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Namaqualand, colours flourish into technicolour magic 

Spring is in the air, and in an arid region of South Africa and Namibia extending along the west coast over 1,000 kilometres and encompassing a total area of 440,000 square kilometres, spring is bursting out in glorious colour on the ground. Annually celebrating the end of winter, the Namaqualand puts on a spectacular floral display that puts even the prized exhibits at the Chelsea Flower show to shame.

Little Namaqualand to the south of the Orange River is a semi-desert Succulent Karoo region located in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The area experiences temperature extremes with hot, sweltering summers to freezing winters. Great Namaqualand, found to the north of the Orange River in the south of Namibia, is a sparsely populated semi-desert area. Between August and October each year, these areas of the Namaqualand turn from semi-deserts into brilliantly coloured flower tapestries.

The Namaqualand is a biodiversity hotspot hosting the highest concentration of succulent plants of any of the world’s arid regions. More than a thousand of its estimated 3 500 flora species cannot be found anywhere else in the world, and come spring every year, they all put their beauty on display in full colour unfurling a tidal wave of magnificent floral splendour.

There are wonderful tours and experiences to introduce tourists to the Namaqualand. Tour guides offer incredible insights on the wonders of this semi-desert landscape, the area and its inhabitants, but there are a few notes for travellers who want to find out for themselves. The best time to actually go out to see the flowers is between 11h00 and 15h00, because the flowers only open in full sunlight. Don’t be afraid to stop along the road to discover different species of flowers. The locals are very friendly and will gladly guide you to various flower spots.

Because the flowering of the Namaqualand is dependent on a few factors, especially rainfall, there does not seem to be a “best time” to visit the area, but locals have learned to gauge the beginning and the ending of the floral explosion by watching the blooms. According to them, the arrival of the season is ushered in by the budding of the Namaqua Daisy, and as soon as the purple Vygies bloom, the season bids farewell.

With wonderful accommodation options, the Namaqualand area opens its arms every year to host thousands of tourists the only way they know how – with warm, Namaqua hospitality. Do yourself a favour and get lost in the splendour of bloom time. Drink in the courage of thousands of seeds who annually overcome the challenges of this water sparse area to stand tall and fearlessly reach for the sun. You will find hope not only budding, but flourishing.