Day 1 Depart UK
- We transfer to our hotel, situated within Cape Town’s famous waterfront area, and settle in. This afternoon we visit Kirstenbosch, the oldest botanical gardens in South Africa. It is an ideal place to see plants from all of South Africa’s natural biomes.
- Accommodation: Cape Town Waterfront, 2-nights on bed and breakfast basis
- Today is a full day exploration of Cape Peninsula. We tour the famous Atlantic Seaboard, including upmarket Clifton and Camps Bay, and at Hout Bay we take a 30-minute boat cruise to Seal Island to see the breeding colony of Cape fur seals.
- Later we visit Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. This area is famous for its botanical diversity, and we can have a close up look at ‘fynbos’, the collective name for thousands of species that thrive here. Here there are fantastic opportunities for macro photography. We then tour the scenic False Bay coastline.
- We pack up and head north through the Swartland, a region which offers good displays of wildflowers. Later we turn west towards the coast, where we visit Lamberts Bay and the famous Bird Island. From a hide we can observe over 10 000 breeding pairs of Cape gannets and other birds from close-up.
- Tonight we stay at a guest farm which offers delicious meals and comfortable lodging, the perfect base for exploring nearby flowering areas.
- Accommodation: Vredendal, 2-nights on a full board basis
- We spend the day in the nearby Nieuwoudville area (known as the ‘Bulb Capital of the World’), with superb opportunities to photograph endemic plants in flower. This region lies on the highlands, near the edge of the escarpment, with different rainfall patterns and varying soil types, creating perfect conditions for amazing botanical diversity. There are often spectacular mass displays of wildflowers here.
- Today we travel into the heart of Namaqualand. This is a semi-desert region, so wildflower displays depend on the rainfall patterns during the preceding winter months.
- Our base for the next four nights is the tiny village of Kamieskroon, where we stay in the homely Kamieskroon Hotel. From here we can reach a diverse range of flowering areas; from the extensive flowering plains of Namaqualand National Park and the Springbok area, to the colourful natural “rockeries” in the mountains and succulents on the coast. We go on full-day outings during our stay here, and the itinerary will be adjusted depending on where the best flowers are at the time, and daily weather conditions. Typically we will take a packed lunch each day.
- During our stay we visit the Geogap Nature Reserve and its superb Hester Malan Wildflower Garden. In addition to its flowers, this reserve offers some of the best wildlife and birding in the Northern Cape, including the endangered Hartmann’s zebra, aardwolf and honey badger, as well a wide variety of antelope. To date, 94 species of birds have been recorded here, including the Cape eagle owl, marsh harrier and the cinnamon-breasted warbler.
- Accommodation: Kamieskroon, 4-nights on full board basis
- Today we travel southward over the vast quartz gravel plains of the Knersvlakete, with time to stop and observe endemic succulent plants and flowers from close-up. These tiny plants are ideal for macro photography. Tonight we stay in a homely guesthouse in Clanwilliam, where we enjoy a South African “braai” dinner.
- Accommodation: Clanwilliam, 2-nights on full board basis
- Today we head into the Northern Cederberg. There is an opportunity to hike the Sevilla Rock Art Trail, a five kilometre walk through several rock art sites dating back thousands of years, with impressive rock formations and endemic flowering plants to photograph. We stop in the remote mountain village of Wupperthal, where time seems to have stood still for the last hundred years.
- We enjoy an exploration day in the centre of the Cederberg Wilderness Area, where we stay in self-catering cottages on a farm deep in the mountains. The mountains rise to over 2000 metres and offer superb landscape and flower photography opportunities. During our stay here we have the option to hike to some of the most impressive and famous rock formations. Should you prefer to take it easy, the area around the cottages offers plenty of photographic opportunities, and the option of relaxing in nature or swimming in the river. Our guide will do the catering, ranging from al fresco picnics to traditional “braai” dinners on the open fire.
- Accommodation: Cederberg, 2-nights on full board basis
- We travel south through some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in South Africa. ‘Cape Fold Mountains’ is the collective name for the vast series of mountain chains pushed up and buckled by tectonic pressure. This region harbours a unique diversity of plants, and we have a closer look at some of the interesting species. A highlight includes crossing Bainskloof Pass, an early wagon route, high over the mountains.
- We base ourselves in the centre of Stellenbosch, in the Cape Winelands, for the last part of our tour.
- Accommodation: Stellenbosch, 1-night with breakfast and lunch.
- Today we tour along the scenic False Bay Coast to visit the Harold Porter Botanical Reserve at Kleinmond. There are many easy walks through different vegetation types, indigenous to the Cape. It is an easy way to view a cross-section of flowering plants from the Cape Mountains and coastline.
- In the afternoon we head to Cape Town International Airport for the flight home.
Day 16 Arrive UK
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Guided activities
- All meals
- Photography tuition from Chris Mattison
- Services of a local flower expert in Namaqualand
All accommodation is very comfortable, from beautiful cottages with character, to sophisticated hotels on Cape Town Marina, or warm and friendly guesthouses. All rooms are en suite.
All meals are included.
In some places our guide will cook a typical braai (Afrikaans for 'barbecue') in the evening.
The birdlife in the Western Cape is prolific with over 610 species recorded in the area. It is well known for its great variety of endemics, as well as offering the best wader and pelagic watching in the country. Sunbirds, long-tailed Cape sugarbirds, or the black oystercatcher are just some of the highlights, and of course the charismatic African penguin.
Namaqualand birding is very similar to the Karoo region, with a good selection of endemics. It is in fact the most accessible place in the world to see the endemic Barlow’s lark, and offers the best sites in the region for Ludwig’s bustard and Cape eagle owl. Cederberg is home to more than 100 bird species, and is great for raptors.
- Verreaux's eagle
- Jackal buzzard
- Yellow canary
- African stonechat
Cederberg is rich in wildlife, the highlights being porcupine, honey badger, Cape clawless otter and aardvark, while the most common mammals we may encounter include baboon, dassie (rock hyrax), grey rhebok, klipspringer, duiker and grysbok. Namaqualand area is good for antelopes such as springbok and bontebok.
- Cape fur seal
A variety of butterflies, moths, locusts and spiders are found in the Cederberg Conservancy. Namaqualand, with its bloom of flowers that produce sugar-rich nectar, attracts a great diversity of pollinators, such as butterflies, moths, flies and bees. These flies and bees have mouth parts up to 8-12mm long and some have tongues as long as 70 to 80mm to give them access to the flower tubes.
- Green milkweed locust
- Blue monkey beetle
- Large silver-spotted copper
- Robber fly
Reptiles and amphibians
The endemic speckled Cape tortoise, also called speckled padloper, is the smallest tortoise species in the world. The armadillo lizard is an endemic reptile from the Cederberg; there are also about 16 snake species.
- Speckled Cape tortoise
- Many-horned adder
- Armadillo girdled lizard
- Branch's rain frog
Most of the plants of Namaqualand are indigenous and some are so rare they are found nowhere else in the world. The Cape Floristic region is also quite unique, hosting one of the world’s sixth plant kingdoms such as proteas, ericas, reeds, and bulbous plants with an unrivalled diversity of over 9,000 species recorded, half of which are found nowhere else in the world. The Succulent Karoo region is the only entirely arid global diversity with its unique flora and fauna. Over 6,300 plant species can be found there and 40% are endemic to the area.
- Cleretum bellidiforme(Dorotheanthus bellidiformis)
- Weather Prophet (Dimorphotheca pluvialis)
- Gazania krebsiana
In the Cederberg mountainous region, the dominating characteristic of the area is the sharply defined sandstone rock formations (Table Mountain group), which are often reddish in colour. The predominant vegetation is Mediterranean fynbos in the wetter south and west, changing to semi-desert scrub in the north and east.
The rugged and spectacular Table Mountain range is a mix of soft white sandy beaches, rocky coves, and sand flats.
Namaqualand is an arid and sparsely populated region of Southern Africa, extending along the Atlantic coast and divided by the lower course of the Orange River into two portions – Little Namaqualand to the south and Great Namaqualand to the north. A part of Little Namaqualand, known as the Richtersveld, is a World Heritage Site.
This tour is a dedicated photography trip, led by an award-winning wildlife photographer who specialises in macro and landscape techniques.
Most activities involve walking, and are ‘nature walks’ taken at a very slow pace to allow time for photography tuition. Hikes in the Cederberg mountainous environment are moderate with the highest point at 2,000m above sea level.
The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is a 5km trail following the Brandewyn River and visiting nine sites of rock art paintings, left behind by the San people, who inhabited the area for thousands of years. The trail offers some of the finest examples of rock art in the district and a fascinating glimpse into the world of these early inhabitants. The walk is relatively easy, and in spring we are surrounded by the wild flowers of the area with more photography opportunities.
Included is a boat trip from Hout Bay to Seal Island to see Cape fur seals.
In recent years a few important fossils have been discovered in argillaceous layers of the Cederberg. The fossils are of primitive fish and date back 450 million years to the Ordovician Period. In caves and overhangs throughout the area, San rock art can be found, providing evidence of the earliest human inhabitants.
Price includes return scheduled flights London – Cape Town – London
Ground transportation will be by minibus with driver.
On this tour we will travel from sea level to up to 2,000m high in the Cederberg area.
Namaqualand is semi-desert, with hot, dry summers and cold winters with variable, generally sparse rainfall. Most precipitation occurs between May and August. The eastern part of the park receives more rainfall than the west.
Cape Town and Cape Peninsula enjoy a Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild wet winters, but as they border the coast in the furthest south part of the continent, wind can be unpredictable. We are visiting at the end of the rainy season (May to September) in spring time after the flowers have blossomed in beautiful colours, encouraged by the heat and moisture.