Namaqualand in South Africa: Flowers bloom in the desert

See the wild flowers of Namaqualand

Once a year the desert turns into a sea of flowers

Namaqualand in South Africa normally 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.

After the annual spring rains the dry fields of Namaqualand transform into an incredibly sea of flowers. It’s hard to plan to see this, but this colourful spectacle is something to behold.

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

Location of Namaqualand

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

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.

A flower in the dry sand of Namaqualand. ©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.

Almost extinct animal: Bontebok

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

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.

Picknick between flowers

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.

Extreem kleurrijke bloemen in Namaqualand. ©Corno van den Berg

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.

Best time for Namaqualand

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.

My Tips

Show all Bucket List Tips on South Africa

Read My Tips

all 19 articles on South Africa

Show all articles