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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 your hotel where you can relax and unwind.
In the late afternoon, get together with a reputed landscape architect for a guided walkabout within indigenous gardens landscaped by Ann Sutton before a welcome dinner together.
Stay at The Vineyard for 4-nights, a haven of tranquillity nestling on the back slopes of Table Mountain, on six acres of beautifully landscaped gardens on the banks of the Liesbeeck river.
DAY 2 – CAPE TOWN / THE CAPE PENINSULA
Find out about ”fynbos’ from an engaging horticulturalist. 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.
First get 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.
Over sunset drinks gaze down on the historic Constantia Valley before savouring a delectable dinner here.
DAY 3 – CAPE TOWN / JEWEL IN THE CROWN OF THE CAPE FLORAL KINGDOM
Be shown over Arderne Gradens, an arboretum with one of the most diverse and valuable collections of exotic trees in all of South Africa, and a National Historical Monument.
Then, spend the balance of the day exploring Kirstenbosch in a leisurely fashion with local gardening gurus. Acclaimed as one of the world’s Magnificent Seven gardens, it is the jewel in the crown of the Cape Floral Kingdom, with a huge indigenous collection that showcases South Africa’s floral wealth, and is the first botanic garden in the world to be included in a World Heritage Site.
Later, enjoy drinks and a private supper with an eminent landscaper and friends.
DAY 4 – CAPE TOWN / MORE CAPE GEMS
Visit Stellenberg, 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.
Be shown over ”European garden traditions in a very African context that combine formality and a leaping joy rarely equalled, let alone bettered” – Monty Don.
Hear about 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, and revive over a Fynbos-focussed late morning tea.
The balance of the day and the evening are at your leisure.
You could remain in the heart of the city, independently exploring ”Museum Mile”;
Or be dropped off to explore The V&A Waterfront, dubbed the Gateway to Africa, that holds a range of historical, cultural and maritime landmarks, plus shopping and dining opportunities galore.
DAY 5 – FRANSCHHOEK / THE WINELANDS
Leave Cape Town for the Winelands, about an hour’s drive away.
At Vergelegen, the country’s premier wine estate with its gracious homestead and spacious gardens – awarded the International Camellia Garden of Excellence, hear about its biodiversity project, and lunch here.
In the afternoon, at the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden on the slopes of Stellenbosch Mountains, be shown over a 7-hectare indigenous garden landscaped and earthscaped by South Africa’s foremost sculptor.
Continue through to Stellenbosch in the heart of the Winelands with its oak lined streets and Cape Dutch gables.
Enjoy an an early supper in this university town before continueing on to Franschhoek.
Stay at Macaron Boutique Guest House in the heart of this picturesque village for 2-nights.
A stone’s throw away from the buzzy center, it’s a Victorian home with nine suites spread across two opposite buildings, that offers countryside comfort in an intimate setting and features a large garden with two pools which provides a sense of tranquillity.
DAY 6 – FRANSCHHOEK / VINEYARDS & VALLEYS
At Babylonstoren, you’ll 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. Lunch here on farm-fresh-fare.
In the afternoon at Delaire Graf, a contemporary estate straddling two major wine areas, stroll around its indigenous landscaping by Keith Kirsten, and look over its enviable art collection.
The evening is open, with an abundance of restaurants to choose from within this culinary hot spot.
DAY 7 – WALKER BAY REGION / LESS TRAVELLED ROADS
Venture along less travelled roads, first stopping at Freshwoods, 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 in the Overberg to reach Grootbos in time for a late lunch.
In the afternoon you could 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 could precede dinner.
Stay at Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, an eco-resort with unparalleled floral diversity, nestling between mountain and sea, for 2- nights, all-inclusive. 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, as well as track Grootbos’ responsible tourism initiative.
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.
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 1-night.
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!
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.
Then head out to The Cradle (some 45 minutes away). 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 this symbolic landscape, dine on a deck with panoramic views of the game-filled valley below.
Stay at The Cradle Boutique Hotel for 2-nights, 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 11 – THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND / A FOSSIL SAFARI
A day with a different perspective! In the morning, 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 the late afternoon head down the 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 celebrate your last night under the Southern Cross in this tranquill landscape.
DAY 12– JOHANNESBURG
Following a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be transferred to Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in time for your homebound flight or onward safari.
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