FROM 20TH AUGUST 2015 TO 2ND SEPTEMBER 2015
By DICKE STEPHAN-KRAFT
WITH PHOTOS BY SUSIE ALLEYNE AND ANDRENA LOW

safari-cape-province-1

Sadly, our efficient tour organiser, Gail Paul, was unfortunately unable to be with us due to an injury.

The following members participated:
Karen: Patrick & Karen Plumbe, Andrena Low, Dicke Stephan-Kraft
Diani: Anne Vaughan
Nanyuki: Liz Coverdale, Jane McKeand, Julia Glen
Shimoni: Sandra Ruysenaars,
Limuru: Diana Shaw,
Langata: Sue Alleyne, Ann Sutcliffe
Germany: Erika Gorton, with Louis Jordaan, our driver, and Craig Dunlop, our guide from Cape Town.

We all met at the Glen Avon Lodge in Constantia, Cape Town. The next day we drove through Cape Town listening to our Guide’s very good explanations of the people and the history and, for those who wished, this was the opportunity to take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain. Luckily the weather was fine and calm.

safari-cape-province-2In the afternoon we went to the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens with many Protea flowering, and admired the most complete collection of Cycads, one in a cage because it was the last plant of this kind. Last year 27 younger plants had been dug out and stolen in one night. There was also a large collection of Erica. The greenhouse was interesting with desert plants from Namaqualand, the famous Welwitschia (which can live for 3000 years), Streptocarpus, Pelargonium, Lithops, Euphorbia, Mesembryanthemum (mesembs), Gasteria, Conophytum, Stapelia, Hoodia gordonii etc.

22nd August – we drove North to Clanwilliam and visited the Municipal Botanical Garden, Ramskop, with a lot of flowers in bloom: Drosanthemum speciosum, Leucospermum reflexum, Didelta spinosa, Oophytum oviforme (living stones) different Euphorbia, Lithops bella, Gazania, Ursinia cakilefolia, two ground orchids, Satyrium erectum and Holothrix aspera, Carpobrotus edulis, Aloe dichotoma in full bloom with yellow flowers, Arctotis, Diascia diffusa, Lapeirousia jacquinii, Oxalis, Grielum humifusum, Heliophila, Drosera and many more.

safari-cape-province-3In the afternoon we met for a Rooibos tea tasting near the Rooibos Tea Factory. The Rooibos plant, Aspalanthus linearis, can only be grown in this area, nowhere else in the world, and the demand for this Bushman tea is growing worldwide.

23rd August – We had a long drive to Springbok to the North (350 kms), a border town with Namibia. In between, we stopped in Vanrhynsdorp and visited the Kokerboom Succulent Nursery buying some seeds and looking at plants we might see on the safari.

24th August – We drove to the Goegap Nature Reserve with a display garden near the information centre – The Hester Malan Wildflower Garden set up with donations from different companies from Springbok. These were real desert plants: Conophytum meyeri, C.minutum and C.flavum. Aloe pillansii, Ramossima, Euphorbia filiflora, E. ephedroides, E. hamata, E.dregeana, E. virosa. Gasteria pilansii, Stapelia hirsuta, Cynanchum viminale, several species of Pelargonia, Quaqua mammillaris and a Pachypodium namaquanum in flower, dark brown-red with yellow throats (‘Half Men’).

safari-cape-province-4Outside the garden there were endless flowering fields, which, according to the Guide, were not natural. When the first farmers worked the land, they destroyed the Fynbos for wheatfields and other crops. Since the soil was so poor, they had to abandon these fields, but the flowers saw their chance and spread their seeds all over this disturbed soil and so was this flower miracle created.

25th August – Late morning we arrived at Namaqua National Park with miles of orange flowers (Dimorphotheca). It left us speechless. We wandered around, then had a picnic lunch and drove on a designated road, the Skilpad or ‘tortoise road’, where we saw some well fed Oryx (Gemsbok). Back in Springbok we found a very nice restaurant for dinner with lots of food and wine.

26th August – After breakfast we left for Nieuwoudtville, a little village with some historical buildings and one main road. On the roadside there was a small colony of the Red Cup & Saucer (Colchicum coloratum) which I had always wished to see. The next morning we went up to the local Wildflower Reserve, which is well known for bulbs. The yellow and orange Bulbinella were in full bloom, Spiloxene, Romulea (satin flower), Freesias from which our European hybrids descend, Irises, Ixias, Hesperantha, Ornithogalum, Geissorhiza, Moraea, Babiana – what a creation! I could have stayed for days. In the afternoon we headed back to Clanwilliam over the Botterkloof Pass. It started to rain and driving on the rough road with this big bus scared me to death. I was sitting on the floor and hoped that I will survive. Despite my fears, we arrived safely in Clanwilliam.

safari-cape-province-5We drove back to Sevilla Rock Art trail to walk to the Bushmen cave paintings, some 3-4 thousand years old. Luckily on the way we saw some spider lilies, very weird flowers. For our picnic we drove up into the mountains to a natural amphitheatre called Bushman’s Cave Bergtheater, set in towering unstable looking rocks and this is where big concerts are held.

27th August – We visited the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show, presented by the Botanical Society of Clanwilliam and held in an old Dutch Reform Church. The exhibits were divided into the mountain area (with Protea and the Disa orchid), the Fynbos area, the Deserts and the seashore. It was well designed and constructed with many plants we had already seen in the wilderness. We continued to Langebaan where we stayed directly on the coast. When we walked around the coastal Fynbos we saw Gladiolus bullatus, Gladiolus trichonemifolius, Babiana mucronata,
Ferraria variabilis, Ornithogalum fragrans and various Lachenalia. Wherever we went we saw new flowers.

28th August – We travelled further south, first to Bird Island where thousands of Gannets live producing Guano, one of the world’s most wanted fertiliser that in the 1950’s fetched an enormous price. There was also a young Penguin swimming in the harbour and further away a colony of seals. We then continued to the West Coast National Park on the Atlantic. There we saw finally more wildlife: Blue Wildebeest, Cape Mountain Zebra, Bontebok, Oryx (Gemsbok), Eland, Ostrich and Red Hartebeest surrounded by endless colourful flowers. The Cape Province was once covered with thousands and thousands of wild animals. It is very depressing that hardly anything is left. In the north of the West Coast National Park was Postberg Private Reserve, where we were surrounded by fields of flowers, Gazania both white and orange, Lampranthus aurantiacus, Dimorphoteca pluvialis and many more.

We carried on and arrived in Stellenbosch, a world name for wine. After a nice lunch in the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens we wandered around, (nothing special) and went on to Spiers Hotel which promotes Fair Trade.

safari-cape-province-629th August – It was raining in the morning when we drove to Babylonstoren Gardens where a young very enthusiastic lady explained to us all the edible plants and trees in that garden. They also produce olive oil and wine. We were invited to olive oil and wine tasting. We had our lunch in their restaurant in an old greenhouse where everything to eat was home-grown. In the afternoon we visited Vergelegen Gardens. After an introduction of the history, we were given an explanation of the garden, which was planted according to permaculture. More impressive I found were the ancient trees – two camphor trees planted c.1700-1706, enormous, and the oldest living Oak Tree planted by Jan van Riebeeck c.1700-1706. Next was wine tasting which was pretty poor. Back to Spiers.

30th August – We drove to Hermanus for Whale watching. Our hotel was right on the Ocean and when we arrived we saw one whale playing in the Water (Southern Right Whales). The Botanical Society of Hermanus has built a comfortable path along the ocean and in the late afternoon, we saw more whales including a Humpback Whale.

The last morning we drove to the Southern edge of Hermanus with two extra guides from the Botanical Society. They explained to us the geological features of the surrounding mountains and the flowers near the ocean. Then we went up to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve where we walked up the hill, saw a little tortoise and more flowers, especially Protea. (Protea acaulos, P. nitida, P. cynaroides, P. repens, P. speciosa, P. magnifica). One of the guides explained to us what all the Protea have in common. The flower is first a male flower and produces the pollen and after pollination it changes into a female flower and produces the seeds that stay in capsules and which need fire to germinate.

safari-cape-province-7

Lunch was at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens where we walked around in a beautiful landscape of majestic mountains and a waterfall behind. In the evening we met in a gourmet restaurant for the farewell dinner with Clive and Louis. Everybody struggled with the amount of really good dishes and wine.

It was a lovely safari, no troubles, nice companions and everyone added to its success. Good food, good wine, beautiful flowers and areas. The driver and guide were excellent. It could not have been better. It would be nice if we could repeat it.

safari-cape-province-8

safari-cape-province-9