Vira Natura

Spring in the Cape - South Africa

13 - 29 September 2023
From $5,500.00 per person

Architectural whorls of proteas and leucospermums, mingle with a kaleidoscope of gladiolus, watsonia, pelargoniums and some wonderfully different orchids amidst the magnificent landscapes of the western Cape of South Africa, a botanical holy grail. The level of biodiversity is exceptional and it is the richest of the worlds’ five Mediterranean climate regions in terms of species per square kilometre. Spectacular coastlines give way to rugged mountains and many of the most interesting species are appearing now.

Please note: FIRE is a crucial part of the cycle of nature in fynbos, and many bush fires burn every season, encouraging many species into mass flowering and creating opportunities for us as plants people. With this in mind the itinerary is subject to late change if, depending on where fires have occurred, we deem different areas to be worth visiting rather than the ones indicated. We want you to experience the best flora we can find. Thank you for your understanding.

The Western Cape is a Mediterranean climate region and many of the images shown here feature in our lavish new book Flora of the Mediterranean (see Publications).


Day 1     Arrive Cape Town (13 September)

Arrive in Cape Town. Overnight Cape Town

Days 2-5     Nieuwoudtville


Heading up the West Coast through the sandy strandveld vegetation which holds a variety of specialist bulbs including the uniquely evolved, Babiana ringens. Three full days will be spent exploring various locations in this bulb-rich area.  


Day 6-9     Porteville, Tulbagh valley, Ceres & Darling


Another rich array of endemic awaits and we'll spend four days looking at many different sites to find crimson Babiana hirsuta among the tentacle-like branches of Euphorbia caput-medusae, the rare Ixia viridiflora. The rich renosterveld patches remaining near Porterville support a range of localised endemics including the spectacular Moraea gigandra, Moraea villosa, Geissorhiza tulbaghensis and more! The Tulbagh valley itself also harbours unique subspecies of Sparaxis grandiflora, Babiana villosa and Geissorhiza erosa which we will locate in a nearby reserve. Overnight Tulbagh.

Heading further east into the productive Ceres Valley, we head up the a nearby pass in search of a variety of terrestrial orchids including the rich pink Satyrium erectum and variable S. coriifolium, which comes in both lemon peel and tangerine variants. After lunch we make our way out to a recent burn site where we will hopefully be treated to a diverse array of bulbs flowering in profusion including the sweetly scented Gladiolus ceresianus, bright pink Ixia latifolia and hundreds of small yellow Geissorhiza ornithogaloides. The highlight will be searching for the rare and delicate spider orchid; Bartholina burmanniana. Overnight Ceres.



Various small reserves around the town of Darling covered by renosterveld – a shrubland exceptionally rich in bulbs. We will find numerous species of Gladiolus, Geissorhiza, Babiana and Ixia among the displays with the highlight being the incomparable Geissorhiza radians. West Coast National Park is
famed for its vast displays of daisies in antelope filled meadows, which we will enjoy in all its glory. Lesser known are the gems growing in the limestone and granite outcrops dotted throughout the park which harbour a range of endemic plants including the deep red Silene ornata and localised Gladiolus caeruleus. In the sandy dunes is the scarlet root parasite Hyobanche sanguinea and cryptic Ferraria crispa. Overnight Langebaan.


Days 10-12     Langeberg Mountains

Our first stop for the day will be the Karoo Botanical Gardens where the rocky slopes full of succulents will be our focus. The succulents continue as we head on to the town of Robertson where the nearby hills contain a range of endemic species. We end up in the town of Swellendam at the foothills of the Langeberg Mountain range. The slopes above the town bursting with a host of new Ericas and Proteas. Overnight Swellendam.

Marloth Nature Reserve

The slopes of Marloth Nature Reserve have scarlet Erica ardens and Geissoloma marginatum a strange species that’s the only member of its own family. Later we head into the smallest national park of the country Bontebok National Park. Despite its size, it is one of the larger areas of remaining lowland fynbos in the area and as such has a range of localised species including Erica filamentosa which is restricted to the park. We end our day further south in the town of Bredasdorp in the middle of the Overberg. Overnight Bredasdorp.

The Overberg

The region is rich in endemic species, but has been severely impacted by agricultural farmland, leaving small patches of natural scrub remaining. We will explore a recently burnt patch rich in bulbs and orchids for most of the day along with the hills near Bredasdorp. Overnight Bredasdorp.

Day 13     To Hermanus & Fernkloof

Making our way back west, we stop at another Overberg renosterveld patch holding a variety of Proteas and Ericas including the lovely Erica ampullacea. Nearer the coast we find specials such as Gladiolus variegatus and the lovely Erica regia before making our way to the coastal town of Hermanus. The diverse Fernkloof Nature Reserve will be our main destination, with a mixture of protea stands combined with the attractive coppery whorls of Leucospermum cordifolium, pink Phaeonocoma prolifera and abundant Dimorphotheca. These grow alongside the deep purple of Moraea livida. A yellow species is common on the higher slopes where the pretty white Gerbera tomentosa grows near seeps encrusted with Drosera slackii coloured by the rare inflated pink flowers of Disa pillansii. Another orchid purple-red Disa ophyridea grows near the fiery wands of Mimetes cucullatus. The views of the rugged coastline from above are superb. Back at sea level we will look for the peculiar deep red Gladiolus cunonius that grows on low cliffs in the town. Overnight Hermanus.

Days 14-16     Cape Point & Silvermine

The far end of Africa beckons. As soon as we enter Cape Point there will be a constant procession of exciting flowers. The silver domes of Syncarpha vestita will be taking shape alongside abundant blue Aristea africana and white Adenandra villosa, amidst great stands of architectural tree-like Mimetes fimbriifolius and perhaps the odd King Protea; Protea cynaroides the country’s national flower. The spectacular shrub Leucospermum conocarpodendron is locally dominant, the sulphur-yellow flowers crowded onto impressive cones. The remarkable deep red-pink parasite Hyobanche sanguinea is common and its orange cousin Harveya squamosa can be found too. Side roads take us to wonderful flowery viewpoints to see the beautiful Lachenalia luteola, Staavia dodii, drifts of Arctotis stoechadifolia and red-flowered Lessertia frutescens. At Cape Point itself are superb views of the cliffs as well as plentiful Salvia africana-lutea and perhaps the odd Bonatea speciosa, a large green-and-white orchid. Overnight Simonstown.

Day 17    Flights (29 September)

Fly out from Cape Town International Airport.



13 - 29 September 2023



5500 USD

Single Supplement 550 USD


  • Accommodation
  • All food
  • Ground transport
  • Guide services
Not included:
  • International Flights
  • Visa if needed
  • Travel/Medical Insurance
  • Alcoholic and soft drinks
  • Personal expenses


*Minimum number of participants 5, maximum 16. 


Similar Tours

For more information on our tours

Turkey: +90 535 4125286 | UK: +44 (0)795 854 6807

or click here to send us an email enquiry