Where to see the flowers

This year’s flower season is one of the most remarkable in ages. Head a little further afield for masses of wildflowers without crowds of flower gazers.

All along South Africa’s arid western parts the winter rains have wrought the most marvellous transformation. Seemingly barren fields have turned into wildflower gardens, and now that spring’s sunshine has arrived, the blooms are really showing off.

West Coast and Namaqua national parks are the traditional hotspots for flower gazing. But that means that you will be sharing the floral display with lots of other visitors. To help you seek out the lesser-known spots, we turned to Johann Groenewald of Tracks4Africa, the mapping service that helps travellers navigate the continent’s remote corners.

For his midweek flower break, Johann and his wife headed to Vanrhynsdorp, a flower destination in its own right. “We took a drive on minor roads around the town and it paid off. We saw a great variety of plants in full bloom and could simply stop on the side of the road to take a walk,” he says.

Nieuwoudtville’s Hantam National Botanical Garden also more than delivered where the flowers were concerned. However, the real highlight came along the R364, heading south towards Clanwilliam. Taking the Botterkloof Pass, a good gravel road, Johann saw some of the best flowers of his trip. “Carpets of pink flowers covered the side of a koppie.” Read more about Johann’s midweek flower break.

Another highly recommended destination is the Biedouw Valley in the Cederberg. After hearing that the flowers were particularly abundant this year, Tracks4Africa’s Lizette Swart made her way there. “The Biedouw Valley shimmered with yellow interspersed with orange and white patches,” she says. Read more about Lizette’s flower spotting weekend.

Tips for the flower season

  • The best time to catch the flowers in all their glory is between 10 am and 3 pm. The blooms open fully when the sun is at its strongest.
  • This means you can stay over in neighbouring towns rather than the flower capitals themselves. You don’t have to get there early in the day.
  • For the best sightings, travel from the northwest towards the south and east. This ensures that the sun is behind you and the flowers have their faces turned towards you.
  • Windy days are not recommended for prime flower viewing, and when it’s raining, the flowers don’t show their faces at all.
  • Don’t discount partially overcast days. If there’s a break in the clouds, you’ll get a chance for spectacular photos.

To explore along back roads, consult Tracks4Africa maps. Their maps feature a comprehensive road network for tar, gravel and sand, so you can travel Africa’s remote corners informed. Whether you prefer to navigate by Garmin, road atlas, paper map or smartphone app, there’s a Tracks4Africa map for you.