Along the west coast of South Africa, a seemingly lifeless landscape is about to burst into bloom. As the winter rains begin to fall, millions of flowers appear as if by magic from the once-dry soil, carpeting the countryside in a blaze of color.

By following a route south from Springbok to the southern tip of the Western Cape, you can watch antelopes and other African wildlife in the parks and reserves amidst the most spectacular spring floral displays.

Here’s a brief guide to the best wildflower-viewing spots along the way:

Spring flowers in Namaqua National Park. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)

Spring flowers in Namaqua National Park. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)

For just a short time each year, the dusty plains of Namaqua National Park turn into a daisy-strewn wonderland, with perennial herbs, aloes, lilies, and countless other species adding their own special flourish to the mosaic.

Head south to the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve to continue your tour. Since most of the desert flowers follow the sun, it’s best to visit the reserve during the hottest part of the day.

Farther down the coast (about 90 miles north of Cape Town), you’ll find the Postberg Flower Reserve, a small section of the West Coast National Park, which is only open during flower season in August and September.

Nearby, masses of orange, pink, purple, yellow and white flowers blanket the colorful strip of land between the churning Atlantic and the calm waters of Langebaan Lagoon.

In addition to the spectacular flora, park visitors are likely to see a variety of native fauna, including eland, red hartebeest, and Cape grysbok grazing on the fields of flowers as they make their way along the well-marked trails.

Bontebok grazing in De Hoop Nature Reserve. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)

Bontebok grazing in De Hoop Nature Reserve. (Photograph by Marcus & Kate Westberg)

Follow the cape as it zigs east to make a final stop at De Hoop Nature Reserve, where lowland fynbos erupts in a riot of color as sunbirds and Cape honey bees dart between the flowers feeding on nectar and pollinating plants.

With an estimated 1,500 plant species within the reserve, De Hoop is among the most diverse parks in the Cape Floristic Region. Cape mountain zebra and bontebok gather on the flowering grasslands while southern right whales glide around the secluded coves.

Though wildflower season on South Africa’s western coast is relatively short-lived — running from late July through October — there is no better place to see nature at its most colorful. It might even make you believe in magic again.

Photojournalists Marcus and Kate Westberg cover travel and conservation topics for Intelligent Travel, News Watch, and other publications. See more of their work on Life Through a Lens, on their Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Published with special thanks to Naries Namakwa Retreat, Die Skilpad campsite, the Farmhouse Hotel, and the De Hoop Collection

Related: 

  • For more information about South Africa’s wildflower season, visit www.sanparks.org

Comments

  1. Erica
    Australia
    July 19, 2013, 6:58 pm

    This sounds like such an amazing place!! I hope to visit one day, though until then I can enjoy the imagery conjured up in this article along with the spectacular photographs. Informative and beautiful – worth the read!

  2. brian nethals
    July 19, 2013, 10:14 am

    what can i say? the work behind the article is very good and I am so turned on by the article. i feel like checking out the place and go hunting myself. there is some sort of adventure behind this area. got to admit that you guys rock! thanx a lot.

  3. illional
    singapore
    July 19, 2013, 10:11 am

    hi there, i am looking at your article and I got to admit that there is something about it that catches my attention. it is cool and the photos are eye-catching. they are a delight and i got to say and admit that the piece blew me away. i love reading it a lot. keep up the good work.

  4. ilieawane
    July 19, 2013, 10:09 am

    I like the article and the pics. they look great and wonderful. flowers are nice to look and touch. a wonder.