About Kwelera National Botanical Garden

In July 2014 the relatively unknown Kwelera (ponounced Kwelegha) Nature Reserve was thrust to the forefront of botanical interest with the announcement that it was to become the country's 10th National Botanical Garden.

Did you know? Kwelera, or Kwelegha (the ‘r’ is pronoucned as a ‘gh’ as in loch), comes from the Khoi language and means place of aloes (the Eastern Cape’s emblem).

Before that the 164 hectare strip of coast that runs parallel to the Indian Ocean between Gonubie and where the Kwelera River meets the sea just north east of East London, languered in virtual obscurity known only by the residents of, and visitors to, the three little seaside villages on its fringes – Sunrise-on-sea, Kwelera Mouth and Rainbow Valley.

It is the very first botanical garden in the country managed jointly by two agencies - The Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) and SANBI.

Kwelera is officially classified as a 'conservation garden' promoting biodiverisity education to locals and attracting tourists to the region. But it is going to be some time before its intention to attract visitors and learners becomes a reality.

Its proclamation as a botanical garden is only the first phase of a process that includes acquiring adjacent land on which to build an education centre, a formal landscaped garden and offices.

There are also plans to design a walking trail through the dune forest linking the formal garden to the coastal dune forest of the Kwelera Nature Reserve, which will remain the 'natural' part of the National Botanical Garden.

The heavily wooded sand dunes are alive with birds, such as the Knysna turaco and emerald-spotted wood dove, Vervet monkeys, bushbuck and blue duiker, whilst thicket provides cover for the nocturnal porcupine and the seldom-seen caracal.

It is also one of the places you can spot the deceptive diadem, also known as the deceptive eggfly, Novice Friar or Outannie. This type of brush-footed 'butterfly adopts a similar look to a black, brown and white spotted butterfly for protection. It is a rare butterfly with a wingspan of between 55cm and 65cm.

The Strandloper Trail that runs from Kei Mouth to Gonubie includes the unspoilt beach of the Kwelera National Botanical Garden.

Need to Know

WhereKwelera National Botanical Garden, Kwelera River Mouth, East London area, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours.

Telephone+27 (0)21 843-5000

OvernightStay in Kwelera Accommodation, Eastern Cape


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