Hope you can join me on this trip – a trip that will amaze you and leave you with truly unforgettable memories! Those of you who have traveled with me before know that every tour is special, unique and one of a kind. This tour is no exception. This is a tour that will take you from Johannesburg to Cape Town and each place we visit will leave you joyful and happily anticipating the next. The splendor of the scenery along the way will take your breath away. The safaris we experience will leave you feeling humbled and amazed, the food you eat will tickle your taste buds and the gardens…they are all inspirational and so worthy of visiting. You will love meeting those entrusted with keeping these priceless horticultural treasures available for us to visit and appreciate. Most are private and we will also enjoy some wine tastings, craft shopping and Afternoon Tea at the beautiful Cape Grace Hotel.
Now …. peruse the itinerary below and then fill out that registration form – you sure don’t want to miss this tour!…as soon as we have reached our minimum of 12 we will let you know so that you can start working on your flights.
***Please Note that you arrive into Johannesburg and depart from Cape Town
Monday, October 9th, 2017 Arrival into Johannesburg
Upon arrival at the airport you are met and taken to your hotel for rest and relaxation until tomorrow morning. Make use of this time to get caught up on sleep. If you are feeling good then out the door and down the street a couple of blocks is a great mall to walk around in. There are places to eat here as well.
Your Hotel – Crowne Plaza Rosebank for two nights. Standard Rooms
Tuesday, October 10th Guided Visit to Beechwood Gardens – A Classic Johannesburg Garden & National Treasure, Welcome Dinner
We start off our tour with one of the most gorgeous private gardens … Beechwood. You will love, love, love it. This garden is not open that often and once inside you will see why it is so special. This classic Johannesburg garden was laid out in 1945 by legendary landscape architect, Joane Pym and features magnificent trees including a colossal Water Oak believed to be one of the largest trees in Johannesburg. Christopher and Susan Greig acquired the 3.5 acre garden some 12 years ago and have worked extensively on redesigning and landscaping this botanical sanctuary. The homestead was designed by Steffen Ahrends for the late Rudy Frankel of Tiger Oats in a romantic Flemish country style with a cedar shingle roof. The Greigs have created a rainforest, a water garden comprising six ponds and a bog, a colonnade, a formal rose garden, a lotus garden and a sunken vegetable garden that will truly take your breath away.
Breakfast and Welcome Dinner Included, Lunch on own
Wednesday, October 11th Johannesburg to Kapama River Lodge, Private Game Reserve in Great Kruger National Park, Game Drive
On our way to the lodge we will make stops at God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes. We will arrive at the Lodge, enjoy a late lunch then do our first game drive. You will spend two glorious nights here in fabulous Spa Suites! Each spacious suite at Kapama River Lodge features a terrace with uninterrupted views into the leafy-green Big 5 game reserve. It will be hard to leave your room but you have game drives to enjoy. You cannot begin to know what it is like to be so close to these beautiful creatures as they roam freely around you.
You will never forget this experience. The big five are here – lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard and a lot more … shhh … get your cameras ready…
Your Lodging – Kapama River Lodge Private Game Reserve for two nights, Spa Suites
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner included
Thursday, October 12th Kapama – More Game Drives and Leisure Time!
Morning and afternoon Game Drives with leisure time to enjoy the pool, the spa or the facilities. The northern Drakensberg mountain range provides a majestic backdrop to the largest private game lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park region. Kapama River Lodge is situated within Kapama Game Reserve, and presents the perfect blend of luxurious safari accommodation.
The day starts with an early wake-up call between 5 am and 5:30 am. Tea, coffee and rusks are enjoyed together before heading out at first light.
While seeing big game is always exhilarating, there are many other smaller species that are also captivating, and birding enthusiasts will be delighted at the approximately 350 species of birds recorded on the reserve. Halfway through the game drive, there’s a stop for hot drinks and snacks, before returning to the lodge at around 9 am for a full breakfast. Throughout the day, it’s likely you will see wildlife around the lodge – Nyala antelope and Vervet monkeys are frequent visitors, though seeing some of the Big Five is also not uncommon. I have often seen giraffe foraging for food too.
At around 3:30 pm, everyone gathers for a decadent high tea, before heading out with your ranger and tracker for the afternoon game drive through the reserve. En route, you’ll stop for a sundowner drink (soft drinks and water are free) and will have a chance to stretch your legs as you watch the sun set over the distant peaks of the Drakensberg mountains.
As darkness falls, the nocturnal animals of the bush come out. The skilled tracker will scan the landscape. A variety of completely different species can be seen on the night drive back to the lodge. Arrival is at the lodge is usually around 7 pm, allowing time to freshen up before enjoying a sumptuous dinner.
Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Included
Friday, October 13th Kapama to White River, Lowveld Botanical Garden, Crafts & Pottery, Dinner at Magnolia
This morning after breakfast we leave Kapama and visit the Lowveld Botanical Garden for our guided visit. One of the main reasons to visit Nelspruit, the Lowveld National Botanical Garden lies just outside of town, a beautiful 159 hectare space dominated by rugged, rocky river scenery, and home to over 600 naturally occurring plant species, and a further 2000 that have been introduced to the garden and it also contains the largest collection of cycads in Africa.
Enjoy some shopping time in White River to see their very special crafts and pottery. Then it is on to our hotel which is not far away to rest until dinner at the lovely Magnolia Restaurant. Inspired by rural French charm, it offers a sophisticated yet relaxed taste of the best the region has to offer.
Breakfast and Dinner included, Lunch on own
Your hotel for this evening is the Premier Hotel, The Winkler
Saturday, October 14th Flight to Durban, Leisure time….and Dinner
After breakfast we say goodbye to White River and transfer to the Kruger Mpumalanga Airport for our domestic flight to Durban. Upon arrival we check in and relax until dinner at the hotel. Once in our hotel your time is your own until we meet for dinner.
Your Hotel – Southern Sun Elangeni for three nights, Standard Rooms
Breakfast and Dinner included, Lunch on own
Sunday, October 15th Durban – City Tour, Victoria Street Market, Durban Botanical Garden
Today our visit to the Victoria Street Market. On the corner of Queen and Victoria Streets in Durban, it is rather like stepping into another world, with its blend of all things Indian and African. Spices and incense perfume the air in which more than 170 stalls display their wares. The Vic, as the Victoria Market is now known, is set in a huge building that resembles something out of a Maharajah’s story. The Indian community in Durban is the largest outside of Asia. They have had a huge impact on the character of the city of Durban, and the open air markets that have evolved into the Victoria Street Market were first opened in the 1870s – a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the colour, smells, boldly colourful material and bartering that is so characteristic of their community. You can buy saris, scarves, arts and crafts, woven baskets, beaded dolls and animals, oriental ceramics, and Chinese wholesale goods and a whole lot more.
Then we head to the beautiful Durban Botanical Gardens for our guided visit. As Africa’s oldest surviving botanic gardens, the Durban Botanic Gardens is a wonderful respite for the soul. The lawns and flower beds are beautifully maintained; there are benches scattered throughout the Gardens from where to admire the fauna and flora. Orchids (over 8000 plants in more than 75 natural and man-made genera and consists of species and hybrids), bromeliads, palms (860 palms that belong to 130 species in 58 genera). There is a lovely little outdoor café here where you can enjoy a bite to eat on your own. Cycads (the Durban Botanic Gardens boasts the rarest cycad collection in the world which it has been curating since its inception in 1849) are the main collections of the gardens; the mature trees make a perfect backdrop. The Gardens maintains both indigenous and exotic plant collections from the sub-tropics characterized by a good number of majestic tree species that dominate the landscape with more than eighty heritage trees which, in many instances, exceed one hundred years old and therefore have their own historic value.
Breakfast Included, Lunch and Dinner on own
Monday, October 16th Durban – Rosehurst Gardens & Makaranga Gardens and Lunch
Rosehurst Gardens – Guided Tour – The gorgeous converted Victorian Cottage garden was established almost thirty years ago and is influenced by the garden at Sissinghurst Castle in South East England. Featuring hedges, topiary and informal plantings, the garden is divided into a number of smaller gardens, each with their own colour theme; there’s the pink lawn garden, a yellow sundial garden, white gazebo garden and mauve side garden. If this was not enough there is also a delightful café and shop filled with books, antiques and edibles. The café serves light refreshments including decadent chocolate scones.
We visit the Makaranga Gardens on our own and while here we will enjoy our lunch overlooking the gardens. Makaranga is set in a tranquil private botanical garden located in the subtropical village of Kloof within the Valley of a Thousand Hills. 30 Acres of indigenous and exotic botanical gardens, 18 ponds, meandering streams and a waterfall await your discovery and offer you their joy and healing. Experience the largest collection of Zimbabwean stone art in Southern Africa as well as hand selected Italian sculptures.
Breakfast and Lunch included, Dinner on own
Wednesday, October 18th Cape Town – Cellars Hohenort and Lunch Stellenberg Gardens
After breakfast we set out for another incredible day at the Cellars Hohenort Gardens, dating back to 1693, in the beautiful Constantia Valley…you will be royally impressed with our guided visit … and to top it off we have arranged lunch here…how posh! The gardens at The Cellars-Hohenort are acknowledged as one of the finest hotel gardens internationally and has been voted by Garden Design, a top American magazine, as one of the top 30 hotel gardens in the world. It was in these very gardens that Mr Fisher, a former owner of the Cellars, hybridized the rose “Chris Barnard”, named after the famous heart surgeon. You will love the rose garden and the ducks that waddle around. It was so sad to hear that in January of 2015 the owner Liz McGrath had passed away but rest assured she left this hotel in very good hands. This is a wonderfully special visit full of history, oozing charm and subtle elegance…and the food is awesome.
Then… an exclusive visit to – Stellenberg Gardens – for a very special private guided tour. Among the internationally acclaimed gardens, Sandy Ovenstone’s Stellenberg Gardens in Kenilworth is most definitely on the map. Moreover, it was showcased by international gardening author and presenter Monty Don in his 2008 BBC television series, Around the World in 80 Gardens. This garden is usually open only one day a year and we have special permission to see it, so applaud our good fortune! One of the oldest properties in Cape Town, it has been called home by several prominent families over the years. Fortunately, despite changes of ownership, the property managed to escape the ‘Victorianization’ many other homes in the region underwent and retains its classic 18th century Cape Dutch feel. While the inside of the house is off-limits to visitors, you will see how lovely it is from the outside and the property and gardens complete this perfection. It is divided into different gardens, each with their own unique characteristics: a white garden, a walled garden, a formal medieval garden, an herb garden, and so much more including some incredible hedges!
Breakfast and Lunch Included, Dinner on own
Thursday, October 19th Old Nectar Gardens, Lunch & Wine Tasting at the Postcard Café & Rustenberg Wines Gardens
Oh my…what a day we have planned for you…Old Nectar Gardens for a guided tour through gardens and lives steeped in history. Set among the magnificent sandstone mountain ranges of the Jonkershoek valley, the Old Nectar Gardens are the creation of Una van der Spuy, the doyen of South African gardening. Una created these gardens during the 71 years that Old Nectar was her home; from 1941 to her death in 2012, aged 100. She had no experience in gardening and no guides other than a copy of Brunnings Gardening (published in Australia in 1845 and still in print). However Una had known many of the famous gardens of England from previous visits before the war. She was also blessed with a very good sense of proportion and design and great foresight in finding and planting the trees, shrubs and roses that we see in the Old Nectar Gardens today. It is worth noting that, other than for the giant +200 year oak trees (Quercus robur), every tree, rose and shrub at Old Nectar was planted by Una during her years of residence. At that time there were very few plant nurseries in South Africa. Una managed to track down what she wanted, sometimes resorting to begging cuttings and seeds from the owners of trees and shrubs that she had seen, sometimes bringing to Old Nectar seeds and cuttings from overseas – secreted in her bra! (Could that have been the source of the magnificent Chinese redwoods (Metasequoia) that flourish in the Old Nectar Gardens?) Una believed gardens are like people; each having its own personality and always evolving – never static. The Old Nectar Gardens have been evolving for over 70 years and they continue to carry Una’s vision forward. Old Nectar remains in the family….and we will delight in what it shares with us.
Then we set off to Stark-Conde for lunch at the Postcard Café and a wine tasting …. ‘ We called it Postcard Cafe because the views are like something on a postcard’. Visitors have a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains and vineyards.
Finally we are off to Rustenberg Wines for a guided visit of their gardens. The Schoongezicht garden features a Chartres style labyrinth, 200 year old pergola and ornamental lily pond. In 2001, Rozanne Barlow, wife of the current owner of the Rustenberg Estate, undertook to regenerate and restore the garden. Walls were constructed, and the site where the old tennis court stood has been transformed into an eleven circuit Chartres-style labyrinth, laid out in half brick and river stone. The twenty-five meter long swimming pool was converted into a lily pond and is now home to many fish. The charming pergola, originally built by John X Merriman, supports climbing roses, clematis and other fragrant climbers. The garden is essentially laid out in a formal style with four distinct areas accessed by pathway. The Rustenberg Manor House garden features many mature specimen trees as well.
Breakfast, Lunch and Wine Tasting Included, Dinner on own
Friday, October 20th Cape Town and Your Day of Leisure
If you are planning any day trips today our guide can help you arrange them…
Here is a site to check out for maps of Cape Town:
Established as a refreshment point for ships traversing the oceans to gather spice imports from Asia, Cape Town started its development in 1652 as a small community that provided fresh water, vegetables and meat to sailors who worked for the Dutch East India Company. The Company’s Garden is a wonderful place to walk and is surrounded by so much other history too! Try and find the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa, estimated to have been planted in 1652. If you get tired there are lots of cafes for a much needed repast.
If you still have some gifts to pick up then the Victoria and Albert Waterfront is a great place to visit. Here is the link to the site.
Breakfast Included, Lunch and Dinner on own.
Saturday, October 21st Cape Town – Day trip to Hermanus, Fernkloof Nursery & Paradoxical Wine and Chocolate Pairing
We take a road trip today – to Hermanus. Hermanus (originally called Hermanuspietersfontein, but shortened as the name was far too long for the postal service), is a town with 80,400 inhabitants on the southern coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa. What a wonderful little village and what makes it spectacular are the Southern Right whales that you can see off the shores. Huge water spouts can be seen up and down the coastline and there is plenty of room to walk along and catch one or ten of them doing this. This village has some great shopping and some great architecture too! Various art/food/craft markets are held in and around Hermanus every weekend. In the center of town is the Lemm’s Corner Market where you can buy anything from clothes to art and food.
We will decide on a time to meet back at the coach and on our way back to the hotel we will visit Fernkloof Nursery where a member of the Hermanus Botanical Society will accompany the group on our visit. This is the perfect place to learn all about the special plants that grow here.
Then for a bit of fun we will visit Creation Wines for a Paradoxical Wine and Chocolate Pairing. Creation is more than a wine farm, it is a glorious destination. Here, on the foothills of the picturesque Babylon Toren Mountain, natures splendour never fails to impress – and neither do the terroir-reflective wines grown in their vineyards. Among the many other attractions are their exquisite Fynbos Garden and exciting collection of contemporary art. Wine and Chocolate Pairing with an exceptional difference. Four specially blended chocolates created by a celebrated local chocolatier, carefully paired to complement and enhance the flavour nuances and characteristics of the four different wines. Discover true Passion, Resonance, Charisma and Deja Vu.… sensuous flavour profiling to offer you four fabulous matches. Irresistible? For sure! ‘Don’t believe those stick-in-the-muds who say that chocolate doesn’t pair with wine. When done well, there are few things as deliciously decadent. It’s a match made in heaven, if you will.’
Breakfast and Wine & Chocolate Pairing Included, Lunch and Dinner on own
Sunday, October 22nd Cape Town – Vergelegen Gardens, Babylonstoren Gardens & Lunch & Wine Tasting!
We start off our incredible day with a private tour of Vergelegen Gardens – Vergelegen has been a gardener’s paradise since the van der Stel era in the 1700’s and today 17 exquisitely themed gardens are on display for you to enjoy. Not only a farmer, the founder of Vergelegen, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, was also a botanist, a forester and a horticulturist. He wrote “The African Gardeners’ and Agriculturists Calendar’ of which much is still relevant to this day. The oldest oak tree in South Africa (300 years), the ancient White Mulberry tree (1700’s) and of course the five camphor trees that were planted in the 1700’s gracing the front of the Homestead all bear testimony to his great horticultural talent. These gardens are just unbelievable…and the trees…you just have to see them.
Babylonstoren is one of the best preserved werfs (farm yards) in the Cape Dutch tradition. Not only the manor house from 1777, but pioneer structures all the way back to the founding of the farm in 1690. The Koornhuis (for storing wheat and hay) and the old cellar are exceptionally fine. An ornate fowl house, pigeon loft, leaning bell tower and historic gates embellish a traditional courtyard surrounded by a low, whitewashed wall. The Babylonstoren garden is at the heart of the farm. It was inspired by the Company Gardens of the Cape, where for centuries ships would replenish with sweet water, vegetables and fruit at the halfway station between Europe and Asia. It also hales back to the mythical garden of Babylon. This truly is a garden full of magic…8 acres filled with beds of veggies, orchards full of fruit and a heart for healthy food as you will find out with our guided tour. Every one of over 350 varieties of plants in the garden is edible and it is grown as biologically as they can and tended by 20 full time gardeners. The garden is divided into fifteen clusters spanning vegetable areas, berries, bees, indigenous plants, ducks and chickens and includes a prickly pear maze. Gravity feeds water into waterways from a stream into the garden as it was done for 300 years. You are indeed in for a treat!
We will also enjoy our lunch here as well as a wine tasting of some of their wines in the Wine Shed, one of the oldest buildings on the werf. Just outside the huge garden you can see the rows upon rows of vineyards.
“One of my friends, a keen and renowned gardener himself, says it will be one of the ‘five most significant gardens in the world in the next five years’” Justice Mahlala, Financial Times.
Did you know? Rooibos comes from the fragile fynbos biome and grows endemically only in a small corner of the Western Cape in South Africa.
We then head back to our hotel….what a day!
Breakfast, Lunch and Wine Tasting Included, Dinner on own
Monday, October 23rd Cape Town – Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens & Cape Grace Farewell Afternoon Tea!
Our first stop today is a high one … Table Mountain … what a view. ‘The proclamation of this new national park will be a South African ‘gift to the Earth’… Nelson Mandela. Table Mountain is part of a World Heritage Site and home to a unique yet endangered plant diversity known as fynbos.
Then on to one of the stunning gardens you will ever see, that of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the slopes of Table mountain, was the first botanical garden ever to be included in a World Heritage Site. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beautiful Kirstenbosch gardens cover an area of 528 hectares with 36 hectares of cultivated garden. The gardens are a celebration of South African flora – showcasing only indigenous South African plants. Fynbos, proteas, cycads and rolling lawns are intermingled with streams and ponds and well-laid out pathways. Our private guided tour will just give you a taste of what delights surround you and envelope you as you become one with the garden. Time for a bit of shopping too!
Afterwards we leave for an exquisite finale to our time in South Africa….Afternoon Tea at the Cape Grace. Tucked away in the marina behind the V&A Waterfront, this is one of Cape Town’s most delightful tea spots. Everything from classic cucumber finger sandwiches to smoked salmon and avo mousse bites to savoury and sweet scones, florentines, petit fours, macaroons and the most delightful chocolate mousse and granadilla concoction. In short: an amazing spread of tea delights.
(Please note that the visit to Table Mountain is weather dependent – we have plenty of days in Cape Town so will go on the best day according to our guide)
Breakfast and Farewell Afternoon Tea Included
Tuesday, October 24th Cape Town Departure
We will schedule the departures to the airport depending on flight times…
South Africa Spectacular Garden Delights Tour 2017
Tour Dates: October 9th – October 24th, 2017
Land only per person sharing
Single Supplement (for those wanting their own room)
PRICES ARE QUOTED IN ZAR (South African Rand) to reflect the currency of the country. If considering the tour please check the exchange rates to determine what the cost is in your currency.
NOTE Minimum number of 12 tour registrants required for this tour to run, so please do not book your air until you have heard from us that the tour is confirmed.
See Highlights Box for all inclusions on this tour and if you have any questions on it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tour itinerary subject to changes