• De Zeven Guest Lodge, Stellenbosch

The magic of Fynbos & where to find it in the Banhoek Valley

Posted on Tue August 27, 2019 in Banhoek Valley.

De Zeven's location in the mysterious Banhoek Valley means we are privy to its many secrets - one of them the Cape Fynbos.

About the Magic of Fynbos

The Cape Floristic Region (CFR) is a global treasure. The smallest yet richest of the World's Six Floral Kingdoms, the CFR is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is recognised as being one of the most botanically diverse places on earth. An estimated 69% of the 9000+ plant species which grow naturally in the Cape are endemic, meaning that they are not found anywhere else in the world. Table Mountain alone is home to more plant species than the entire United Kingdom.

Fynbos, meaning ‘Fine-bush’, is the main vegetation type associated with the region, comprising 80% of the CFR. It is essentially a mediterranean-style shrubland characterised by the presence of three main plant groups - Proteas, Ericas (heath) and Restios (reed-like plants). To experience the Fynbos at its finest, it is best to visit during peak flowering season which extends from August to November when the land is awash with a kaleidoscope of colours. When in the Banhoek Valley, be sure to bring a camera to capture the changing landscape as the sun moves over the abundant Fynbos shrubland - a sight to behold.

The Fynbos Guy shared the following in one of his blog post entitled 'What is Fynbos? An easy introduction' (dated 28 September, 2017): "Fynbos-covered mountains are responsible for delivering one glass of water in five in South Africa. Some of the wettest places in the country are wild, soggy mountain tops covered in rare proteas. Fynbos allows up to 80% of the rainwater to run off and fill our rivers and reservoirs." 

Reawaken the Senses and Discover the Sights of Fynbos

Take a walk into the Fynbos in early spring and you will find a land littered with treasures; brightly coloured Wood Sorrels (Oxalis) spring from the ground and African Daisies (Asteraceae) bloom boldly, as iridescent jewel-like Monkey Beetles gather to feed on their pollen. Sunshine Conebushes (Leucadendron salignum) light up the mountain slopes with their signature vibrant greenish-yellow glow.

A closer look at the vegetation will reveal delicate and beautiful spring bulbs, Cape Tulips (Moraea) and sweet-smelling Babianas (‘Little Baboon’ flowers) nestled unassumingly among the restios, while the aptly named Fire Heath (Erica cerinthoides) sit like glowing red jewels beneath the more grandiose displays of the Sugarbushes. You will usually hear the loud chatter of Sugarbirds before you see a flash of their long tails as they compete for the best position among the vibrant orange pincushions.


Stop and Smell (and Taste) the Fynbos

After a meander through the Banhoek Valley engaging with the Fynbos has re-calibrated the senses, you can fine-tune your knowledge of the fragrant local flora with a Wine & Fynbos experience at our next-door neighbour, Bartinney Estate.

An innovative tasting of the three estate wines, alongside native Fynbos grown on the farm, this multi-sensory experience changes perceptions about wine and highlights the estate's commitment to conserving the Cape's unique biodiversity. You can relax at the Tasting Shed overlooking the sweeping Banhoek Valley as knowledgeable staff share insights about the tastes and scents of the freshly-picked native vegetation - often foraged that very same morning. Bartinney is committed to conserving the fragile Fynbos of the area by practicing sustainable farming methods and has already removed all alien vegetation from the farm and replaced it with native species. 

As we continue to celebrate our beautiful Banhoek Valley, join us in discovering its many gems.