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Namaqualand
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A picture of a Namaqualand meadow in spring is in most South Africa guide books. But the reality is much better (even if you don't especially love flowers :-)) Imagine a normal European meadow, and then turn the green to orange or yellow - now you're in Namaqualand during daisy time! And if you take time for a short or longer walk, you see many more flowers, one more beautiful than the other. My only non-flower-related activity was a trip to the diamond mine in Kleinzee.

For most people, the reason to come to Namaqualand is flowers. After good winter rains, the desolate bush-and-dry-grass half-desert becomes a garden of colorful flowers in spring, between July and September. This is also the reason why I came here - traveling alone, I could spare JJ a flower trip during a later visit to South Africa!

 

I visited three different "flower regions" during my 5 night stay in Naries: The Namaqualand National Park (below) featuring the famous flower carpets; the walking trails on Naries farm, which offered much more diverse flowers; and the drier and more exposed strandveld between Kleinzee and Spektakel Pass (where Naries is situated). The other traditional flower area, Goegap Nature Reserve near Springbok, hadn't received enough rain.

I decided to buy a Namaqualand flower guide, in the Springbok Lodge bookstore in Springbok. The best I found was the Namaqualand South African Wild Flower Guide 1 by Annelise le Roux (3rd ed), published by the Botanical Society of South Africa, in 2005 (but not available on Amazon). It cost 250 ZAR, but it helped identifying most of the flowers. However, I didn't have much botany during my biology studies, so please tell me if you think I mis-identified a flower!

However, while still in Upington, I received an email from Naries that the flower situation was bad this year, with not enough rain and too many cold winds. I was disappointed, but hoped to at least see a few hardy flowers. Well, I was lucky. Just a few days before my arrival it rained. Not much, but enough. So I did see flowers. More than you can imagine!

 

If you love flowers, have a look at the individual sites about Naries walking trails, Namaqualand NP and Strandveld, or my photo gallery - if you don't like flowers, feel free to check out the report of my trip to the De Beers Diamond Mine in Kleinzee!

 


Namaqualand National Park
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Naries offers, in my point of view, an unprecedented variety of flowers, more than I've seen in any other place before or after. However, there are only a few patches with small flower carpets. So I decided to make a trip to Namaqualand National Park (former Skilpad Park). It took me some time to find it, since the signal on the Springbok-Cape Town road only shows the SANpark logo, nothing else. So the correct exit is Kamieskroon.

 

Skilpad was once a wheat farm, so many of the meadows have been ploughed until some years ago, when the former nature reserve was converted into National Park in 1999. Those fields, now tilled occasionaly to prevent bushs, are the stage for the most spectacular flower display. Around 10:00 am, the daisies open their buds, and follow the course of the sun, until they close again around 4:00 pm. They are so abundant that nothing else can be seen in many areas, just an orange carpet. Stunning.

Currently, only the land of the former Skilpad farm is accessible to visitors; a 7 km circular drive as well as two walking trails are well marked. However, plans are underway to open also a coastal part of the park to visitors, also offering the sandveld flora. Once the park is set up, it will also allow again the traditional migration of game between sandveld and highveld regions.

 

I first took the circular drive, stopping frequently to take pictures. This is the route that is also taken by big tourist busses, so this was the most touristy part of my trip so far. Besides the flora, I saw a kind of spiky lizard (probably not the armadillo lizard with a scaly tail like a pangolin), and two guinea fowls dancing in an orange meadow. Nice sight.

I decided to take the Korhaan walking trail, 6 km with a 4 km shortcut. A few spots are marked on the interpretative leaflet, but this didn't add much more information. So I just enjoyed the 4 km walk. I found a few flowers I hadn't seen before, in Naries, but not many, so it was a good add-on. Please watch the individual flower pictures here.

 

Of the Skilpad walking trail, I only did the first few hundert meters, to get closer to the blue-orange meadows near the windmills. However, the trail offers not only meadows, but also spectacular views down the Escarpment to the sea, as well as insight to the research fields where the best ways to manage the flower fields are investigated.

As for infrastructure, the park only offers a picnic area, toilets, drinking water, and an information room. No restaurant, fuel store, overnight facilities etc. at the moment.

 


Strandveld
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The strandveld is roughly the region between the sea and the escarpment. It has a special flora, compared to the hills of the escarpment, and the highveld. You can book a strandveld tour at the friendly Kleinzee tourist office, but the date didn't suit me.

 

So all I did was stopping several times during my drive from Kleinzee back to Naries after the mine tour, and take pictures of roadside flowers. Roadsides are actually good flower spots, since most big roads in South Africa are fenced - thus preventing grazing by cattle or game.

The flora changed dramatically with each kilometer I drove - first gravel with a few mesembs and vygies, then some lone daisies and gazanias, and then suddenly a dry riverbed with hundreds of flowers within 20*20 meters. Please watch the individual flower pictures here.



Last update:  00:45 09/04 2007
Kalahari Meerkats
Upington
Augrabies NP
Namaqualand
Naries - more flowers
Kleinzee diamond mine
Namibia's South, Orange
Fish River Canyon
Aus
Koichab Dunes
Lüderitz
D707 scenic route
Büllsport & Naukluft
Windhoek & Waterberg
Outjo & Khowarib Gorge
Hoanib & Amspoort
Desert Elephants
Purros, Hoarusib & Khumib
Huab, Doros, Ugab
Erongo, Boshua, WDH
Travel facts
Gallery of this trip















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