The Cape Floristic Region?: Trek up the garden path

2014-10-19 15:00

The Western Cape is a beautiful province to visit, but there’s so much more than just a stunning coastline to explore. Denise Slabbert takes you into a World Heritage Site

The Cape Floristic Region (a World Heritage Site) is vast, so it’s a good idea to focus on a particular area, and organise your travels around things to explore and experience in your chosen vicinity.

Getting There

First you have to get to the Western Cape. There are ­regular flights from all major urban centres in South Africa to Cape Town. If you choose to drive, it’s a good idea to stop over along the way as it could take up to 14 hours.

Another option is to take one of the regular tourist buses that travel to and from the Mother City. There is a railway service that runs along the False Bay coast from Cape Town to Simon’s Town.

Getting Around

Having your own car is the best bet as there are various attractions in the Cape Floristic Region, and you will want to be mobile and independent. For car hire, see local ­operators or look out for tour operators specialising in ­floristic tours.

Table Mountain National Park

The rock star of the Cape Floristic Region, Table ­Mountain National Park, is all mountains, fynbos, great trails, excellent campsites, abundant marine life and fun ­outdoor activities.


.?Take the aerial cableway to the top of Table Mountain for incredible views of the Mother City, the ocean and ­Robben Island on a good day. For more details, contact the

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company on 021?424?8181 or visit:

If you’re fit, opt for hiking up Platteklip Gorge, Nursery Ravine or Skeleton Gorge.

.?Visit the Cape of Good Hope (incorporating Cape Point), where there are free guided walks at Cape Point on selected Sundays. There is also fantastic seafood on offer at the Two Oceans Restaurant (book beforehand). For more information, contact 021?780?9010 or visit

.?Hike the Hoerikwaggo Trail. This is a five-day, four-night hiking trail that goes through more than 75km of the Table Mountain National Park. Hoerikwaggo means ­mountain in the sea, so ocean views are guaranteed.

.?Visit the penguins at Boulders Penguin Colony in

Simon’s Town. For more information, call the Boulders ­Visitor Centre on 021?786?2329.

.?Hike through the fields of fynbos in the Silvermine ­section of the park. There are waterfalls, a dam and places to go mountain biking, hiking and picnicking. There is also a wheelchair-friendly boardwalk.

.?Head to Signal Hill, the northernmost tip of the Table Mountain National Park, where the noonday gun ­announces 12pm to the city’s inhabitants. Hiking Lion’s Head is also very popular for amazing views of Cape Town and it’s also a popular abseiling spot, if that is your thing.

.?Incredible beaches: Noordhoek, Kommetjie, ­Scarborough, Clifton, Llandudno. Some of the best beaches in the world make up the Cape of Good Hope section of Table Mountain National Park.

.?Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the finest botanical gardens in Africa. Don’t forget to try out the Boomslang canopy tour.

.?Go mountain biking or horse riding in the Tokai ­section of Table Mountain National Park.

.?Dive or snorkel in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area.


Tented Camps

Hoerikwaggo Tented Camps. There are tented camps that form part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail?–?Hoerikwaggo, Smitswinkel, Silvermine, Slangkop and Orange Kloof.

Although the Hoerikwaggo Trail is five days long, you don’t have to go on the full trail to enjoy staying over at the tented camps. You can book just one or two nights.

These camps offer comfortable beds, hot water, self-catering communal kitchens and communal bathrooms, but you have to bring your own bedding and towels. Camps accommodate a maximum of 12 people at any one time.

Self-catering cottages

You can also book to stay at a few guest cottages along the way. These include the Olifantsbos Guest House, Eland Family Cottage, Duiker Family Cottage, Wood Owl Cottage, Platteklip Wash House in Oranjezicht and Overseers Cottage at the back of Table Mountain.


The basic rate for two people at the Hoerikwaggo Tented Camps is R550 a night. If you are staying over at the Slangkop, Silvermine or Orange Kloof tented camps, the basic rate is R440 a person. Book a few months beforehand.

SANParks advises that you hire the services of a trained guide. You also need to take all your own supplies, and ­porter services are available to hire.

Contact information

Table Mountain National Park’s head office is situated at the Tokai Manor House, Tokai Road. Telephone 021?712?2337/0527 or visit:

For booking to stay at Olifantsbos Guest House, Eland Family Cottage or Duiker Family Cottage, contact the ­Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre on 021?780?9204.


Besides Table Mountain National Park, the other main areas that make up the Cape Floral Kingdom offer fantastic back-to-nature experiences. Here are some of the highlights to look out for:

Cederberg Wilderness Area. About 200km north of the Mother City and a three-hour drive from Cape Town.

Managed by Cape Nature, there are numerous activities on offer, including rock climbing, hiking, donkey-cart rides and rock-art safaris. There are a number of hiking trails to some of the highlights of the area, such as Wolfberg Arch and Maltese Cross. The Cederberg Heritage Route is a slackpacking trail that includes a bit of everything.

Where to stay

You can camp at the upgraded campsite at Kliphuis in the Biedouw Valley and Wuppertal. Rates are from R225 per person and there are also self-catering ­chalets from R665 per person. There is a conservation fee of R60 for adults and R35 for kids entering the Cederberg Wilderness Area.

There are also great bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in places like Clanwilliam. If you want an up-market experience in incredible surroundings, consider the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat. For more ­information, visit:

Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area. Situated near the town of Porterville, about 120km north of Cape Town, it is a mountainous haven of fynbos, wildlife, San history and fresh, clear pools. It gets pretty cold here in winter and summers are moderate?–?but mist is common. There are self-catering cottages on offer and basic hiker huts at De Tronk (contact Cape Nature for details). The basic cost for self-catering accommodation is R440 per person. There is a conservation fee of R60 for adults and R35 for children.

Kogelberg Nature Reserve is a highlight of the Boland Mountain Complex area located along the R44 between Rooiels and Kleinmond. Stay over at one of the five ­ecofriendly cabins at Oudebosch, an inspirational example of environmentally friendly accommodation. (Self-catering accommodation from R1?060 per night). There are various lodges and bush camps, and four camping sites.

For more information, contact Kogelberg Nature Reserve on 028?271?5138.

De Hoop Nature Reserve. A great place to see the whales, go cycling, bird-watching or hiking. This 34 000?hectare ­reserve is situated in the Overberg and is a three-hour drive from Cape Town.

The marine reserve at De Hoop is known as one of the largest marine-protected areas in Africa. The Whale Trail is a very popular four-day hiking trail that ­combines mountain and coastal walking.

There are ­numerous self-catering accommodation options available, managed by the De Hoop Collection. Telephone 021?422?4522 or visit

For more information on the Cape Floristic Region, visit the SA National Parks website:; the Cape Nature (021?483?0190) website:; or the Cape Town Tourism website:

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