17 August 2012

Flower power in the Northern Cape

Although Namaqualand’s wild flower season is not yet in full bloom, it’s worth booking your trip to see one of the great natural wonders of South Africa.

Namaqualand's wild flowers in bloom. The incredible colours of Namaqualand's wild flower season.

You simply can not believe how beautiful it is here at this time of year – the peace, the calm, the quiet – that’s the big attraction - Karin van der Merwe, Hantam resident.

One of the highlights of any trip to South Africa in August and September is the wild flower season of the Northern Cape's Namaqualand region. Visitors come from near and far to experience the incredible array of desert wild flowers that bloom in the area.

Karin van der Merwe, who lives on a sheep farm in the area, says the flower season will be late this year, but it will be worth waiting for.

'It’s very beautiful here during the Spring – purple, red, orange, yellow flowers - all the colours are here...and not all the flowers open at the same time, it all happens in stages,' she explains.

She says that visitors should plan to spend anything from 3 days to a week in the region to experience the full impact of this natural phenomenon. Although the flowers are 'late' this year, Van Der Merwe says it means the wild flower season could last until the end of September.

The Namaqualand region is a biodiversity hotspot and boasts over 6 000 plant species, 250 bird species and 78 species of mammal. This part of the Succulent Karoo is known to be the world's richest bulb flora arid region and the town of Niewoudtville is known as the 'bulb capital of South Africa'.

The Namaqua National Park already has spectacular wild flower displays on offer, and the towns of Hantam and Calvinia are where travellers need to go to see carpets of incredible colour.

Visitors are advised to book in advance, especially if they are travelling as a group, as accommodation is scarce in the more popular areas around the Namaqua National Park and Goegap Nature Reserve.

Van Der Merwe says a visit to Namaqualand is a once-in-a-lifetime experience: 'You simply can not believe how beautiful it is here at this time of year – the peace, the calm, the quiet – that's the big attraction'.

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