Generally, Namaqualand is nothing but sand. But once a year it transforms into an unrivalled colour explosion. Yellow, white and orange dominate, but you’ll also see blue, purple and yellow. It’s a carpet of flowers. But it only last a few weeks every year, before it turns back into desert. What a magical world it is.

Flowers on the coast of South Africa.
Flowers on the coast of South Africa. Corno van den Berg

Namaqualand is not very well known, and is located north of Cape Town on the way to Namibia. It is believed the best spots to see the spectacle are Darling, West Coast National Park, Namaqualand National Park and the city of Springbok. My route starts on the coast, then I’m heading inland.

West Coast National Park in Namaqualand

West Coast National Park is very special. It’s possible to see wild animals in the fields of flowers, including ostriches, zebras, springboks and many others. Though it doesn’t happen that often, since they eat grass, not flowers.

Two bonteboks, a species on the brink of extinction.
Two bonteboks, a species on the brink of extinction. Corno van den Berg

If you look closely you can see smaller flowers in between the dominant brighter flowers. Some only have one flower and extremely small leaves. The plants use up all their energy to ensure the flowers will grow again next year. There are hundreds of different kinds of flowers here, including many asters.

Close to extinction: Bontebok 

A special animal that lives in these parts is the bontebok, and they are quite rare in Africa. I’m having quite a special moment, because this sea of flowers only became a tourist attraction a few years ago, and at that time the bontebok was very close to extinction.

A flower in the dry sand
A flower in the dry sand. Corno van den Berg

The sea of flowers forms a beautiful contrast with the blue sea. It’s time for a picnic. I keep my eyes on the water, and soon I see what I was looking for. A pod of whales passes by, and I can see their tails and everything.

When you travel north, you notice how the landscape gets drier. It’s amazing to think that in a few weeks this blanket of colour will be gone entirely. Namaqua’s flower splendour is short but sweet.

Extremely colourful.
Extremely colourful. Corno van den Berg

Best time:

Some trips are tricky to plan. Like this one to the sea of flower in the dry of South Africa. You’re entirely dependent on the weather. When the winter is over and spring comes with lots of rain, the event occurs. It can roughly take place around the end of August and beginning of September.