South Africa’s nature is absolutely incredible. While Paris has its Eiffel Tower, Cape Town has got its famous Table Mountain, and obviously anything that isn’t man made is always much more grandiose and impressive.
What makes it even better is that South Africans know how to honor their nature, respect it, live in harmony with it, and make use of it.
For example, there are no bins in their National Parks because they don’t want wild animals getting used to having food easily from humans waste, so it’s important to them to keep things the way they naturally are, so people just keep their trash with them after a nice picnic and then throw them in a bin once out of the park.
They know that the earth has to be respected, and that it shouldn’t be used as a garbage.
The other thing that struck me in their culture, is the importance of education, anywhere. In the worst of times, during apartheid, the prisoners of Robben Island would take any opportunity they have to learn, their moto was “each one teach one”, and they ended up having their own university and getting degrees from one of the worst prisons of the world.
With this in mind, what I particularly appreciated in Kirstenbosch (besides the incredible beauty of it) was the fact that every opportunity was taken to teach the visitors about plants, animals, and their surroundings.
Architecture – Design
Cape Town was the world capital of design in 2014 and for good reason too. The city is full of emerging designers with great ideas and design is a part of everything. Any little restaurant in the center will have a gorgeous brand identity and a really cool interior decoration. To celebrate Kirstenbosch’s centenary, they built a walkway over the trees called “Tree Canopy”. It is a great walk for the visitors and it enables them to see the surrounding nature from a different point of view. The structure was designed to be non-intrusive and low maintenance, it blends in with the vegetation and allows most trees to grow around it (always that respect I was talking about)
Sports – Hiking
Cape Town is one of the best places I’ve seen for outdoor sports. And obviously, when you live in a town where it is completely normal to run, hike, swim, climb, kayak, paraglide, dive, horse ride… well, everyone is super fit and beautiful. So when you’re just wandering in a park and see a nice little pond with a beautiful trail, it might just be a 1h hiking trail and if you decide to follow it, you’ve done your workout for the day (and that’s what happened to us)!
Culture – Concerts
What’s also great about Kirstenbosch, is that they have their own festival that they call the “Summer Sunset Concerts”. The lineup mixes local bands and international acts, and the atmosphere is super peaceful and chilled out. They don’t sell any food or drinks, so people come with their picnic gear, sleeping bags and of course, they take their trash with them once the concert is over. We saw Paolo Nutini (a-m-a-z-i-n-g) and we were lucky enough to catch him running in the park earlier that day (but then he saw the look in our eyes, and decided to run faster).
Here it is. Cape Town rocks, Kirstenbosch rocks in a very fancy way, and I would say it would be great to apply all of the points stated above to Beirut, we have the nature, we have the culture, the beauty, the sports, I guess the only thing missing to our equation is respect for nature and community work, but it can be done…actually it has to be done.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Cape Town, South Africa
by Talia Souki.
#1month1park is Beirut Green Project’s latest blog section, where we will be featuring one park a month from across the globe. These blog posts are written by residents of cities around the world who enjoy using their parks and are eager to share their experiences with us.
The purpose of this activity is to showcase some of beautiful parks from around the globe, to get inspired by some of their unique features and solutions, and to highlight the significance and vital need for these spaces for a healthy city life.