The days are getting warmer and longer, cocktail hours are springing up again and the flowers are peeking out to prepare their brilliance. I call it ‘faux Spring’ because it’s that time of the year when you start to pack away jerseys, coats and soup recipes. You start getting invited to outside events, hear things like ‘summer body loading,’ and then Nature comes along with one last heavy, cold front and screams, “Lies – I said it’s still winter.” Even so, the Spring flowers defiantly come out. I always try a plan a trip to Cape Town (I live her now, so it’s a no brainer) around this time of the year, so I can take a drive up the West Coast to do some flower spotting.
When I tell people that I am going to see the flowers, people ask “why?” or “what happens there?” I suppose, it’s because the flowers don’t do anything – other than just exist. No one asks this when I go on a game drive, or when it snows in Matroosberg or whale watching in Hermanus. The wild flowers aren’t planted, they just naturally come through year after year. So, if you just like pretty things then take a stop off at these places for some spring flower viewing.
West Coast National Park – Postberg Section
My first trip to the flowers was a drive to the West Coast National park which is about an hour and a half drive from Cape Town. The Postberg section is a wilderness area inside the park that and is only open to the public during the flower season.However, there are also carpets of flowers leading up to that section. Colourful bursts of flower occur throughout the park on hills and koppies overlooking the ocean. Game in the area include eland, mountain zebra, steenbok and caracals and during the day some can me spotted among the flowers.
We usually go up with a picnic and stop at the picnic and braai areas dotted through the park. Alternatively, you can do a one or two day hiking tour in the park. If camping is your thing, then the 2-day camping tour is a lovely option, that’s what my best friend who has done the trip says. I recommended the flowers and she took it up a notch and went camping with a group of six people. I thought it might be a mission to gather six black people (sans negotiations) and go camping but I was wrong. She did it.
The Postberg section is open during August and September from 9am – 5pm. For hiking trials contact the Geelbek Information Centre inside the park on (022) 707 9902/3.
The drive in and around darling is good flower experience. In September, the Darling Flower Festival opens fields all over town with workshops walks and a host of activities. However, you can still take a drive around the area and pop into many of the open fields like the Renosterveld wildflower reserve, the Waylands wildflower reserve and Tinie Versfeld Flower Reserve.
Gorgeous finds in the Renosterveld wildflower reserve.
Tinie Versfeld Flower Reserve
The Tinie Versfeld Flower Reserve is just a few kilometres off the R27 on the way to Darling. We found this place by accident while taking a drive up and around the west coast. We spotted a couple of cars on the side of the road and saw people climbing over a fence. My first thought was, “wow, trespass much?” But of course, curiosity took over and we too stopped the car. There are some wooden steps that go over the fence into the reserve, um… you can also just go through the gate which is right next to the steps.
This wild flower reserve is a 20ha piece of land donated to the national Botanic gardens of South Africa due to its conservation importance. The reserve is a portion of one of the most endangered types of vegetation – Swartland Renosterveld. This type of vegetation use to cover the whole area but it has been ploughed and transformed into agricultural land. It is also home to the Yellow Wine bulb – a special bulb endemic to the Tinie Versfeld Flower Reserve. It’s a lovely space with a circular route, walkways, a dam and of course a carpet of flowers. Entry is free of charge.
Nieuwoudtville – ‘the bulb capital of the world’
We went to Nieuwoudtville at the end of August and it was exceptionally beautiful. It’s a small town in the Northern Cape about 3 hour drive from Cape Town. If you are up for the drive, you won’t be disappointed. The town is an agricultural town with mainly sheep farmers but every spring wild flowers spring up in the fields all around the town. Our hosts encouraged up to not just look out for colour but get down on the ground and actually take note of the amazing fact that each flower is different.
While the wild flowers naturally occur, in 2017 the flowers didn’t come through due to the drought. This year they came through full force and is touted at the best showing in 30 years. The Hantam National Botanical Garden, Matjiesfontein flower route and Papkuilsfontein farm flower reserve have great circular trails that you can walk or drive. – for a nominal fee.
Namaqua National Park
This flower spot is further up the coast into the the Northern Cape Province. It’s a 4×4 land of contrasts. The long, dusty roads and hilly terrain make for intricate landscape views. Still, it’s close to the ocean with sand dunes and ocean breezes. In the middle of all this lies a circular route where beautiful flowers can be found in sandy soil. There’s a farm stall for lunch but also picnic and view points. Every year, luxury tented camps pop up for an extra unique experience.
Whether you take a short or long drive up. It’s a lovely way to experience a different side of local travel.