Wildflowers, Wine and the Cape Floral Kingdom - Botanical Histories in South Africa

4 - 18 Sep 2022
  • Cultural Tours

About the tour

The Cape Floral Kingdom in South Africa is one of the richest areas of plant biodiversity in the world. This tiny region on the southern tip of South Africa has been identified as one of the world's 35 biodiversity hotspots. As well as its botanical significance, the southern tip of South Africa is spectacularly beautiful, particularly in the flowering season.

Take a vivid journey though the plant riches of South Africa during its glorious spring, as each themed day reveals a new aspect of the region's botanical history. Travel with experienced botanical tour leaders, Bill and Helen Bynum, and learn about wildflowers and the Cape Floral Kingdom, as well as experiencing the vibrant culture and history, and enjoying the food and fine wine of South Africa: a journey that will leave you both uplifted and inspired.

One of only six Floral Kingdoms in the world – and the only one contained within a single country - it is by far the smallest and relatively the most diverse. One of the outstanding botanical stars of the show is the beautiful and distinctive Fynbos vegetation, unique to the Cape Floral Region, which includes the famous protea.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Bill and Helen  Bynum

Bill and Helen Bynum

Bill Bynum is Professor Emeritus at University College London. A Yale graduate in medicine, he began his career in the history of medicine with a Cambridge PhD before moving to the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. His 'History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction' and 'A Little History of Science' have been translated into 14 languages. Bill also edited the Penguin 150th anniversary edition of The Origin of Species.

After a PhD in the History of Medicine from University College London, Helen Bynum lectured at the University of Liverpool before beginning a freelance career as a medical historian and popular science writer. Together with Bill she edited 'Great Discoveries in Medicine' before turning their attention to the world of plants and their histories in 'Remarkable Plants that Shape our World' and 'Botanical Sketchbooks'. ‘Team Bynum’ have led and lectured on successful tours and cruises for Jon Baines Tours.

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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Cape Town (Sun, 4 Sept)
    Arrive in Cape Town and check in to hotel with the day at leisure. Enjoy dinner at the hotel in the evening.
  • Day 2: Cape Town (Mon, 5 Sept)
    Always Something New Out of Africa
    Take the cable car up Table Mountain and enjoy a guided floral nature trek. Table Mountain was the site of early collecting by Francis Masson, who was dispatched by Joseph Banks to explore this region starting in late 1772. Visit the VOC or Company Gardens, which Joseph Banks visited on the Endeavour voyage in 1771. Continue on a walking tour through the Bo-Kaap, which dates back to the Dutch colonists, who brought slaves from Indonesia, Batavia, Malaysia, India and Africa. Learn of the spices and herbs used in everyday Cape Malay cooking. Welcome dinner.
  • Day 3: Cape Town (Tues, 6 Sept)
    Proteas Ahoy: Plants and Stopovers at the Cape
    Drive to the historic naval town of Simon's Town. Robert Brown, regarded as one of the finest figures in British botany, called in at the town in 1801 where he saw for the first time the protea (South Africa’s national flower), growing in their natural habitat. Continue to the Point itself and discover local, wild flavours including mushrooms, seaweeds, edible weeds and flowers. Return to Cape Town via the spectacular Chapman's Peak Drive.
  • Day 4: Cape Town / Hermanus (Wed, 7 Sept)
    The Fynbos: Discovering the Classic Plants and Inventing Biomes
    Visit the Kirstenbosch Gardens and the Compton Herbarium - the second largest herbarium in southern Africa. Drive to the Cape Flats to visit a non-profit micro farming community garden, Abalimi Bezekhaya, engaged in the conservation, rehabilitation and protection of this natural environment. Head to the coast to travel along the scenic and rugged cape coastline, sandwiched between the Hottentots Hollands mountains and turquoise waters. Transfer to Misty Waves Boutique Hotel.
  • Day 5: Hermanus (Thurs, 8 Sept)
    Postboxes and Thickets: The Milkwood Tree
    Travel to Grootbos and visit the Milkwood Forest, learning of the 1000-year-old trees and the Fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Take part in a walk of the Fynbos trail with Sean Privett and learn of his conservation work within the Cape Floral Kingdom. Return and option for whale watching along the coastal walkway.
  • Day 6: Cape Flats / Franschhoek (Fri, 9 Sept)
    Pinot Noir + Hermitage
    Drive to Overberg, heading inland to the famous wine growing region of Franschhoek. Travel over the scenic Franschhoek Pass through the French Huguenot village. Explore the town and take part in a culinary tour. Visit a tasting gallery, enjoy a vineyard tour and see the state of the art gravity flow cellar. Take part in a wine tasting followed by dinner.
  • Day 7: Franschhoek (Sat, 10 Sept)
    Taking Stock, Food, Drink and Medicine Cape Style
    Full day at leisure. Option to take the 'wine tram' for a range of tastings.
  • Day 8: Franschhoek / Clanwilliam (Sun, 11 Sept)
    Fertile Valleys, Towering Hills: Farming Foreign and Native Plants in the Shadow of the Clanwilliam Cedar
    Drive to the Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens near Worcester. This 154 hectare garden lies at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range and displays a wide variety of arid and semi-arid plants. Continue through the beautiful Tulbagh valley towards the Cederberg Mountains. This is the only place on earth where Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis), a unique health-enhancing plant is found. Visit a local rooibos farm at Skimmelberg. See how both rooibos and buchu are cultivated organically, visit the nursery, visit the buchu distillery, visit the wormery and take in the spectacular wild flowers when in season. Continue to Clanwilliam.
  • Day 9: Clanwilliam (Mon, 12 Sept)
    Rhinoceros Bushes and Bulbs: The Historic Problems of Plant Collecting
    Drive to the village of Nieuwoudtville, where the Cape Fynbos meets the Hantam Karoo. Here a great variety of flowers, particularly geophytes (309 species!) occur on the Bokkeveld, which makes Nieuwoudtville different from the rest of Namaqualand. In periods of good rainfall, the annual spring display transforms the landscape into a picture of colour and it’s not uncommon to find up to 50 different species in a square metre of the Renosterveld. Visit the Hantam Botanical Garden, which comprises over 6000 hectares of Renosterveld and Hantam succulent Karoo.
  • Day 10: Clanwilliam / Langebaan (Tues, 13 Sept)
    The Allure of Wildflowers
    Drive to the 27,000-hectare West Coast National Park along the coast. The park is a spectacular sight in spring, covered in the yellows, whites, reds and purples of a wide variety of wildflowers. Drive to the Farmhouse Hotel at Langebaan overlooking the lagoon.
  • Day 11: Langebaan / Himeville (Wed, 14 Sept)
    Drive to Cape Town to fly to Durban. Arrive Durban and meet with your specialist botanical historian, Elsa Pooley, and drive to the Premier Resort Sani Pass.
  • Day 12: Himeville (Thurs, 15 Sept)
    Ancient Flora of the Dragon Mountains: Plants of the ‘Barrier of Spears’
    Visit Sani Sass and Sani Topp. Afternoon at leisure or option to visit the town of Himeville and the Himeville Museum and Cheese Farm. Dinner at Himeville Arms Pub.
  • Day 13: Himeville (Fri, 16 Sept)
    Wild and Tamed Nature: Botanical Gardens and the Future of South Africans Plants
    Optional day to explore the southern Drakensburg, wildflowers and ancient rock art by the indigenous San people.
  • Day 14: Himeville / Durban: (Sat, 17 Sept)
    Drive to Durban and transfer to the hotel. Visit Durban Botanical Gardens, Africa's oldest surviving botanic gardens. Farewell dinner.
  • Day 15: Durban (Sun, 18 Sept)
    Depart or take a safari extension.

Post-tour Safari Extension: 18 – 21 September

  • Day 15: Durban / Bayala (Sun, 18 Sept)
    Drive up the coast to Bayala Private Safari Lodge and Camp. Take part in an afternoon game drive.
  • Day 16: Bayla (Mon, 19 Sept)
    Morning game drive and at leisure.
  • Day 17: Bayla (Tues, 20 Sept)
    Morning game drive and at leisure.
  • Day 18: Bayla / Durban (Wed, 21 Sept)
    Drive down the coast and transfer to King Shaka International Airport, Durban, for departure flights.

Tour cost

The cost of the tour is US $5,370 pp sharing