Spring Travel

A Journey Through Namaqualand

Springbok

 “...being the flower capital of Namaqualand has placed the pretty town of Springbok on the map.”

Located 570 kilometres north of Cape Town, Springbok is the largest town in Namaqualand and within driving distance of other Namaqualand towns like Alexander Bay, Pofadder, Garies, Kleinzee and Port Nolloth. It’s also an important stop for any visitor to the area.

Perhaps nowhere else in the world will you find such a dramatic, exciting and exuberant awakening to spring. Namaqualand is a botanical masterpiece that puts on a show unrivaled anywhere on Earth.

Springbok gets its name from the vast herds of springbok that used to drink at the waterholes nearby. It is the administrative capital of the region as well as the last major town in South Africa on the only main road north, before the border into Namibia. It’s perfectly positioned as a stopover en route to Namibia and being the flower capital of Namaqualand has placed the pretty town of Springbok on the map.

The attractive town is formed around a central koppie, known by the locals as ‘klipkoppie’(stonehill) that was used by the Boers during the Second Boer War as a fort for its incredible vantage point. Views from here across the valley are beautiful. There are plenty of reminders of the early days when copper was mined in this area. Across the town square, at the famous Springbok Lodge, photographs adorn the walls and there is a fascinating collection of mineral samples and semiprecious stones.

There are so many reasons to spend a couple of days here including a visit to the Skilpad Wildflower Nature Reserve, the Augrabies waterfall and the Goegap Nature Reserve.

The Goegap Nature Reserve

“The landscape of granite boulders and sandy plains makes for stunning scenic driving on narrow un-tarred roads.

Goegap Nature Reserve is a fantastic place to kick off your flower trip, bearing in mind that the best route to travel is north to south so that you see the flowers facing the sun.The landscape of granite boulders and sandy plains makes for stunning scenic driving on narrow un-tarred roads. 

Besides the unbelievable number of floral species, Goegap Nature Reserve boasts a recorded 45 mammal species including springbok, gemsbok, aardwolf and the endangered Hartman’s Zebra. Bird lovers will enjoy more than 92 South African bird species which can be viewed in the park including ostriches, black eagles, spotted dikkops and ground woodpeckers. Look out for the Namaqualand Sandgrouse which has an amazing ability – it stores water in its breast feathers and flys as far as 40 kilometres to quench the thirst of its nestlings. 

Namaqua National Park

“Every turn in the road paints an unforgettable picture.”

Seemingly overnight, the dusty valleys of Namaqualand are transformed into a wonderland, carpeted with wildflowers.Butterflies, birds and long-tongued flies dart among the flowers, seemingly overwhelmed by the abundance and diversity as valleys filled with daisies and other spring flowers pulse with sheer energy and joy. Every turn in the road paints an unforgettable picture.

The park is home to the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world and more than 1000 of its estimated 3500 plant species are found nowhere else on Earth.

It’s a land of contrasts, where the rigorous climate has created a myriad of life forms – fields of flowers, star-studded night skies, quiver trees, enormous granite outcrops and the icy Atlantic are but a few wonders that await you in the Namaqua National Park.

The Skilpad Wildflower Reserve

 “Happy flower-gazers always have pollen-dusted noses and grubby knees.”

Recently this mountainous reserve has been incorporated into the Namaqua National Park and it is a site not to be missed by visitors to the area. Here, you will get to see and experience carpets of flowers, quiver trees, klipspringer, kilometres of unspoilt coastline, an abundance of crystal quartz patches and, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the world’s smallest tortoise (the Namaqua Speckled Padloper). Get up close and personal and explore the reserve on foot. Go down on your hands and knees and take a magnifying glass for closer inspection to reveal a multitude of little floral treasures that hide among the daisies. Happy flower-gazers always have pollen-dusted noses and grubby knees. Two days is a good amount of time here if you have good weather, but don’t rush it.

Nieuwoudtville

 “The variety of flowers is immediately obvious, but there is an equally amazing diversity of plants that can store reserves underground.

In the village of Nieuwoudtville you’ll experience silence, space and stars in a completely tranquil setting. The area is also known for its high number of bulbous plants. The variety of flowers is immediately obvious, but there is an equally amazing diversity of plants that can store reserves underground. In some areas around Nieuwoudtville there may be as many as 25 000 geophytes per square metre. At this density, a spade-full of soil will contain more than 100 bulbs at a time.

Hidden treasures of the area include the Neo-Gothic Sandstone Church (which is a national monument), historical sandstone ruins and the famous Quiver Tree Forest where these extraordinary desert trees grow in rich abundance. There’s also rock art, the local bulb nursery, Nieuwoudtville’s Wild Flower Reserve; Hantam National Botanical Garden; Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve and the Nieuwoudtville Waterfall Reserve.

Die Knersvlakte

 “...a magical land of miniature succulents waiting to be discovered.”

Die Knersvlakte is considered one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. With its white quartz plains, this botanical treasure is sprawled between two small towns. The reflective quartz gravel shelters a fascinating world of miniature succulent plants from the worst of the summer heat.

Here you will find plants with names as cute as they look: baby bums, donkey ears, little buttons, fingers-and-thumbs. Some look like tiny green marbles, others like flowering pebbles. Some plants emerge above the soil only during the temperate spring and retreat back into the soil, almost invisible, when the summer heat arrives. It’s a magical land of miniature succulents waiting to be discovered.

Fun Facts and Things You Should Know

  • Almost 4,000 different species of plant seeds lie awaiting germination and depend entirely on what the weather is doing. 
  • The flowers do not have to be approached by car alone. There are some brilliant hiking and cycling routes. You can also saddle up and enjoy the magnificent landscape on horseback. www.namaquahorsetrails.co.za
  • You should plan to drive with the sun behind you - generally from north to south and westward in the morning, eastward after noon.
  • On a sunny day the flowers are fully open for five hours between 11h00 and 16h00. 

For all information on the three or five-day group Flower Tours, or to find out more about private tours, visit www.flower-tours.co.za