khs-sa-tour-1On 20th August 11 members flew to Capetown for a wildflower tour orangised locally by Gail Paul. While in Capetown we went up Tablemountain and had fantastic views of the country and our first glimpse of some of the flowers we would be seeing. Whilst here we saw a map showing the 6 floral kingdoms in the world, one of which was the tiny Cape Floral Kingdom.

Then we went to Kirstenbosch, the famous botanical garden in Capetown where 4,000 African flowering plants are cultivated in a setting of mountain streams, pools and rolling lawns.

Next to Clanwilliam for one night before going on to Springbok in order to come back more slowly with the sun behind us as the flowers face the sun.

khs-sa-tour-2First a visit to the Ramskop Wildflower Gardens with one of the best displays of Wildflowers and aloes in the country which was indeed spectacular.

Then to the Netmar Rooibos Teahouse for a talk and tasting of different flavoured Rooibos teas. Rooibos only grows in the Clanwilliam area and is an indigenous plant that is now cultivated for the teas. On the way to Springbok we stopped off at a succulent nursery which was started to prevent succulents from being destroyed to make way for a road.

We then started to see the first non cultivated fields of Wildflowers along the roadside which were quite stunning with yellows, whites, blues and pinks. The next day we went to Geogap Nature Reserve after the day had warmed up as the flowers do not open unless it is 16 degrees C or more.

khs-sa-tour-3An even wider selection of flowers here including succulents and the rare Halfmans or “half men” which look like an armless person and found nowhere else in the world. There were also eland grazing amongst the flowers.

On departing Springbok we went to Skilpad Nature Reservein the Namaqualand National Park. This was unbelievably stunning with large fields of orange Namaqua daisies which were dazzling to look at. There are also about 340 different species of many different colours in this area. The display was quite out of this world and we could easily have stayed longer than the 2 hours allocated. This area was originally farmland that had been ploughed hence the wonderful display of flowers.

khs-sa-tour-4On the way to Neuwoudtville, our next destination, we passed more wonderful flowers by the roadside and in the fields and then climbed the Vanrhyns Pass which was a very spectacular escarpment. From here we visited Neuwoudtville Waterfall while waiting for the day to warm up and the flowers to open. Then to Neuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve which is renowned for a spectacular bulb display with a varied range of species not found in Namaqualand.

On leaving the bulbs we passed fields that were a mass of different colours and species that we had not seen before. We had passed these fields earlier with no flowers in view however when the temperature had warmed up the flowers they gave a magnificent display.

khs-sa-tour-5We then headed back to Clanwilliam for another 2 nights down the dramatic Botterkloof Pass which was a very narrow dirt road and it was raining to add to the dramatic scenery. The next day we saw some San rock paintings and many different flowers along the trail. Before leaving Clanwilliam we went to the annual wildflower display in an old Dutch Reformed Church depicting different species of various areas.

This was a fantastic show and we were able to pick out various species that we had seen. We then headed to Lamberts Bay on the West Coast to see a colony of gannets on Bird Island. As the weather was cold and wet that day a planned visit to another Reserve was cancelled as the flowers would not have been open. So an early arrival at our hotel which enabled us to have a walk round the area.

khs-sa-tour-6On leaving the next day we went to the West Coast National Park which was the most spectacular area with a tapestry of different colours along with eland, gemsbok, bontebok, ostrich, zebra and springbok amongst the flowers.

Sadly we did not have long enough here and were only able to drive round the park and get out a couple of times before driving to Stellenbosch Botanical Garden forlunch and a walk round the gardens. Now into the wine lands we did some wine tasting along with visiting.

khs-sa-tour-7We then headed to Hermanus being the end of the tour and were lucky enough to see Southern Right Whales who come into the bay to breed. This was a lovely area with wonderful coastal walks with natural vegetation and flowers. On our final day we were taken to Fernkloof Nature Reserve which is a wonderful fynbos area – the coastal fynbos being different from the mountain slopes where many different species can be seen growing in close proximity.

Finally we went to Harold Porter Botanical Garden with very rich flora being in the coastal region where there were very many wonderful flowers.

khs-sa-tour-8We had the most fantastic trip and were extremely lucky with the weather being warm enough for the flowers to come out. There had also been very good winter rains which guarantees a good flower season. This one was said to be the best in 10 years. So good in fact that Gail is thinking of arranging another trip in 2 years time. We also had a very knowledgeable guide which made the tour even more interesting and a careful driver for our 32 seater bus!

 

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