From The Inside Guide Stop and smell the spring flowers because, before you know it, they’ll be gone…
For a few precious weeks each yearthe Capeis a wonderland of wildflowers. Our fields and farms, wetlands and dunes are chequered with a short-lived riot of magnificent colour and delicious-smelling blooms frommid-August until end-September.And then, before you’ve blinked, it’s back to the brownish-grey fields and long, dry months. Which is why it’s essential to make hay while the sun shines and get gazing at nature’s magnificent plan. Here’s our pick of floral hotspots for prime viewing this spring. (Make sure your cameras and smartphones are charged!)
Have you ever enjoyed viewing the spring flowers in all their magnificent glory? Which is your favourite place to do so? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Only open during springtime, Postberg is an almost completely undisturbed floral landscape found in theWest Coast National Park, which is open during August and September (peak flower months). Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour and 30 minutes Floral expectationsDaisies, sporries and magriets. Closest townLangebaan Where to stayWhaler’s Way in Churchhaven, which has a veranda right on the sandy shore and the obligatory hammock! Where to eat Geelbek Restaurant (or Die Strandloper in Langebaan, for its festive atmosphere) Entry feeDuring flower season, August – September 2019:
R83 (SA citizens and residents with ID)
R42 (children, 2 – 11 years)
R127 (SADC nationals with valid passports)
R63 (SADC children with valid passports)
R186 (international adults; standard conservation fee)
R93 (international children; standard conservation fee) Fun factEve’s Trail is a two-and-a-half-day hike through the park that traces the footsteps of Eve, a young woman said to have lived 117 000 years ago.
This semi-desert landscape undergoes an amazing transformation during springtime, when its rolling hills are covered in a carpet of colourful wildflowers. Namaqualand’s vibrant flower fields comprise an estimated 3 500 species of plants, 1 000 of which are found nowhere else in the world. Distancefrom Cape TownAround 6 hours Floral expectationsa variety of small succulents, annuals and bulbs. Closest townSpringbok Where to stayNaries Namakwa Retreat in Springbok Where to eatTauren Steak Ranch Restaurant Entry feesDaily Conservation Fee: 1 November 2018 – 31 October 2019:
R43 (South African citizens and residents with ID)
R22 (South African children)
R85 (SADC nationals with valid passports)
R43 (SADC children with valid passports)
R85 (international visitors; standard conservation fee)
R43 (international children; standard conservation fee) Fun factThe area is home to the world’s smallest species of tortoise – the Namaqualand speckledpadloper.
Ramskop Nature Reserve
This reserve is well worth a visit, with the Cederberg mountains and orange groves as its backdrop. Distance from Cape TownAround 2 hours and 30 minutes Floral expectationsDaisies, sporries, sugarbos and proteas. Closest TownClanwilliam Where to stayCederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge Where to eatVeldskoendraai EntryR26 (adults)
Just above Darling Primary School lies this charming 20-hectare flower reserve, where travellers can enjoy a plethora of spring flowers, as well bird-watching. Oh, and keep a keen eye out for the red-bellied tortoises. Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour Floral expectationsa variety of renosterbos, bellendini, kapokbos and vygies. Closest TownDarling Where to stayDarling Lodge Guest House Where to eat1910 The Old Forge EntryFree Fun factThis is the vegetation that used to cover the crop fields and vineyards before they were cleared for agricultural activities
Lanz von Horsten
Found on the N7, this is a family-favourite holiday spot for its hiking, camping, zip-lining and rock-climbing opportunities. Distance from Cape TownAround 2 hours Floral expectationsFields of maartblom, bloedblom, daises and fynbos Closest TownCitrusdal Where to stayCitrusdal Botanical Retreat Where to eatThe Grapevine Coffee Shop EntryFree Fun FactCitrusdal is famous for its hot springs, which according to legend, were created when a mighty ox named Kolberg stamped his hoof in the location where The Baths Hot Springs resort now lies (one of the resorts’ baths is named Kolberg in honour of the mythical ox).
Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve
Another stop along the R315, this reserve hosts a wide variety of flowers due to its varying topography. On this small patch of land, around 10% of the Cape Floral Kingdom can be found. Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour and 10 minutes Floral expectationsButterfly lilies, lachenalia, chincherinchee and bulbs. Closest TownDarling Where to stay!Khwa ttu Guest Houses and Bush Camp Where to eatChicory Cheese Café EntryFree Fun factMarthinus Versfeld (also known as Oom Tienie) donated a portion of his farm to SANBI for the reserve. Don’t missThe 102nd Darling Wildflower Show from 20 – 22 September 2019.
A relatively short way along the R27, this reserve offers candidly beautiful views of the spring flowers, as well as whale- and dolphin-spotting opportunities. Distance from Cape TownAround 2 hours Floral expectationsAn array of fynbos and Karoo succulents. Closest TownPaternoster Where to stayLinhof Boutique Guest House Where to eatWolfgat EntryR30.80 Other stuff to do and seeHiking, cycling, kayaking, nature walks, picnics and game-spotting. Fun factIt is named after the last manually controlled lighthouse built in South Africa.
Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour and 30 minutes Floral expectationsFrom proteas to daisies and orchids, this garden has it all – indigenously speaking, of course. Closest townBetty’s Bay Where to stayOudebosch Eco Cabins Where to eatThe Tides Restaurant EntryCosts from 1 September:
R20 (students and pensioners)
R12 (school learners)
Free (children under 6 years and Botanical Society members) Fun fact:The zigzag paths and the waterfall trail, still in use today, were marked out by Harold Porter himself.
Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour and 50 minutes Floral expectationa variety of fynbos– proteas, ericas, bulbs and orchids. Closest townHermanus Where to stayMosselberg on Grotto Beach Where to eatLizette’s Kitchen Bar and Restaurant EntryFree (donations welcome) Please noteduring the Hermanus Flower Festival (21 – 24 September 2019), entry costs R25 (adults); R10 (pensioners on Monday); and is free for children. Fun fact:The Fernkloof Nature Reserve comprises 0.002% of the Cape Floral Kingdom but contains 18% of its plants in just 18 square kilometres.
Nieuwoudtville and Hantam National Botanical Garden
Okay, so this one’s not strictly in the Cape, but we thought we’d include it anyway, because the blooms on offer are some of the best in the business. Found outside Nieuwoudtville on the R27 you’ll find almost 6 000 hectares of the Northern Cape’s first botanical garden. What was once a farm is now a renowned stop on the Cape Flower Route. Distance from Cape TownAround 3 hours and 50 minutes Floral expectationsa variety of annuals and bulbs. Closest townNieuwoudtville Where to stayPapkuilsfontein Guest Farm Where to eatDie Nedersetting Restaurant and Smitdswinkel Restaurant EntryAugust – October 2019:
R12 (pensioners and children)
Free (Botanical Society members) Fun factHantam National Botanical Garden was declared a world biodiversity treasure by David Attenborough.
Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens
This unique 154-hectare garden lies at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range in Worcester, and boasts 143 hectares of natural vegetation (of which only 11 hectares has been cultivated). During spring, the annuals and vygies come to life, creating a beautiful tapestry of vibrant colours that can be enjoyed while exploring the cultivated section. Distance from Cape TownAround 1 hour and 30 minutes Floral expectationssucculents, annuals and vygies. Closest TownWorcester Where to stayDe Wilge Where to eatKokerboom Restaurant EntryLow season (1 November 2019– 31 May 2020)
R10 (students and pensioners)
Free (Botanical Society members, disabled persons and preschool children)
High season (1 June – 31 October 2019)
R15 (students and pensioners)
Free (Botanical Society members, disabled persons and preschool children) Fun factBecause of a lack of water and the re-routing of the national road, the garden moved from Matjiesfontein to Worcester in 1945.
No plans to travel up the coast to flower-gaze? Fear not, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in theleafy suburb of Newlandsis a thing of beauty between August and September, when the spring flowers are in bloom.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
This 36-hectare garden on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain needs no introduction, as it has one of the most impressive expanses of flowers found so close to the city centre. Distance from the city centreAround 20 minutes Floral expectationsDaisies, fynbos and pincushion proteas are just a few of the numerous flowers to be found. Entry feeFree (children 0 – 5 years)
R20 (children/ scholars 6 – 17 years)
R75 (adults, from 1 September 2019)
Free (BotSoc members with card)
Free on Tuesdays (South African pensioners with ID
Fun factIt is the first botanic garden in the world dedicated to indigenous flora.
Stay on top of the Cape’s attractions before they blossom;
Research byBianca Hausle, Matthew Flax and Hannah Littlewood