Colours of South Africa
Flanked by the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans, South Africa is rich in stunning natural landscapes, exceptional gardens, exciting art and profound history.
Begin in vibrant Johannesburg, the world’s largest man-made ‘urban jungle’, which will be ablaze with the purple flame of jacaranda blooms, before embarking on a journey to explore the dramatic landscapes and cultures of this fascinating country. Drive along one of the world’s most remarkable coastal stretches, the famed ‘Garden Route’, and discover the unique Cape Dutch architecture, the magnificent wine estates, homesteads and gardens in the Cape Winelands.
End in glorious Cape Town, shadowed by iconic Table Mountain and renowned for its rich history, historic homesteads, exceptional gardens and lively artistic and cultural life, now crowned by the newly-opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art.
This tour is organised by the Foundation & Friends of the Botanic Gardens in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Depart Australia or New Zealand on suggested Qantas or Air New Zealand flights to Johannesburg. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements.
Arrive in Johannesburg in the late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. Join Jean and fellow travellers for a welcome drink at the hotel.
Start the morning with talk by Jean, then begin your exploration of the complex nature of South Africa with a morning visit to Soweto, South Africa’s largest and most vibrant ‘township’. Visit Freedom Square, the historical Regina Mundi church where many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings took place in the 1990s under the chairmanship of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the former home of Nelson and Winnie Mandela in Vilakazi Street.
After lunch, continue to the fascinating and poignant Apartheid Museum, the country’s pre-eminent museum dealing with 20th century South Africa.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon, with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
After breakfast, visit Brenthurst Gardens, one of South Africa’s most magnificent private gardens. Located on Parktown Ridge, the gardens are attached to Brenthurst Estate, which has been owned by the Oppenheimer family since 1904. The ‘Little Brenthurst’ homestead was designed by colonial architect Sir Herbert Baker in the ‘Cape Dutch’ style. The 19-hectare park of woodland, formal and informal gardens has evolved over time with the help of a succession of remarkable gardeners. Since 2001 Strilli Oppenheimer has implemented numerous organic, ecologically-friendly garden practices, gradually adapting the planting to its Highveld setting, introducing indigenous grass and endemic plants.
After lunch, visit the Maboneng arts precinct, the ‘creative heart of Johannesburg’. In recent decades, Maboneng has led the inner-city artistic renaissance, and its private galleries and public art spaces embody the thriving energy of contemporary African art that was unleashed when the country was freed from the yoke of Apartheid.
Embark on a half-day guided walking tour of a selection of historic private homes and gardens in Parktown and Westcliff, two of Johannesburg’s oldest and most established suburbs and home to the former domains of the so-called ‘Randlords’ of the gold mining boom during the early 1900s. Some homesteads were designed by Sir Herbert Baker, who also designed both the Union Buildings in Pretoria and the government buildings in New Delhi. Enjoy an early afternoon tea at a hotel situated on Westcliff with sweeping views over Johannesburg’s verdant northern suburbs. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
In the early morning, check out of the hotel and transfer to Johannesburg Airport for a short flight to Port Elizabeth. Drive along the famous coastal ‘Garden Route’ through the beautiful Tsitsikamma National Park, famous for its towering yellowwood trees and dramatic coastline.
After lunch, continue to Knysna, a picturesque historical coastal town in the heart of the Garden Route famous for its lagoon – and oysters!
Enjoy a leisurely day of sightseeing in and around Knysna including the dramatic Knysna Heads and lagoon, historic jetty, and Leisure Isle. Then, visit Knysna Fine Art, one of South Africa’s leading art galleries, in the elegant heritage building of Thesen House. Knysna Fine Art has a particular focus on contemporary South African visual arts, but also exhibits tribal artwork, ceramics and photographs.
After lunch, visit a private garden before returning to the hotel in the mid-afternoon for the remainder of the day at leisure.
Drive from Knysna past dramatic scenery along the spectacular coastal road. Visit the Garden Route Botanical Garden, which plays an important role in both the conservation and raising of awareness of the Cape floral kingdom, one of the richest and yet one of the most threatened floral kingdoms on earth.
After lunch, drive over the dramatic Outeniqua mountains to the town of Oudtshoorn in the ‘Little Karoo’, once the booming capital of the world’s ostrich feather industry during Edwardian times. Dinner is at the hotel.
This morning, awake early for a unique pre-dawn experience observing meerkats in their natural environment. After returning to the hotel for breakfast, visit a historic ostrich farm and homestead. Following lunch, visit the magnificent Cango Caves, a cultural and natural landmark in South Africa.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon for an evening at leisure.
Check out of the hotel and depart Oudtshoorn for a full-day drive along the scenic Route 62 through the Little Karoo, passing through quaint country towns.
After lunch, continue through dramatic mountain scenery to Franschhoek, stopping briefly at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden for an insight into the unique vegetation of this part of the world. Arrive in the early evening in the charming village of Franschhoek, nestled in a rich and fertile valley among towering mountains. Dinner is at the hotel.
Enjoy a full day in the magnificent Cape Winelands, starting with a tour of Franschhoek, founded in 1688 by the French Huguenots and now synonymous with South Africa’s wine industry. Continue to the oak tree-lined university town of Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second oldest European settlement after Cape Town.
In the afternoon, visit the historical Boschendal wine estate and gardens for a wine tasting and lunch under the oak trees. Designed by Gwen Fagan, an authority on old gardens at the Cape, Boschendal estate’s internationally-acclaimed rose garden features many of the original rose varieties that were cultivated at the Cape and in the East Indies. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.
This morning, visit the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden, a place of expansive vistas, scents and sounds of nature, with tranquil groves, hidden paths and lush indigenous vegetation. Continue to the fascinating Babylonstoren estate. Dating back to 1692, Babylonstoren is a historic Cape Dutch farm that boasts one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape. Divided into 15 sections, its fascinating garden comprises fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants and fragrant lawns.
After lunch, return to Franschhoek stopping at the historical farm of La Motte for a brief tour of the Pierneef Art Museum. Arrive at the hotel in the early evening.
Check out from the hotel this morning and depart Franschhoek for Cape Town. En route, visit the Vergelegen Estate (meaning “situated far away”), for a picnic lunch and tour of the estate. Founded in 1700 and world-renowned for its gardens, Vergelegen is home to many significant trees, the most important of which are five historic camphor trees, believed to have been planted in 1700 by Governor Willem Adriaan van der Stel and declared National Monuments in 1942. There is also an English Oak, believed to be the oldest living oak tree in Africa at over 300 years old, while the estate’s ‘Royal Oak’ was planted in 1928 from an acorn originating from the last of King Alfred’s oak trees at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
Continue to Cape Town for a traditional afternoon tea and tour of the remarkable gardens of the world famous Mount Nelson Hotel before transferring to our hotel in Sea Point. The evening is at leisure.
In the morning, enjoy a city tour of Cape Town, starting with a visit to the Castle of Good Hope, which houses a collection of historical items relating to the Dutch East India Company. Then visit the Company’s Garden, situated on the site of Governor Jan van Riebeeck’s vegetable garden established in 1652 to supply fresh produce to the company’s ships bound for the East.
After lunch, enjoy a guided tour of the newly-opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art. Since its inauguration in late 2017, the Zeitz MOCAA has firmly established Cape Town as the major centre for contemporary African art, including the works of African Diaspora artists worldwide. The museum is housed in a converted 1920s grain silo, with its new glass windows giving a ‘cathedral-like’ appearance to the building, and boasts over 100 galleries spread across nine floors.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. The evening is at leisure.
After breakfast, visit Stellenberg, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful Cape Dutch historic homesteads in the Cape Peninsula, with its balanced design, classical decoration, and renowned, spectacular gardens. Then continue to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, and for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays. Covering over 500 hectares, Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants and supports a diverse fynbos (‘fine bush’) flora and natural forest.
Travel down the coast to Kalk Bay and enjoy a special farewell lunch with Jean and fellow travellers, overlooking the ocean and surrounding mountains.
Return to Cape Town via the dramatic Chapman’s Peak Drive, which hugs the Atlantic seaboard – South Africa’s ‘Riviera’.
For those tour members continuing on the post-tour to Victoria Falls, check out from the hotel in the early morning and transfer to Cape Town Airport for a flight to Victoria Falls Airport.
For those not continuing on to the post-tour, check out from the hotel and transfer to Cape Town Airport (transfer included in tour price). Tour arrangements conclude on arrival at Cape Town Airport. Suggested departure on British Airways flights to Johannesburg to connect with suggested Qantas flights to Australia or New Zealand. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
30 August 2019
Please see Terms and Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian passport holders do not require a visa to visit South Africa.
New Zealand passport holders require a visa to visit South Africa.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located 4- and 5-star hotels with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner, T = Afternoon Tea), including wine
- Economy Class flight from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg on tour departure
- Airport porterage
- Items of a personal nature including telephone, laundry, taxis, minibar, room service etc.
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Visa (if required)
Johannesburg – 54 on Bath*****
Knysna – Protea Hotel Knysna Quays****
Oudtshoorn – Queen’s Hotel****
Franschhoek – Le Franschhoek****+
Cape Town – Winchester Mansions Hotel and Spa****+
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.
Optional Post-Tour to Victoria Falls
12–15 November 2019 (4 days)
Extend your exploration of Africa by spending three nights at the elegant colonial Victoria Falls Hotel located on the edge of the majestic Victoria Falls, with private tours of the Falls and a full-day safari in Botswana’s Chobe National Park.
At a glance:
- Visit the astounding Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, where half a billion litres of water cascade down every minute
- Explore Botswana’s Chobe National Park, famous for its elephant population, on a full-day excursion including a river safari
- Stay in the elegant Edwardian-style Victoria Falls Hotel, built as part of the Cape-to-Cairo railway project of the early 20th century