Fynbos, a small belt of natural shrub land located in the Western and Eastern Cape, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, is attracting more and more visitors, local and international.
There are only five other recognised floral kingdoms worldwide, with the Cape Floral Kingdom known as the smallest and most richly-endowed.
Wendy Rutherfoord, Director of Gondwana Game Reserve said Fynbos forms a huge part of Gondwana’s tourism wilderness experience and is a national heritage that is endemic to the Southern Cape.
Anita Lennox, Marketing Head for Cape St Francis Resort told Tourism Update the resort has seen an increase in numbers, consisting of both local and especially international visitors, coming to view the Fynbos in the region.
There are now focused groups, doing specific tours around Fynbos, says Owner of Garden Route Trail, Mark Dixon.
Best time to view Fynbos
Having lived in the Cape Fold Mountains since birth, Inge Altona-de Klerk, Head of Marketing for White Shark Projects, said she can attest to the changing seasonal beauty and allure of the Cape Fynbos, as the mountains change colour with the seasons.
“Winter is one of the most underrated seasons in the Western Cape, especially when it comes to the Fynbos. Carpets of pink Ericas cover the mountains from July and the green gold Leucadendrons will delights botanical boffins and amateurs alike,” she states.
Nanna Joubert, a Trustee of the Pledge Nature Reserve Trust says that the best time to view Fynbos is late winter and spring, especially for the Protea family; however there is always something of interest to see year-round. “If the Fynbos experience is accompanied by information, tour guide and signage, it does tell a great story,” adds Joubert.
Rutherfoord says that Gondwana Game Reserve highlights the Fynbos in bloom on their seasonal calendar on their website. While the seasonal pull is approximately six months from February to November, there is always Fynbos vegetation blooming on the reserve.
“It is becoming more important to guests and in time could drive the time of year they choose to visit,” she says. “In fact, it has a return visit appeal due to the long flowering season, so March visitors will plan an October visit to view other species,” says Dixon.
Gondwana incorporates Fynbos into the entire guest experience from their welcome note highlighting what is in bloom, as well as sustainably harvesting Fynbos for in room décor and dining table arrangements.
“We have slideshows in public areas highlighting professional photography of many Fynbos species found on the reserve. Gondwana’s game drives with qualified field guides highlight both the wildlife, as well as an explanation of the Fynbos biome and species found on the reserve,” concluded Rutherfoord.
Dixon says the best place to for Fynbos is the Garden Route, part of a World Heritage site which protects the Fynbos in Cape Nature around Tierkop.
He told Tourism Update that prior to the fires last June, Goukamma Nature Reserve and Kranskop where known for Fynbos and should be back to their former glory within the next eight months.
“The next five years will be a Fynbos botanist’s heaven, as the associated succession regrowth will be spectacular,” says Dixon.
Pledge Nature Reserve has approximately three hectres of Fynbos, and is currently of great interest, with many plants re-sprouting after the June fire. It is easily accessible as it is located in the centre of the town of Knysna.
Joubert said that Fynbos is a unique and a highly diverse biome, dependent for survival on fire, adding: “We have around 120 different types of Fynbos, each with a distinct species component. There are about 9 000 plant species that occur in Fynbos, with countless other organisms forming part of these intricate systems.”
Lennox said Cape St Francis’ new Chokka Trail, a coastal hike, highlights the heritage and Fynbos in the area. The trail weaves between the oceans shoreline, forests, mountains and includes a canal cruise, a visit to the penguin rehabilitation centre and guests are accompanied by the owner at all times.