Namakwa, which stretches from the extreme western coast to Namibia, is one of the forgotten corners of South Africa. Cross this remote region to Port Nolloth where, after hundreds of kilometres of deserted roads, the vastness of the Atlantic appears, it reserves extraordinary experiences all year round, but in spring (August – September) these rocky lands are covered with a colorful mantle of wild flowers. You could spend days in this area, visiting Namaqua National Park and the Goegap Nature Reserve to see the spectacle of flowering.
For most of the year, Namakwa looks like an inhospitable desert, where only the most tenacious shrubs seem to survive. Despite this, the winter rains turn this arid landscape into a kaleidoscope of colours covered with daisies, herbs, aloes, lilies and many other native plant varieties. Every spring around 4,000 species of flowers bloom in this region, attracting visitors from all over the world to this often forgotten corner of South Africa.
The quality of flowering and the best time to visit the region depends on the rainfall and varies from year to year. Typically, the full flowering season runs from mid-August to mid-September (but sometimes earlier than the beginning of August and lasts until mid-October). Since even the areas where flowering is most spectacular can vary, it is important to seek advice from the locals. During the flowering period, local authorities manage the Flower Hotline information number (079 294 7260). Almost all species are protected and flower pickers can face heavy fines.
Namaqua National Park
In the spring of each year, countless flower enthusiasts flock to this small, isolated park, at a time when blooms are completely transforming shrubland and old wheat fields. Namaqua is criss-crossed by short nature trails and car routes dotted with vantage points and is one of Namakwa’s most beautiful places to photograph the spectacle of spring blossoming.
Covering an area of 1030 square kilometers, this park is almost completely forgotten in the rest of the year, but remains a quiet place to walk, as well as a destination of some interest to those who practice birdwatching.
Since in August and September the few accommodation facilities in the park are always sold out, we recommend that you book as soon as possible, or about 11 months in advance. Accommodation includes spartan coastal campsites, chalets and – during the flowering season – a popular tented field.
Other accommodations can be found in the nearby Kamieskroon and Garies, two desolate towns situated between the rolling bushes and shrubs that characterize the Namakwa region.
Inside the park there is a circular track 5 km long, which can also be covered with a normal car, while for all the others you will need an off-road vehicle. If you are staying at one of the coastal campsites, we recommend that you take the 67 km long gravel road from Garies. This road is also suitable for normal cars, but you’ll need an off-road vehicle (or a pair of very sturdy hiking boots) to get through the entrance gate.
If you want to breathe a different climate, venture into this small remote town, exposed to the sand and the elements and located away from the beaten track, near the northwestern corner of South Africa, pervaded by a rough and vital atmosphere from the last frontier. The invigorating air smells of fish and salt, and the local population is made up of a diverse multicultural group of people fleeing a stormy past, tourists and adventurers in search of fortune. The route to it would already be more than enough to justify a visit to this remote coastal town.
Founded as a port for shipping copper extracted from the mines of the region, today Port Nolloth lives mainly from diamonds dredged from the bottom of the ocean and lobsters unloaded in the small commercial port by trawlers. The dredgers are equipped with pumps that suck in the diamond sand from the seabed.
Despite careful surveillance by De Beers’ agents, it sometimes happens that some shimmering fragments are lost. In any case, we do not advise you to buy diamonds on the black market to avoid unpleasant inconveniences, for example to find out that you bought slenters (fake diamonds made from lead oxide) or to have treated the purchase with undercover cops.
When to go
August – September The desolate expanses of the Namakwa explode with colors during spring flowering.