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Flowers of Namaqualand


Anne Glasser

Anne Glasser

Anne Glasser

Anne Glasser

Namaqualand is renowned for its annual mass display of wild flowers and a rich diversity of succulent plants. Each spring thousands of people travel to Namaqualand to see the flowers. Impressive fields of colour are made up of numerous small plants.

The region is host to 5000 higher plant species, about half of the world's 10000 succulent species. The region is dominated by succulents with little grass and a scarcity of tall shrubs and trees. More than a 1 000 of the species are endemic to the area.

In terms of natural selection, the flowers of Namaqualand have been selected for their ability to survive and multiply in a somewhat hostile environment. The climate is semi-arid to arid, the coast is sandy and there are rocky hills towards the escarpment. The coastal parts of this region are cool, but the inland areas are very hot and dry in summer.

The annual floral display is caused by dormant seeds germinating in mass during autumn, followed by heavy winter rains. The plants disappear over the dry summer period, but survive in seed form, waiting for the next rainy season.

There is no way of predicting whether a season will be good or bad. In a bad year there are few flowers, a good year sees hundreds of kilometres completely covered in flowers.

The flowers depend on the delicate balance of winter rain and absence of hot winds. Generally, more rain will mean better flowers. Actual showing of flowers will depend on the temperature each day. On cooler or dull days some flowers may not open properly, warm sunny days can be outstanding.

The rigorous climate has created a myriad of life forms superbly adapted to their specific habitat. Amphibians and reptiles are well represented, with a number of endemic species.

The mammal species that have adapted to these harsh conditions include klipspringer, aardvark, baboon, steenbok, duiker, porcupine, black-backed jackal and leopard. Birds are typical of the dry arid western regions of the country.

Namaqua National Park boasts with a kaleidoscope of indigenous flora species every spring time and it is for this reason alone that people are drawn to the area. It is situated some 495 km from Cape Town off the N7 route to Namibia, and 67 km from the town of Springbok in the north. The nearest town is Kamieskroon, which is some 22 km from the reserve and park offices.

Self-drive Tour for Viewing Flowers
Leave Cape Town and take the N27 to Darling. Proceed to Yzerfontein and then to the West Coast National Park where you visit Postberg Nature Reserve for wildflowers and game viewing.

From there proceed to Clanwilliam for a visit to Ramskop Nature Garden and overnight.

Drive to Vanrhynsdorp for a visit to a succulent garden. The road takes you to Bitterfontein and Garies and then to the Skilpad Nature Reserve.

Continue your journey to Springbok for overnight.

Make a circular drive to Nababeep and Okiep the following morning. Return to Springbok and conduct a flower drive through the Gougap Nature Reserve.

Head back to Garies and drive to Clanwilliam. On the way you can stop at a wine boutique to taste some of the wines of the Olifantsriver Valley. Overnight in Clanwilliam or continue back to Cape Town.



Could someone please comment on the present status of the flowers in the Langebaan area. 16 August 2012. Thank you.
Postberg in West Coast National Park (next to Langebaan) seems to have a good season - but finding sunny days are a problem at the moment.

Posted by: Johan Mostert

We are thinking of driving from Johannesburg to Upington and then on to Springbok and to travel southwards to Cape Town. Please advise us of a suggested route to follow. Thank you.

Posted by: Anne Glasser




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