If seeing the Namaqualand flowers is not pretty high on your list of the ‘100 places you must see before you die’ then it is time to revise that list.
Anyone who has seen the pictures is deeply impressed. But seeing the flowers of Namaqualand yourself can only be described as a spiritual experience.
Of course you must visit Namaqualand of the right time of year – between May and September. But whether it is a good flower season or not, and exactly when the flowers will peak, depends on the weather.
So, if you can, keep your departure date flexible and watch the weather reports, and the flower reports, and make a dash for Namaqualand when conditions are right. Determining factors include when it rains – late rains = late flowers – temperature (must be above 15 degrees centigrade) and sunshine (flowers don’t open when it is cloudy or too cold).
How do you get there? The distance to Springbok (a sort of epicentre of the flower explosion) is Johannesburg (1278 kms), Durban (1541 kms), Cape Town (557 kms) and Upington 422 kms. So your best bet is to get to Cape Town and selfdrive northwards along the N7 towards Clanwilliam and then Springbok.
The Goegap Nature Reserve, the Skilpad (Tortoise) Wild Flower Reserve, the roads between Springbok and Hondeklip Bay, Springbok and Kammieskroon, Springbok and Pofadder are particulary recommended. But this wonderful world of flowers extend including well towards Cape Town and North into Namibia.
You could spend a lifetime exploring the natural wonders of Namaqualand. At least spend a few days. And DO get out of your car – you will be amazed at how much you miss if just drive. Do take a camera and prepare to be gob-smacked, again and again and again.
One word of warning: children may well become bored, unless they have a real interest in wild flowers, butterfies, bugs and nature in general.
FACTFILE: Most of Namaqualandâ??s flora is derived from an ancient semi-arid stock. Before, about three million years ago, Namaqualand was covered in a woodland that included both fynbos plants and a tropical tree flora, remnants of which still grow in the regions upland vegetation. As the climate worsened, drying out and changing gradually from a summer-to a winter-rainfall regime, plant lineages that were biologically predisposed to exploiting the opportunities created by this creeping aridification began to diversify. From: Namaqualand – A succulent desert By:Richard Cowling and Shirley Pierce.
DID YOU KNOW? Excessive wind is a pervasive feature of much of coastal Namaqualand. In summer, relentless southerly trade winds lash the Sandveld. In winter, hot and blustery berg-wind gales affect the whole area. Some of the Namaqualand plants have evolved fascinating adaptations to cope with the wind. For instance, the dwarf vygies have sand grains fixed to some parts of their bodies. The sand is mostly concentrated on the younger, more vulnerable leaves or stems, and the grains are held by sticky hairs or a glutinous layer. This is an ingenious way of protecting the new growth from the harsh winds and excessive heat.
FLYING OVER FLOWERS: Fly over the Flowers! For the first time ever, you can experience the flowers from up high in the sky! As of 4 August 2008, Fly North Cape presents daily flights from Springbok Airfield to several destinations in Namaqualand as well as the West Coast Whale Route. We offer two value for money flights of either 30 or 60 minutes at R350.00 and R650.00 per person. Fly to places like Vredendal, Lamberts Bay, Alexander Bay, Richterveld, Augrabies Falls and Hondeklip Bay. For more information contact: Etienne du Toit 083 752 5295