The Cape Floristic Region is one of only six floral kingdoms in the world. Its incredible bounty of plant life enables South Africa to claim the third-highest level of biodiversity in the world. Much of this rich natural heritage cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. Covering 90,000 km², it is estimated each 1000 km² of this floral kingdom contains 465 species.
The Cape Floristic Region is uniquely South African – unique in that a large percentage of this floral wealth is endemic to the country
The Region is a World Heritage Site; it begins at the Cape Peninsula and trails along a mountainous path to the Eastern Cape. Besides Table Mountain, it takes in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, the Boland, the Groot Winterhoek wilderness area, the Swartberg Mountains, the Boosmansbos wilderness area, the Cederberg and Baviaanskloof.
Plant life includes fynbos, a vast group of plants that has tickled the fancy of scientists who marvel at its adaptive responses to fire and its reproductive strategies. Famous fynbos families are the proteas (also the country's national flower), the ericas (heaths) and the grass-like restios. Gardeners will be familiar with more common species like aloes and geraniums, and some of the 1400 bulb species, such as gladioli.
How to get here
The Cape Floristic Region is spread over a wide area and is best accessed from the cities of Cape Town (Western Cape) or East London (Eastern Cape). Cape Town has an international airport as well as rail links to the rest of the country.
Best time to visit
Early spring (in South Africa that means August to September) is the best time to visit, as the region erupts in a rainbow of colour during the flowering season.
How to get around
Driving yourself around is best as it allows you to explore at your own pace. An alternative option would be to take a guided tour of the region as a local guide would know where to find the best flowering sites and point out the Ethno botany of the San people.
Length of stay
A weekend will give you ample time to explore the region.
What to pack
Sunblock and a hat are musts. Good walking shoes are recommended for those who prefer to explore on foot. And don't forget your camera: the colours in the region are breathtaking.