A Carpet Of Colour
Namaqualand is a winter-rainfall desert of some 50 000 km², located in north-western South Africa. For a desert ecosystem, the region is characterized by a unique selective regime, namely highly predictable annual rainfall and a moderate temperature regime throughout the year. This is responsible for regular and spectacular spring flowering displays. It is the only site in the world where a vast dry area annually transforms into a lush orange flowerbed, but only for a few short weeks. The best time of year to visit is early August–mid-September. During this time, the desert explodes with no fewer than 4000 species of flowers, 1000 unique to the region, painting the desert in colours that astound and amaze visitors without fail.
Namaqualand daisies never cease to delight residents and visitors of the region. Normally, it’s a rare occasion to find a desert abloom. Arid areas transform into a flowering garden only once in a while. But Namaqualand is the world’s only exception that flourishes every spring. With just 150 mm of rain per year, this large arid area turns into a lush flowering field. From a distance, one might presume these are the same orange daisies all over, but when you take a closer look, you’ll discover an endless variety of flowers. Not only daisies themselves occur in various shapes and shades of orange, but also other rare flowers pop out amongst the prevailing daisies: lilies, aloes, and perennial herbs.
Owing to such a unique natural phenomenon, the area has been protected as the Namaqua National Park. Locals make a living from tourism based on the flowering desert. Hence, it’s often mistakenly assumed that the keepers plant the flowers themselves in order to draw tourists and maintain business. But in fact, it’s all attributed to bees and other insects that perfectly perform their pollinating duties. In fact, every year the area seems to bear different flowers, and it’s always a sort of intrigue and surprise for the keepers themselves.
For more information, contact Namaqua National Park on: 027 672 1948.
The Namaqualand flower season is relatively short: it usually begins in the second week of August and is over by the second week of September, yet it varies from year to year, depending on the amount of rainfall and temperatures. Also, flower season depends on the location: the further north, the earlier the blooming starts.
The flowers open up in the morning and close in the afternoon, at about 4 pm. So you have to get up early not to miss the orange nature show. Generally, local tour operators suggest arriving with an attitude of acceptance as the flowers are elusive and might not be as abundant as one expects
One of the most popular options is a car rental combined with local tour operator recommendations and accommodation reservation. The flexibility and freedom to move at your own pace are worth the effort.
Another option is a private flower tour for about five days. These tours usually gather small groups of like-minded enthusiasts led by a knowledgeable guide. It takes some stress off from the planning and gives a chance to find the best flower-viewing spots
The Namaqualand Flower Route is a stretch of about 800 km that connects cities and national parks, taking visitors through South Africa’s most impressive wildflower displays. The top flower areas are scattered around the towns of Garies, Springbok and Port Nolloth, along the N7 route.
- Check the weather forecast in advance to make sure you are at the peak blooming season in Namaqualand.
- Make sure to book early as lots of people want to witness the beauty of the Namaqualand flowers, and most official tours are booked a few months in advance.
- When planning a road trip, start your journey up north and then make your way to Cape Town.
- The best time to view the flowers is between 12:00 and 15:00 when the temperature has increased and the flowers have opened. They don’t open on wet and very cold days.
- Walk or drive with the sun at your back so that the flowers will face you.
- Get off the beaten track. Look for side roads and explore the countryside. Enjoy being completely surrounded by this magical landscape
After a long day of driving and hiking along the Namaqualand Flower Route, you can stay in any of the towns along the route. One of the best places to stay overnight is Port Nolloth. From there, you may explore Richtersveld National Park at the Namibian border with its rich fauna and flora.
The Namaqualand region offers several country lodge options: self-catering cottages on the beach, guesthouses with patios and terraces offering ocean views, and beach houses. Staying overnight at Namaqua Flower Beach Camp or Skilpad Flower Camp promises a vast landscape dotted with wildflowers and starry skies. For information on accommodation in Namaqualand, see https://www.namakwa-info.co.za/region/accommodation.
April 14, 2022
April 14, 2022