Botanical Tour of South Africa
The Cape Floral Region in South Africa hosts one the smallest and the most unique floral kingdoms in the world. It is one of the county’s eight World Heritage sites, is a biodiversity hotspot, and contains one of the largest concentrations of non-tropical plants in the world. Many species are endemic to this region. The area is known for its Fynbos (Afrikaans for “Fine Bush”), which is the community of plants that includes the Proteas and many hundreds of species of Ericas, Restios and succulents. In addition, seven of the eight biomes of southern Africa converge in this region.
This November, Liza Lightfoot will be leading a small ecology-minded group to see the area and experience the plants, birds, wildlife and geology of the Eastern and Western Cape Province. The trip will last 21 days and will incorporate visits to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, a wine farm in Franschhoek and a short stay at a luxury Game Lodge. The tour will include talks by experts of the area as well as visits to private gardens and nature reserves of specific interest. For more information about the trip, please contact Liza at 608 209-3398. Please note there are only 12 spots available.
ITINERARY – 21 days in South Africa
· The Tour begins in Johannesburg where you will spend two days relaxing and recuperating from the long flight. We will visit The Wilds a beautiful indigenous garden that was opened in 1938, and the Oppenheimer’s Brenthurst 45-acre private garden. Options here include a Bus Tour around Johannesburg with stops at tourist highlights such as Soweto, The Apartheid Museum, The Origins Center Museum and down town Johannesburg.
· Next we will take a short flight to East London in the Eastern Cape to stay at a holiday residence on the Khala Moya Nature Reserve by the Indian Ocean. Tours here will include a beach walk to find out about the ancient geological events that formed the landscapes we will be visiting on the trip. We will tour a Cycad nursery, as well as an indigenous bulb nursery. Our stay will culminate with a private tour of a stunning coastal succulent garden.
· A trip to South Africa would not be complete without a few nights at a private Game Lodge where we will be treated to two game drives a day, with nighttime stories around the camp fire told by expert rangers who have lots to share. The thrill of finding a pride of lions is something to remember! No promises here, but you are guaranteed to see exciting wild life.
· We will follow the world-renowned “Garden Route” through ancient evergreen Yellowwood Forests, stunning views of waterfalls and deep gorges with the beautiful Fynbos vegetation that is the dominant plant community of the Cape Floral Region.
· The next three nights will be spent in scenic Knysna, a small coastal town, where we will take a guided walk through a private nature reserve to visit sea caves, followed by a short ferry ride across the lagoon to a scenic lunch spot.
· From Knysna we will drive inland over the Outeniqua Mountains with fantastic examples of Fynbos and spectacular views to the sea in the distance. Within minutes of driving over the pass, the landscape transforms into the succulent Karoo desert. We will stop in the town of Oudtshoorn for lunch before driving over the Swartberg Pass to the little hamlet of Prince Albert. Regular stops along the way are a must, for the views, the stillness, the landscape and of course the vast diversity of plants.
· After a couple of nights in Prince Albert, we will make our way towards scenic Franschhoek and Stellenbosch where we will visit the world-renowned wine farm and gardens of Babylonstoren.
· The city of Cape Town has been described as one of the most beautiful in the world. On a clear day, a trip to the top of Table Mountain is a spectacular experience. Looking over the Cape Peninsula to the south, you will see the Atlantic and Indian Oceans converge. We will visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden with its vast collection of indigenous plants and take an elevated tree walk on the “Boomslang” or tree snake – an elegant walkway that was engineered and designed to mimic a snake in the trees.
· A day trip around the peninsula is included with a stop at Cape Point Nature Reserve, home to many Protea species and fynbos. We will also visit the Good Hope Gardens Indigenous Nursery for a guided fynbos walk with the owner, Gael Gray.
As there is much to see in Cape Town, you may wish to stay on after the trip to see the tourist sites.
From Cape Town, there is a short flight back to Johannesburg where you can catch your plane back to the US.