Of Our South Africa Travel Adventure
Namaqualand is one of the driest zones in the world, a desert and often inhospitable. But for a few weeks in early spring (Aug/Sep), this desert blooms phenomenally. If there was enough rain in late winter, Namaqua turns into a spectacular carpet of flowers: wildflowers, succulents, and bushes explode in colors.
And we were fortunate to catch the right time and experienced the most stunning places to see flowers in Namaqualand.
There are many intriguing places to see flowers in Namaqualand, in the Northern Cape of South Africa. The desert is in full bloom only a few weeks in early spring (Aug/Sep), like in Goegap NR, Namaqua NP, Agama/ Klipfontain, Groenrivier valley, Skilpad/ Kamieskroon, and Matjiesfontain/ Nieuwoudsville.
We crossed Namaqualand from North to South and found spectacular flower spots. Here are our tips on where to go and what you can experience.
The Route to and through Namaqualand
To get to Namaqualand, you can either come in on the N7 from the North (Namibia) or the South (Cape Town) or via the N14 from the east (Upington/ Johannesburg). From Cape Town, it is about 450 kilometers.
The N7 is also the only highway through Namaqualand and the best road if you’d like to get somewhere quickly.
We came from Cederberg, and it took us 2 hours (around 220 kilometers) to the town of Garies. Just before Garies, the Northern Cape, and Namaqualand start – and so does the scenic flower route. However, you’ll see heaps of flowers already a while before.
Garies has some gas stations, where you can fuel up, de-/ inflate your tires after a 4×4 ride (if you do not have special equipment with you), and a few shops are available too.
Visit the iconic Daisyland Tourism Café & Shop, a flashback in time in every way (food and atmosphere 😉
The first part of our journey led us from North of Garies, Agama/ Klipfontain, all the way up to Springbok and the Goegap Nature Reserve. And back through the area around Kamieskroon/ Skilpad.
In the second part of the trip, we drove along the Groenrivier route into the Namaqua National Park. Here we took the 4×4 trail all along the coast, watching flowers on the beach and dunes.
Here are all the details about excellent places to see flowers in Namaqualand.
Where to stay in the Namaqualand – Ideally in Flower Camps!
To make the best out of your trip and see flowers in the north and south as well as in the mountains and on the beach, split our stay in Namaqualand.
And ideally, stay in one of the flower camps specially set up for the flower season and flower lovers. There you will find like-minded people and heaps of precious tips on where to go next. Also, you are in the middle of untouched nature and can unwind.
So, first, we checked in into the Agama Camp, 20 kilometers north of Garies, next to Klipfontain.
Its seven guest tents and a main tent with the dining and lounge area are nestled in an idyllic tranquil valley in the hills between Garies and Kamieskroon.
The comfortable tents offer an ensuite bathroom (running water shower & toilet), gas heater, great terrace. In the heated communal area, there is the dining area for breakfast and dinner, a bar, TV & Wifi & a charging station for electronic devices. And an outdoor pool for the warmer days.
The atmosphere is very relaxed, and the two hosts, Victor and Linda, are exceptionally helpful.
The second great stay we had was in the Namaqua Flower Beach Camp in the South of the Namaqua NP, 70 kilometers away from Garies. The location is just breathtaking as the 15 tents sit directly on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic.
Max two persons share a cottage tent, with an ensuite bathroom w/o running water. You have a chemical toilet and camping shower, which is topped up twice a day. The daisy diner (restaurant and lounge) serves breakfast, tea time snacks, and dinner – it’s not heated, so bring warm clothes. Also, prepare for cold nights in the tent, with generated electricity (electric blankets) until 11 pm. PS: there is no Wifi available – so you’ll unwind from daily life.
Owner Alan, Manager Lista, and the entire team are fantastic hosts, and they take good care of you.
Besides the beach camp, there is also the Namaqua Flower Skilpad Camp, 30 kilometers on a gravel road from Krommieskroon, in the central area of Namaqua NP. These are 15 tents in the lush hills with a panoramic view of the wilderness.
You can also drive back and forth between the Skilpad and Beach camp within the park, but you need a 4×4 vehicle to do so, and one way will take you about 2 hours.
This brings us to all the fantastic brilliant places to see flowers in Namaqualand.
Find Your Favorite Spot!
1 Goegap Nature Reserve
The Goegap Nature Reserve is in the north of Namaqua, about 15 kilometers south-east of Springbok, and covers 15.000 hectares of land. Via the N7, you get to Springbok, turning east onto the R355, which leads directly to the park entrance.
Goegap’s semi-desert is an excellent mix of granite mountains and sandy plains that make up a beautiful backdrop for the flower season.
And it does not disappoint. As far as you can see, the sandy plains turn into a colorful carpet of blooming wildflowers and succulents, with a couple of awesome kokerbooms (quiver trees) in between. So stunning.
The nature reserve includes three 4×4 circular routes, each of them about 20 kilometers long. You have to pay an additional fee to use them, but it’s worth it. They take you uphill to mountainous and lonesome areas, with more flowers, granite hills, and a few animals, such as zebras, wildcats, and various boks. Calculate about 2 hours for each drive (yes, it’s bumpy), so 6 hours in total if you’d like to do them all.
Alternatively, there is a 13-kilometer “tourist route”, which is just as rich in flowers, but with more people around.
Entrance Fees & Accommodation Prices for Goegap
Adults & children (per day): ZAR 30 (kids under 6 years free)
4×4 routes (per day/ vehicle): ZAR 300
Horse trail (per day/own horse): ZAR 90
If you’d like to stay overnight in the reserve, there are a couple of options:
Campsites and Huts have no electricity, no kitchen, communal ablution, but a braai/ barbecue area. The chalets come with bathroom, kitchen, braai, fridge & gas oven
9 Campsites (per day/ 2 pers): ZAR 150
4 Bush Huts (per day/ 2 pers): ZAR 250
2 Chalets (per day/ 2 pers): ZAR 1000
Lekker Eating & Drinking Plek (Spots)
Daisyland Tourism Coffee Shop
The iconic café and shop offer traditional South African food, especially sweets, like all kinds of rusks, mosbolletjies, melktert. You have to try that.
It’s also a flashback in time with country-style furnishings and music.
Phrase of this Episode:
Mooi blommetjies - Beautiful flowers
2 Agama Valley/ Klipfontain
Agama is not far from Garies and yet a world of its own. Only 10 kilometers after Garies, you turn off the N7 onto the road to Klipfontain. After a short time, you drive another 10 kilometers off-road into a remote valley or co-called kloof. Passing farms and herds of cattle, it gets more hilly and greener.
It feels a bit like a botanical garden because you do not just come across patches of flowers but also blooming trees, bushes, and succulents. Getting out of the car and take a walk is so easy – and peaceful. Even more, if you sit on the terrace of an Agama tent, especially in the early morning and after sunset, the mixture of colorful plants and the sounds of birds is incredible.
In the area, you can drive different routes through this wilderness and do not need a 4×4 car.
3 Groenrivier Route
The route along the Groenrivier takes you from the N7 down to the coast and the southern end of the Namaqua NP (Groenrivier entrance office).
It is a broad, hardly used gravel road, where you mainly meet visitors to the national park. Coming from Garies, the Groenrivier road turns right at the end of the village to the west and takes you about 70 kilometers to and through the river valley.
In terms of flowers, it is intoxicating because yellow and pink flowering shrubs stretch as far as the eye can see. A few quaint farmhouses scattered along the road and in the river bed makes for a very idyllic landscape.
If you take your time, enjoy, stop, take photos, it will take around 2 hours to reach the coast.
What we noticed – People on a Flower Mission
No matter where you are in Namaqualand during the flower season, you will always meet people on a flower-watching mission exploring the area. And from these guys, you’ll get the best tips on where to find the most beautiful flower locations at the moment. This is how we found our fantastic spots.
Our Tip: Mix and mingle with the people, ideally in the flower camps, especially at mealtime. Everyone is happy to share the flower findings of the day and many insider tips.
4 Namaqua National Park
The Namaqua National Park is just thrilling during the flower season. It wows you with blooming sandy desert in context with the wild, rugged Atlantic coastline – plus great graphite mountains in the background.
To drive around on the many fantastic trails in the National Park, you need a 4×4 vehicle.
Like the stunning and adventurous routes from the Groenrivier office in the south to the Spoegrivier Caves and Estuary (46km), and further north to Skilpad Camp (another 83 kilometers).
At first, it will take you 34 kilometers along the rough rocky coastline to many excellent camping and picnic spots and lookouts. Shortly before the Bitterrivier dune field, a 21-kilometer circular path branches off inland, leading you through great patches of wildflowers scattered in a sandy desert.
The following 12 kilometers over the dune in flowers is excellent, as is the rocky and smelly area of the seal colony, with literally hundreds of these marine mammals.
The track bids farewell to the coast at the beautiful Spoegrivier Caves and Estuary and leads you inland into the mountains.
Tip: Up to Spoengrivier, the entire route is sandy, with a few soft sand spots where you cannot stop (without getting stuck). The road sections are built as one-way lanes and signposted!
However, make sure you are well equipped with shovel and tire traction boards. We know because we got stuck there and were not the only ones. Also, there are not many people around to help you out, neither you have a mobile phone connection.
Ready for more? Then go for the remaining 83 kilometers up to Skilpad. The trail is easier to drive through a rocky desert and granite mountains than the sandy first part of the trip. But also here flowers pave your way and make it an excellent experience.
5 Skilpad Nature Reserve/ Kamieskroon
Or you take a ride to Skilpad from Kamiskroon. It leads you through an idyllic area of mountains and shrubland plains.
Skilpad is famous for its abundance of wildflowers and succulents. Take the 5-kilometer circuit for the best flower experience. And climb up to the “Roof of Africa”-Viewpoint on a dome-shaped granite hill to overlook the Kamieskroon mountains.
PS: Skilpad means tortoises, and you have an excellent chance to come across some turtles.
6 Matjiesfontain/ Nieuwoudtville
Nieuwoudtville is an every-year favorite of the flower route. It is known for the idyllic inner city, with flower lanes, like around the church. Also, the botanical garden and the area around the waterfall of the Doring blooms in the most picturesque way.
But visit the tiny settlement of Matjiesfontain, 33 kilometers east on the R27. Beautiful patches of flowers shake hands along the road and the meandering Oorlokskloofrivier, especially where the river loops past Matjiesfontain.
We hope you liked the Flower Power of this episode and all the gorgeous places to see flowers in Namaqualand. If you have the chance to visit South Africa during the flower season, do so – it’s impressive.
But the flowers also bloom fantastically along the West Coast. We’ll show you this in our next episode about the entire Western coast.
Join us as our trip through South Africa continues!
Next up: Episode 8 – South Africa’s Western Coastline