Explore the diversity of Cape Town nature during a memorable visit to the Mother City. Cape Town is a great destination for lovers of the great outdoors and nature. It is home to a spectacular diversity of flora, fauna and birdlife, and there are numerous parks and nature reserves in and around Cape Town, each displaying the Cape's amazing biodiversity, not to mention the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cape Floral Kingdom.
Fynbos is the main vegetation type of the small but rich botanical region of Cape Town known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. There are only five recognized floral kingdoms in the world, and of the five the Cape Floral Kingdom is both the smallest and the most diverse, with over 7 700 plant species for such a small area.
Fynbos, the Afrikaans word for 'fine bush', is characterized by three main plant types, large, leathery-leafed proteas, Cape reed or restiose grasses and small-leafed, heath-like ericas.
There are numerous wildlife parks and nature reserves throughout Cape Town and the Western Cape, most notably Aquila Game Reserve, the Cape Peninsula National Park, Rondevlei Nature Reserve and the Rietvlei Nature Reserve. These reserves and parks boast a variety of wildlife.
At Aquila you can see the Big Five, as well as Zebra, Gemsbok, Steenbok, Caracal, Duiker, Baboon, Eland, Jackal and Red Hartebeest. The Cape Peninsula National Park is where you will find various species of buck, Baboon and numerous other small animals.
Rondevlei is home to 6 bird hides, porcupines, Grysbok, Cape Clawless Otter, Cape Grey Mongoose and a resident family of Hippo. For wonderful encounters with Penguin, the Boulders Beach is where they seem to have made their home. Mingle with these plucky fellows while enjoying the beautiful beach scenery.
Cape Town offers wonderful opportunities for bird watching, and will appeal to all birding enthusiasts. There are various reserves which are home to some diverse birdlife. Cape Town's birdlife is varied and rich, and 60 of Southern Africa's 86 endemics and 42 of its 84 near endemics have made the Western Cape their home.
Birding in Cape Town is best in the spring time, with birding increasing towards the end of August. The very best months are September, October and November. Seabird watching is great in winter, during the north-westerly storms.
Some great birding locations include:
- Cape Peninsula National Park - Endemics such as Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin and the Hottentot Button-quail
- Boulders Beach - to mingle with African Penguin
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens - for the Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Knysna Warbler
- Strandfontein Sewage Works - 100 species, including waterfowl, African Marsh Harrier and Greater Flamingo
- West Coast National Park - for endemics like the South Black Korhaan and the Grey-backed Cisticola
- Rondevlei Nature Reserve - includes African Spoonbill, White Pelican and Darter
World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park:
This is the largest bird park in Africa, and is situated in the charming area of Hout Bay. Enjoy Cape Town nature at this wildlife sanctuary, which is home to over 3 000 birds and various small animals. Set in a tropical garden, the aviaries are spaced over 4 hectares of land, framed by the majestic Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, Constantiaberg, Chapman's Peak and Little Lion's Head.
With too many bird species to mention, the World of Birds is home to, among others, Barbets, Egrets, herons, Owls, Falcons, Jays, Pelicans, Thrushes, Geese, Cranes, Guineafowl, Magpies, Ravens, Vultures, Eagles, Ostrich and Spoonbills. Popular birds include the majestic Crowned Crane, the elegant Blue Crane, Bald Ibis, the Great Horned Owl, the Indian Blue Peafowl and the beautiful Mute Swan.
Mammals include Baboon, Meerkat, Monkey, marmosets, tamarins, squirrels, Mongoose, Fox, Genets, raccoons, Bushpig, guineapigs, Pot-bellied Pig, porcupines and hedgehog tenrecs. Reptiles include terrapins, green iguana, Blue tongued Skinks, rock monitors and tortoises.