Babylonstoren Garden
Babylonstoren Garden
NEW FOR 2020 £299 deposit

South Africa’s Garden Route

Making a long-overdue return to our itinerary, South Africa’s Garden Route winds its way for some 200km between richly forested mountains and a crinkle-cut coastline dotted with beautiful beaches and empty bays. Vividly coloured wildflowers delight the eye at every turn and progress tends to be leisurely, as one stunning photo opportunity after another presents itself.

Also returning from the wilderness to grace our tour are the Drakensberg Mountains, where we do some gentle botanizing and offer the chance to visit neighbouring Lesotho. We also visit Pietermaritzburg, known as the City of Flowers, and delightful Durban, home to some splendid gardens.

Of course, we could not visit South Africa without spending some time in the Cape, where we enjoy crisp white wines, discover rare botanical treasures at the gardens of Kirstenbosch and Stellenbosch and potter among the proteas on Table Mountain.

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 Tour Manager

Our tour will be led throughout by one of our most popular guides, the horticulturalist and former curator of RHS Wisley Colin Crosbie, whose knowledge, expertise and good humour will bring an added dimension to this holiday.

Today's Price

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of £299, was £400.

Single supplement: £650

Tour highlights:

  • Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Masses of wildflowers along the Garden Route
  • Whale watching at Hermanus
  • Botanising in the Drakensberg Mountains
  • Optional day trip into the independent kingdom of Lesotho

Tour details

Dates 22 September 2020 - 6 October 2020
Duration 15 days
Today's Price

Benefit from this limited time offer:

  • Pay a low deposit of £299, was £400.
Single supplement: £650 Balance due by 30 June 2020
Activity Level
Tour code BSAG200922

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

22 September 2020: 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 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.

We continue to our accommodation for the next three nights at the four-star Premier Hotel Cape Town. There will be some free time to relax before a welcome dinner in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Premier Hotel, Cape Town

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. A guided tour is included here.

Following our visit here we return to the hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Premier Hotel, Cape Town

After breakfast we depart for a visit 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 visit 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.

We return to our hotel in Cape Town, where the evening is free.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Premier Hotel, Cape Town

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and 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.

We continue to the Windsor Hotel in Hermanus, a lovely little town which forms the centre of the Whale Route, where the evening is free.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Windsor Hotel Hermanus

Following breakfast we offer the option of joining 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.

We return to our hotel in Windsor where we have the evening at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Windsor Hotel Hermanus

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and set out on the Garden Route, driving over Shaw’s Pass to Caledon and on to Swellendam, Riverdale and finally Mossel Bay, where we visit the Dias Complex Museum. Named after the master marnier who was the first explorer to set foot on South African soil here in 1488, the museum dates back to the 1960s and comprises a number of exhibits. The Granary Museum features a live specimen table with examples of plants and flowers found in the Mossel Bay area; the Post Tree is where seamen used to leave messages in an iron pot by the tree; the Munrohoek Cottages date from around 1830 and there is a botanical garden.

We continue to the seaside town of Wilderness, our base for the next two nights. Evening at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: The Wilderness Hotel, Wilderness

Following breakfast we set out for a full day walking tour with a local guide in the Wilderness National Park, which protects three major zones of indigenous forest, four types of fynbos (wild shrubs) plus various lakes and waterways. The wildlife is varied, and includes the Knysna seahorse, pansy shell, pied kingfisher, Knysna lourie, grey heron, and little egret.

Evening at leisure in Wilderness.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: The Wilderness Hotel, Wilderness

Checking out of the hotel after breakfast, we continue along the Garden Route via Knysna, where we will see the cliffs either side of a notoriously dangerous sea channel, and the harbour town of Plettenberg Bay to the Tsitsikamma National Park, whose name comes from the Khoeke (formerly Hottentot) language meaning ‘clear water’. Here, for those brave enough, we will take a walk over the famous suspension bridge which hangs just seven metres above the churning waters of the Storm River as it enters the foamy Indian Ocean. The pathway leading to the suspension bridge covers 900 metres of the indigenous Tsitsikamma forest. There are plenty of steps to negotiate, but it remains a fairly easy route, particularly if covered slowly and is well worth the magnificent views. Birds accompany walkers along the way and there are a number of lookout point and places to have a seat and rest, while enjoying the vistas of the turquoise ocean.

We continue to Port Elizabeth, one of several places around the world to share the soubriquet of ‘The Windy City’, where overnight accommodation has been arranged.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: The Kelway Hotel, Port Elizabeth

After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to Port Eilzabeth airport for our morning flight to Durban. On arrival we will be met by a coach and transfer to the Southern Drakensberg, where our accommodation has been organised for the next three nights at the 3-star Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Leisure Resort, set on a scenic 860-acre estate near Underberg, with breathtaking views.  Dinner is included each night. All rooms at the hotel have full private facilities and within the grounds there are extensive leisure facilities including a swimming pool and a spa centre.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort

Following breakfast we will have a leisurely botanical walk within the immediate vicinity of the hotel giving an introduction to the native flora.  The dramatic terrain of the Drakensberg range has made it one of South Africa’s prime mountaineering areas, however, you do not need to be a seasoned climber to get the best out of the area. The scenery surrounding the hotel is outstanding with beautiful indigenous trees and plants, including varieties of protea and ancient tree ferns. Dinner will be served at the hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort

Today you have the option of relaxing in the hotel our joining our optional full day excursion to the nearby independent kingdom of Lesotho, travelling in 4x4 vehicles on the spectacular mountain road that runs through the Sani Pass. Originally developed as a bridle path in 1913, the pass served as an important link between the Underberg district and the remote settlement of Mokhotlong and it remains the only border crossing with Kwa-Zulu Natal. The first motor vehicle negotiated the path in 1948 since when it has become a highlight of the Southern Drakensberg. The superb scenery is one of soaring mountain peaks (over 3000m), interspersed with verdant valleys. The tour will reveal the history of the pass, the geology of the mountains, the natural history and a unique experience with the Basotho people - a glimpse into traditional Africa. A cold beer and lunch at the highest pub in Africa is included before the descent back to Underberg.

Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort

We leave Drakensberg today and begin our journey back to Durban, which we will break with a visit to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Botanical Garden in Pietermaritzburg, known as the City of Flowers. The gardens were established in the early 1870s and essentially focus on conservation and propagation of rare and endangered indigenous plants, and the cultivation of east coast grasslands. There are some fantastic examples of northern hemisphere plants too, such as tulip and camphor trees, giant figs, magnolias and swamp cypresses. The birdlife, as a result, is magnificent with over 150 recorded species. The garden is also famed for its long avenue of plane trees, planted in 1908, at the end of which is a bell tower that houses a ship bell from the HMS Princess on which King George V crossed the channel in 1918. There is also a garden of indigenous medicinal plants, displayed around a traditional Zulu hut.

We continue to our hotel in Durban, our base for the final two nights of our tour. Evening at leisure.

Meals include: Breakfast

Hotel: Garden Court Marine Parade, Durban

Enjoy your breakfast. We have three gardens on the menu today, beginning with the Japanese Gardens in Durban. Bamboo, reeds and Japanese blossoms provide tranquility with an authentic Eastern feel, while the garden breeze carries pretty scents from blooms that change colours throughout the seasons. Traditional ponds are home to Japanese Koi Carp who bring luck to the water features and keep the wide variety of water lilies company; clipped hedges provide visual depth mimicking the rolling Japanese hills and arched bridges hold steps of contemplation that arc across the streams where water birds and weavers play amongst Japanese frog statues.

We continue to Makaranga Garden Lodge, a luxury hotel just outside Durban with a private botanic garden which we will tour. Throughout the garden there is an impressive variety of both indigenous and exotic trees, including many rare species of Orchid, Camellia and Rhododendron. There are 18 ponds, including the Venus Pond and Long Pond, the latter being the largest waterway in Makaranga, and many beautiful statues in stone, bronze and marble, which have been imported from Italy and Zimbabwe. These graceful statues keep a watchful eye over the "Blue Pond", so named because of the bias towards different shades of blue and purple plant material.  The authentic Japanese Garden boasts original bridges, walkways, stone lanterns and hand carved figures, all imported from Japan and set out according to ancient traditions. The ponds create a sense of stillness and calm, while the exquisite water lilies proudly display their pinks and purples. Following our tour we will enjoy lunch here.

In the afternoon we depart for a guided tour of Durban’s splendid Botanical Gardens. Laid out on slopes, high enough to catch cool breezes, its beautiful collection of palms, trees, orchids and water lilies are superbly displayed. The gardens are world famous for the original specimens of Encephalartos woodii, a cycad that is still acknowledged as probably the rarest plant in the world, as well as for its comprehensive collection of other Southern African cycad species. The orchid house is named after Ernest Thorp, who built it up to its position of world fame as the first "naturalistic" display house.

We return to our hotel this evening where no doubt you will want to gather with new-found friends over a glass of something cold and look back over the amazing sights, sounds and smells we have enjoyed here in South Africa.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Garden Court Marine Parade, Durban

This morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we check out and transfer to Durban King Shaka Airport in time to check in for our direct flight back to London Heathrow where the group will disperse. (Once again regional flight connections can be arranged on request).

Meals include: Breakfast

22 September 2020: Additional Info

22 September 2020: Accommodation

Situated in Cape Town’s suburb of Sea Point, Premier Hotel Cape Town offers 130 modern rooms.The hotel is a stone's throw away from the Sea Point promenade and Atlantic Ocean and features an outdoor pool and garden.

Premier Hotel has stylish guest rooms, with wooden furniture and modern bathrooms. All rooms offer a range of amenities including a coffee maker, and a satellite TV. Most of the rooms have views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill or the Atlantic Ocean.

The hotel’s Promenade Restaurant is open daily and serves a range of international dishes, complimented with South African wines. Guests can have light snacks or a coffee, at the hotel’s terrace, while enjoying the view.

The Premier Hotel Cape Town is within easy reach of all major tourist attractions including the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain. The beautiful beaches of Camps Bay and Clifton are within 10 minutes' drive.

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. 

Ideal for guests travelling the Garden Route, this hotel is situated in the town of Wilderness and impresses with its quiet location and friendly service.

Set halfway between George and Knysna, Wilderness Resort Hotel offers countless facilities. Start the day with a swim in the outdoor pool. After a day of relaxing on the beach you can play a game of outdoor chess or miniature golf.

The wellness centre offers various spa treatments. Have a sundowner on the balcony overlooking the lagoon. The restaurant serves a delicious buffet breakfast as well as dinners, ensuring you a hassle-free stay at the Wilderness Resort Hotel

Offering views of Nelson Mandela Bay and its cliffs, this 4-star hotel features spacious rooms and a plunge pool. The hotel is located opposite Bayworld Oceanarium and offers free parking.

Including views of the Atlantic Ocean or cliffs, all modern rooms at The Kelway are furnished in dark wood. The rooms include coffee/tea facilities,satellite TV and air conditioning.

Decorated with hand-crafted tables, Kelway's Farranger restaurant serves fusion cuisine and overlooks Algoa Bay. Guests may be lucky and spot dolphins or whales on the adjoining sun deck.

Guests can enjoy South African wine in the bar, decorated in a steam-train theme. It has a 10 yards glass wall that offers panoramic views of the bay.

Located in Southern Drakensberg, this resort offers spacious accommodation, an outdoor pool with scenic mountain views and a well-equipped fitness centre. Relaxation facilities include a hot tub and sauna.

Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort has spacious rooms set in a contemporary décor. Each room has an en suite bathroom, a TV and tea/coffee facilities.

Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort features a luxury wellness centre which include a hydrotherapy bath and two hot tubs on the wooden deck.

Ideally positioned on Durban’s beautiful Golden Mile, the Garden Court Marine Parade is the preferred Durban hotel for visitors to KwaZulu-Natal’s most popular coastal city. The warm sub-tropical climate makes business and leisure travel a pleasure all-year round and guests can enjoy a combination of comfort, quality service and affordable rates at our Durban hotel. 

Newly refurbished, Garden Court Marine Parade offers 352 spacious and comfortably appointed sea-facing rooms, The hotel has 105 Standard Rooms with king size beds and 247 Standard Rooms. Fresh, contemporary styling induces a sense of relaxation.  

A host of amenities are on offer, including free WiFi, air conditioning and TV with selected DStv channels, among others. The hotel offers flexible conference facilities and events spaces that can host up to 350 people. For those in search of entertainment and adventure, Suncoast Casino and Entertainment Centre and the Suncoast Spa are easily accessible.

22 September 2020: Enquiries

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