14 August 2012 by Julienne du Toit

Namaqualand’s season of unreasonable beauty

The Namaqualand is a semi-desert area found in South Africa’s far north-western quadrant. The gentle winter rains and mists rising from the Atlantic Ocean make possible an annual uprising of colourful wildflowers in spring, transforming the dry land.

Desert roadsides are suddenly full of flowers. Photo Chris Marais

On the rough, stony desert hills of Namaqualand in the Northern Cape, a miracle is currently taking place: daisies are popping out of hard ground, and they are turning entire horizons orange and white, pink and yellow.

The town’s churchyard alone, covered in wildflowers, is enough to render a person religious.

In towns like Calvinia, the pavements and backyards look like a wedding party has just passed through.

The dry semi-desert of Namaqualand suddenly turns into a quilt of many colours. Photo Chris Marais

Butter-yellow and orange daisies with their pleasantly rank smell are clustering in pastures and lying in great drifts against fences on the backroads to Leliefontein.

In Nieuwoudtville’s Hantam National Botanical Garden, uncommon bulbs, rhizomes and geophytes are sending forth shoots and flowers that cause botanists from faraway countries to sigh like groupies at a rock concert.

The town’s churchyard alone, covered in wildflowers, is enough to render a person religious.


Namaqua National Park is carpeted in orange daisies. Photo Chris Marais


In Kamieskroon, photographers are going out among the flowers and are returning to the only hotel in the town at dusk, completely drunk on the colours of the nearby Namaqua National Park.

In Loeriesfontein, flowers lift their faces to the Windmill Museum’s steel daisies. Nearby, locals are feeding flower tourists hot roosterkoek (griddle bread) with farm butter and tender salted meat.



Jopie Kotze is sitting behind his desk overlooking his bookshop and eatery at the Springbok Lodge and Restaurant, dispensing help and advice to flower tourists seeking out the best blooms. The Goegap Nature Reserve just outside town is going to be spectacular again, he’s probably saying. And try the road to Hondeklipbaai, because everyone’s raving about it.



The Anenous Pass on the way to Port Nolloth is clothed in colour, and it’s difficult to keep your eyes on the road, what with the flowers and spectacular views.

Namaqualand’s season of unreasonable beauty lasts from the end of July to the middle of September. By late October it is the bride stripped bare, and you’d never guess that under your feet lie the seeds and bulbs that make up the greatest arid zone biodiversity in the world.


Category: Attractions

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