Spring in Namaqualand brings the kind of miracle for which time-lapse photography was invented. After the brief winter rains, mile after mile of barren-looking semi-desert is transformed, within days, into a sea of flowers – a dazzling display that sends butterflies, bees and long-tongued flies into a frenzy.

Namaqualand, a thirsty, rocky region encompassing South Africa’s northwestern corner and Namibia’s extreme south, supports over 4000 wild floral species, a quarter of them endemic. It’s this diversity that gives the annual display so much charm. The key lies below the surface: seeds and bulbs can lie dormant through many years of drought, and when conditions suddenly improve, the plants grow roots of differing length, so numerous species can exploit relatively small stretches of terrain.

The least showy of the plants are the succulents, some shaped like fingers, others (such as lithops) like pebbles. These cling to life on the ground, where the colour of the gravel can mean the difference between extinction and survival – a few chips of white quartz may be sufficient to lower the local air temperature by a degree or so, just enough for a plant to cope.

Intriguing though the succulents are, it’s the colourful blooms that draw the crowds. Visit on a sunny day in a good year and you’ll see meadow after meadow sprinkled with aloes and lilies, daisies and gladioli, purple ruschias, golden ursinias and gaudy vermilion gazanias, as bright as hundreds and thousands on a fairy cake.

It’s a photographer’s dream – and a heaven for painters, too. If Claude Monet had set up his easel near Springbok instead of Argenteuil, the Namaqualand daisy would by now be every bit as famous as the Val d’Oise poppy.

Since rainfall and temperatures vary from year to year, it’s impossible to be sure when and where the show of flowers will be at its peak, but the best displays are usually from mid-Aug to mid-Sept.

 

For hundreds more ultimate travel experiences, get Rough Guides’ Make The Most Of Your Time On Earth

Top image © Irmelamela/Shutterstock

Book Your Trip To South Africa

Get your dream travel planned & booked by local travel experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs