The Cape floral province is rightly considered one of the wonders of the floral world, with a dazzling array of flowers, yet no tours focus on the remarkable late season flora which includes giant red amaryllids overlooking Cape Point, unique blue orchids and King Proteas on Table Mountain, fresh burns coloured with fiery heaths and blood lilies, as well as architectural Quiver Tree ‘forests’ on the edge of the Karoo. Add to this warm Mediterranean weather, beautiful landscapes and fine wines and you have an ideal break from the wintery Northern Hemisphere.
Day 1 Arrival and Lion’s Head (16 March)
Following our early afternoon arrival at Cape Town we transfer to our hotel and freshen up. In the late afternoon we’ll take an excursion tour below the familiar local landmark of the Lion’s Head, in the northern part of the Cape Town National Park (CTNP). Here we hope to find the first of our exciting autumn bulbs Amaryllis belladona. A familiar garden plant and widely planted around the city here they are truly wild and grow beneath fine stands of tree-like Leucadendron argenteum or Silver Tree. Overnight Cape Town.
Day 2 Table Mountain
Table Mountain is a constant and iconic presence above the city rising to over a thousand metres. A cableway whisks us quickly onto the top of the impressive sandstone ramparts. The mountain is swathed in extensive highland fynbos and includes such singular delights as Blue Disa, Cluster Disa and a variety of shrubs such as the spectacular Protea cynaroides. Depending on walking ability there will be the chance to explore further, the network of trails, flora and impressive viewpoints. Overnight Cape Town.
Day 3 Kirstenbosch and to Cape Point
The vast Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden extends right up onto Table Mountain and contains a superb array of native flora. The morning will be spent in the gardens where sunbirds and sugarbirds feast on the various flowering proteaceae. In the afternoon we’ll transfer south towards Cape Point stopping to admire good clumps of scarlet Erica cerinthoides, the intense red drumsticks of Haemanthus sanguineus or Kniphofia uvaria and perhaps the peculiar spotted cream stars of Orbea variegata. Overnight Cape Point.
Day 4 Cape Point
The extensive tracts of Cape Town National Park (CTNP) will occupy us today and they traverse a range of fynbos habitats and coastal areas. Scarlet Watsonia tabularis are frequent rising above a scrub with occasional Protea cynaroides, and many flowery bushes of Erica mammosa. In recently burnt areas we can find Gladiolus brevifolius, Bulbinella favosa and clumps of Haemanthus sanguineus. The spectacular coast at Cape Point has the immense Brunsvigia orientalis that explode out of the low scrub like red fireworks. If there’s time in the day we’ll explore other areas of fynbos for more showy species such as Tritoniopsis triticea. Overnight Cape Point.
Day 5 To Nieuwoudtville
A long but rewarding day will see us heading north of Cape Town, stopping along the picturesque coast for populations of Haemanthus pubescens and more immense Brunsvigia orientalis. By early afternoon we will be among the big pink amaryllid Ammocharis longifolia before climbing above the rugged landscape to a higher plateau where the bizarre ‘clocks’ of Crossyne pepper the local churchyard. Overnight Nieuwoudtville.
Day 6 Nieuwoudtville and Quiver Trees
Around the botanic garden in the town are large populations of spectacular Brunsvigia bosmaniae usually with a variety of colour forms. To the north a seasonal river plunges over waterfalls in some fine canyon country and along its course are extensive colonies of Crinum variabile with their outsize, scented white trumpets that age to deep-pink. And more colonies exist further north within sight of the incredible Quiver Tree ‘forests’ a remarkable assemblage of the architectural tree-like succulent Aloe dichotoma and a delight to wander around in the late afternoon when the sun brings out the rich colour of their textured bark. Overnight Nieuwoudtville.
Day 7 To Worcester
Turning south again we make the journey to the Cape Mountains where passes and rocky slopes have the superb scarlet of Brunsvigia marginata. Up the nearby hills is a population of Aloe plicatilis for those interested in unusual succulent flora. Overnight Worcester.
Day 8 To Hermanus via Kleinmond
After breakfast we’ll drive to via various recent fynbos burns to look for emerging bulbs such as Tritoniopsis lata, T. antholyza and Haemanthus coccineus. Along the coast there is a pleasant seaside walk with abundant Gladiolus brevifolius, the blue bells of Roella maculata and with luck a few Haemanthus canaliculatus (they only flower after burns). Another nearby spot has a variety flowers including blue Nivenia stoekei, whilst fine bushes of Phaecoma prolifera can be encountered in all sorts of places along our route. Overnight Hermanus.
Day 9 Hermanus & Cape Agulhas
The morning will be spent exploring the nearby Fernkloof nature reserve with stands of Phaenocoma prolifera, Protea speciosa, Tritoniopsis lata and a selection of Cape heaths. Nearby clifftops have the stunning Gladiolus carmineus with a wonderful coastal backdrop. In the afternoon we’ll drive to Cape Aguhlas for the large displays of Haemanthus coccineus there. Overnight Hermanus.
Days 10-11 To be confirmed
The tour will be extended by two days, to incorporate sites for Nerine sarmiensis as well as any locations subjected to recent fires. Fires can produce some amazing displays so we are waiting to see where is best!
Day 12 To Cape Town for flights
Departure for the airport and our flights home.