I want to end this year’s Namaqualand series with options for weekend travellers. Many of us cannot get away for more than a day or three but would still like to revel in the spring blooms. Why not try experiencing the Cape Flower Route? It is a wonderful alternative and a gateway to Namaqualand for those keen on experiencing both.
Join us as we take a look at the many flower viewing sites along the coast and towards the majestic Cederberg mountains to highlight the best the region has to offer.
The first stop for many flower enthusiasts is the small town of Darling. The small town hosted its first flower show (flower arranging) in 1904. The annual show would come years later after the founding of the Wildflower Society in 1917. It has welcomed people from far and wide to enjoy the many wonders of the region.
The annual Darling Flower Show (cancelled due to Covid-19) is set to return in 2022 and we cannot wait. The exhibits showcase landscapes from around Darling, paying special attention to each ecosystem.
- Wetland & Vlei
Each ecosystem has its own beauty and will display a different set of flowers. If you are on a self-drive flower tour, I suggest picking a reserve to showcase each of these ecosystems, as this will allow you to see a wider variety of flowers.
Here is a list of noted flower reserves in the region, their locations and flowers to look out for.
Harold Versfeld Nature Reserve – Contreberg Farm
- Flowers: Pterygodium cruciform, Ixia maculata, Geissorhiza eurystigma, Geissorhiza radians, Geissorhiza aspera, Romulea tabularis, Brunsvigia orientalis, Wurmbea marginata, Disperis villosa, Pterygodium alatum, Nemesia barbata, Diascia diffusa and Sparaxis grandiflora.
Darling Renosterveld Reserve
- Flowers: Moraea gawleri, Romulea eximia, Babiana rubrocyanea, Gladiolus alatus, Spiloxene capensis
Darling Groenkloof Reserve
- Flowers: Ornitholgalum thyrsoides, Zantedeschia aethiopica, Lachenalia pustulata, Romulea eximia
Oudepost Nature Reserve
- Flowers: Dispersis cucullata and Geissorhiza radians
SANBI Tinie Versfeld Nature Reserve
- Flowers: Ornithogalum thyroides, Brunsvigia bosmaniae, B. orientalis, Monsonia speciosa, Geissorhiza monanthos, G. radians and G. darlingensis
Waylands Farm Private Wildflower Reserve
- Flowers: Geissorhiza radians, G. monanthos, Babiana rubrocyanea, Moraea tricolor, M. gawleri, M. tripetala, M. fugax
Naturally, the many towns that litter the West Coast have an equally high number of floral representatives. These strandveld species vary slightly within and between each town. The most popular destination is the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park, but Yzerfontein, Paternoster, Brittania Bay, St. Helena, Elands bay, Lamberts Bay and Strandfontein have their own attraction.
West Coast National Park
- Flowers: Gladiolus caeruleus, Boophane haemanthioides, Silene ornata and Babiana ambigua.
Between the Biedouw and Tra Tra mountains, the rooibos centre of South Africa transforms into a multicoloured paradise come August. The Biedouw Valley Flower show is traditionally held in August at its prime, however, the flowers trail into September.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a 4x4, the ride to Wupperthal is a particular gem. A sedan can still get you to a number of the more easily accessible sites like Enjo Nature farm and Ramskop Wildflower Garden. I’ll throw in a surprise for the late bloomers. If you missed the daisies, go for the vygies. The Tankwa Karoo National Park can knock out a show-stopper right into October. Here is a list of noted locations to keep in mind:
Enjo Nature Farm
- Flowers: Ferraria ferrariola, Laperirousia piramidais regalis, Gladiolus venustus and Moraea cedarmontana.
Ramskop Wildflower Garden
- Flowers: Laperirousia piramidais regalis, daisies, Wachendorfia paniculata
Cederberg Wilderness Area
- Location: View maps of the area
- Flowers: Protea glabra, P. scolopendriifolia, Protea magnifica, P. acaulus
- Best viewed on foot
- Flowers: Serruria flava
- *Note that flowers do not occur in large swaths in the mountainous region & some leg work is required.
Tankwa Karoo National Park
- Flowers: Drosanthemum eburneum, Cheiridopsis namaquensis, Aloinopsis spathulata, Ruschia cradockensis, Daubenya aurea
- A 4x4 is recommended for several routes.
- Do not cross a river with an average sedan under rainy conditions.
- Be aware of possible storms and areas without reception.
- Severe weather conditions pose great risks for hikers.
- Please check weather forecasts before embarking on the journey.
Vygies or members of the Mesemb family put on a gorgeous succulent display in the Tankwa National Park.
Tips and Tricks
Each article in the Namaqualand series thus far has provided some tips that would apply to general flower viewing, but the following suggestions apply to the areas listed in this article.
- Consider becoming a Darling Flower Society member. Membership will give you early access to information and discounts at the annual show. Anyone from anywhere can apply. See here for more information.
- Large swaths of monoculture daisies grow on disturbed soil, but you will have to venture further afield for delicate bulbs.
- Postberg in the West Coast Nature Park tends to open for a limited time only (a couple of weeks). The area is off-limits outside of the stipulated dates.
- Cell reception can be spotty in the Cederberg Mountains and pre-downloaded maps are recommended.
- Flower safaris are available to those without their own transportation African Expedition and several other agencies run tours in the area.
For a sneak peak into Kersfontein's Wildflower safari's see below: