Explore the splendour of the Cape Floral Kingdom

Words: Crush

Many more locals and visitors are now able to immerse themselves in the splendour of the Cape Floral Kingdom, thanks to the 55 WWF Conservation Champions wine farms committed to preserving this unique natural heritage and sharing it with visitors through nature-based ecotourism activities, such as walking and bird watching.

In the magnificent Cape Floral Kingdom – one of the six plant kingdoms of the world – you can see rare treasures of flora and fauna, found nowhere else in the world, in their natural unspoilt habitat. Visitors, tourists and plant and bird lovers from across the world come to visit for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to view these endemic species in their spectacular natural surroundings.

A Biodiversity Hotspot

The Cape Floral Kingdom is by far the smallest, but most diverse plant kingdom. It is recognised as a ‘biodiversity hotspot’, with over 9000 plant species of which roughly 70% are found only in this small geographic area in the Western Cape. The diversity of plant life supports an an astounding array of insect and bird life – many unique to the area, such as the Cape Sugarbird, which plays a critical role in the pollination of many of the fynbos plants.

The Cape Sugarbird is also the emblem identifying the 55 WWF Conservation Champions who have stepped forward as custodians of the precious Cape Floral Kingdom, which also overlaps another global biodiversity hotspot: the Succulent Karoo.

Collectively, the 55 wine farms recognised as WWF Conservation Champions, spread from Constantia to Robertson, and from Stellenbosch to the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, are conserving 24,372 hectares of Cape Floral Kingdom flora and fauna, in a symbiotic working relationship with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

In addition to setting aside crucial land and rehabilitating vast sections of fynbos, these wine farms – located across the Cape Winelands where 95% of South Africa’s wine is produced – are also taking the lead in some of the popular trends in tourism: nature-based tourism and ecotourism, including wildlife tourism, botanical tourism and bird watching, also known as a ‘avitourism’.

Nature-based Activities

Many of the WWF Conservation Champion farms have introduced nature-based activities such as walking trails; hiking and cycling trails; vini-safaris; outdoor dining and picnics; eco lodging; as well as bird watching or birding, one of the fastest growing nature-based tourism activities worldwide and one ideally suited to this region.

South Africa is a world-renowned birdwatching destination, boasting 850 species, many of which are endemic to the region, like the unique Cape Sugarbird that can only be found in the Cape Floral Kingdom.

A new addition to the growing range of avitourism or birdwatching activities in the Cape Winelands is the new Babiana Trail at Vondeling Wines, named after the unique Babiana noctiflora flower found in the area. This also inspired the specially designed bird hide by the dam, which was recently opened to the public.

WWF Conservation Champion wine farms

Around 90% of the WWF Conservation Champion farms offer ecotourism activities, such as self-guided nature trails, among others, Bosman Hermanus (the 2023 Best of Wine Tourism: Sustainable Wine Tourism winner), Almenkerk Wine Estate and Tanagra Wines; while others such as Creation Wines, La Motte and Waterford Estate offer guided walking trails by appointment. And while not all the farms have bird hides, there is always an abundance of amazing birdlife where there is fynbos!

To be part of this inspiring and successful collaboration, in the one of the world’s most unique and beautiful places, simply #followthesugarbird!

You can support our local environmental wine leaders by looking for the distinctive sugarbird and protea logo on their wine bottles and downloading the Champion Wine Guide App championwineguide.co.za for more information about WWF Conservation Champions farms that offer nature-based experiences.

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