A Blooming Beautiful Show

Everything you need to know about South Africa’s spring wildflowers

Every year between August and October, the Cape West Coast of South Africa undergoes a magical transformation. Within a matter of weeks, this dry, hot landscape is painted with hundreds of colourful hues, as new flowers burst from the ground.

This is wildflower season, an annual event marking the arrival of spring, when colourful migrant birds arrive, various antelope graze on the plains, and insects and reptiles re-emerge after the cold winter, as if by magic.

It’s an extravaganza that tops many a nature-lovers’ travel list, and soon after, locals and tourists follow suit, making their way up into the countryside to marvel at this wonderful display of nature.

Viewing times

The arrival of the spring wildflowers is truly a photographer’s dream. The clean-washed air makes colours richer and deeper, the cloud-stacked sunsets are more intense. But, when is the best time to start snapping away with the camera?

“The first day of September traditionally marks the beginning of spring, but South Africa’s spring flowers don’t really care about sticking to a schedule,” says Jan Horn, General Manager of Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort in Citrusdal.

Due to milder temperatures, flowers can last until October. However, Horn, explains: “The timing and amount of the spring rainfall, as well as the absence of warm berg winds, is what determines the duration of the flower season, the number of flowers and the quality. Typically, it’s the last two weeks of August through to mid-September that is regarded as the best times to view the wildflowers, but, in past years, early rains have ensured flowers bloom as early as July.”

Keep up to date on the best locations this year by contacting the Tourist information centres in the region who will help point you in the right direction, suggests XXX. “The West Coast Tourism website always keeps us up to date with their ‘Flower Reports’.”

He adds: “The best viewing times here fall between 11h00 and 15h00 when the sun is at its highest in the sky. Keep in mind that the flowers only throw back their delicate heads on sunny days, so don’t go bloom hunting on a cloudy afternoon.”

Getting your front seat

In order to take full advantage of the show, take a few days to self-drive up the West Coast, making pitstops alongside local farms and dorpies to view the flowers along the way.

Ironically, wildflower season falls in the low season for travel in South Africa, which presents excellent opportunities for travel deals. “So, not only can you get better prices,” says XXX, “but you are also sharing accommodation in off-grid areas where there are fewer people, making your experience all the more exclusive.”

Situated 228 km from Cape Town, Clanwilliam is an excellent wildflower experience. The town’s Wildflower Garden in the Ramskop Nature Reserve features more than 350 species and offers spectacular views of the Clanwilliam Dam and distant Cederberg Mountains.

The Citrusdal area, where Piekenierskloof is situated, 170km from Cape Town, is most famous for its citrus orchards but is another top-notch location to see the wildflowers. The resort's Bloomin' Great Deal, valid from 1 August - 30 September, is from R1,514 per room per midweek night, including breakfast.

An hour’s drive from Cape Town, enter the famous West Coast National Park. “Here, the Postberg and Seeberg areas are a sight to behold, where wildlife grazes among the wildflowers on the plains,” says XXX. Yzerfontein, Hopefield, Darling and, in Cape Town, parts of the Table Mountain National Park, are other hotspots for flower spotting and local flower shows. Take a walk through the Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden to spot daisies, vygies, pincushions, strelitzias and watsonias.

A few flowery headliners

Keep an eye out for the Carpobrotus, commonly known as pigface, ice plant, sour fig, and the Hottentot-fig, a genus of ground-creeping plants with succulent leaves and large daisy-like flowers.

Bokbaai vygies (Dorotheanthus) are silky-textured and produce flowers in just about every colour of the rainbow.

Gazanias must be the most recognisable flower of the season on the West Coast. These powerful-looking flowers need a lot of sun before unveiling themselves in full force.

With so many colours to choose from, we love the African daisy, also known as the African Cape Marigold. This hardy also features its own silver foliage, for optimum visual effect.



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