If you’re looking for a change from mountains and beaches, Namaqualand might be just your thing. The colourful flowers transform the dusty landscape into a green wonderland every year between August and October…
A WALK IN THE PARK
The Skilpad section of the Namaqua National Park is a popular choice to see spring flowers. Remember that the success of any visit is dependent on something as fickle as the weather and the amount of winter rain. The weather on the day of your visit will play a role too. Prepare yourself for fields of colour as far as the eye can see. Look out for Cape and Namaqua daisies, meidesterte and varkiesknolle. The park entrance at Skilpad is located close to Kamieskroon.
Accommodation The chalets in the park fill up quickly, but there’s also the option of staying in a luxury tented camp during peak season. The park also has camping sites along the coast. For reservations go to www.sanparks.org
While you’re there Don’t miss a trip along the coastal area of the park. Visit the Spoeg River Cave and search for the seal colony.
CLOSER TO HOME
If you like to see your flowers against the backdrop of the ocean, or the azure waters of the Langebaan lagoon, plan a visit to the West Coast National Park at Langebaan. In recent years, the park has also become a popular spot for spring flowers, so book your accommodation in advance if you plan to spend some time there. The Postberg section, the best spot to enjoy the flowers, is only open during the spring season. It’s a great area to see eland, bontebok, ostriches and kudu in their natural environment. Plus, as there are no predators in this national park, there are ample places and opportunities to stop your car and get even closer to nature. Scour the fields for suurvy, elandsvy, gousblom, bokbaai vygies, white rain daisies, sporries, magrietjies and soetuintjies.
Accommodation The park offers a range of options, and neighbouring Langebaan is well geared for the influx of flower hunters. For families, Abrahamskraal and Jo Anne’s Cottage are ideal options. The Duinepos chalets are close to the Geelbek restaurant, and also have a pool. Here, you might even be surprised by an eland enjoying a morning nibble in the gardens.
While you’re there The Tsaarsbank picnic area located right on the rocky coast is truly special, while a walk along the pier at Kraalbaai offers stunning views. Don’t forget the bird hides at Geelbek for a view over the world-renowned Langebaan Lagoon. While there, visit the Geelbek Information Centre and learn more about the fascinating history of the area. A stop at the Seeberg hut is highly recommended.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
This destination isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the harsh rock desert that is the Richtersveld has a surprisingly soft side to it. A visit to the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It needs to be tackled with a 4×4, but your effort will be rewarded by what has often been described as even prettier sights than Namaqualand.
Spring is not the only time that the desert blooms in this park. Although August through mid-September is a good time to see the daisies, as well as many of the 1 700 other plant species found here, if you want to see the many aloes in flower, visit from December to June. Head towards the Helskoof area to see desert roses and vygies.
The park entrance is reached from Alexander Bay in the Northern Cape.
Accommodation There are a number of camp sites, and a few wilderness camps in the park. The main rest camp, Sendelingsdrift, also has chalets.
While you’re there The Richtersveld is all about soaking up the scenery. Expect black rocky deserts, vast mountains, sandy plains and the mighty Orange River cutting through the landscape.
3 ROUTES TO EXPLORE
ROUTE 1 Start at Garies and then head towards Hondeklip Bay, Soebatsfontein and Kamieskroon. End your trip at the Namaqua National Park.
ROUTE 2 Start at Kamieskroon and travel towards Leliefontein. After Gamoep, take the Nourivier turn-off to Garies.
ROUTE 3 Start at Springbok and travel to Steinkopf via Nababeep, Port Nolloth on the coast, Grootmis/Kleinzee (remember your permit), Spektakel Pass and end at Goegap Nature Reserve.