The Cape – natural history of the Cape Floral Kingdom
The Cape Floral Kingdom is a wildlife wonder and one of our most popular destinations.
The Cape Floral Kingdom is a wildlife wonder. This tiny, yet unique plant kingdom, situated in the mountains of the southernmost tip of Africa, boasts spectacularly high numbers of plant species: about 8,600 in an area roughly the size of Scotland, two thirds of which grow nowhere else.
In addition, the adjacent Succulent Karoo is the world’s richest area for succulents, and the clay soils that form the common border of these two regions hold the greatest concentration of bulbous species in the world. We’ll explore all of these areas in spring, the peak time for flowering.
Although the plants are the main attraction, we will also enjoy the rich wildlife of the area: penguins on the coast, Zebra and Bontebok at Cape Point, iridescent sunbirds and endemic sugarbirds in the fynbos, and stately Blue Cranes and bustards on the plains. Finally, along the southern coast, we will look for the Southern Right Whales that bask along its shore – a sighting of these magnificent creatures is one of the many highlights of this tour.
You can easily extend this tour to see more of Cape Town with its dramatic Table Mountain, or perhaps to venture out cage diving with Great White Sharks! It would be possible to fly out before the group or to stay on after.
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Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.
22 August – 4 September 2018
Charlie Rugeroni with local guides
Single Room Supplement – £350
Return flights from London Heathrow to Cape Town. Local transport on excursions as specified in the itinerary. Twelve nights’ accommodation, full board basis. Entry fees (National Parks and Botanic Gardens).
Refreshments. Gratuities. Travel insurance.
The spectacular flora of the Cape, with the highest biodiversity in the world and a stunning range of plants from the famous proteas of the fynbos shrublands to the ‘stone’ plants of the deserts and some of the most attractive bulbs and annuals, familiar to our gardens
Day 1 – Overnight flights take us from London to Cape Town, arriving the following morning.
Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula
Day 2 – We visit the famous Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens, where we will have time to explore the wide collection of plants from across the country, which provides a perfect introduction to our itinerary and the flora of the region.
Day 3 – We will explore the Cape Point Nature Reserve, where in addition to plants we’ll look for the endemic mammals and seabirds. Our day includes a visit to the nearby Standfontein nature reserve in the afternoon.
West Coast and Darling Hills
Day 4 – We visit the shales in the Darling area to discover its profusion of bulbs, s, a number of which are endemic.
Day 5 – We explore the West Coast, which holds a completely different flora, from flashy displays of daisies on the coastal sands to the endemic-rich granites of the West Coast National Park. The Park is centred around the Langebaan Lagoon; a globally important site for shorebirds, and overhead we may catch sight of Black Harrier, one of the world’s rarest birds of prey.
The edge of Namaqualand – Clanwilliam, Vanrhynsdorp and Nieuwoudtville
Days 6 – 8 – Moving further north, we will explore the southern edge of Namaqualand, where the Cape Mountains give way to the valleys and plains of the arid Karoo, and the landscape is dominated by small succulent bushes, prone to bursting into pink flower at this time of year. There are a variety of sites in this area that differ between years and we will visit the ones that are at their best.
Days 9 – 10 – We head for De Hoop Nature Reserve with its unique limestone fynbos. Southern Right Whales winter off the coast in good numbers, and the reserve holds good numbers of mammals and a large wetland, which is excellent for waterbirds.
Hermanus to Betty’s Bay
Day 11 – We drive via the Agulhas Plains and the plains of the Overberg to Hermanus and Walker Bay, seeking out patches of renosterveld vegetation that survive along the roadsides.
Day 12 – We head for Betty’s Bay where we will visit the African Penguin colony at Stony Point, before visiting the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
Day 13 – This morning we will visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve for more more wonderful wild flowers, before lunch on the sea front and our return to Cape Town to board our evening flights.
Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders.
We will stay at charming local guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, and lodges. All rooms have hot water and private facilities, with the possible exception of one of the smaller places, where you might, but not always, have to share a bathroom with other members of the tour.
Meals are a mixture of local and international cuisine: special diets can be catered for.
Transport will be in minibuses or similar.
The group flights are with British Airways from London Heathrow.
22 August depart London Heathrow 21.30, arrive Cape Town 10.00 (23 August)
3 September depart Cape Town 19.30, arrive London Heathrow 06.30 (4 September)
South Africa is one hour ahead of UK time in August.
It is also possible to fly from Manchester, connecting in London: please talk to us about the options.
If you hold a UK passport, you must have a passport valid for at least 30 days after the end of the holiday, with at least two blank pages. For visits of up to 90 days you do not currently need a visa to travel to South Africa. If you do not have a UK passport it is essential that you check with the South African embassy or consulate and obtain the necessary documents prior to travel.
This is early spring in South Africa, with average daily temperatures around 10°-20° C. It can feel chilly, especially at night and on the coast, where it may also be windy and we might expect some rain. On the other hand, on some days it will likely get to 25° or a little higher during the hottest part of the day.
You should consult your GP for advice on malaria prophylaxis and all other travel health advice at least eight weeks before travelling. We do not visit any areas where there is risk of Malaria, but the ‘standard’ travel vaccinations to consider are tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, rabies and cholera.
No strenuous walking is involved but you need to have a reasonable level of general fitness to be able to participate in the holiday. The tour visits several locations and travelling in the tropics can be tiring if you are not used to it. However, the trip is designed to be relatively comfortable so please discuss any concerns with us.