Babylonstoren Garden
Babylonstoren Garden

Gardens and Wildflowers of South Africa's Western Cape

16 days From £4,295

23 August 2019

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.

Fly from London to Cape Town where we will be based for the first three nights. Here we will enjoy a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, whose flora encompasses some 1470 species including South Africa’s national flower, the Protea, and visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, truly one of the world’s top gardens, where we will have an exclusive guided tour. We continue with a visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where we should see an array of wildflowers. We then begin our tour around the Western Cape by travelling north to the small town of Clanwilliam, where we see multitudes of wildflowers at the Ramskop Nature Reserve.

Our journey continues through the lesser known West Coast National Park and the small town of Darling. Wildflowers, wild birds, stunning scenery and wine tastings – all that is good about the Western Cape is there to be enjoyed. At Karoo National Botanical Gardens we will enjoy its wide variety of desert and semi-desert plants along with its large succulent collection. We will then wind our way at a relaxing pace via a most interesting charitable project at Flower Valley and thence to Hermanus and the coast once more. Here we hope to be in perfect time to see the spectacle of the Southern Right Whale migration. Our tour finishes on a high with a string of wonderful gardens around the Stellenbosch area including the Harold Porter Botanical Garden, Vergelegen, Helderberg, and Babylonstoren.

Our tour is led throughout by Colin Crosbie, former curator at RHS Wisley Garden, whose knowledge and enthusiasm will add greatly to our enjoyment.

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary

Led by...

Colin Crosbie

Colin Crosbie

Former curator of RHS Garden Wisley and one of our most popular guides, Colin has led tours to a wide variety of destinations. He is particularly looking forward to identifying the vast range of plants to be found on this tour!

Book Now £4,295 Deposit: £429.50 Single supplement: £650

Tour highlights:

  • Views from the top of Table Mountain
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Masses of wildflowers in the Western Cape
  • Whale watching at Hermanus

Tour details

Dates 23 August 2019 - 7 September 2019
Duration 16 days
Cost £4,295 Deposit: £429.50 Single supplement: £650 Balance due by 31 May 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWGWS19A

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

23 August 2019: Itinerary

Depart on an overnight flight from London Heathrow to Cape Town International Airport. 

On arrival in Cape Town we will be met by our comfortable coach and transfer to our hotel, with an orientation tour en-route so we get to know the surrounding area. On arrival at the hotel we shall have lunch before we walk 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.

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 dinner in the evening.

Meals include: Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel

Today, following an early 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 will then 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.

All meals included

Hotel: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel

This morning, following breakfast, we shall have a full day exploring the Cape Peninsula visiting the penguins of Boulders Beach. We shall travel through Chapmans Peak (if it is open) and the coastal road of Hout Bay, Clifton and Camps Bay. We shall visit Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. 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.

All meals included

Hotel: Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel

This morning following breakfast, we check out of the hotel and take the road to Clanwilliam, about 200km to the north of Cape Town, where we should arrive by lunchtime, with the afternoon at leisure. Our base for the next two nights is the Piekenierskloof Resort.

All meals included

Hotel: Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort

After breakfast, we drive into the village of Clanwilliam where we will enjoy an interesting presentation on the growing of Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), South Africa’s famous indigenous tea which grows in this region.

We will also take a walk in the nearby Ramskop Nature Reserve, to view wildflowers in their natural habitat. 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); Yellow Sparaxis; pink Cyanella alba and the Protea glabra.

All meals included

Hotel: Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort

Following breakfast, we travel to the Darling region where we visit a quaint little village, stretch our legs and enjoy some lunch before spending the afternoon in 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 our overnight accommodation which has been arranged in Buffelsfontein.

All meals included

Hotel: Buffelsfontein Game Reserve

Following an early breakfast, we check out of the hotel. We then have a morning drive in the nature reserve with its flowers and free roaming antelope. We then head to Vondleling for a nature walk in the fynbos followed by a wine tasting and lunch.

We continue to our base for the next two nights, the Cumberland Hotel in Worcester.

All meals included

Hotel: Protea Hotel by Marriott Worcester Cumberland

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.

All meals included

Hotel: Protea Hotel by Marriott Worcester Cumberland

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.

All meals included

Hotel: Windsor Hotel Hermanus

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.

All meals included

Hotel: Windsor Hotel Hermanus

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. Following this we continue to Stellenbosch and our accommodation for the final three nights of the tour at the Stellenbosch Hotel.

All meals included

Hotel: The Stellenbosch Hotel

After breakfast 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 shall then visit the Vergelegen Wine Estate where we shall view their beautiful gardens. 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.

All meals included

Hotel: The Stellenbosch Hotel

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.

All meals included

Hotel: The Stellenbosch Hotel

After breakfast we check out of the hotel but we have time for a final visit at Stellenbosch Botanical Garden, the oldest university garden in South Africa, featuring an enormous variety of plants from across the globe. These include aquatic plants from the Amazon, tropical orchids, insectivorous plants from Borneo, Puya plants from Chile, Mexican cacti, members of the Proteaceae family as well as Welwitschia from the Namib desert; mesembs, euphorbias and stapeliads from the Karoo and Namaqualand, economic plants, herbs and many others. Because of spatial restrictions the garden concentrates on dwarf plants such as succulents, indigenous dwarf shrubs and pot plants.

Later in the afternoon we transfer to Cape Town Airport for our flight back to London.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning we arrive back into London Heathrow where the group will disperse. (Once again regional flight connections can be arranged on request).

Please note that the hotels listed are subject to change.

23 August 2019: Additional Info

23 August 2019: Accommodation

Overlooking the Company Gardens and Table Mountain, Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel offers an outdoor pool and air-conditioned rooms in Cape Town’s historical city centre. Free WiFi is available throughout.

The elegant en suite rooms at Hollow Boutique are equipped with a satellite TV, a direct dial telephone, tea-and-coffee making facilities, an international adapter and a safety deposit box. The bathrooms are fitted with a walk-in shower and toiletries and a hairdryer are provided. Most of the rooms have a Juliette balcony.

A full English buffet-style breakfast is served in the morning. Cape Town Hollow’s restaurant Eighty-Ate offers indoor or outdoor dining options. The cuisine ranges from light bites, comfort food through to more specialised dishes, accompanied by local wines and craft beers.

Other facilities and services offered, include a Conference and Business Lounge, laundry services, tours and airport transfers. A free shuttle to and from the V&A Waterfront is available at specific times. Parking can be arranged for a surcharge at the hotel's neighbour, approximately 50 yards away and Stop-Go is available for vehicles at the front of the hotel for dropping off luggage.

Offering an outdoor pool and heated indoor pool, Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort is located in Citrusdal within the Cederberg Mountains. It has a children's playground and games room.

The modern rooms and suites include a TV with satellite channels. Certain rooms have a seating area to relax in after a busy day. A patio or balcony are featured in certain rooms. The Two-Bedroom chalet offers a lounge and a fully equipped kitchen.

Kloof restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar.

There is a 24-hour front desk at the property and conference facilities for up to 150 guests. Free private parking is available and WiFi is offered in public areas. Massages can also be arranged.

Situated in the heart of the West Coast, an hour away from Cape Town, you’ll find Buffelsfontein Game & Nature Reserve. This 1600 ha family owned reserve is home to some of Africa’s greats such as Lion, Buffalo, White Rhino and Giraffe. Visitors can either enjoy an unforgettable guided game drive, a delicious meal, a good night’s rest or a team building/conference that will keep everyone talking for years to come.

Buffelsfontein offers different accommodation options to suite everyone. For the traveler on a budget looking for a quick getaway, we suggest the basic chalets. Those looking for a bit more luxury can consider the 4 sleeper cottage. These luxury cottages are available either on the self catering or full board packages. For the bigger groups the guest house is the perfect option. With it’s 360 degree view you might just feel lost in the bush. All our accommodation options have either been built from natural material found on the reserve or existing structures that was remodeled. Book your piece of the African sun today, revive your soul and make sure you don’t miss out on memories that will last you a lifetime.

Offering an outdoor pool and a restaurant, Protea Hotel Cumberland is located in Worcester. Each room here will provide you with air conditioning. Private bathroom also comes with a hairdryer. Extras include a safety deposit box and bed linen.

The Windsor Hotel offers panoramic views of the ocean and the opportunity to enjoy whale watching, a Western Cape highlight, from the comfort of the sea-facing rooms.

Perched on a cliff edge, Windsor is the oldest hotel in the area and blends turn-of-the-century elegance with modern comforts.

It is located in Hermanus,74.6 miles from Cape Town. The village is a popular destination all year round due to its Mediterranean climate and sandy beaches.

Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel and there is a computer available in the reception area for guests to use. 

Stellenbosch Hotel offers rooms with free WiFi and an on-site restaurant serving local specialties and South African wines. Stellenbosch University is 800 yards away.

Set in a restored building, each room features touches of colonial décor. Each room has a TV, minibar and safety deposit box. Each room has a spacious en suite bathroom.

Stellenbosch Golf Club is 3.1 miles away from Hotel Stellenbosch. Museums, art galleries and curio shops are all within safe walking distance. Free limited parking is available.

23 August 2019: Enquiries

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