Spring in the Western Cape region of South Africa is a marvellous time for a multitude of reasons – the gorgeous weather, the crisp fresh air and, perhaps best of all, the bloom of flowers across the region. The Cape’s magnificent spring flower display has become world famous, with locals and tourists alike making pilgrimages into the countryside side to see the spectacular scene of fields upon fields of brightly coloured flowers.
In the southern hemisphere, the first day of September marks the beginning of spring, but the spring flowers can be fickle and do not necessarily stick to a program … they can bloom from the beginning of August into October – depending on the weather! So grab your family and friends the next time the sun is out (the flowers only open when the sun shines and the temperature is around 14°C) and take a drive or hike to enjoy the country’s floral kingdom at its best. Here are our four best picks to experience this incredible wonder of nature:
1. West Coast National Park
If it’s a ‘kaleidoscope flower adventure’ close to CT that you’re after, head straight to Postberg on the peninsula of the West Coast National Park just before Langebaan. Like an image from a Van Gogh painting, the mesmerizingly bright hues of these dainty flowers flood the senses – imagine strokes of purple, white, yellow and orange as far as the eye can see! Many visitors take a day trip to the region which is only about an hour’s drive away from Cape Town to experience the rarity and extreme beauty of these wild flowers.
Look out for ostriches, eland, zebra and bontebok, the endemic geometric tortoise, as well as bat-eared foxes. Spring is also when snakes awake from their winter hibernation and you do need to be aware of the puff adder in particular. There are dedicated picnic areas inside Postberg such as Uitkyk and Plankiesbaai, perfect for family-get-togethers with beautiful views across the fields of flowers and the West Coast coastline.
Just 10kms outside of the national park gate lies Geelbek Restaurant, which is well worth a visit. This beautifully restored Cape Dutch building serves up mouthwatering South African favorites such as boboetie and waterblommetjiebreedie as well as the freshest seafood caught that day. They even offer picnics which can be enjoyed on the pristine lawns in front of the restaurant with sweeping views across the West Coast.
Postberg remains closed to visitors for most of the year so being allowed a glimpse during springtime is a great opportunity that should not be missed!
2. Daisies in Darling
Another firm favorite for flower lovers and anyone visiting Cape Town is the quaint farming town of Darling, which is renowned for its rolling fields of white and yellow daisies. The town hosts an annual Darling Wild Flower Show at which visitors can marvel at beautiful flower displays, talk about flowers and gardening, discuss the best places to see them as well as enjoy live entertainment and sample local delights from numerous food stalls.
3. Tankwa Karoo National Park
The vast expanse of the Tankwa Karoo National Park is enough to woo even the hardiest of hearts and, when spring rolls around, this stark and barren national park is transformed into one of the most beautiful places on earth. Only a four hour drive from the Mother City, Tankwa covers an area of about 30, 000 hectares, most of which is cloaked under a white and yellow veil come springtime. The best views of this artist’s palette of colour are towards the Roggeveld Escarpment, which gives you incredible views of the surrounding plateau and is a carpet of red, pink, deep orange and purple petals.
4. Wild Flowers Of Namaqualand
A bit farther afield (roughly five hours drive from Cape Town) is the Namaqua National Park in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The region is fairly unimpressive for most of the year, but this arid, semi-desert also comes alive during springtime with an explosion of colour as far as the eye can see. If the aesthetics aren’t enough to bowl you over, perhaps the botany will – out of the 3,500 species of these Namaqualand wild flowers, nearly 1,000 are specific to the region and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
If you are not pressed for time and love exploring off-the-beaten-track, get out a map and plot a route up the N7 towards the small towns of Kamieskroon, Garies, Port Nolloth and Springbok, as well as Lamberts Bay, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, Vredendal and of course Niewoudtville, famous for its incredible blooms. For the best spring flowers, the Namaqua Nature Reserve is hard to beat, and you will find the most incredible carpets of flowers amongst beautiful rock formations.
The wild flowers of Namaqualand are undoubtedly one of nature’s incredible natural phenomena and should not be missed, especially if you’re a keen photographer, keen gardener or just love the outdoors. It is an amazing sight – seeing the transformation of the normally dry, deserted landscape into a vivid, technicolour floral wonderland (all natural of course!) This phenomena that only occurs in the Western and Northern Cape signals a welcome change in seasons and is the perfect opportunity to escape the city, even just for a day, to be a part of this magical transformation.