Your holiday summary
|Price range||From £2995|
|Travel partner||Brightwater Holidays|
Need help with your booking?
0330 333 6701
Gardens of South Africa
We fly from London to Cape Town, where we enjoy a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, whose flora encompasses some 1470 species, including South Africa’s national flower, the Protea; visit Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens, truly one of the world’s top gardens, and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where we see a dazzling array of wild flowers. We also explore the area around Stellenbosch, with visits to two fascinating private gardens and the superb gardens and winery at Vergelegen.
We then fly to Durban and transfer to our hotel, which enjoys a spectacular location in the foothills of the northern Drakensberg Mountains. Here we will enjoy guided botanical walks in the surrounding area and also take an exciting trip through the Sani Pass and into neighbouring Lesotho.
We continue to Hluhluwe, where we will enjoy a boat cruise through the St Lucia Wetland Park, with its extraordinarily diverse range of wildlife, as well as a game viewing drive through the reserve, which is home to the Big Five - white rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant - and provides a moving, unforgettable experience. Visits to the Durban Botanic Gardens and Makaranga Lodge Gardens complete a memorable tour.
- 11 nights’ accommodation – 4 nights bed and breakfast at the 4-star Capetonian Hotel, Cape Town; 3 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the 3-star Drakensberg Gardens Golf Leisure Resort, Southern Drakensberg; 3 nights dinner, bed and breakfast at the Ezulwini Game Lodge, plus one picnic lunch; 1 night bed and breakfast at the City Lodge Hotel, Umhlanga Ridge, Durban (or similar)
- Scheduled flights from London Heathrow to Cape Town, Cape Town to Durban and Durban to Heathrow (via Johannesburg). Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and/or overnight accommodation at Heathrow before or after the tour available at a supplement
- Comfortable coaching in South Africa
- Visits to Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens, Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and Stellenbosch; Vergelegen Wine Estate and Gardens, Rustenberg Farm Gardens and the private gardens of Una van der Spuy and Stellenberg; St Lucia Wetlands Reserve (including boat cruise); Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve (including game viewing drives); Makaranga Lodge gardens (including lunch) and Durban Botanical Gardens; 4x4 excursion to Sani Pass and Lesotho
- Services of a Brightwater Holidays tour manager and local guides throughout
Depart from London Heathrow Airport on our scheduled overnight flight to Cape Town (regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request – please ask for a quotation).
On arrival in Cape Town we will be met by our comfortable coach and will transfer to our accommodation for the next three nights at the 4-star Capetonian Hotel, ideally situated opposite Cape Town’s International Convention Centre, minutes away from the famous V&A Waterfront. All rooms are fully equipped with private facilities. There is a restaurant in the hotel and your guide will also be able to offer advice on the eating establishments close to the hotel.
This morning, following breakfast, we will explore the many trails on top of Table Mountain (don’t worry - we will get to the top by the five minute cable car!). The indigenous flora of the mountain encompasses some 1470 species, including many different species of Erica and Iris. South Africa’s national flower, the Protea is also abundant on the slopes. Later we will visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, beautifully situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. These world renowned gardens are dedicated to the preservation of the indigenous plants of Southern Africa. Some 6000 different species are grown here including ancient cycads and many species of protea, erica, pelargoniums and ferns. This is truly one of the world’s top gardens. We return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.
Today, following breakfast, we will drive via the fishing village of Hout Bay and the spectacular Chapman’s Peak Drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, where we enjoy a full day tour. Once again indigenous fauna and flora are conserved in this priceless wilderness area, and at this time of year the wild flowers that carpet the landscape should be looking at their best. Within its 7750 hectares, the reserve sustains more varieties of plants than the British Isles, some 1100 indigenous species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world. We return, via Noordhoek, to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.
After breakfast today we drive towards Stellenbosch, where we come to the Rustenberg Farm Gardens, which owner Rozanne Barlow has extensively redesigned and replanted since 2001. Some of the features of the old garden have been retained – a swimming pool from 1926 has been converted to a lily pond with koi carp, and the 1892 pergola remains, now covered with vines and climbers. Elsewhere there are formal yet soft plantings of roses, foxgloves, irises, agapanthus and nicotania, with a surrounding of old English oaks. Next we call at Una Van der Spuy’s garden, which is tucked away in the Jonkershoek Valley and laid out around an Old Cape Dutch Manor House. Una’s gorgeous garden is a sight to behold with azaleas stealing the show in springtime. Later we drive in the direction of Somerset West for a visit to the Vergelegen Wine Estate and a tour through the garden. Vergelegen (meaning ‘situated far away’) has been a gardener’s paradise from the time the land was first tamed by Willem Adriaan van der Stel in 1700, since when has passed through a succession of owners. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited during their tour of 1947 and were said to be “overcome by Vergelegen’s loveliness”. The gardens were restored in 1987 and now feature a White Garden, a Rose Garden and the magnificent Octagonal Garden, which has views to the house along 400m of twin herbaceous borders. Along with summer flowering perennials, annuals such as cleome and nicotiana are planted in September. A wine tasting is also included here, a chance to enjoy on their native soil the fine Cape wines which are such a familiar sight on our supermarket shelves. Evening at leisure.
This morning, following breakfast, we check out of our hotel and transfer to Stellenberg Garden in Kenilworth, where the owner Mrs Sandy Ovenstone will take us on a tour. The manor house dating from the 1800s is a picturesque backdrop to the beautifully tended gardens, which owe much of their inspiration to three well known English gardens – Sissinghurst, Hidcote Manor and Hatfield House. The white garden alongside the house is a wonderful mix of romantic perennials, the vegetable patch boasts a companionable mix of herbs, vegetables, sweet peas and foxgloves, and the myrtle hedges are kept clipped as straight as a die. There is also a marsh garden area and a wonderful formal garden designed by David Hicks. Later we transfer to Cape Town domestic airport and check in for our afternoon flight to Durban. On arrival we will be met by a coach and transfer to the Southern Drakensberg, where our accommodation has been organised for the next three nights at the 3-star Drakensberg Gardens Golf & Leisure Resort, set on a scenic 860-acre estate near Underberg, with breathtaking views. Dinner is included each night. All rooms at the hotel have full private facilities and within the grounds there are extensive leisure facilities including a swimming pool and a spa centre.
Following breakfast we will have a leisurely botanical walk within the immediate vicinity of the hotel giving an introduction to the native flora. The dramatic terrain of the Drakensberg range has made it one of South Africa’s prime mountaineering areas, however, you do not need to be a seasoned climber to get the best out of the area. The scenery surrounding the hotel is outstanding with beautiful indigenous trees and plants, including varieties of protea and ancient tree ferns. Dinner will be served at the hotel.
After breakfast we depart on a full day excursion to the nearby independent kingdom of Lesotho, travelling in 4x4 vehicles on the spectacular mountain road that runs through the Sani Pass. Originally developed as a bridle path in 1913, the pass served as an important link between the Underberg district and the remote settlement of Mokhotlong and it remains the only border crossing with Kwa-Zulu Natal. The first motor vehicle negotiated the path in 1948 since when it has become a highlight of the Southern Drakensberg. The superb scenery is one of soaring mountain peaks (over 3000m), interspersed with verdant valleys. The tour will reveal the history of the pass, the geology of the mountains, the natural history and a unique experience with the Basotho people - a glimpse into traditional Africa. A cold beer and lunch at the highest pub in Africa is included before the descent back to Underberg. Dinner is served back at our hotel in the evening.
After a leisurely breakfast we drive to to the village of Hluhluwe. Accommodation has been arranged at the comfortable Ezulwini Game Lodge, situated a few miles outside the village in a private game park. All rooms are fully air-conditioned with private facilities (shower only), hairdryer and tea & coffee making facilities. Dinner is served in the evening.
After breakfast this morning we will explore the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park with a boat cruise through the Lagoon. A very special slice of Africa, the Wetland Park stretches along the Zululand coast from Mapelane in the south to Sodwana in the north and offers a diverse range of wildlife. While we can never guarantee that wild animals will co-operate by coming into view when we want them to, we hope to see some of the following species: Nile crocodile and hippo, as well as rhino (both black and white), elephant, buffalo, giraffe, waterbuck, kudu, nyala, impala, duiker and reedbuck, amongst others. In the afternoon we drive to the Memorial Gate of the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve where we will enjoy an open vehicle game-drive. Following our drive we return to our hotel, where dinner is once again served in the evening.
We rise early this morning (the best time to see wild animals) and return to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve, where we will again board open view safari vehicles. This is one of the largest game reserves in South Africa, covering an estimated 96 000 hectares, and encompasses three reserves: Hluhluwe, Umfolozi - two of Africa's oldest game reserves, both founded in 1895 - and the associated Corridor Reserve, proclaimed in 1989. The game reserve boasts the largest population of white rhino in the world and if luck is on our side we may see all of the Big Five – lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino – as well as encountering a variety of indigenous game from cheetah, wild dog and giraffe to zebra, nyala and crocodile. A picnic lunch is included today. After the game drive we return to the hotel, and dinner is served in the evening.
Following breakfast we drive to Durban and the Makaranga Garden Lodge, a luxury hotel with a private botanic garden which we will tour. Throughout the garden there is an impressive variety of both indigenous and exotic trees, including many rare species of Orchid, Camellia and Rhododendron. There are 18 ponds, including the Venus Pond and Long Pond, the latter being the largest waterway in Makaranga, and many beautiful statues in stone, bronze and marble, which have been imported from Italy and Zimbabwe. These graceful statues keep a watchful eye over the "Blue Pond", so named because of the bias towards different shades of blue and purple plant material. The authentic Japanese Garden boasts original bridges, walkways, stone lanterns and hand carved figures, all imported from Japan and set out according to ancient traditions. The ponds create a sense of stillness and calm, while the exquisite water lilies proudly display their pinks and purples. Following our tour we will enjoy lunch here, overlooking the gardens, and later continue to our comfortable accommodation at the City Lodge Hotel in Umhlanga Ridge, Durban. The hotel is situated near to the upmarket Gateway shopping and entertainment complex.
After breakfast we check out of the hotel, and depart for a guided tour of Durban’s splendid Botanical Gardens. Laid out on slopes, high enough to catch cool breezes, its beautiful collection of palms, trees, orchids and water lilies are superbly displayed. The gardens are world famous for the original specimens of Encephalartos woodii, a cycad that is still acknowledged as probably the rarest plant in the world, as well as for its comprehensive collection of other Southern African cycad species. The orchid house is named after Ernest Thorp, who built it up to its position of world fame as the first "naturalistic" display house. Later in the afternoon we transfer to Durban Airport for our flight back to London (via Johannesburg).
This morning we arrive back into London Heathrow where the group will disperse. (Once again regional flight connections can be arranged on request). As our programme is very full and varied please note that if there is ever a day you would prefer to relax at the hotel and make your own arrangements, please simply advise your guide the night before.
Northern Drakensberg, Mont-aux-Sources Hotel***
Situated in the heart of the majestic Northern Drakensberg, Orion Mont-Aux-Sources is less than four hours from either Johannesburg or Durban. More than 40 kilometres from the nearest town, this hotel has spectacular mountain views and a well deserved reputation for peace and tranquility. Facilities include : hotel bar, restaurant, terrace and swimming pool. All rooms have an en-suite bathroom, a tea/coffee station, telephone and satellite TV.
Durban, Tropicana Hotel***
Overlooking the beautiful Indian Ocean, Tropicana Hotel is located on the famous Golden Mile and offers breath-taking views to the sea. The onsite restaurant serves delicious cuisine for you to feast on, and guests can also relax at the cafe with snacks and beverages as well as sip on various drinks at the cosy bar. Room facilities include air conditioning, private bathroom, hairdryer, cable / satellite TV, minibar and tea and coffe making facilities.
Hluhluwe Hotel & Safaris
Hluhluwe Hotel and Safaris is set in the heart of the Kingdom of the Zulu and the beautiful untamed Elephant Coast in KwaZulu Natal. The Hotel is renowned for its African ambiance, excellent cuisine and personal touch . Hluhluwe hotel has 75 spacious fully air conditioned ensuite bedrooms, with television, telephone, tea and coffee making facilities.
Cape Town, City Lodge V&A Waterfront Hotel***
This centrally located hotel boasts facilities including a swimming pool, and en-suite rooms equipped with air conditioning, televisions, safes and tea and coffee making facilites.
This holiday is booked by phone. Click 'book now' to make a reservation request to our travel partner who will call you back to confirm your booking details and take payment. To speak to a representative now please call 0330 333 6701.