Your Guide to the South African Spring Wildflowersby Lauren Morling on 23 July 2014
They say the earth laughs in flowers. This is why the spring season is one of the most beautiful and happiest times of the year; a time when not a day should pass when you don’t return home covered in grass and smelling like the earth. Whether you’re looking for a day hike or a reserve to drive through to see the beautiful wildflowers, we’ve got it all. Check out the ultimate guide to the spring flower season:
Best time to see the wildflowers
The wildflower season runs from the beginning of August to the end of September. The flowers are largely dependent on the winter rains, so some years will be better than others. The flowers only bloom when the sun is shining, but the day shouldn’t heat up too quickly as this will make the flowers wilt earlier in the day. The perfect temperature for viewing wildflowers is around 14˚C.
Where to see the wildflowers
Namaqualand is a stunning section in the Northern Cape, famous for its 6,000 plant species, 250 bird species, 132 reptile and amphibian species, and 78 mammal species. An astonishing 40% of the species found here are endemic – they do not exist anywhere else on earth. Keep an eye out for the Namaqualand daisy!
Start in the capital of Springbok. Goegap Nature Reserve lies 15km outside of the town and you can explore the Hester Malan Wildflower Garden on a guided tour in an open truck.
The 103,000 hectare Namaqua National Park is well worth a visit for the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve which enjoys some of the highest rainfall in the area, resulting in a multitude of spring flowers. Keep an eye out for the world’s smallest tortoise!
Next is Nieuwoudtville. See the Quiver Tree Forest, and visit Hantam National Botanical Garden, Nieuwoudtville Flower Reserve, and the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve.
The West Coast National Park is a top spot for wildflower spotting. The Postberg section of the park is an exclusive wildflower reserve that is only open from August to September each year for this exact occasion. Braai facilities and picnic areas are available, and the Geelbek restaurant offers ready-made picnics.
Darling abounds in white daisies and purple skilpadblomme. If you time your visit right, you can make the Darling Wildflower Show (details below).
The Tankwa Karoo National Park’s western section flourishes in colourful yellow and white blooms. The Roggeveld Escarpment offer blooms of purples, oranges, reds, and pinks, with succulents and bulbous plants scattered on the mountains.
Biedouw valleyin the Cederberg has lost much of its wildflower land to cultivation, but it’s still worth a visit if you’re in the area.
Top Reserves for wildflowers
- Rondeberg Private Nature Reserve in Malmesbury, just 63km from Cape Town on the R27, offers guided walks to see over 100 different flowers.
- Columbine Nature Reserve outside Paternoster is magnificent in spring when sour figs, spider lilies, red pelargoniums, and Cape daisies spread like wild fire along the veld.
- Akkerendam Nature Reserve in Calvinia is a proclaimed bird sanctuary and Karoo scrub sanctuary with 10 floral species unique to the Hantamsberg and 2 lovely walking trails.
- Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve outside Nieuwoudtville has 533 plant species with extravagant displays of wildflowers in the spring. There is a range of hikes from day trips to 4 day routes to see rock art.
- While Ramskop Nature Reserve in Clanwilliam is only 66 hectares, more than a 10th of it is planted with wildflowers from Namaqualand. The Wildflower Garden has over 350 different species of wildflowers and always guarantees a carpet of wildflowers during spring. There is a series of walks and a tea garden is available during flower season.
- The Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve in Port Elizabeth is fantastic for spotting flowers, including fynbos, succulents, and proteas.
- Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town offers a truly exceptional array of spring flowers.
Best hiking trails to see the wildflowers on foot
- The Postberg 2-day Trail is a scenic walk under 30km. It allows visitors to spend a night amongst the wildflowers. You will need to bring your own tent and supplies.
- The Steenbok 1-day Trail is a 14km hike that follows the same path as the Postberg trail.
- The Swart Tobie Trail navigates approximately 80km of a remote area of the West Coast near the town of Koekenaap. Wade through wildflowers, along beaches, and if you’re lucky you may even spot whales and dolphins.
- The Sevilla Rock Art Trail is a 4km trail in the Cederberg, visiting 9 rock art sites.
- The Five Bay Trail strolls 28km along the Cape West Coast and explores the 5 bays between Paternoster and Jacobsbaai. It also traces the history of fishing.
Spring flower festivals and shows
- Clanwilliam Wildflower Show: 28 August – 5 September 2014
This show features a kaleidoscope of flowers to be seen in the Clanwilliam area, along with a description on the pollinators and propagators keeping the floral kingdom alive.
- Darling Wildflower Show: 19 -21 September 2014
A hall will be landscaped with Darling wildflowers, and craft and food stalls. The entrance ticket includes a free ride on a tractor drawn wagon to see the Oude Post wetland only open during the show.
- Hogsback Spring Saunter: dates TBC
This relaxed country festival in Hogsback offers guided garden tours, musical events, and craft and food stalls.
- Magoebaskloof Spring Festival: 20 – 28 September 2014
Take a trip to the Land of Silver Mist for a 9-day festival of food, art, craft, and music. Visit the Cheerio Gardens and Sequoia Gardens to see the cherries, crab apples and azaleas in bloom.
- Pack a picnic to enjoy amongst the flowers.
- The flowers are at their best between 10h30 – 16h00.
- The flowers will not come out on very overcast or rainy days, so plan your visit on a sunny day.
- Travel north first and do your flower viewing in a southerly direction as the flowers always face the sun, and will be facing you.
- Get into the national parks for FREE during SanParks week
- Don’t forget your camera. Take a tripod to take family pictures amongst the flowers.
- Take insect repellent.
- Please – no picking!
Where are you planning on viewing the spring wildflowers this year? Book your accommodation with TravelGround.com!
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