The Heart Of The Floral Kingdom

The Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay covers almost 200 hectares of land between mountains and sea, and is set in the heart of the Cape Fynbos region within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. The Garden is internationally recognised as a conservation biosphere in the beautiful Overberg and is one of SANBI’s (South African National Biodiversity Institute) National Botanical Gardens. Other than offering a monitored conservation project, Harold Porter National Botanical Garden provides a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Enjoy magnificent views of the Kogelberg Mountains as you experience its stunning gorges, waterfalls, and diverse indigenous plant and animal life. The various hiking trails offer walks for hikers of all levels of fitness. A restaurant, educational centre, venue hire facilities and wheelchair friendly access to the garden trail makes Harold Porter National Botanical Garden suitable for the whole family.

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About

About

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In 1940, Harold Nixon Porter acquired an extensive tract of land from a Trust Agreement to develop a garden and private nature reserve in Betty’s Bay. He named the Garden Shangri-la, meaning ‘paradise’ and it was officially opened as the Shangri-la Nature Reserve on the 13th of November 1955 by Professor Brian Rycroft, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Botanical Gardens.

After Harold Porter’s death in 1958, the reserve was left to the Shangri-la Nature Reserve Company. Finding it too difficult to manage from Johannesburg, the corporate committee offered it to the then National Botanical Gardens of SA, which renamed it in Harold Porter’s honour and took on the financial responsibility for the Garden on 1 August 1959.

In 1962 the Hangklip Beach Estates added to the garden property by giving it the adjoining area of Disa Kloof. Later still, the then Betty’s Bay Village Management Board, donated an additional adjoining piece of land which reaches to the sea. In total the land incorporated into the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden now comprises 200.5ha, stretching from the top of the Kogelberg Mountain Range to the sea, encompassing a whole river system. Ten hectares have been cultivated as a garden while the remainder is managed as a natural reserve which is included in the core zone of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, while the developed area forms part of its buffer zone.
 

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Remembering Harold Porter

A plaque of granite sunk into a large sandstone boulder at one of Harold Porter’s favourite spots in the Garden marks the place where his ashes were scattered. 

Each March (or April) the beautiful Lily, Nerine sarniensis, blooms almost as if in celebration of this great conservationist’s life.

Garden Information

Garden Information

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden’s open mountain slopes, streams, forests and cultivated garden, is a natural wonderland that is home to a vast array of fauna and flora.

Wildlife

Keep an eye open for:

  • Baboons
  • Tortoises
  • Porcupines
  • Striped Mice
  • Moles
  • Tortoises 
  • Leopards (although sightings are rare)
Birds

Bird lovers can look out for over 96 species that have been recorded on the Harold Porter bird list that includes:

  • African Penguin
  • Verreaux’s Eagle
  • Jackal Buzzard
  • Cape Eagle-Owl
  • Protea Seedeater
  • Cape Grassbird
  • Cape Rock Thrush
  • Ground Woodpecker
  • African Black Duck
  • Giant Kingfisher
  • African Dusky Flycatcher
  • Greenbul
  • African Paradise-Flycatcher
  • Sunbird
  • Double-Collared Sunbird
  • Cape Sugarbird
  • Cape Robin
  • Swee Waxbill
  • Cape Bulbul
  • Black-shouldered Kite
  • African Goshawk
  • Paradise-flycatcher
  • Woodland Warbler

For the full species list contact Harold Porter National Botanical Garden directly.

Arachnids and Insects

Most of the spiders and insects go unnoticed as many of them are tiny, very well camouflaged or are nocturnal. Lovers of arachnids and insects can try spotting a:

  • Golden Orb-Web Spider
  • Flower Crab Spider
  • Dragonflies
  • Damselflies
  • Carpenter Bees
  • Cape Honeybee
  • Monkey Beetles
  • Net-Winged Beetles
  • Long-Horned Beetles
  • Potter Wasps
  • Cocktail Ants

For a full list of Arachnids and Insects contact the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens directly.

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Garden Map

Garden Map

Take a look here at the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden Map.

Hiking Trails

Hiking Trails

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden has walks and hiking trails for the whole family. 

Cultivated Garden (wheelchair friendly)

The Cultivated Garden is comprised of a:

  • Western Section 

The Western Section of the garden has a magnificent view of the ocean. This secluded grassy area in the centre of the garden is surrounded by trees, making it the perfect outdoor venue for private functions. Fragrant summer-flowering plants and ponds add to the magical ambience. 

  • Southern Section

The Southern Section of the garden comprises of a circular 500m Ecosystems Walk close to the entrance of the gardens. Visitors can enjoy a quick overview of the four local ecosystems that are divided into Fynbos, wetlands, dunes and a forest.

  • Eastern Section

The Eastern Section of the garden showcases the Fynbos family that includes Proteaceae, Restionaceae and Ericaceae. These plants have been loosely grouped with geophytes and daisy variegations. This is a good section of the garden to visit when the Proteas and Ericas are flowering.

Disa Kloof Trail (wheelchair friendly)

The Disa Kloof Trail is a very easy short trail totalling 950m and taking about half-an-hour each way.  

It leads along the western side of the garden, over the Olive May Porter Bridge, and into a wooded area which is a haven for many bird species. 

The Boekenhout Bridge crosses the gulley where the path was washed away in extraordinarily heavy rains in April 2005. Observant visitors may still be able to see evidence of one of the soil slips which occurred at the time. All the regrowth on the slip is natural and has not been assisted in any way.

Winding beneath the big trees growing alongside the water’s edge, the trail crosses the z-shaped Disa River Bridge and leads up to a lovely waterfall. The dam created above the Bobbejaanskop Bridge weir provides beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountains and this is where, if you are lucky, you may see a pair of the shy African black duck.

The cliffs on the west side of the river provide a home for the Red Disa (Disa uniflora), the Western Cape Province’s floral emblem, which flowers from late December to late January. 

Fynbos and Zigzag Trails 

Please Note: 

The Fynbos and Zigzag Trails these trails are currently closed until further notice

The Fynbos and Zigzag Trails comprise of one long and one short trail amongst the natural fynbos, overlooking the garden and the ocean. 

These two trails traverse the southern slopes of Bobbejaanskop and The Plateau, providing magnificent views of Betty’s Bay and out over the sea. Situated on the edge of the designated ‘core-zone’ of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve which was the first Biosphere to be declared in South Africa in 1998. 

The cultivated section of the Garden with all its infrastructure and the towns of Betty’s Bay, Kleinmond, Pringle Bay and Rooiels all form part of the ‘buffer zone’ of this superb Biosphere Reserve in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom.

Leopard’s Kloof Trail

The Leopard’s Kloof Trail requires a permit and gate key that can be obtained at the garden entrance. 

This trail winds up through the forest before dropping down to the first river crossing. Once across, and a little way ahead, the very observant may see the old scratch marks of a leopard (Panthera pardus) on one of the tree stems. These animals are still seen at night in the area from time to time. Two more river crossings take you to the first waterfall after which a series of ladders lead to the second, and then the third waterfall. The base of this last waterfall is your final destination. Here in season (late December to end January) you will find the Red Disa (Disa uniflora) flowering in all its glory amongst the water spangled mosses and rocks of the cliffs towering above the pool. Give yourself time to stop and drink in the serenity of this special spot.

Please Note:

  • The keys to the gate will not be issued after 13:00 and must be returned by 16:00. 
  • The keys are the property of the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. 
  • The key deposit of R50 will be forfeited if the keys are handed in late ( this money is used to maintain the trail)
  • The paths must be used at all times to preserve the forest ecosystem
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Venue Hire

Venue Hire

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden offers a choice of two conference rooms that can either be used separately or together, by opening the inter-leading fold-away doors. Added to this, the Marquee Lawn is surrounded by trees making it the perfect venue for private outdoor functions.

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Capacity:

  • Nivenia Hall seats 70 - 80 people
  • Micro Frog Room seats 20 people
  • Marquee Lawn can accommodate approximately 80 -100 people

Amenities:

  • Comprehensive IT and AV equipment 
  • Kitchenette (refrigerator, microwave oven and sink)
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Restroom facilities

The areas are perfect for:

  • Weddings
  • Conferences
  • Workshops
  • Corporate Functions
  • Presentations
  • Exhibitions

For more information on function hire and available facilities contact Harold Porter National Botanical Garden directly.

Plant Sales

Plant Sales

Harold Porter National Botanical Garden offers a selection of indigenous plants suited to coastal and fynbos gardens. 

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The Plant Sales Nursery:

  • Mondays to Fridays - 8:00 to 16:00
  • Saturdays and Sundays - 8:00 to 16:30
  • Public Holidays - 8:00 to 16:30 

Please enquire at the entrance if you would like someone to assist you in making a selection or to answer your plant or gardening questions.

Restaurant

Restaurant

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Please Note:
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden’s Red Disa Restaurant, is currently closed until further notice. 
You are however invited to bring your own picnic basket with snacks and refreshments.

Live Events

Live Events

The lovely lawns and function rooms at the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden offer the perfect setting for various live events and activities throughout the year. Previous events and activities include:

  • Live Music Performances
  • Environmental Talks
  • Carols by Candlelight
  • Easter Egg Hunt
  • Easter Plant Sales
Parkrun

Parkrun

Betty’s Bay Parkrun takes place at Harold Porter National Botanical Garden and is run on a mixture of gravel paths, trail paths and grass. 

Time - 8:00 every Saturday
Entry - Free for those participating in the run

The first part of the course is in the formal garden and then crosses the bridge into the indigenous forest for a double loop, before returning via another loop in the formal garden, to finish at the restaurant.

For more information on the Parkrun contact the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden directly.

Garden Tariffs

Garden Tariffs

Harold Porter National Botanical garden tariffs are as follows:

  • Adults (18 - 59 years) - R30
  • Seniors (60 years plus) - R20
  • Students (with valid student cards) - R20
  • Learners - R12
  • Children (under six) - No Charge 
  • SA Botanical Society member - No Charge (except for special events)
  • Wild Card Members do not qualify for free entry to SANBI gardens
  • Key Deposit for Leopard’s Kloof Trail - R50 (refunded on the timeous return of the key)
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Guided Tours

Guided Tours

Guided tours of the Harold Porter National Botanical garden are available if arranged at least two weeks ahead of the intended visit. 

The tariffs for each group will be tailored according to the group size, the duration of the tour and will include the regular entry fee into the garden.

Please Note:

  • Guided tours are unfortunately unavailable on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
  • Service Dogs are permitted (otherwise no pets - not even teeny-tiny ones on a lead)
  • Feeding of wild animals in the garden is prohibited (not even friendly baboons or cute squirrels) 
  • Children must be supervised at all times (especially near the decadent cakes in the restaurant’s confectionery display case)
  • No braaing, swimming or paddling is permitted (even on super-hot days)
  • Litter must always be taken away with you (because it’s the right thing to do)
  • Garden times change with the seasons and gates are locked after hours (so be sure to leave in time)
  • Parking and use of the garden and all its facilities are at your own risk (so opt for comfy shoes)
Reviews

Reviews

“We visited on our way back to Cape Town from Hermanus where we had been to see Southern Right Whales. Ours was a short 45-minute visit which did not allow us to hike on the Leopard’s Kloof Trail (about 1.5km) or the Zigzag Trail (about 4kms). We did, however, manage the circular Fynbos Trail. We enjoyed the tranquillity in the shade of the nearby mountains and the view of the ocean. The available information of all the plants that we saw reflected the foresight and excellent planning of the founder of the garden, Harold Porter. I particularly liked the Useful Plants Garden. The sound of the streams was calming.” Munir, TripAdvisor
“An excellent nature reserve to visit with the whole family. Beautiful flowers, plants and trees. Different trails are available that take you around the garden, up the mountain or to the waterfall. The garden trail is wheelchair friendly. Ensure to get the key for the gate at reception should you want to walk to the waterfall.” Wynand Nel, Google Review
“This botanical garden offers lovely, scenic views of the mountains. There is a wide variety of indigenous plants. Learn more about different types of topography and the uses of many of the plants in the garden. There are waterfalls and various routes you can take to see them. Pack a picnic basket, blankets and make a day of it.” Ryan, TripAdvisor
“A beautifully maintained garden in a very relaxing atmosphere. Perfect for an afternoon family picnic or to spend some time surrounded by the sights, sounds and smells of nature.” Conrad Zygmont, Google Review
“A good place to relax, go bird watching or go for a trail walk. The Discovery Vitality Parkrun also takes place every Saturday morning. Lots of inclines make the run more challenging than a flat run at other venues. Running through the forest allows you to see lots of pretty views as well as crossing bridges and seeing the waterfall.” Ivan Mostert, Google Review

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