Gardens of South Africa
Flanked by the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the east, South Africa is rich in indigenous flora, exceptional gardens, stunning natural landscapes and diverse cultures.
Begin in vibrant Johannesburg before embarking on a journey to explore the unique flora and fauna, and dramatic landscapes and cultures of this fascinating country. Drive along one of the world’s most remarkable coastal stretches, the famed ‘Garden Route’. Discover the unique Cape Dutch architecture, magnificent wine estates and spectacular gardens in the magnificent Cape Winelands. End in glorious Cape Town, shadowed by iconic Table Mountain and renowned for its rich history, lively cultural life and more exceptional private and botanical gardens.
Safari in the Kruger National Park post-tour extension now available!
Suggested departure from Australia on Qantas flight to South Africa departing Sydney at 11.50am arriving in Johannesburg the same day at 5.00pm. Renaissance Tours can assist you with your travel arrangements.
Begin your exploration of the complex nature of South Africa with a morning visit to Soweto, South Africa’s largest and most vibrant so-called ‘township’. Visit Freedom Square, the historical Regina Mundi church where many of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions 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 so-called ‘Little Brenthurst’ homestead was designed by colonial architect Sir Herbert Baker in the so-called ‘Cape Dutch’ style. The 48-acre 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, continue to the Garden of St Christopher, an estate that seamlessly integrates Italian garden design with contemporary English border planting. Spend time wandering through the many facets of this garden including highlights such as the classical pergola and formal parterre, as well as an oval reflection pond and azalea bowl.
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 of 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. Lunch is 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.
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. Lunch is at the Storms River Mouth. In the late-afternoon arrive in 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, and visit the wonderful gardens of the Belvidere Estate on the shore of the lagoon. Comprising a historic manor, church and ‘village’, Belvidere Estate is a nature-lover’s paradise with more than 270 bird species. This evening is at leisure.
Drive from Knysna along the spectacular coastal road with dramatic scenery via Wilderness to George. 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 so-called ‘Little Karoo’, once the booming capital of the world’s ostrich feather industry during Edwardian times. Dinner is at the hotel.
A pre-dawn start this morning for a unique experience to observe meerkats in their natural environment before returning to the hotel for breakfast. In the late morning leave the hotel again to visit a historic ostrich farm and homestead, and later the magnificent Cango Caves, a cultural and natural landmark in South Africa. Return to the hotel in the afternoon for dinner later that evening.
Leave Oudtshoorn for a full-day drive along the scenic Route 62 through the Little Karoo passing through quaint country towns including Calitzdorp, Ladismith, Barrydale and Montagu. 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 glorious oak tree-lined university town of Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second oldest European settlement after Cape Town. Then visit the historical Boschendal wine estate and gardens for a wine tasting and lunch under the oak trees. The estate’s internationally-acclaimed rose garden was designed by Gwen Fagan, an authority on old gardens at the Cape, and features many of the original roses that were cultivated at the Cape and in the East Indies. Return to the hotel in the late afternoon.
This morning we first visit the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden, a place of expansive vistas, scents and the 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. Its fascinating garden is divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns and more. A secluded path runs along the stream where thousands of clivias flower in spring. The garden also boasts a plethora of trees of historical and botanical importance.
After lunch, return to Franschhoek stopping (time permitting) at the historical farm of La Motte for a brief tour of the Pierneef art museum. Arrive at the hotel in the late afternoon.
Depart Franschhoek this morning for Cape Town. En route, visit the Vergelegen Estate (meaning “situated far away”), founded in 1700 and world-renowned for its exquisite gardens. As well as extensive 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 Van der Stel and declared National Monuments in 1942. There is also an Old English Oak, over 300 years old and believed to be the oldest living oak tree in Africa, while the “Royal” Oak was planted in 1928 from an acorn originating from the last of King Alfred’s oak trees at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.
After a picnic lunch under the trees, continue to Cape Town, stopping en route (time permitting) at Vergenoegd wine estate to see the famous ‘march of the ducks’. Arrive in the Mother City in the late afternoon. This evening is at leisure.
This morning enjoy a city tour of Cape Town, starting with a cable car ride up Table Mountain (weather permitting), followed by a visit to the Castle of Good Hope, which now 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.
Then drive to the Cellars-Hohenort estate in the historical Constantia Valley. Originally known as Klaasenbosch Farm, Cellars-Hohenort was the sprawling estate that belonged to the chief surgeon of the Dutch East India Company in 1693.
After lunch, enjoy a guided walk through the estate’s award-winning gardens, which in 2010 garnered the Relais & Châteaux Garden Award for their exceptional appearance. The gardens around the hotel reflect the property’s long history, with trees dating back hundreds of years, while there are more than 2,500 roses in the gardens. Immaculately maintained, the different sections of the gardens display some of the Cape’s best indigenous flora.
Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. This 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 the glorious 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 1,300 acres, Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African plants and supports a diverse fynbos (Afrikaans for ‘fine bush’) flora and natural forest. The cultivated gardens display collections of South African plants, particularly those from the winter rainfall region of the country.
Continue to Cape Point Nature Reserve, where Cape Point is perceived to be where the Atlantic and Indian oceans ‘meet’. The reserve is a floral treasure with over one thousand different species of Cape fynbos.
We will enjoy a farewell lunch at the restaurant, from where the views over the ocean and surrounding mountains are stunning.
Return to Cape Town via the dramatic Chapman’s Peak Drive hugging the Atlantic seaboard, South Africa’s ‘Riviera’.
Tour arrangements conclude after breakfast. If you are returning home today, transfer to Cape Town International Airport in the early afternoon for flights to Johannesburg to connect with a Qantas flight in the early evening to Sydney.
Arrive in Australia.
*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.
Final payment due
31 July 2017
Please see booking conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa for South Africa.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels with private facilities and breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner). Wines with meals
- Transportation throughout in comfortable air-conditioned coaches
- Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours for assistance)
- Transfers on arrival and departure (taxis are readily available)
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
- Travel insurance (recommended)
- Airport porterage
Johannesburg – Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The Rosebank****+
Knysna – Protea Hotel Knysna Quays****
Oudtshoorn – Oudtshoorn Inn***
Franschhoek – Le Franschhoek****
Cape Town – Winchester Gardens****+
NB. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted
17–20 October 2017 (4 days)
Safari in the Kruger National Park
Few visitors leave South Africa without visiting the world-famous Kruger National Park. This enormous and magnificent park is home to literally hundreds of different plant, tree, animal and bird species.
Situated on the banks of the Crocodile River, and overlooking the Park, Bushwise Safari Lodge combines the real Kruger safari experience, boasting comfortable accommodation in a unique ‘bush’ ambiance. With animals wandering freely around the lodge, you can relax at the raised deck bar and watch a variety of wildlife drinking at the river’s edge. At night, hear the roar of the lions, the call of hyenas and the grunting of hippos from the darkness of the African wilderness.
Enjoy the thrill of safari excursions deep into the Kruger Park both on foot and in the lodge’s open safari vehicle with qualified rangers and experience all the wonders of this unique eco-system.
Tue 17 Oct 2017 / Cape Town – Kruger National Park
Take a morning flight from Cape Town to Nelspruit where you will be met by your English-speaking driver and be taken to the lodge. In the late afternoon, meet your ranger and depart on an afternoon game drive in the Kruger Park. Throughout the game drive, your ranger will keep you occupied with interesting facts about the animals you encounter as well as about the plant and bird life of the area. Return to the lodge after sundown and enjoy a traditional South African-style dinner in a ‘boma’ (thornbush enclosure) under the stars.
Wed 18 Oct / Kruger National Park
Depart the lodge at dawn for a full day ‘on safari’ in the Kruger Park. Your personal guide will first cook you breakfast overlooking one of the water holes. The African bush is at its most active in the early morning and there is the chance of seeing some of the large cats like lion, leopard and cheetah, and wild dogs coming to the end of their night-time hunting spree or feeding on a kill from the previous night. There will be a number of stops during the day, on one of which you will have the opportunity to buy some lunch. Return to the lodge in the late afternoon and maybe enjoy a refreshing dip in the pool before dining under the stars.
Thu 19 Oct / Kruger National Park
This morning, get to feel and smell the bush on foot. An armed game ranger will accompany you on a walk through the bush where you will track animals’ spoors, observe habits of the wildlife and learn about the medicinal use of plants and trees. Sightings of some of the Big Five is a possibility. You will be back at the lodge around 10.00 for a well-deserved hearty breakfast.
Enjoy the rest of the morning at leisure and escape the worst of the day’s heat the way the animals do, with an afternoon nap, or laze by the pool.
In the late afternoon, embark on a sunset game drive during which you can expect to see the nocturnal animals that are usually in hiding during the day. Experience an unforgettable sunset that only Africa can produce.
Fri 20 Oct / Kruger National Park – Johannesburg – Australia
After breakfast, enjoy a leisurely walk on the banks of the Crocodile River with a qualified field guide, who will enlighten you with his knowledge and passion for the African bush. Zebra, blue wildebeest, kudu, warthog and giraffe are just some of the game that you might encounter on the walk – not to mention the eponymous crocodiles! He will also point out the amazing variety of bird species and trees of this region.
After returning to the lodge, check out and transfer to Nelspruit airport for your flight to Johannesburg. If you are returning to Australia today, most flights depart Johannesburg in the early evening, arriving in Australia the following afternoon. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with all your travel arrangements including flights and any additional nights’ accommodation.