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172Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryWild Flowers of the Cape & NamaqualandA 14-day appreciation of the magnificent spring flowers of southern Africa - from the Cape to Namaqualand - at the peak of the wild flower season.Thursday 5th September - Wednesday 18th September Cost: £4,295Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2/4Cape Town.Day 5Stellenbosch.Day 6/7Langebaan.Day 8/9Nieuwoudtville.Day 10Springbok.Day 11/12Augrabies NationalPark.Day 13Depart Cape Town.Day 14Arrive London.AccommodationComfortable guesthouses andhotels, most with private facilities;national park chalets at Augrabies.FoodAll breakfasts and eight eveningmeals included. Allow £120 forremaining meals.GradingA. Day walks only.Focus Plants, and other wildlife.LeadersMaureen Ponting and JeremyExcelby.Single room supplement £195.Web quick search: ZAF10AUGRABIES FALLSNATIONAL PARKUPINGTONPOFADDERORANGE RIVERSPRINGBOKLANGEBAANCAPE TOWNNIEUWOUDTVILLESTELLENBOSCHBETTY'SBAYATLANTIC OCEANSOUTH AFRICANAMIBIASouth Africa offers a unique flora in awild and beautiful country. Here,spring starts at the beginning ofSeptember and our tour has been plannedat this time in order to see as much of theflora as possible in many different habitats,always amongst stunning scenery. Never farfrom mountains and sea on this holiday,and hopefully blessed with brilliantsunshine, we will explore the CapePeninsula, the west coast of Namaqualandto Springbok, and north-east as far as theAugrabies National Park on the OrangeRiver. Covering a hugely diversegeographical area in easy stages, we willhave plenty of time to walk and enjoy theflowers and other natural history.We begin our holiday with a visit toKirstenbosch Botanic Garden on the slopesof Table Mountain, famous for its collectionof native plants including Proteas,Restios,heaths and bulbous plants. These are thedominant ingredients of the 'fynbos'vegetation. Above the garden is a beautifulstand of the Silver Tree (Leucadendronargenteum), endemic to the Cape. Many ofthe Proteasare pollinated by birds, and weare sure to see sunbirds as they flit fromone brightly coloured flowerhead to another.Armed with the knowledge gathered fromthe previous day, we head next to theCape Peninsula to explore our first wildfynbos. Here, we will see Erica plunkenetiiwith its long tubular red flowers, andanother heath with bright sticky redflowers, Erica cerinthoides. Phylicaericoides, a stiff shrub with white flowers,the prostrate Protea acaulis, and the CapeSugarbush (Protea repens) will also befound. Amongst these shrubs are someinteresting bulbous plants: Moraeasthatresemble small irises, Trachyandras,Romuleas, and incredibly blue Babianas.We will then travel along the coast fromGordon's Bay to Betty's Bay, where we willvisit the Harold Porter Botanic Gardens.Here we will see wonderful specimens ofthe King Protea (Protea cynaroides), bothyellow and orange varieties of the RocketPincushion (Leucospermum reflexum) andseveral species of Drosera. Further alongthe coast we will visit a colony of AfricanPenguins and, if we are lucky, encounterSouthern Right Whales. On our way toStellenbosch we will stop at the HelderbergNature Reserve, another fynbos collection ina beautiful setting which, like other South African reserves, merges into themountains beyond. Then, as we drive inland from the mountains fringing thecoast, we come across vast arid flatlandswith low rainfall: the Karoo, a vegetationdominated by succulents. Moving to Langebaan, we stay at a quaintbut comfortable equestrian centre. Manyinteresting bulbous plants grow in thesurrounding rocks, and Ferraria crispa,Gladiolus speciosus,Watsonia coccinea, ayellow Ornithogalum sp.,Lachenalia hirtaand a geranium, Pelargonium fulgidum,should feature amongst our discoveries.From here we visit Postberg National Parkto see South Africa's famous carpets ofannuals. Blues, yellows and pinks stretchfrom the sea to the hills, with the mainspecies being Wahlenbergia arenaria,Feliciamerxmeulleri, plus a range of Gazania,Dimorphothecaand Arctotisspecies.From Langebaan we drive north toSpringbok, stopping en route at the smalltown of Nieuwoudtville to explore theRenosterveld, a habitat characterised bysmall shrubs and a rich geophyte flora. Ourjourney will take us through dramaticmountains with the occasional solitaryQuiver Tree (Aloe dichotoma)standing outfrom the rocks. We will stop to explore thelittle-known Quaggaskop Karoo Reserve,protected from grazing by wire fences. Herewe can walk across acres of succulentsincluding stone-finger plants growing insilvery quartz with bright patches of Aloevariegata. Springbok itself is an attractiveplace with the feel of an isolated frontiertown. We will base ourselves here for onenight to explore the Kamiesberg Mountainsand the Skilpad Flower Reserve, and at theGoegab Nature Reserve we will see,amongst many other things, a finecollection of native Pelargoniums.Our final destination, the Augrabies NationalPark, borders the Orange River whichplunges into a deep gorge, a spectacularfeature of this park. The scenery is amoonscape of granite rocks dotted withCamel Thorn (Acacia erioloba), Black Thorn (A. mellifera), the Pork Bush (Cerarianamaquensis), the Shepherd's Tree (Bosciaalbitrunca) and many other trees adapted to the very arid conditions of this area. It is here that we will see mammals, withmasses of the amusing Rock Hyrax,Klippspringer, Zebra and Giraffe, andplentiful birdlife. From here we will return toCape Town, where we should have time foranother visit to the Kirstenbosch BotanicGardens or to do some shopping beforeour flight back to London.Arctotis fastuosa, Goegab Nature ReserveSouthern RightWhaleKing Protea

The beauty of Cape Town and itsmagical position at Africa'ssouthernmost tip are well known. Setbeneath the spectacular Table Mountain,close to the Cape of Good Hope and themeeting point of the Atlantic and IndianOceans, few cities are blessed with suchscenic splendour. This 2-centre holiday,based in Cape Town for five nights andHermanus for two nights, focuses on theregion's colourful flora, scenic nationalparks, wild coastlines and wealth of birds,mammals and cetaceans, amongst thelatter the abundant Southern Right Whalesthat come to breed in the Cape's inshorewaters. The tour also includes an optionalmorning spent watching (or cage divingwith) Great White Sharks. On arrival, we will receive our first taste ofSouth African birding during a stop at themarshlands of Rondevlei Nature Reserveon the Cape Flats. We will also get aflavour of the fabulous Cape coastline aswe travel along Chapman's Peak Drive toHout Bay, from where we may see our firstSouthern Right Whales. However, to bestappreciate our wonderful situation we willtake a cable car ride (or 2-hour walk if youwould prefer) to the top of Table Mountain- assuming it is clear of its occasional'table cloth' of cloud. After enjoying thestunning views over the city and the CapePeninsula, we will explore the surroundingslopes in search of birds and plants andthen move to the nearby KirstenboschBotanical Gardens where we will spendthe rest of the day. Delicately nestled onthe eastern slopes of Table Mountain, this830-hectare 'reserve', of which just 60hectares are cultivated, not only offers afabulous collection of Cape flora, but isalso one the Cape's best birding spots. Bearings established, those that wish maychoose to spend a day at sea, headingout from Simonstown harbour to a pointabout 65 kilometres offshore where thecold Benguela current's nutrient-richupwelling along the continental shelfprovides some of the world's best seabird-watching. Albatrosses such as Black-browed, Yellow-nosed, Shy and even themagnificent Wandering Albatross (thespecies with the largest wing-span of anybird) may be seen gliding effortlessly overthe ocean whilst a wide variety of theirsmaller cousins - petrels, prions andshearwaters - will test even the mostknowledgeable sea-birder's skills to thelimit. Back on dry land, we will spend a full andrewarding day exploring the Cape of GoodHope Reserve. This reserve was formed toprotect the fragile and beautiful fynbosflora, which should be in full bloom duringour tour, and is part of the greater CapePeninsula National Park. An interestingselection of mammals may be seen here,amongst them Bontebok, Eland, CapeMountain Zebra and Chacma Baboon (notto mention the abundant Southern RightWhales that are to be seen close in-shorein virtually every bay!), as well as anexcellent variety of birds, including Ostrichand the African Penguin colony atBoulders Beach. We travel next to Helderberg NatureReserve, passing through the beautifultown of Stellenbosch en route. All five ofthe fynbos endemic birds are to be foundwithin this compact reserve, and we alsohope to see another avian speciality here,the Cape Rockjumper. On another day wewill travel north to the town of Langebaan,and the West Coast National Park, aspectacular 27,000-hectare reserve thatencompasses the lagoon, shoreline andPostberg peninsula, home to a great rangeof wetland and strandveld (coastal scrub)birds, among them Black Harrier andSouthern Black Korhaan. For the final two nights of this holiday wewill move from Cape Town to Hermanus, atthe edge of Walker Bay. Hermanus is theperfect spot from which to enjoy anafternoon of land-based cliff-top whale-watching, for here the Southern RightWhales often come very close in-shoreand can be seen blowing, fluking andeven breaching from the comfort of dryland. Our second boat-trip of the holidayfocuses on inshore waters, as we visitKleinbaai and the infamous Dyer Islandand Shark Alley. Here we hope to watchGreat White Sharks, either from the boat orby donning loaned wetsuits and masks(scuba equipment and experience is notnecessary) and dropping into anunderwater cage to observe thesemagnificent creatures. The latter is anexperience not to be missed, almostguaranteeing a changed perspective on,and respect for, this much-malignedpredator of the deep. At sea we are alsolikely to see Southern Right Whales,seabirds, and thousands of Cape FurSeals, on which the sharks prey. Finally, before our overnight flight back toLondon, we will keep the last day of thetour free for optional sightseeing back inCape Town or a visit to Robben Island,most famous - or infamous - for havingbeen the isolated prison of former SouthAfrican president Nelson Mandela andmany other political dissidents, a numberof whom work today as the island'sguides, providing a unique insight into itsrecent history! Robben Island is also aWorld Heritage Site and home to muchwildlife including Cape Fur Seals, AfricanPenguins and a great many seabirds. South Africa - Best of the CapeA 10-day holiday, based in Cape Town, focusing on the region's colourful flora, scenic national parks, wild coastlines, andwealth of birds, mammals and cetaceans, plus an optional morning spent watching (or cage diving with) Great White Sharks.Monday 9th September - Wednesday 18th September Cost: £3,095Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationLAMBERT'S BAYCAPE TOWNWEST COASTNATIONALPARKSTELLENBOSCHWALKERBAYFALSEBAYCAPEPOINTCAPE AGULHASKLEINBAAIHERMANUSATLANTICOCEANINDIANOCEANSOUTH AFRICAOutline itineraryDay 1Depart London. Day 2/6Wildlife excursions fromCape Town.Day 7/8Wildlife excursions fromHermanus.Day 9Depart Cape Town.Day 10Arrive London. AccommodationTwo comfortable tourist hotels,ideally positioned. Private facilities.FoodAll included in the price. GradingGentle wildlife walks only (with theexception of optional TableMountain climb/descent). Grade A. FocusBirds, Cape flora, mammals(especially cetaceans) and GreatWhite Sharks.LeaderMariana Delport.Single room supplement£230.Web quick search: ZAF05173Table MountainAfrican PenguinsGreat White Shark