted as a protected area under Sudan National parks and reserves in 1935 on the banks of river Dinder after which it was named. other rivers cross in the park include Rahad river. The park covers an area of 7,1823sq km. It is also listed as UNESCO Biosphere reserves together with another Sudan National park. Dinder Sudan Park is known for its bird watching adventures and is an important Ramsar site in Sudan. The area of the reserve is along with a transitional eco-system of two exotic vegetation zones namely Ethiopian High plateau and the Sudanese arid Sahara. The types of vegetation in the park include meadows, riparian forests, acacia woodlands and open savannah grasslands.
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Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary situated outside of picturesque Regent Village is only 30 minutes from Freetown. Located along the Regent/Bathurst mountain road, this sanctuary for orphaned and habituated chimpanzees is a refuge for human visitors as well. Offering daily scheduled visits, as well as 6 eco-huts for overnight stays, Tacugama is the perfect place for those wishing to escape the heat and hustle of Freetown and enjoy fragrant forest breezes in the company of some extraordinary creatures. The Sanctuary now offers self-catering accommodation in the form of 6 beautifully crafted lodges. Established to rescue orphaned and captured chimps, the facilities expanded to encompass two large reserves. Tacugama has been featured in various wildlife programmes and magazines. A rescued albino chimp at the sanctuary also helped to bring it to international attention. Sadly, the albino chimp is no longer alive but the sanctuary continues to grow from strength to strength. These endangered animals share 98.6 per cent of their DNA with humans and their complex social behaviours and human-like tendencies are fascinating to behold. The story behind Tacugama is just as riveting. Established in 1995, this sanctuary, which covers 100 acres of rain-forest and watershed, is home to 90 chimpanzees that have been victimized by the illegal hunting, capturing, and selling of their species. During the conflict, Tacugama staff smuggled food to the chimpanzees and pleaded with the rebels to spare their lives. Don’t miss the extraordinary experience of viewing these intelligent beings up-close in their natural habitat.
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Parque Lage
At the foot of the Corcovado Mountain, Parque Lage delights with 52 hectares of pure green, cultural and art programs. Originating from an old sugar mill, the park makes part of the historic memory of the city. In 1957, it was tumbled by the IPHAN like as historical and cultural heritage of the city of Rio de Janeiro. The main edification of the space, a big house of the XIX century, the Visual art school, works in Parque Lage (EAV), which offers free formation to beginner artists, training courses in art for youth, plus an intense program of exhibitions, seminars, lectures and video shows. EAV also have a library and auditorium with capacity for 150 people. On the main mansion courtyard by the pool, the BistrôPlage offers a delicious breakfast, more lunch and dinners with organic product which can be savored with the art and music events that happens on the place every year. In several weekends, ParqueLage crosses the down with art parties and festivals and music sponsored by initiative private and public.
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Botanical Garden of Rio De Janeiro
Founded in 1808 by D. João VI, the Botanical Garden is an important touristic side of the city and so much visited by researchers who study the hundreds species that are there. With total area of 137 hectares, being 54 of acreage, the Botanical Garden houses rare collections of bromeliads and orchids, as well as old trees and exotic plants. The Garden also has constructions in the beginning of the century XVI, saving a rich historical and cultural heritage. Between the monuments, we highlight the Eco and Narciso de mestre Valentim statues, the portal of the Academy of Fine Arts, projected by Grandjean de Montigny, and the Japonese Garden, created in 1935, from the donation of 65 species of tipical Japanese plants. The Park also is an excellent place to observe the birds, because there are more than hundred different species in the crowns and trunks of their trees
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Rio D'Ouro Reservoir
Preserved and in full activity, Rio D'Ouro Reservoir, built in 1880, is an architectural jewel of Nova Iguaçu, located on a natural site covered by the Atlantic Rainforest. From its pavilion, there is a footbridge that crosses the reservoir and leads to a fountain made of cast iron designed by the French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier Belleuse. He was the designer of the torches of the staircase at the Paris Opera Theater as well as the professor of the acclaimed sculptor, Auguste Rodin. Nymphs, carved in the foundries of Val D'Osne in France, guard the fountain adorned by twigs and the Brazilian coat of arms. With a sophisticated hydraulic engineering for the time of its implementation, Rio D'Ouro Reservoir is listed by INEPAC (State Institute of Cultural Heritage).
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13 De Maio Park
The park is the largest green area of the Central Region of Recife, with its 6.9 Hectares. It was the 1st Urban Park of Recife and has a children’s playground, sculptures of Abelardo da Hora, fountains and jogging track, Academia da Cidade (gym for the Recife population) and Mini zoo.
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Lagoa Park
"Postcard" of João Pessoa, the Lagoon Park Solon de Lucena offers leisure and security to the population of the city and tourists visiting the capital of Paraíba. There are 35 thousand square meters of paved walkways connected to the four entrances of the Park, which has 24 hour security and 553 lighting points, of which 262 are LED spotlights. The venue has 12 squares, bike path, jogging track, international standard skate park, extreme sports area with slackline, climbing wall and a deck available for free for parties and events. Green is also one of the hallmarks of Parque da Lagoa, which has 215 palm trees and 738 native trees (Pau-Brasil, Sibipiruna, Gameleira, Oitizeiros, Pitombeiras, yellow, pink and purple ipe) and exotic (Ficus macrocarpa, Castanholas, Cássea Rust).
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Liberty Square Cultural Circuit
The Praça da Liberdade is not just something you see on a postcard of Belo Horizonte. Throughout its 100-year history, it has been the scene of important political decisions, social movements and even cultural, leisure and sporting events. Since 2010, the square has been an additional source of pride. Following the relocation of the state government offices to Cidade Administrativa, the buildings were converted into museums and spaces that now make up the Praça da Liberdade Cultural Circuit. One of its points of difference is the institutional management of the spaces, which permits a greater connectivity and diversity of cultural programmes. The complex is supported by the Sérgio Magnani Cultural Institute in partnership with the Government of Minas Gerais. Whoever visits the Praça da Liberdade Cultural Circuit can also visit three other spaces that are within easy reach: the Minas Tênis Culture Centre, Casa Una Culture Centre and the Belas Artes Cinema. In addition to being of great symbolic and architectural value to the city, the area is home to several places that exhibit the vast majority of Minas Gerais's cultural diversity and art that is known worldwide, all within a few blocks.
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Roberto Burle Marx Park
Roberto Burle Marx Municipal Park, better known as "Parque da Cidade", located in São José dos Campos - SP, occupies an area of ​​about one million square meters that was part of the former Parahyba Weaving Farm. In this vast perimeter are sheltered a great diversity of plant species and a beautiful landscape composed of gardens, imperial palm trees, lakes, artificial islands, woods and boulevards. The gardens, by Roberto Burle Marx, and the Olivo Gomes Residence, designed by Rino Levi, make up an important work of modern architecture. One of the main attractions of the park is the contact with nature. It provides the user with pleasant walks on paths surrounded by dense vegetation consisting of native and exotic species and inhabited by rich wildlife.
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Augusto Ruschi Ecology Reserve
The place is opened to the public for didactic visitation guided by technicians, with carefully elaborated tracks, showing aspects of typical ecosystems: paludosa forest, restingas, swamps, beach, sea rocks and Tabuleiro forest. Various uncommun attractives of the landscape provide a pleasant sightseeing pleasure and direct contact with the nature, good of seeing, feeling, to hear and to smell.
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Cajueiro de Pirangi
The tree enchants by its gigantic size and production, which reaches 80 thousand fruits per crop! Instead of growing upwards, the branches grow sideways and because of their own weight, tend to bend downwards, reaching the ground. From the original trunk, dozens of branches grow, which in turn become other trunks, with roots with depth of up to 2 meters. The tree manages to produce from 70 to 80 thousand cashews per crop, the equivalent of 2.5 tons. The fruits are not sold, but it is possible to take some home. The site has a structure with craft shops in the region, a 10 meters-high viewing spot and guides who speak English and Spanish.
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Parque das Dunas
Area of environment preservation, it maintains threatened species, being one of the biggest parks of Natal! Parque das Dunas, in Natal, was created in 1977 with an area of 1,172 hectares and it is the first Environment Preservation Unit implemented in the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The Park receives annually around 150 thousand visitors. It has Bosque dos Namorados, where it is possible to walk and do gymnastics. There are also picnic and exhibit areas. The Park has Atlantic forest plant formations and over 270 tree species, such as pau-brasil (Caesalpinia echinata), peroba (Aspidosperma polyneuron), and sucupira (Pterodon emarginatus), as well as bromeliads and orchids. Regarding fauna, it is possible to observe timbu (Didelphis albiventris), gato-maracajá (Leopardus wiedii), foxes, sagui (Callithrix jacchus), jiboia (Boa constrictor), snakes and a large amount of insects.
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Sao Paulo Zoo
Since its inauguration in 1958, Sao Paulo Zoo has already attracted more than 70 million visitors. Located at the heart of more than 900,000 m of original Atlantic forest, the grounds are home to 3,000 different animal species, each evolving in a dedicated biotope which closely reflects its natural surroundings. This institution is the ideal tool for increase awareness among the general public of the problems related to protecting the species to which the Amazonian forest is home.
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Ibirapuera Park
Opened in 1954, during Sao Paulo's 400th anniversary, the Ibirapuera Park has a 1.6 million m² area and sports courts, bicycle racks and restaurants. The project was led by Oscar Niemeyer, the architect who created most of the buildings in Brasilia. It also involved several professionals, such as architects Ulhoa Cavalcanti and Zenon Lotufo, besides landscapers Burle Marx and Augusto Teixeira Mendes. The Ibirapuera has been elected "one of the 10 best urban parks in the world" by The Guardian, and it gathers athletes in the running lanes, soccer courts and open gym equipment. It also charms people looking for culture. The Museu de Arte Contemporânea (Contemporary Art Museum), the Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum), the Museu Afro Brasil (Afro Brazil Museum), the Auditorio Ibirapuera (Ibirapuera Auditorium), the Pavilhão Japonês (Japanese Pavilion) and the Oca are all in the park. Take the time to also visit the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (Masp), which is only 6 km away.
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Praca dos Tres Poderes
Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa, the Praça dos Três Poderes is one of Brasília’s main attractions and headquarters of the three powers of State: the Palácio do Planalto (Presidential Palace), the Supremo Tribunal Federal - STF (Supreme Court) and the Congresso Nacional (National Congress). The Três Poderes cultural center, subject to the local Cultural Secretary, manages the activities of the three cultural spaces of the plaza. They are: the Museu Histórico da Cidade (the city’s historical museum that contains historical records on the city’s construction), the Espaço Lucio Costa (with an enormous scale model of Brasília) andthe Panteão da Pátria (with art works honoring national heroes). At the Praça dos Três Poderes, you can also find monuments designed by renowned international artists such as Os Candangos, by Bruno Giorgi; A Justiça, by Alfredo Ceschiatti, located in front of the Supreme Court; O Pombal e a Pira da Pátria, by Niemeyer; and the Mastro da Bandeira, with the largest national flag in the world.