A dirt road through a field of blooming daisies on the Namaqualand flower route.

Namaqualand Flower Route

Blooming flowers abound. As far as the eye can see. Endless carpets of flowers in pinks, purples, yellows, oranges and white and that’s just the start.

In the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, the Namaqualand Flower Route stretches 800 kilometers from Cape Town to Port Nolloth on the northwest coast. A stretch that for the greater part of the year seems underwhelming apart from wide open spaces. But come August through September it’s hard to imagine this area to be anything but astounding.

Although the region sees little to almost no rain annually. Following the winter months, the flowers come into bloom and what was once a rather average landscape, comes to life and it’s spectacular. Quite frankly it’s mind boggling. It’s not just that there are flowers everywhere but that there are 3,500 plant species. It would be amazing to see this number of plants anywhere and yet here you are in the middle of an arid region, a semi-desert. What? We know it’s unbelievable. There are more plant species here than in the entire UK.

The dusty desert is literally transformed into a wonderland of flowers. It’s quite the sight and certainly worth the visit if you are planning your trip around this time (August through September). We’d even go so far as to say, it’s worth planning your trip specifically for this time to include it.

A different scene awaits you at every turn. On either side of the road and in the distance. The route usually starts from Cape Town but some may argue that Niewoudtville or just north of the West Coast National Park is a better starting point. We say, either way is fine. You’re still going to see the flowers. Welcome to Namaqualand. Next stop, add on the Richtersveld National Park and Alexander Bay. Colourful wild flowers for days.

If you’re short on time or wish to combine the flowers with another part of your holiday to another destination in South Africa or travel further into Namibia, you can see all the flowers in the West Coast National Park. It’s a doable day trip from Cape Town. We recommend you really make a thing of it though and go the distance. It’s worth it.

The N7 will get you there. Niewoudtville is the bulb capital of the world boasting startling numbers of geophytes. A soil so rich that even a mere spadeful could hold up to 100 of them. Here you can already stake the claim to having seen 1350 different species of which at least 22 are only seen in these parts. Outside of flowering season it’s still a win to explore flora in the Niewoudtville Wild Flower Reserve and Hantam Botanical Gardens.

Then you’re off to Garies, a small town with more flowers and the 20 kilometre Roodebergkloof Trail. On to Kamieskroon you can visit the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve, a mere 17 kilometres northwest of town. A further 70 kilometres takes you past the Goegap Nature Reserve covering 7,000 hectares to the largest town in Namaqualand, Springbok. We say largest because it is, but even then it’s certainly no booming metropolis. Flora, fauna and wildflowers. This is the crux of it.

Last but not least, you’re headed to Port Nolloth, the Richtersveld National Park and Alexander Bay. Flowers on the coastline. Yes that’s right. More to marvel at.

It’s blooming fantastic. Starting with the first signs of flowers at the end of July depending on the rains. You’re safe to plan for August and by end September into October the purple vygies bloom signalling the end of the season. Nature in all her glory from start to finish. A route that demands a journey to be enjoyed. Explore. Sit back and relax.

Book in advance. With the flowers being seasonal the hype is for the prime flowering season and it’s all said and done in just a few weeks. Landscapes, pristine beaches and quirky towns, it’s not just a route if you’re a botanist or ecology enthusiast.  It’s so overwhelmingly beautiful it’ll capture the envy of any eye and who knows may even ignite your inner botanist, although it’s enough to simply enjoy them all the same.

Where there are flowers, there are pollinators, including butterflies, bees and an incredible number of birds. An ecosystem come to life, also means animals. The likes of bat-eared fox, steenbok, springbok and Cape porcupine to name a few.

The flowers in bloom are not experienced anywhere else in the world. Just here at this specific time of year. It’s magic. The best part is that's not all. The Namaqualand and Northern Cape at large has much more to offer. A destination worthy of further exploration. There's the flowers and there's the tranquil Diamond Coast, the gushing falls at Augrabies National Park and the red sand dunes and black maned lions in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. Off you go.

November 18, 2022

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