I’ve always had a very special connection with the Namaqualand. As a little girl, I used to go and visit my family in the small town of Garies during August and September – prime flower time! I fell in love with the bright pink, yellow and orange flowers, while I filled my pockets with rose quartz, tiger’s eye and agate.
Visiting towards the end of flowering season, you even had the chance to collect seeds from the madeliefies and take them home to plant in your garden. We took photos of the hundreds of quiver trees which we framed and decorated our living room with.
Over the last few years, the region has suffered from the severe drought, leading to a decline in tourism. This year it is a totally different story. Because of the moderate rainfall, our precious Namaqualand is in bloom again and what better time to steal a weekend away and head up the West Coast?
Keep It Local
The little town of Darling is a mere hour’s drive from Cape Town. Together with Malmesbury, these two towns mark the beginning of the flower trail from the south. These towns are also close to popular tourist attractions such as Paternoster and Langebaan, where you’ll also be able to spot a few flowered landscapes.
In Darling, there is no need to spend the entire day looking for flowers. One of South Africa’s favourite collection of craft beers are brewed in this small town and their brewery doubles up as a restaurant with gourmet pub food and beer tastings.
Got a bit of a sweet tooth? Darling Sweet is just around the corner and they just love producing the most delicious handmade toffees and caramels. Their range includes salted liquorice caramels, ginger and cardamom caramels, chilli toffee and more. Not only are you able to taste on-site, you can also take a few home as keepsakes.
If your flower trail leads you to the seaside, we’ve recently discovered an awesome beach bar in Langebaan where you can end the day off with a sundowner and put your feet in the sand. Kokomo Beach Bar & Restaurant is located in Langebaan’s main road and boasts the most spectacular sunsets.
Cederberg Flower Power
Travelling another 170 km north, you’ll find the impressive Cederberg mountain range. Towns in this area include Clanwilliam, Vanrhynsdorp and Niewoudtville. Early reports showed these areas as the most densely flowered for the 2018 season. This area is known as the Matzikama and Hantam regions.
Clanwilliam is not only home to some of the most beautiful patches of veldblommetjies in the entire Namaqualand, it is also known as the Rooibos capital. This little town has its very own Rooibos Tea House, where you are able to do delicious tea tastings. For those willing to get even more immersed in the Rooibos culture, there is also a Rooibos Route which stretches from Citrusdal up to Vanrhynsdorp.
From Clanwilliam, head north on the N7 to Vanrhynsdorp and Niewoudtville. On your way, you’ll pass the small town of Klawer and if you are not yet ready to call it a day, you can even head to Vredendal for a visit, or head through Vredendal to Doring Bay and Elands Bay – in both these coastal towns you’ll find that the wildflowers even grow on the beach.
In Vredendal you have a few options for lunch and refreshments. The West Coast region in South Africa is known for its white wines, thanks to the climate of the cool Atlantic Ocean. For a wine and MCC tasting, give Teubes Family Wines a try (their Karoobossie is delicious) and if you made it all the way to Doring Bay, Fryer’s Cove is a must for a peaceful afternoon on the jetty.
For The Adventurous
If you’ve come this far, spoil yourself and cross the Western Cape border into the Northern Cape. If you keep heading north for another 250 km, you’ll get the chance to see Kamieskroon and Garies. At this point, you won’t find any fancy wine farms, or luxurious hotels, but you’ll find something much more valuable…
It is a well-known fact that a big part of the Namaqualand appeal comes from its people. The Namaqualand people are not only known for their unique accents; they are known for their humour, their honesty and their family values. Meeting true Namakwalanders is one of the biggest treats while travelling their part of the country.
Our suggestion would be to head to the local hotels and guest farms, meet the owners and share a meal. In this part of the world, storytelling reigns supreme and chances are you’ll end up next to a pit fire, sharing in stories of the region, stories of the people.
*Bonus: Discover Heaven On Earth
To the West of Kamieskroon, 80 km to be exact, lies the small fisherman’s town of Hondeklip Bay. Close to the diamond excavation sites on the West Coast, this village is quite the hidden gem. Called Hondeklip Bay because it had a rock that looks like a dog (it got struck down by lightning a few years back), this town has the most spectacular views. Imagine flowers growing on the beach, their very own ship wreck, the crips blue ocean and white sand… this is paradise!
What are your favourite spots to visit in the Namaqualand? Pop your recommendations in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you.