Namaqualand

Once a year, the usually grey landscape is transformed
into a carpet of living colours

In the Northern Cape there is a place that almost resembles an alien landscape. For most of the year, the Namaqualand seems to be a barren wasteland with dry scrub struggling to cling to life in the arid heat. But after the winter rains have fallen, the country throws off its grey cloak and reveals a beautiful flowery carpet unlike any other in the world. For those who get to know the area, though, the Namaqualand offers much more than just the beautiful wildflowers.

The Namaqualand is a large area of which only the Little Namaqualand falls in the Northern Cape. This area forms part of the so-called Succulent Karoo because of the large amount of succulent species that can be found here.

For visitors that want to see the incredible carpet of wildflowers that the Namaqualand is famous for, the best time to visit is between July and September. The blooming is dependent on the winter rains, however, so the precise time may differ from year to year. Most tour groups follow a route that usually starts in Springbok at the Goegap Nature Reserve and then moves towards the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve near Kamieskroon. Another location in which to view the wildflowers of Namaqualand is the Namaqua National Park. This area offers over five kilometres of scenic walking routes to see the natural splendour of the area.

The wildflowers of Namaqualand may be the main attraction of the areas, but it is certainly not the only one. Many of the towns offer exciting adventure tourism opportunities for the times the flowers are not blooming. Most famous are the hiking and cycling trails in the area. Many of these trails follow the same trails that early explorers blazed before the area was settled. These trails are rarely marked, but maps are available and there are competent guides that will be more than happy to show you the way.

Namaqualand not only has natural beauty to show off to the visitors that come here. There are many small towns and villages of historical importance in the area with quaint names like Pofadder, Nababeep, Sprinbok, Garies and many more. These towns offer some of the best in South African hospitality and are always happy to welcome visitors. You are unlikely to find big ostentatious resorts here, but simple good food, good company and good service.

The Namaqualand may seem like a barren stretch of land. But, from the thousands of square kilometres of wildflowers that stretch across it in the springtime, to the quaint little towns that dot the landscape and the natural history of tribes that have lived here for centuries; the Namaqualand is a wonderful place to visit. There are few places on earth that are so removed from civilisation and so beautiful at the same time.

 

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