Gardens and Wildflowers of South Africa's Western Cape (RHS Package)

16 Days

From £4395pp

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  • Visit the annual Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show, a celebration of hundreds of wildflower species, including some only found in South Africa
  • Treat your tastebuds to wines of the Western Cape, one of the New World's most beloved regions, in a series of tastings
  • Go in search of some gentle giants on a boat trip intercepting the migratory route of the Southern Right whale

South Africa is world-renowned for its stunning scenery, cultural diversity, rich variety of wildlife and, in particular, its indigenous flora. Our tour is at a time when the wildflowers should be putting on a dazzling spring display and we will also enjoy a mixture of famous and private gardens, estates and vineyards.

Almost as soon as you touch down in South Africa, your senses are captivated by intoxicating sights. Travelling by cable car up Table Mountain our eyes are immediately treated to a variety of flora encompassing over 1470 species. Further delights await at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens — one of the world’s best gardens. 

Our tour around the Western Cape finds us travelling north to the small town of Clanwilliam, to visit the annual Flower Show. Returning to nature itself, we also enjoy guided tours of the wildflower lands: Cederberg, Niewoudtville and the Biedouw Valley. 

Continuing to the lesser known West Coast National Park, we are treated to sightings of wildflowers and wild birds amidst stunning scenery; whilst our palates are enchanted by delicious wine tastings. All that is good about the Western Cape is waiting to be enjoyed. Our tour finishes on a high with a string of wonderful gardens around the Stellenbosch area. 

This new take on our South African adventure is all about flowers! Explore a world-renowned region of stunning scenery, cultural diversity, rich wildlife and indigenous flora. 

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Day 1

We fly from London overnight to Cape Town.

Day 2

On arrival in Cape Town we take an orientation tour of the city and a visit to the Old Company Garden. 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.

We transfer to the four-star Cape Town Hollow Hotel, to relax before a welcome drink followed by dinner in the evening.

Day 3

Following breakfast, we 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

We explore the many trails on top of Table Mountain. The indigenous flora of the mountain encompasses some 1470 species, including many different species of Erica and Iris. We travel via the fishing village of Hout Bay and the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive via Noordhoek 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.

Following our visit here we return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.

Day 5

We travel to Clanwilliam. We 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. Certain species in the district are found nowhere else in the world. About 400 species from 32 families are exhibited at each show. We 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 spend the day looking at wildflowers in the Cederberg area, which is renowned for its bizarre rock formations. The mountain fynbos comprises three elements: resteos, proteas and heaths. Widdingtonia cedarbergensis is restricted to this area. We also visit Niewoudtville and the beautiful Biedouw Valley, world-renowned for its floral displays. Local farmers restrict their herds from grazing in the valley during the flower season to assist this glory. Yellow-and-white nemesias nestle alongside blue heliophilas, gazanias, mauve senecios and an array of succulent vygies are enough to take your breath away.

Dinner is served back at our hotel in Clanwilliam.

Day 7

Following breakfast we 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. Expect a good display of flowers, including Iridaceae and Hyacinthaceae bulbous plants. We continue to Darling, where we see more wildflowers, including rare species unique to this area. Botanising in the wild can be thirsty work so we have arranged a visit to the Ormonde Winery, to sample some of the wines produced on the rich regional soils.

We stay in Buffelsfontein tonight, where dinner is included this evening.

Day 8

We spend 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 travel 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 also have an opportunity to taste some of the locally-produced wines. 

Our base for the next two nights is the Cumberland Hotel.

Day 9

After a leisurely breakfast, we visit the Karoo National Botanical Gardens in Worcester. The gardens contain 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.

Enjoy your evening at leisure.

Day 10

After breakfast, 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 set off 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 protects coastal and mountain fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest. 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.

Enjoy an evening at leisure in Hermanus.

Day 12

We check out of the hotel and drive to Betty’s Bay, to 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. We move on to Elgin, where we visit a private garden and enjoy some refreshments.

Enjoy an evening at leisure.

Day 13

After breakfast, we depart for the Vergelegen Wine Estate and tour 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. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited during their tour of 1947 and were said to be “overcome by Vergelegen’s loveliness”. In the afternoon we visit the Helderberg Nature Reserve, where we have the chance to have a final look at some of South Africa’s diverse flora in the mountain fynbos. 

We return to our hotel where the evening is at leisure.

Day 14

Following breakfast, we lvisit Old Nectar gardens in Jonkershoek. 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.

In the afternoon we 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

We check out of the hotel but have time for a final visit at the Arderne Garden in Cape Town. The garden, thanks to the extraordinary interest and commitment of its founders, 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.

This afternoon, we transfer to Cape Town Airport for our flight back to London.

Day 16

We arrive back in London where the group will disperse.

What's Included

  • 13 nights in comfortable 3* hotels on a bed and breakfast basis
  • Visits to Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, Klein Optenhorst, and Karoo Botanic Gardens
  • Wine tastings, wildflower botanising, and a whale-watching boat trip
  • Services of a professional tour manager

Supplements per person

  • Single supplement: £520.00
  • Insurance: on request
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Departures

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Departure points and times

Depart Return
London
(Heathrow Airport)
2130 0635