Apart from September being tourism month in South Africa the West Coast is well known for its spring flowers, because in a blink of an eye it appears after some good rain.
First you have to understand what Namaqualand is about. This is a very dry area with little rain throughout the year. Then when the warmer weather arrives, the vibrant flowers appear on the barren landscapes. You might feel that you do not need any tips on flower spotting, – how difficult can that be? – but there are some points that you need to consider in making your experience memorable. It is always difficult to predict when the flowers are going to bloom, as like many things in nature, they are weather dependent, but keep the following in mind to ease you into flower spotting:
The flowers are dependent on the sun to show their faces. So, the best time of day will be between 10:00 and 16:00, which is the hotter part of the day. Enough time to enjoy a hearty breakfast before you hit the road for the day. However, the flowers will not show on a heavily overcast day or in rainy weather. For that you will need a Plan B at hand to explore some other gems of the area if that might be on the cards.
Travel with the sun behind you so that you are always facing the flowers. When planning your daily circular route, try to travel in a westerly direction in the morning, southerly during the day and turn east in the afternoon. Get out of your vehicle and walk among the flowers to see their beauty up close and personal.
Ask at the friendly local tourism office where to find the best spots as it is a bit of a guessing game where the best flowering areas are every year. Local knowledge is tops!
There is a saying that you have to visit Namaqualand at least twice in your life time. The first time should be when it is a year of drought and the barrenness stretches out for kilometers in front of you and where the “nothing” grows in silence. Your return visit should be in a year after good rains when the fields are blooming with colourful flowers. I tend to agree with this saying, because only then you appreciate the real beauty of the vistas.
Last, but not least, take advantage of National Parks Week (18 – 22 September 2017) when the National Parks in South Africa offer free entrance. For example: entry to West Coast National Park will set you back R70 per adult and R35 per child, but plan your visit carefully and you and your family can enter free of charge. If you plan to stay over book in advance, because this is peak season in Namaqualand.
As I was browsing the internet I came across a picture of me and my Daisy (published in the Country Life magazine) on our flower trip. Click on the link below the picture to see it for yourself. Man-oh-man was I surprised!
Enjoy the scenery, but don’t pick the flowers!