Exceptional Gardens and Private Reserves
Last November the most superb gardens the Cape were visited to establish a new tour. Most are private and created by their owners with great panache. Some surround manor houses of wine estates others are extensive gardens of plant collectors. A Mediterranean climate, acid soil, good water supplies combine well with a good sense of design. Above all the majestic towering mountains covered in indigenous fynbos frame the gardens with the perfect borrowed landscape. The fabulous gardens at Kirstenbosch have nearly only indigenous species, protea, leucospermum (pincushions), restios and many more. All can be found in the wild. An extensive new garden at the Babylonstoren Wine Estate designed by Patrice Taravella was a real discovery. Patrice’s own delightful garden at La Prieuré d’Orsan was the basis of his design in the Cape.
This eclectic collection of gardens has become the first part of our new tour in November 2013, the start of summer in the Cape. For the second week we move into the hinterland, to the hauntingly beautiful Little Karoo, bordered by the Warmwaterberg mountains. Here we stay on a 54,000 hectare private wildlife conservation estate. Fynbos (renosterveld) covers an extensive area and quartz fields (vygieveld) comprising of small succulent shrubs. Above all the game drives will reveal the result of re-introducing animal species not seen here for more than a century. A pride of tawny and white lions is now established, white rhinos, giraffes and a herd of elephants can be seen together with many antelope varieties, kudu, oryx, springbok and zebra. The sunrise game drive is quite magical returning three hours later for a hearty breakfast.
Transferring to the coast, our next private nature reserve overlooks the Gansbaai coast. Surrounded by ancient milkwood thickets and extensive flynbos, we enjoy an excursion in the hills with a specialist guide, the swathes of watsonia are very eye-catching. Southern Right Whales are often to be seen breaching and blowing close to the coast and an early morning wake up call by the Cape sugarbirds is special.