There’s nothing like a road trip at springtime in Namaqualand. So fill up the tank and hit the road. The Namaqualanders are waiting to greet you.
And it doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle you cruise in – easy rider, urban 4x4 or campervan – the N7 Flower Route is blooming marvelous. The daisies and vygies lining the highway are just a taste of what lies ahead. Here's your passport so go on, get dusted with gold.
First stop is Kamieskroon, a picturesque village situated on the N7 between Garies and Springbok. Set beneath the "Kroon", the rocky tip of the Kamiesberg Mountains from which it takes its name, it really gives a feeling of being the crown of the "Garden of the Gods". Venturing deeper into the mountains towards Nourivier and Leliefontein, you will be rewarded by the sight of amazing rock formations and stunning flower-strewn slopes.
The charming old Moravian mission station of Leliefontein is the oldest village in Namaqualand and has National Monument status. Here you enter Nama community owned farmlands and you’ll find families living in matjieshuise – traditional dome-shaped huts made out of reed mats.
Where are the flowers? Visit the Namaqua National Park (particularly Skilpad) and also take the Kamieskroon and Studer passes to Nourivier and Leliefontein.
Shutterbug? Improve your technique and join one of the amazing photographic workshops held at the Kamieskroon Hotel: 027 672 1614.
Adventurous? Stay overnight in a matjieshuis and eat local food like asbrood en bloodpap. Contact the Leliefontein community project on 027 672 1808.
Where can I stay? Accommodation in Kamieskroon.
Skilpad and Namaqua National Park
Just 17 km northwest of Kamieskroon is the Skilpad section of Namaqua National Park. Twitchers and butterfly aficionados love it and it's worth spending a few days here, even in "bad" years its sandy plains are plastered with vivid orange. The dirt road that circles the reserve takes you an overwhelming 5 km through magnificent blooms.
Halfway through is the “Roof of Africa” viewpoint, an area of huge granite domes affording panoramic views of the reserve and Kamiesberg Mountain range. Skilpad is situated on a ridge of hills that capture most of the rain blowing from the West Coast. Because of this, the flowers are consistently spectacular, even when other areas are not. Outside of springtime, much of this area is used as grazing land for sheep, clearing the bushes that would usually suppress the growth of the annual daisies and break the continuity of colour.
Adventurous and energetic? Try the new 50 km 4x4 eco-route and 6 km mountain bike trail. Bikes can be hired in the park.
Namaqua National Park is home to the world's smallest tortoise, the Namaqua Speckled Padloper.
Springbok and Goegap Nature Reserve
The riot of colour in Goegap Nature Reserve is a magnet for artists and photographers. Kaleidoscopic fields of vivid purple vygies, yellow Namaqua daisies and orange gazanias all turn their happy faces towards the sun. There’s a 17 km drive that sedans can negotiate and an 80 km 4x4 route.
Where are the flowers? Goegap Nature Reserve, the Spektakel, Wildeperdehoek and Messelpad passes and the roads to Nababeep and Concordia.
Take a break from your vehicle and saddle up and ride on the wild side in this magnificent landscape. Contact Namaqua Horse Trails +27 27 718 3583
Grey Skies? Visit the Namaqua Museum occupying the old synagogue or drive to Nababeep Mining Museum. Hang out in the kroeg (pub) at the Okiep Hotel.
Where can I stay? Accommodation in Springbok, Okiep and Nababeep.
Contact? Tourist Info 027 712 8035; Namaqua National Park 027 672 1948; Goegap Nature Reserve 027 718 9906.
Northeast of Vanrhynsdorp is Nieuwoudtville, an atmospheric village known as the “bulb capital of the world” and an area that flowers late into the season due to its higher altitude and rainfall.
Where are flowers? Go to the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve (1 km from town) and drive along the Louriesfontein and Matjiesfontein roads. The Quiver Tree Forest and its 30 m waterfall is found 7 km north along the Louriesfontein Road.
Grey skies? Visit a quiver tree forest just a few kilometres further along the R357 towards Gannabos. You will find thousands of South Africa’s tallest specimens of Aloe dichotoma (the kokerboom) with wildflowers strewn at their feet in spring. If you have more time go exploring the natural swimming pools and ravines in the Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve – 46 km from Nieuwoudtville. Contact Cape Nature for a map and brochure 027 218 1159.
You could also visit whacky windmills just 65 km from Nieuwoudtville at the small dorp of Louriesfontein. Here you will see a bizarre sight, a gathering of windmills breaking the flat Karoo landscape. This is the Fred Turner Museum, one of only two museums in the world devoted to the development of windmills. It is a fascinating collection and if you’re there when the wind blows you’ll hear the spine chilling sounds of metal scraping and cutting into the Karoo silence.
Where can I stay stay? Accommodation in Nieuwoudtville, Lamberts Bay, Clanwilliam and Piketburg.