NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN
Nelspruit, South Africa
Off White River Road opposite Lydenburg/Sabie intersection
PO Box 1024, Nelspruit, 1200
Rugged, rocky river scenery is the perfect, spectacular setting for Nelspruit's main tourist attraction, the Lowveld National Botanical Garden, situated in the heart and at the hub of Mpumalanga. The 159 ha garden straddles the Crocodile and Nels Rivers. Viewed from the air, it is clear that the two Rivers dominate the scene and determine the character of this Garden. The Crocodile surges through a narrow, solid rock gorge that has been scoured out and pot-holed over millennia, while the Nels River tumbles down a waterfall from the west, to converge with the Crocodile in a serene pool on a bend in the river.
Nelspruit is ideally situated for tourists, being close to the Kruger National Park, Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop and the renowned Blyde River Canyon which is the focal point of the Panorama Scenic Route. The burgeoning town boasts a large assortment of accommodation options for tourists and business people.
See route map for directions to Garden.
The Garden is open daily from 08h00 to 18h00 (October to April) and 08h00 to 17h15 (May to September). Entrance fee is R9.00 per adult and R5.00 per child or pensioner. Members of the Botanical Society have free entrance, on proof of membership. Pensioners have free entry Wednesdays.
Take a virtual tour of the Garden and enjoy the highlights of the thematic and taxonomic sections.
From May to September, when the weather is pleasant and dry, midday concerts are often held in the garden. See the What's On page for details of these and other events taking place at the Garden.
This site has an interesting history, dating back to prehistoric times. New developments are planned to enhance the Garden.
Guided tours through the Garden, led by trained, enthusiatic guides, can be reserved by contacting the office at 013-752-5531. Please book tours well in advance, at least 2 weeks before the date of the tour.
In Nelspruit summer lasts for at least six months of the year, occasionally more, with the other three seasons telescoped into the remaining half year. Summers can be very hot with temperatures soaring to 35°, occasionally even higher, with high humidity and the evenings warm and sultry, sometimes as high as 20°. Rain usually falls in the form of late afternoon and evenings thunderstorms and the average precipitation is in the region of 780 mm per annum.
Winter is often so brief and mild that autumn seems to progress directly into spring. Spring and autumn are popular times for visiting the region, as the temperatures are moderate.
In winter the temperature in the Garden can plummet to nearly zero, but night lows are generally about 6 - 9°, with daytime mean around the low twenties. Winter is on the whole the dry season, but rainfall can sometimes be experienced in June or July (up to 60 or 70 mm.)
There is never that dramatic contrast between summer and winter that is experienced on the highveld, because many of the trees and shrubs are evergreen, especially in the riparian zones. The Lowveld National Botanical Garden is a joy to visit at any time of the year.
This Garden lies in the overall vegetation type known as Sour Lowveld Bushveld which, at an altitude varying from 550 to 800 m, is a link between the escarpment and the true lowveld, thus containing many elements of both. This linkage results in a wide variety of trees and shrubs. Altitude of the Lowveld Garden is about 650 m, on average.
Along the river banks we find typical riparian forest, belts which are evergreen. The steep slopes on the western side of the Crocodile River have more dense vegetation than the drier slopes on the eastern side of the river. (See thematic areas on map.)
The higher reaches of the Garden have been laid out taxonomically, although many of the species are also present in other sections e.g. there are cycads scattered over large parts of the Garden. (See taxonomic areas on map.)
In addition to approximately 600 plant species occurring naturally in the Garden, more than 2000 additional species have been planted. Of the approximately 1000 tree species indigenous to South Africa, over 650 can be seen in the garden --- this includes numerous species from sub-tropical southern Africa. The Lowveld Garden is like an enormous arboretum and is characterised by its evergreen lawns and wealth of trees. Its unique, park-like ambience makes it a wonderful haven for the urban citizens of Nelspruit and overseas tourists.
This Lowveld website would not have been possible without the contribution made by Jo Onderstall, who wrote most of the text and provided almost all the images. Our thanks to her. Thanks are also due to Ernst van Jaarsveld, Lindsey Milne, Duncan Butchart, John Broodryk, Charles and Lorraine Dunn, Brian Guerin, Ernst van Jaarsveld, Rudi Britz, Johan Hurter and Willem Froneman.