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Gardens and Wildflowers of South Africa - Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

12 Nightsfrom £4995.00 pp

Explore a world-renowned region of stunning scenery, cultural diversity, rich wildlife and indigenous flora.

Tour Overview

Almost as soon as you touch down in South Africa, your senses are captivated.  Travelling by cable car up Table Mountain our eyes are immediately treated to a variety of flora encompassing over 1,470 species. Further delights await at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – one of the world’s best gardens. Our tour around the Cape finds us visiting Boulders Beach to see the resident Jackass Penguins, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, a priceless wilderness of conserved flora and fauna; wildflowers will carpet the landscape.  More displays of the natural flora will amaze as we tour the lesser known West Coast National Park and gaze at the azure waters.  We stay two nights at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge and enjoy a morning game drive, other activities include a visit to the Vondeling Wine Farm, Karoo National Botanical Gardens, Fernkloof Nature Reserve and Harold Porter Botanic Garden. Our final visit is to the Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden.
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Tour Itinerary Back to top of page

Tuesday 12 September 2017
We depart from Edinburgh for our regional flight to London Heathrow where we join our scheduled overnight flight to Cape Town.

Wednesday 13 September 2017
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 lantern donated by the Japanese Ambassador in 1932.

Later we will transfer to our accommodation for the next four nights at the four-star Cape Town Hollow Hotel, ideally situated opposite the Old Company Garden.

We will have some free time to relax in our accommodation before we enjoy a welcome drink, followed by dinner in the evening.

Thursday 14 September 2017
Today, 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.
In the afternoon 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 return to our hotel where the evening and dinner is at our own leisure.

Friday 15 September 2017
Today, following breakfast, we enjoy a full day tour of the Cape Peninsula, including a visit to Boulders Beach to see a colony of endangered Jackass Penguins, so called because their call resembles the bray of a donkey. Almost 3000 birds live here, free to roam the fish-filled seas before returning to their private haven. We continue to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Here in this priceless wilderness area indigenous fauna and flora are conserved 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.

We will also drive along the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive before we return to the hotel, where the evening and dinner is once again at our own leisure.
Saturday 16 September 2017
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 Buffelsfontein and check-in to our accommodation for the next two nights at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge. Dinner is included this evening.

Sunday 17 September 2017
After breakfast we will have a morning game drive, when we can hope to see Buffalo, Lion, White Rhino, Hippopotamus and Giraffe, followed by a visit to the Tinine Versfeld Wildflower Reserve, which due to a mix of different veld types - Sandveld, Strandveld, Renosterveld and Rietveld - produces an incredible array of, particularly, bulbous plants, rich in diversity and range of size and colour.

In the afternoon we will have some free time in Darling before we return to our hotel, where dinner is included once again.

Monday 18 September 2017
Following breakfast we check out and depart for a visit to the Vondeling Wine Farm. The land here on the slopes of the Paardeberg mountain was granted to Swedish immigrant Oloff Bergh in 1704, and a three-centuries-old winemaking tradition began. Here we will enjoy a walk and a talk on the rare species of fynbos that are endemic to Paardeberg – Vondeling’s flagships wines, Babiana and Erica, are named after two of them.

We continue to Worcester for our stay at the Cumberland Hotel for the next two nights.

The evening and dinner is at our own leisure tonight.

Tuesday 19 September 2017
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.

Dinner is by own arrangement this evening.

Wednesday 20 September 2017
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.

Accommodation has been arranged for the next two nights at the Windsor Hotel in Hermanus.

Dinner is once again by own arrangement this evening.

Thursday 21 September 2017
Following breakfast 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. During our walk, 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.

The evening and dinner is at our own leisure.

Friday 22 September 2017
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 then 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 next three nights at the Stellenbosch Hotel. Dinner is by own arrangement this evening.

Saturday 23 September 2017
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, where we will have lunch (not included).

In the afternoon we return to our hotel in Stellenbosch, where the evening and dinner is at leisure.

Sunday 24 September 2017
After breakfast we depart for a visit to the Vergelegen Wine Estate. 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 we will enjoy a farewell dinner.

Monday 25 September 2017
Sadly our time in South Africa is nearing an end and following breakfast we check out of the hotel and depart for our final visit to the Stellenbosch University Botanical Gardens which feature redwoods, macadamias, a cross section of exotic and indigenous plants and South African Pelargoniums.

After an opportunity for some last minute shopping, we transfer to Cape Town Airport for our overnight flight back to London Heathrow.

Tuesday 26 September 2017
This morning we arrive back in the UK where we will await our connecting flight back to Edinburgh, where the group will disperse.

What's Included Back to top of page

  • 12 nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis: three nights at the Cape Town Hollow Hotel, two nights at the Buffelsdrift Game Lodge, two nights at the Cumberland Hotel, two nights at the Windsor Hotel and three nights at the Stellenbosch Hotel (or similar hotels)
  • Dinner and welcome drink on the first evening, farewell dinner and drink on the final evening and four additional dinners
  • Scheduled flights:- Edinburgh/London Heathrow/Cape Town/London Heathrow/ Edinburgh
  • Comfortable coaching throughout South Africa
  • Visits to the Old Company Garden, Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, West Coast National Park, Tinine Versfeld Wildflower Reserve, Vondeling Wine Farm, Karoo Botanic Gardens, the Charitable Flower Project, Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Harold Porter Botanic Garden, a private garden in Elgin, Old Nectar Gardens, Babylonstoren Gardens, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Helderberg Nature Reserve and Stellenbosch University Botanical Gardens
  • Services of Richard Baines as professional Tour Manager
  • Services of local guides throughout

Supplements Per Person Back to top of page

  • Single room £540.00
  • Insurance On request

Departure Points Back to top of page

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