Explore the Wonders of South Africa with Pacific Horticulture

September 27-October 13, 2017

By: Steve Gerischer

HorticulturalistLos Angeles, California…

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens against the backdrop of Table mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: iStock/EcoPic

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens against the backdrop of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: iStock/EcoPic

Africa has long held a special allure for the world traveler. At the southern end of the continent everything becomes concentrated into a rich and diverse tapestry of plant and animal life found nowhere else on earth. The Cape Floristic Province is a botanical treasure trove of bio-diversity. There are over 660 species of Erica in the fynbos region (fynbos means “fine-leaved” in Afrikaans). This same area holds 92 percent of the world’s Protea species.

Our travels will begin with a visit to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Table Mountain—an iconic World Heritage Site teeming with thousands of species of endemic plants. Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens has long been a destination for gardeners and botanists from all over the world. Considered the most beautiful garden in Africa, Kirstenbosh has gathered together the amazing diversity of the Cape region, including Leucospermum, Proteaceae, Erica, and Encephalartos—over 7000 species of plants are cultivated in the garden—all against the backdrop of Table Mountain. Another highlight at Kirstenbosch is the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway with breathtaking views over the treetops.

Fynbos blooming in the Table Mountain National Park. Photo: iStock/Dhoxax

Fynbos blooming in the Table Mountain National Park. Photo: iStock/Dhoxax

While in the Cape Town region we will also visit the wine country and tour Stellenberg, the private home and gardens of Andrew and Sandy Ovenstone. Stellanbosch University Botanic Garden and the estate, gardens, and winery of Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate will round out our stops in the Devon Valley and Franschhoek.

From the wine-country of the Cape area next we’ll travel to the more arid Karoo region and a stop at the Karoo Desert National Botanic Garden with its extensive collections of succulents, including the many species of iceplants that are native to this part of Africa. Our next stop is at Knysna for a tour of the Featherbed Nature Reserve on the picturesque headlands of Knysna Lagoon, followed by an excursion on a whale watching boat and an afternoon walking in the Knysna Forest.

South Africa is rich in history as well. In Johannesburg we’ll tour the Apartheid Museum, which opened in 2001, where a series of exhibits illustrate Apartheid-era South Africa, the political and racial battles this state-sanctioned discrimination brought about, and the eventual end of this hated system. En route to Pretoria, we’ll stop at Soweto. This township was the home of Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, two major figures in the downfall of Apartheid.

Protea cynaroides Photo: iStock/Volschenkh

Protea cynaroides Photo: iStock/Volschenkh

Destinations in and around Pretoria include The Pretoria Botanical Garden and the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden. The Pretoria Botanical Garden is a series of demonstration gardens featuring mainly South African plant species; sure to spark ideas for anyone lucky enough to be able to use them in their own garden. The Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden features the more natural vegetation of the area, known as ‘Rocky Highveld Grassland.’

A lioness sits in the tall grass of Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo: iStock/Goddard Photography

A lioness sits in the tall grass of Kruger National Park, South Africa. Photo: iStock/Goddard Photography

Our visit to South Africa ends in the spectacular Kruger National Park. Game drives and Rest camps at Kruger are a chance to see elephant, rhino, lion, giraffe, and even leopard. At 7,523 square miles, Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. Rest camps at Kruger are often situated on high ground that overlook watering holes, offering wildlife viewing from the comfort of a balcony or patio. Boasting 147 species of mammals and 517 species of birds, Kruger is a naturalists dream and a stunning finale to our tour of the remarkable natural wonders of South Africa and the Cape Floral Region.

Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) Photo: iStock/JurgaR

Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix) Photo: iStock/JurgaR

This tour includes many of our meals and all in-country flights and transportation. Naturalists and guides will be with us at most of our stops to offer their expertise and answer your questions. Remember to pack binoculars, a good camera, and your sense of adventure.

For more information and reservation details visit our tour page on the Holbrook Travel website. Join us as Pacific Horticulture ventures to South Africa for the experience of a lifetime—a mild climate, beautiful cities, stunning plant life, birds, and wildlife await us during springtime in the Southern Hemisphere.