Did you know?
Per square metre, fynbos boasts a greater plant diversity than tropical rainforests.
The Flower Valley Conservation Trust farm, between Hermanus and Gansbaai in the Western Cape, employs about 130 people to harvest fynbos in a sustainable manner (picking and selling fynbos has been done for generations in the Cape. However, many species of fynbos are endangered and the vegetation is protected by both South African legislation and the United Nations).
Fynbos gathered on the farm is sold in Pick n Pay stores locally, and Marks & Spencer abroad. Flowers are also harvested from six other farms, giving the trust a ‘flower catchment' of 20 000ha
Visitors to the farm can hike to the Stinkhoutsbos Forest, where they can donate and plant a tree as part of a restoration project, which was started shortly after a devastating wildfire in 2006.
Many people the world over plant trees to offset their carbon footprint, but most times the trees are planted and forgotten about. However, on this farm technology allows visitors to track the progress of their trees via satellite.
The harvesting standards on all properties adhere to strict ethical standards set up by CapeNature, a government body, and the Protea Producers' Association.
Much of the Cape's fynbos forms part of the Cape Floral Region. The Cape Floral Region is a World Heritage Site and one of the richest plant areas in the world – even though it takes up less than 1% of the African continent, it has 20% of its flora.
In 2004 the Cape Floral Region – a protected area measuring 553 000ha – was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. World Heritage Sites acknowledge and offer protection to areas of outstanding natural, historical and cultural value.
Critically endangered lowland fynbos species grow on the Flower Valley Conservation Trust farm, which has been cleared of all invasive alien plants. Visitors may also be lucky enough to spot a pair of leopards who live in the mountains.
There are five unguided hiking trails on the farm, ranging from a 3km ramble to longer 7km hike. The trails pass through fynbos and forested areas and offer the perfect opportunity to discover more about the unique natural vegetation and rich birdlife of the area.
For those who need to move a bit faster, there are mountain bike trails, as well as the option for a good couple of hours of riding if you decide to link up with the adjoining farms. There are also two 4x4 trails that offer panoramic views from the Twin Peaks and Ben Lomond Mountain look-out points.
Once a year, in December, the farm hosts a music festival that sees the best local talent perform in Flower Valley's natural amphitheatre. Festival-goers can also choose to explore the fynbos on horseback, on guided trails, or even on tractor trips up into the mountains.
After a day of hiking or mountain biking, visitors can relax on the lush lawns next to a dam and picnic in the peaceful fynbos surroundings. Pre-packed picnic baskets can be arranged on request and should be ordered at least a day in advance.
Alternatively, use the opportunity to learn more about the sustainable harvesting of fynbos and the threats facing the lovely lowland fynbos on the Flower Valley Conservation Trust farm.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Flower Valley Conservation Trust
Tel: +27 (0)28 388 0713
How to get here
Take the N2 from Cape Town, then on to the R43 to Hermanus (taking the Bot River turn-off). This will take around an hour and a half. From Hermanus, stay on the R43, passing Stanford. Flower Valley is close to the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
Best time to visit
Fynbos is at its best from the end of winter, August, to the end of spring, November.
Around the area
You're perfectly situated to take advantage of whale watching in Hermanus, country charm in Stanford and shark cage-diving in Gansbaai.
Length of stay
Set aside a morning or an afternoon once you are there, or perhaps more if you plan a longish hike. From Cape Town, it's about a four-hour round trip, so you'll need a full day if you're coming from that city.
Where to stay
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is the closest place to stay, but the nearby towns of Hermanus, Stanford and Gansbaai have many options.