Depart from London Heathrow Airport on our scheduled overnight flight to Cape Town. Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request – please ask for a quotation
On arrival in Cape Town we will be met by our comfortable coach and depart on an orientation tour of the city and a visit to the Old Company Garden
, which takes its name from the Dutch East India Company who first started the garden in 1652 for the victualing of their ships that plied the spice trade route between Europe and the East Indies, via The Cape of Good Hope. Among the highlights are the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa, estimated to have been planted in 1652; historic statues and a sundial dated 1781 in the centre of the garden; a rose garden designed and built in 1929 and a Japanese theme garden with a stone Japanese lantern donated by the Japanese Ambassador in 1932.
Later we will transfer to our accommodation for the next three nights at the four-star Cape Town Hollow Hotel
, ideally situated opposite the Old Company Garden. There will be some free time to relax before a welcome drink followed by dinner in the evening.
Today, following breakfast, we will visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
, beautifully situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. These world renowned gardens are dedicated to the preservation of the indigenous plants of Southern Africa. Some 6000 different species are grown here including ancient cycads and many species of protea, erica, pelargoniums and ferns. This is truly one of the world’s top gardens. We will be privileged to have an exclusive guided tour here.
We return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.Day 4
This morning, following breakfast, we will explore the many trails on top of Table Mountain
(don’t worry - we will get to the top by the five minute cable car!). The indigenous flora of the mountain encompasses some 1470 species, including many different species of Erica and Iris. South Africa’s national flower, the Protea is also abundant on the slopes.
We then drive via the fishing village of Hout Bay
and the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive
to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
, where we enjoy a full day tour. Once again indigenous fauna and flora are conserved in this priceless wilderness area, and at this time of year the wildflowers that carpet the landscape should be looking at their best. Within its 7750 hectares, the reserve sustains more varieties of plants than the British Isles, some 1100 indigenous species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.
Following our visit here we return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.Day 5
After breakfast today we check out of the hotel and drive to Clanwilliam, about 200km to the north of Cape Town. Here we will visit the annual Flower Show
, held in the historic Clanwilliam church, the easiest and most dramatic way to see all the flowers from the region, conveniently collected in one place. About four days before the opening the mountain flora and other flowers with a long life are picked and ‘planted’ in the display, while more tender plants are placed in position during the last days. Certain species in the district are found nowhere else in the world. These include the yellow Leucospermum reflexum; Snow Protea, (Protea cryophila); blue Lachnaea filamentosa; Clanwilliam Cedar tree (Widdringtonia cedarbergensis); Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis; Yellow Sparaxis; pink Cyanella alba and the Protea glabra. About 400 species from 32 families are exhibited at each show.
We will also take a walk in the nearby Ramskop Nature Reserve
, where many of these plants can be seen in their natural habitat.
Our base for the next two nights is the Piekenierskloof Resort in Clanwilliam
, where dinner will be served this evening.Day 6
Following breakfast, we will spend the day looking at wildflowers in the Cederberg
area, which is also renowned for its bizarre rock formations. The mountain fynbos comprises three elements: resteos, proteas and heaths. Widdingtonia cedarbergensis is restricted to this area. We will also visit Niewoudtville and the Biedouw Valley, world-renowned for its floral displays.
Dinner is served this evening back at our hotel in Clanwilliam.Day 7
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for the West Coast National Park
. Just inland from the secluded harbour of Saldanha Bay are the azure waters of the Langebaan Lagoon, the focal point of the Park. Thousands of seabirds roost on sheltered islands, pristine golden beaches stretch endlessly into the early morning mist and brooding salt marshes are home to vast concentrations of migrant waders from the northern hemisphere. We can also expect a good display of flowers, with Iridaceae and Hyacinthaceae bulbous plants as well as annual composites and Scrophulariaceae.
We continue to Darling
, where we will see more wildflowers, including rare species unique to this area, known as the Renosterveld. Botanising in the wild can be thirsty work so we have also arranged a visit to the Ormonde Winery
, where we will sample some of the wines produced here on the rich soils of the region. Gladiolus carinatus, commonly known as bloupypie, thrives on this terroir and symbolises the unique character and quality of the wines.
Overnight accommodation has been arranged in Buffelsfontein
and dinner is included this evening. Day 8
After breakfast we will spend some more time looking at the wildflowers to be found in the reserves around Darling, including typical Renosterveld specimens such as Renosterbos - "Rhinoceros Bush” (Elytropappus rhinocerotis). Keep an eye out too for red-bellied tortoises feeding amongst the undergrowth.
We then drive via the Breede River Valley and Bainskloof to Worcester, stopping en route in Wellington at Klein Optenhorst
, a terraced garden which is home to one of the largest collections of Salvias in South Africa. We will also have an opportunity to taste some of the locally-produced wines.
Our base for the next two nights is the Cumberland Hotel in Worcester, where we have the evening at leisure.Day 9
After a leisurely breakfast we will visit the Karoo National Botanical Gardens
here in Worcester, which contains a range of succulents endemic to dry Karoo areas. There are just under 3900 taxa housed in the index collections of which 177 species are currently on the red data list of threatened species. The largest part of the collection consists of haworthias, mesembs and stapeliads.
Evening at leisure.Day 10
After breakfast this morning we check out of the hotel and drive to Hermanus
, a lovely little town which forms the centre of the Whale Route. Here we will visit the charitable flower project Flower Valley
, whose aim is to promote the sustainable harvesting of threatened fynbos plant species in the local area.
The afternoon and evening are at leisure in Hermanus – keep an eye (and an ear) out for the local Whale Crier
, who alerts tourists whenever whales are spotted offshore.
Accommodation has been arranged for the next two nights at the Windsor Hotel in Hermanus, where we have the evening at leisure.Day 11
Following breakfast we will be hoping that the Whale Crier is being kept busy this morning as we set of ourselves on a boat trip
in search of cetaceans. This is a good time of year for whale watching and we can expect to see Southern Right whales; if we are lucky we may also see Bryde's whales, dolphins, seals and a variety of marine life.
In the afternoon we head inland to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve
, which covers 1800 ha in the Kleinrivier Mountains above Hermanus and ranges in altitude from sea level to 842 m. It protects coastal and mountain fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest and there is no other place on earth where so many different species can be seen growing in such close proximity, including great numbers of Ericaceae, such as the endemic Erica hermani. Keep an eye out too for animals such as klipspringer, baboon and dassie and birds such as cape sugar bird, sunbirds, rock thrush, jackal buzzard and black eagle.
Evening at leisure in Hermanus.Day 12
Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and drive to Betty’s Bay, where we will visit the Harold Porter Botanic Garden
. This lovely garden is situated in the centre of the coastal fynbos where the flora is at its richest. It encompasses mountain slopes with wind-clipped heathlands, deep gorges with relict forests, flats and marshes with restios, sedges and bulbs, as well as dunes adjacent to the beach with specialised salt-adapted plants. The Garden is renowned for its waterfalls and amber pools. The main fynbos families (proteas, ericas and restios) are present as well as other important families such as irises, daisies and orchids. The Garden boasts red disa (Disa uniflora) in its natural habitat as well as South Africa's national flower, the king protea (Protea cynaroides). Note: please do not feed the baboons!
We move on to Elgin
, where we will visit a private garden
and enjoy some refreshments. Following this we continue to Stellenbosch and our accommodation for the final three nights of the tour at the Stellenbosch Hotel. Evening at leisure.Day 13
After breakfast we depart for a visit to the Vergelegen Wine Estate
and a tour through the garden. Vergelegen (meaning ‘situated far away’) has been a gardener’s paradise from the time the land was first tamed by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700, since when has passed through a succession of owners. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited during their tour of 1947 and were said to be “overcome by Vergelegen’s loveliness”. The gardens were restored in 1987 and now feature a White Garden, a Rose Garden and the magnificent Octagonal Garden, which has views to the house along 400m of twin herbaceous borders. Along with summer flowering perennials, annuals such as cleome and nicotiana are planted in September.
In the afternoon we visit the Helderberg Nature Reserve
, where we will have the chance to have a final look at some of South Africa’s diverse flora in the mountain fynbos. We will return to our hotel where the evening is at leisure. Day 14
Following breakfast we leave for a visit to Old Nectar
gardens in Jonkershoek. Set among the magnificent sandstone mountains ranges of the Jonkershoek valley, the Old Nectar gardens are the creation of Una van der Spuy, the doyen of South African gardening, who developed these gardens during the 71 years that Old Nectar was her home; from 1941 to her death in 2012, aged 100. The gardens, which are set among 200-year oak trees extending over two hectares, comprise a collection of individual garden areas, each with its own character.
We move on to Babylonstoren
, one of the best preserved werfs (farm yards) in the Cape Dutch tradition, comprising not only the manor house from 1777, but pioneer structures all the way back to the founding of the farm in 1690. The Koornhuis (for storing wheat and hay) and the old cellar are exceptional. An ornate fowl house, pigeon loft, leaning bell tower and historic gates embellish a traditional courtyard surrounded by a low, whitewashed wall. A fruit and vegetable garden of botanical diversity supplies a remarkable restaurant.
In the afternoon we will transfer to Cape Town for some shopping time at the V&A Waterfront, before returning to our hotel in Stellenbosch, where the evening is free. Day 15
After breakfast we check out of the hotel but we have time for a final visit as we call in at the Arderne Garden in Cape Town. With its shady glades, romantic nooks and Japanese-style ponds, The Arderne Garden
has, for generations, been a place for Capetonians to bring their children, take much cherished wedding photographs and relax away from the hubbub of city life. The garden, thanks to the extraordinary interest and commitment of its founders, also has one of the most diverse and valuable collections of exotic trees in all of South Africa. It now officially includes one of the largest trees in South Africa, the vast Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) and quite possibly the largest Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis) in the world. These trees, along with four others, were proudly designated Champion Trees in 2008.
Later in the afternoon we transfer to Cape Town Airport for our flight back to London.
This morning we arrive back into London Heathrow where the group will disperse. (Once again regional flight connections can be arranged on request).As our programme is very full and varied please note that if there is ever a day you would prefer to relax at the hotel and make your own arrangements, please simply advise your guide the night before.