Cape Floral Region

Cape Floristic Region is a South African UNESCO World Heritage Site

Western Cape AttractionsThe Cape Floral Region

The magnificent Cape Floristic Region is, as its name implies, situated in the Western Cape and parts of the Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa. It is significant for being one of the world’s most diverse and abundant floral areas, home to about one-fifth of the vegetation in all of Africa. Perched right at the tip of the continent, this region is not only fascinating for those with a penchant for flora, but also spectacular.

Where? The Cape Floristic Region includes eight representative areas, all of which enjoy similar protection. For details see below.

When? Always best during daylight hours

Overnight? See Cape Town accommodation, in Western Cape

The natural wealth of the floral kingdom is particularly impressive if one considers that it only covers about 78 555 square kilometres. As such, it is the smallest of all six recognised floristic kingdoms known to man. Still, it boasts more than 9 600 species of South African plants including ferns, trees, flowers, mosses and fynbos varieties, of which 69% are endemic. A large proportion of this vegetation is included under the Fynbos umbrella. This is a beautiful, hardy group of plants (most of which bear lovely flowers) that creates a shrub land where it is found in abundance. Due to its being unique to South Africa and stunning to witness in the wild, Fynbos has become somewhat of a tourist attraction in its own right.

The entire Cape Floral Kingdom is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for ...
1) its outstanding processes in terms of ecology and biology, which is particularly due to the Fynbos biome, and
2) its sheer diversity and abundance within such a confined area.

In terms of the processes, this area has exhibited plants that have become adapted in their manner of fire resistance, as well as to the patterns of seed dispersal undertaken by various insects. With regard to its biodiversity, there are approximately nine species per genus and 52 different plant families. The species density is the highest in the world, making it one of only 18 biodiversity hotspots on the planet.

A number of mountain ranges are included in the Cape Floristic Region. These include the iconic Table Mountain as well as the Tsitsikamma, Outeniqua, Cederberg, Hottentots Holland and Zuurberg ranges.

The Cape Floristic Region includes eight representative areas, all of which enjoy similar protection. These are:
1. The Table Mountain National Park (this region alone is home to more floral species than the whole of New Zealand)
2. The Cederberg Wilderness Area
3. The Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area
4. The Boland Mountain Complex (this includes the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, and Limietberg Nature Reserve)
5. The De Hoop Nature Reserve
6. The Boosmansbos Wilderness Area
7. The Swartberg Complex (which comprises the Swartberg Nature Reserve, Gamkapoort Nature Reserve, and Towerkop Nature Reserve)
8. The Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve

Significantly, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens form part of this site, making them the first of their kind to be included in a floristic region by UNESCO.

This region is also made special and unique by its inclusion of freshwater and marine environments, which add significantly to its biodiversity.

In addition to its vegetation, the Cape Floristic Region naturally showcases many of the animals for which South Africa is acclaimed. These range from insects to predators and everything in-between, making their homes in the varied landscape on offer.

For additional info see: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1007 (UNESCO).

The Cape Floral Region includes eight representative areas

Table Mountain National Park

Where to stay? Cape Town
At the south-western tip of South Africa, the Table Mountain National Park encompasses the incredibly scenic Peninsula mountain chain stretching from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south, a distance of approximately 60 kilometres...

More info and contact details: Table Mountain National Park

Cederberg Wilderness Area

Where to stay? Cederberg
The Cederberg Wilderness Area lies some 200 km north of Cape Town. This vast area in the Cederberg region stretches from the Middelberg Pass at Citrusdal to north of the Pakhuis Pass at Clanwilliam, encompassing some 71 000 ha of rugged, mountain...

More info and contact details: Cederberg Wilderness Area

Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area

Where to stay? Porterville
The exquisite Groot Winterhoek Wilderness, situated about 120 kilometres outside of Cape Town, is known the world around for its natural beauty and its unique rock formations. This Western Cape reserve is nestled within the Groot Winterhoek...

More info and contact details: Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area

The Boland Mountain Complex

Where to stay? Cape Winelands
The Boland Mountain Complex includes the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, and Limietberg Nature Reserve. About 40 km to the east of Cape Town, lying...

More info and contact details: Cape Winelands Region

The De Hoop Nature Reserve

Where to stay? De Hoop
The De Hoop Nature Reserve is approximately 34 000 ha in size and one of the largest natural areas managed by Cape Nature Conservation. It is a favourite destination for hikers, cyclists, bird watchers and during the winter and early summer...

More info and contact details: The De Hoop Nature Reserve

Boosmansbos Wilderness Area

Where to stay? Garden Route
West of Swellendam and north east of Heidelberg lies a large area of wilderness known as Boosmansbos (angry man's forest) apparently named after a hermit who lived around here early in the 19th century and who scared away anyone who...

More info and contact details: Boosmansbos Wilderness Area

The Swartberg Complex

Where to stay? Karoo
The Swartberg Complex comprises the Swartberg Nature Reserve, Gamkapoort Nature Reserve, and Towerkop Nature Reserve. The Little or Klein Karoo, which is a long valley bordered by the Swartberg and the Langeberg Mountains in the Western...

More info and contact details: The Karoo

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Where to stay? Newlands
Significantly, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens form part of this site, making them the first of their kind to be included in a floristic region by UNESCO. This region is also made special and unique by its inclusion of freshwater...

More info and contact details: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve

Where to stay? Baviaanskloof
The Baviaanskloof Wilderness is an incredibly scenic gorge that lies between two sets of mountain ranges - the Baviaanskloof and the Kouga mountains. Baviaanskloof is an area of 'outstanding natural beauty' because of its incredible land forms, diverse display...

More info and contact details: Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve

Did you know?

In addition to its vegetation, the Cape Floristic Region naturally showcases many of the animals for which South Africa is acclaimed. These range from insects to predators and everything in-between, making their homes in the varied landscape on offer.

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