Namaqualand encompasses the narrow Sandveld coastal strip between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Karoo. It is said to be both blessed and cursed by nature. For most of the year, Namaqualand is a barren, sun-scorched semi-desert. But following winter rains, the vast sandy plains come alive with brilliant orange, purple and yellow spring flowers. There are over 3000 different flower species but the most striking are the daisies and vygies, which germinate quickly after the rains.
Namaqualand is justly famous for this carpet of spring flowers. We offer an escorted spring wild flower tour in August, as well as self drive tours and private flower tours. As well as the ‘carpets’ of annuals, there are a huge number of hardier perennials and succulents. But please book earlier as it is very popular and there is very limited accommodation in this remote area!
Visit some of the many nature reserves such as the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve at Kamieskroon, with its rich bulb variety and wild geraniums. Or the Goagab Nature Reserve near Springbok, which is particularly known for the succulents in the Hester Malan Wildflower Garden. The Goegap has one rare succulent found nowhere else in the world, the bizarrely formed Halfmens or ‘half men’, which resembles an armless person.
Between Namaqualand and the Cedarberg lies the interior uplands around Nieuwoudtville. On this escarpment the rainfall increases dramatically. Marked changes in geology and soil support different flowering species. Visit the rewarding Nieuwoudtville Wild Flower Reserve or Papkuilsfontein. Enjoy the short scenic detour to Nieuwoudtville’s dramatic waterfall. Many flowers, bulbs and orchid species that are not found anywhere else in South Africa can be seen at Nieuwoudtville. Further towards the inland road to the Kalahari is Calvinia. This is an attractive country town or ‘dorp’ with many restored buildings and an enjoyable country museum.
When to visit for the flowers?
Many people get this a little wrong. Spring comes early in Namaqualand and the best time for flowers here is in early to mid August. By the end of August, usually the best displays are over. Many people want to visit in September but really this is way too late, except in exceptional years.
Most people touring Namaqualand also visit the Cedarberg and West Coast en route, which can be visited a little later. We also recommend combining it with Augrabies Falls National Park to the north-east…
Please see our article on Tips for Enjoying the Spring Flowers of Namaqualand for more info…