SA Road Trips Mapped: Exploring the Wild Flower route of the Northern Cape

2018-09-03 06:30
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Explore the spring wonders of the Northern cape

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While the Northern Cape's Namaqua and the Western Cape's West Coast were all touted as some of the ultimate spring road trip experiences in South Africa - there are a few others you should consider during this time of year.

Spring is after all the season when everything takes on a new lease on life - re-energise and refresh yourself by planning a road trip to see the flowers or the unique attractions across the gorgeous country we call home. 

Start by exploring the Wild Flower route of the Northern Cape

The wild flowers of Namaqualand are described as one of the greatest and most spectacular natural phenomena in the world.

READ MORE: Time to take that road trip? These guides will help

Thousands of the legendary Namaqualand daisies along with an estimated 3 500 other floral species create a horizon-to-horizon carpet of wonder during springtime - not something you’ll easily experience anywhere else in the world, especially with South Africa’s unique biomes at play against the arid semi-desert backdrop of this part of the Karoo.

Spring Fact: Flowers only open when the sun is shining and the temperature is about 14°C.

Your road trip should take you through the towns of Springbok, Garies, Kamieskroon and Port Nolloth.

This is the ideal self-drive, taking you about 350km from Cape Town in a 3- to 4-hour drive. Further along you’ll find the Namaqua National Park, about 495km from Cape Town in all.

ALSO SEE: West Coast Way - SA's road trip with the most twists

Spring Fact: 1 September officially marks the start of spring but flowers can start blooming as early as mid-August until mid-October.

But the daisy carpets are not the only floral brilliance to delight in this region. The Northern Cape has a seemingly infinite collection of fleshy, small-leafed succulents.

Experience the Northern Cape as a guide details how the San, drew latex for their poison arrows from the Euphorbia virosa, a member of the euphorbia family, spiky ornaments of the veld. More than 40% of the plant, bird and reptile species in the Succulent Karoo are found nowhere else on Earth.

Nama legend has it that the tall, slender prehistoric plants capped by rosettes of small leaves, is in fact reincarnations of these ancient land dwellers that fled from the north, crossed the Orange River. Longingly looked back on their homeland, their Gods took pity on them and transformed them into these succulents so that they could look at the land of their origin forever”.

Spring Fact: Namakwa, as part of the Succulent Karoo, is a biodiversity hotspot and the only arid hotspot in the world.

The 103 000 ha Namaqua National Park, 22km north-west of Kamieskroon, is open to the public throughout the year, but a conservation fee is charged during flower season.

The Namaqualand Route consisting of a variety of drives that you can easily do in a day and there is also an upgraded circular drive lets visitors experience a wide floral display.

Places of Interest:

Goegap Nature Reserve just outside Springbok and Namaqua National Park outside Garies are both great places to take a relaxed drive. Both of these parks are home to an incredible array of flower species and also have plenty of spots for you to pull over and snap a selfie among the daisies.

Branch off the N7 at Vanrhynsdorp to stop in at the 6 200-hectare Hantam National Botanical Garden.

It is estimated that about 1 350 plant species have been recorded on the Bokkeveld Plateau with the brilliant blue pride of Nieuwoudtville (Geissorhiza splendidissima) taking pride of place.

Spring Fact: Known as the 'bulb capital of the world', the Namaqua soil can yield nearly 100 geophytes in a single spade-full.

There are a number of floral hotspots along the way, including the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve at Kamieskroon.      

READ MORE: #SARoadTrips: The hidden magic of the Northern Cape