Namaqualand: Bloomin’ Good Guide to the best Flowery Landscapes in South Africa
As you approach the rolling hills in Namaqualand during Spring you can see the wild botanical wonderland emerging from all around you. Deep red, golden yellow, magenta, powder blue, lavenders… Eye candy for nature lovers, about five hours drive from Cape Town.
Hike, drive or bike; you will need approximately two to three days to completely take in the wonder if you are keen to see the magical displays. Almost 4000 species emerge over the period of beginning August to October, with different species blossoming at different times. Below you will find the best times to see the flowery wonderlands as well as which places are the best for viewing and what you can expect.
Best times to see Namaqualand’s flower displays
The blooming starts in approximately beginning August and go through to end September, with the best time being between mid August and mid September. The best types of days are sunny, especially if you are an avid photographer hoping to capture the beauty digitally. Though, if you are planning a trip to the West Coast National Park (one of the best spots), it’s not a bad idea to arrive early in anticipation of potential queues.
Best spots to see Namaqualand’s blossoms
All-round favourite sites seem to include the Namaqua Nature Reserve, the Skilpad Nature Reserve and Biedouw Valley.
Best stops are along the official Namaqualand Flower Route which takes you through the Sandveld, Richtersveld, Klipkoppe, Knersvelde, Bushmanland, Cederberg Mountains, Olifants River Valley, Hantam Karoo and Tankwa Karoo areas.
For those who have the time and desire to adventure further north, the real flowers can be found far up the N7 on a series of drives around the towns of Garies, Kamieskroon, Springbok, and Port Nolloth in the Northern Cape. However, the following towns themselves, and areas surrounding them also promise to offer good flower-viewing opportunities: Citrusdal, Clanwilliam, Lamberts Bay, Niewoudtville and Vredendal.
Steenbok Trail in the West Coast National Park
Only open in August and September to enable nature lovers to revel in the beautiful blossoms.
Costs: R24 (free to Wild Card holders)
Distance: 13 km
Duration: 5 hours (but factor in a couple more for distractions)
Contact: Tel 0276721948, sanparks.org
Hantam National Botanical Garden, Nieuwoudtville
Knows as the gateway of Namaqualand, this is known as one of the best hikes of the flower season.
Distance: 450 m to 8,2 km
Duration: 10 minutes to 2,5 hours
Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
Contact: Tel 0272181200, sanbi.org
Skilpad Trail, Namaqua National Park
Daisies, daisies, daisies everywhere. World-renowned and arguably the best place in the country to view wild flowers, the area has an estimated 3 500 floral species.
Distance: 13,9 km
Difficulty level: Moderate
Need to know: Only 20 hikers a day are accommodated. Booking is essential.
Contact: Tel 022–707–9902, www.sanparks.org
Making your trek on bike will be largely along dirt roads, but there are some stretches and mountain passes that will require some degree of fitness. Two of the most popular places to bike it out in colour are:
Goegap Nature Reserve
- The 15 000ha reserve encompasses the typical granite koppies and sandy plains of Namaqualand, and the vegetation includes a number of ephemeral (short-lived) plants.
- The Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden contains an enormous collection of succulents endemic to the area. Some 581 indigenous plant varieties are found here, including some rare succulents that are found nowhere else in the world.
- In addition to its extraordinary flora the reserve is home to 45 mammal species, including springbok, gemsbok and the Hartmann’s mountain zebra, plus 94 bird species and several reptile and amphibian species.
Contact details for Goegap Nature Reserve
Phone: 027 718 9906; E-mail: email@example.com
Namaqualand National Park
- Namaqualand National Park is part of the semi-desert Succulent Karoo biome, a biodiversity hotspot that boasts about 3 500 succulent plants, 40 per cent of which are endemic. It is home to the world’s smallest tortoise, the Namaqua speckled padloper.
- The beautiful 1 000ha Skilpad Wildflower Reserve was created in 1993 to protect the unique flora of Namaqualand, which boasts the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world.
- One of the park’s gems, the reserve catches much of the rain that blows off the sea and has magnificent floral displays even when the surrounding areas don’t.
Contact details for Namaqualand National Park
For enquiries e-mail Namaqua National Park or phone them on the following numbers:
Park Tel: +27 (0)27 672 1948
To read more about what types of flowers you can expect to see, see the post Namaqualand Flower Secrets by Country Life.
For more information, call Namaqua Tourism on +27 (0)27 712 8035.
Those looking for something more relaxing can enjoy a dip in the Kookfontein hot springs. If you’re a foodie looking to sample some traditional cuisine, the traditional fare at a place such as Vera’s Kookskerm in Leliefontein, a Namaqualand village, should do the trick. It’s recommended that visitors book guided tours to unearth the treasures this region has to offer.