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20 August 2013

Flower season in full swing

It’s time to stop and smell the daises ... that is, if you’re visiting Namaqualand and the West Coast of South Africa. And this year, ‘flower season’ promises to be a long one, thanks to the early rains.

Flower season in the Cederberg

It is very difficult to predict how the season will actually turn out towards September, but hopefully, with the current good rains, it could last a while. – Bernard van Lente, Namaqua National Park manager

South Africa's West Coast and the region of Namaqualand are famous for the carpets of wildflowers that emerge during July and August. Taking a 'flower safari' is a highlight for many travellers visiting South Africa during this period.

One of the best places to view the wildflowers is Skilpad in the Namaqua National Park in the Northern Cape. Says Bernard van Lente, park manager: 'The rains came early this year and it seems as if the flowers are earlier than normal for Skilpad and some sections of the park.'

Van Lente, who compiles a regular flower report on the region, says that orange daisies (Ursinia sp.) are the dominant specie in Skilpad. Visitors can also enjoy varkiesknol (Herria elongata), which are blooming in large patches, as well as a variety of other colourful wildflowers.

He says that the 4x4 coastal section of the park (from Spoeg River to Groen River) offers an amazing mix of flowering vygies (mesembryanthemums). The combination of the ocean and the wildflowers is a highlight of a visit to the Northern Cape during flower season.

Van Lente points out that accommodation at the park is fully booked, but there is accommodation available in a nearby town. 'Day visitors are very welcome to visit the park – there are a number of B&Bs and guest houses in Kamieskroon for visitors to the area.'

Van Lente says that further along the N7 road towards Cape Town, from Garies to Vanrhynsdorp, the purple vygies are in full display. 

'It is very difficult to predict how the season will actually turn out towards September, but hopefully, with the current good rains, it could last a while,' he says.

In the Cederberg mountains, the fantastic flowers are pleasing flower-spotters and guests at Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat – which offers nature walks with a focus on the flowers. The lodge is situated close to Clanwilliam, where the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show takes place from 29 August to 8 September 2013.