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Gardens Tour: Itinerary
DAY 1 – CAPE TOWN
On arriving at Cape Town, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to a haven of tranquillity nestling on the back slopes of Table Mountain, The Vineyard where you can relax and unwind.
Get together for tea and a guided walkabout within indigenous gardens landscaped by Ann Sutton before dinner with select guests in an award-winning restaurant.
DAY 2 – CAPE TOWN / THE CAPE PENINSULA
Find out about ”fynbos”. The Cape Floral Kingdom is a biological treasure chest, with one of its most brilliant botanical gems, the Cape Peninsula harbouring a staggering 2,285 species – with 1,500 alone on the mountain, just fewer than in all of Britain.
Spend the day in the company of an engaging horticulturalist, getting an eagle’s view of the Peninsula from the top of Table Mountain by way of cable car before travelling along scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive to Cape Point, celebrated as the legendary meeting place of two oceans and one of the most dramatic viewpoints anywhere on earth, and returning via the fishing village of Kalk Bay.
Dinner is at your leisure.
DAY 3 – CAPE TOWN / JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF THE CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM
Acclaimed as one of the world’s Magnificent Seven gardens, Kirstenbosch is also the first botanic garden in the world to be included in a World Heritage Site. It is the jewel in the crown of the Cape Floral Kingdom, with a huge indigenous collection that showcases South Africa’s floral wealth. Spend the day exploring it in a leisurely fashion with some local botanical gurus.
Later, enjoy a walkabout with the owner of a very private jewel in an oh-so-sustainable garden, followed by a private dinner.
DAY 4 – CAPE TOWN / MORE CAPE GEMS
Visit a venerable Cape Dutch home, whose classical formal garden designed by internationally acclaimed David Higgs reflects the estate’s history dating back to the 17th century.
Discover the genesis of The Company’s Garden, the original vegetable garden laid out by The Dutch East India Company in 1652 – and reason for the country’s existence, as you stroll along the tree-lined boulevard that runs the length of Government Avenue, lunching here.
The balance of the afternoon and the evening are at your leisure.
Some suggestions for independent sightseeing …
You could remain in the heart of the city, independently exploring ”Museum Mile”;
Or explore The V&A Waterfront, dubbed the Gateway to Africa, it holds a range of historical, cultural and maritime landmarks plus shopping opportunities; .
Or take a trip to Robben Island that’s a World Heritage Site and tangible reminder of the past and pivotal symbol of triumph of the human spirit, where you get a first hand account of prison life from former inmates.
DAY 5 – FRANSCHHOEK / THE WINELANDS
Leave Cape Town, first stopping at an inspiring urban initiative that promotes agricultural sustainability among shack dwellers in informal settlements.
At the country’s premier wine estate, with its gracious homestead and spacious gardens – awarded the International Camellia Garden of Excellence (1 of 17 in the world), hear from an independent conservationist heading its biodiversity project, and lunch here.
Go on an exclusive walkabout of the 7-hectare indigenous garden and studio of South Africa’s foremost sculptor. Continue through Stellenbosch in the heart of the Winelands with its oak lined streets and Cape Dutch gables. At a contemporary estate straddling two major wine areas, see its enviable art collection and landscaping by Keith Kirsten.
Stay at the Franschhoek Boutique Hotel in the heart of this picturesque village for 2 nights.
The evening is open, with an abundance of restaurants to choose from within this culinary hot spot.
DAY 6 – FRANSCHHOEK / VINEYARDS & VALLEYS
Explore some renowned estates and gardens. Be shown over a beguiling gardenscape inspired by The Company’s Garden, recreated by Patrice Taravella of Prieuré d’Osan fame. Spanning eight acres, it’s divided into fifteen clusters with over 300 edible varieties of plants, lunching here on farm-fresh-fare.
At another historic estate, ”smell the roses” of many original species cultivated at the Cape and in the East Indies in the 17th century, restored by Gwen Fagan. Track stories about the valley that chronicle 8,000 years of history and hear about another estate’s precedent-setting land ownership initiative. Over sunset drinks with uninterrupted valley views, find out what inspired the owners to become a Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) and how they are transforming their habitat, before dining locally with informative guests.
DAY 7 – WALKER BAY REGION / LESS TRAVELLED ROADS
Venture along less travelled roads, first stopping at a rambling, romantic plantsman’s garden, esteemed for its conservation and preservation of old roses from the Cape, and acknowledged for its excellence by the World Federation of Rose Societies.
Traverse back roads around the Hemel en Aarde Valley, a highly regarded maritime wine district, before reaching Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an eco-resort with unparalleled floral diversity, nestling between mountain and sea, for 2 nights.
DAY 8 – WALKER BAY REGION / A FLOWER SAFARI
Discover the scale and splendour of this pristine wilderness with over 765 species – 6 of which are endemic, on a flower safari in an open-top Land Rover. With the wind in your hair and the sun on your skin, drive over mountains and across valleys through a variety of unique vegetation types, from stunning sandstone fynbos to magical afromontane forests, while enjoying sweeping, panoramic views of Walker Bay.
Uncover the co-dependent relationships between flowers, insects, birds, animals and the elements of nature – how a flower perfectly matches the shape and size of a sunbird’s beak, how ravaging fires bring forth new life and how fynbos thrives in soils almost devoid of nutrients.
With a variety of activities on offer, you can experience nature’s incredible diversity on horseback or on a guided or a self-guided walk along well-marked trails to suit every interest and fitness level, from ancient milkwood forests to an epic hike through the fynbos-clad mountains and track their Grootbos’ responsible tourism initiative. Journey back to Stone Age times on a guided coastal walk to Klipgat Cave – of World Heritage significance. Some of the best land-based whale watching in the world precedes dinner.
DAY 9 – THE FLANKS OF FALSE BAY / JOHANNESBURG
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before leaving this eco-paradise in mid morning. In Betty’s Bay stroll around The Harold Porter Botanical Garden, one of the country’s 10 gardens run by the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, with 700 species of indigenous plants and over 100 species of birds.
En route to Cape Town airport, you’ll have plenty of photo-ops along Clarence Drive, a scenic coastal route, before your late afternoon, 2-hour flight to Johannesburg.
Stay in the leafy green suburb of Melrose, where welcoming staff are on hand to whip up a delectable dinner, at The Winston for 2nights.
DAY 10 – JOHANNESBURG / HISTORY & GARDEN GALLIVANT
Johannesburg is the power house of the country– and the biggest manmade urban forest in the world, with over 10 million trees – and you’ll be here in jacaranda season!
Constitution Hill is a historical landmark that tells the tale of South Africa’s difficult past and its remarkable transition to democracy. Hear about the genesis of its inspiring collection of artworks all connected in some way to the highest court in the land and its values.
Brenthurst Garden is rated as one of the finest in South Africa and placed among the great gardens of the world. It’s an oasis of calm where pioneer landscaper Joane Pim designed a European style garden for Sir Ernest and Lady Oppenheimer. Under Strilli Oppenheimer’s helming hands, there’s a new aesthetic of biodynamic and naturalistic gardening principles.
In the evening, you’ll be welcomed into a private showcase for an ‘insiders’ dinner.
DAY 11 – THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND / A FOSSIL SAFARI
A day with a different perspective! Pack your bags to spend your last night in The Cradle of Humankind.
First up, unravel man’s journey out of Africa and span of evolution stretching back some 3.5 million years at the fascinating Origins Centre that uncovers where and when things began.
Then head out to The Cradle. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and home to around 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils. Almost 7,000 hectares in extent, with some of the most pristine areas of the high altitude dolomitic grasslands — second only to the Cape Floral Kingdom (fynbos) in terms of floral diversity. Its landscape is dominated by the Rocky Highveld Grassland, which supports a great diversity of plants and animals, some of which are rare and endangered.
In the afternoon, go on a ’fossil safari’ in an open air vehicle led by a specialist-guide. See firsthand, two active fossil digs, Gladysvale and Malapa, where a previously unknown species of pre hominin (pre-human) was discoveredby National Geographic Explorer, Prof Lee Berger.
In this symbolic landscape, celebrate your last night under the Southern Cross, dining on a deck with panoramic views of the game-filled valley below.
Stay at The Cradle Boutique Hotel for 1 night, situated on a private nature reserve in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind. Luxury rooms have private viewing decks, offering you the opportunity to enjoy the spectacular African landscape.
DAY 12– JOHANNESBURG’S SECRET GEM
Following a leisurely breakfast, head downthe hill to NIROX Sculpture Garden, a high-end cultural hub set among lush acres, landscaped by Patrick Watson, alighting on artworks in unexpected places. Revel in the garden’s creativity, and savour a relaxed, private lunch in this tranquil landscape.
You’ll be transferred to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in time for your international, homebound flight.
If time permits, you could visit the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. Set against the backdrop of a magnificent waterfall, it consists of both landscaped and natural veld areas where the natural vegetation is Rocky Highveld Grassland — a mosaic of grassland and savanna, with dense bush in kloofs and along streams. A variety of habitats accommodate over 600 naturally occurring plant species. It’s home to an abundance of wildlife, with over 220 bird species and a breeding pair of majestic Verreaux’s Eagles.
Though carefully complied, the itinerary may vary slightly due to unpredictable weather or in response to spontaneous opportunities that may arise