Wild, weird and wonderful

In the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, with travel restricted, the wildflower season promises to be the best in years.

Colourful display of daisies at a vantage point in the West Coast National Park

So say the old folks who have noted the rainfall patterns and read nature’s imperceptible signs. Flowers will be abundant – and longer lasting, probably well into September.

White daisies stretching as far as the eye can see
Rusty drums among white daisies

Let’s take a look: northwards from Cape Town, in the West Coast National Park and through Namaqualand with its Namaqua National Park up to the town of Springbok. Even in less than spectacular years, this once a year event never fails to astonish.

Getting close-up images of the colourful wildflowers
Orange wildflowers on a farm in the Cederberg area
Close-up of the bittergousblom
A magic carpet of flowers in the West Coast National Park – Niki Moore

This is wild, weird and wonderful.

The arid landscape along South Africa’s west coast presents a kaleidoscope of colour in August and early September every year. The amount of rain in June and July, winter months in the southern hemisphere, largely determines whether the flowers would be “good” or “just so”. Let’s hope a cold snap does not spoil the party.

View from the Vanrhyns Pass near Nieuwoudtville
A rock garden in the West Coast National Park
Enjoying lunch at the Geelbek Restaurant in the West Coast National Park

Of course, here you get embraced by the most generous hospitality. It’s a region bursting with history and weird place names, like Koeroebees – Nama words for digging deep for water. This is where pioneers of old eked out a living; their crumbling sun-baked homesteads dating from 1844 lie in ruins. Old-world charm, people so caring and wonderfully innovative in a land so dry, yet so extraordinarily beautiful.

A sprinkling of orange among the vines

As you tour here, go for wine tasting at any of the numerous cellars in the area. Or try the olives and other fruits of the land. Do a rooibos tour and, yes, an instructive tasting in Clanwilliam where this healthy herbal beverage is produced from the indigenous rooibos (pronounced Roy-boss, meaning red bush) shrub of the Fabaceae family. It gets exported widely. Rooibos and variations like ‘rooibosch’ that designate products of the Aspalathus linearis plant are protected by law.

This year Covid-19 put paid to the popular Clanwilliam Wildflower Show in the 1864 Dutch Reformed church building, now called ‘Die Blomkerk’ (Flower Church), but the townsfolk say they will compensate by hosting a magnificent event in 2021. 

A jaw-dropping display of plants and flowers in Clanwilliam’s famous Flower Church

Visit Algeria – not in North Africa, but CapeNature’s conservation area in the Cederberg where the mountains get wrapped in yellow wildflowers.

The Cederberg mountains draped in yellow flowers

Closer to Cape Town the West Coast National Park spreads a vibrant carpet of colours as in a rich tapestry. Do bend down to check out nature’s tiny life: insects, reptiles and birds.

Tiny life among the wildflowers
A hoverfly feeding among coastal flowers on the dunes

You’re sure to visit again.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Safrea or its members.


5 Responses

    1. Thanks, Janine. Yes, the Blomkerk show is worthwhile to see. Sadly, the display was cancelled this year in the interest of visitor safety. But Santie Stander of Clanwilliam Tourism and a member of their wildflower society promised a good one next year. (The event is staged for one week only).

  1. It is features like these that give a person a serious case of itchy feet. Thanks, Sam, for a lovely virtual trip.

  2. Very nice, Sam. A blooming good article in the midst of all the other things going wrong around the world. In the end, nature will have its way. Thanks to Safrea for this wonderful platform.

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