Namaqualand Wildflower Tour
Johannesburg/ Pretoria – Springbok & Hantam National Botanical Gardens 7-9 day Private Tour
Namaqualand Wildflower Tour. The Namaqualand area is situated in the north-western corner of the Northern Cape province – its boundary to the north is the Orange River and to the west the shores of the Atlantic. The N7 national road, connecting Cape Town to Windhoek, winds its way through the hilly Namaqualand terrain. The historical copper mining towns of yesteryear, Okiep – Nababeep – Concordia and Carolusberg, are all within close proximity of the district’s capital Springbok as are the remnants of the very first copper mine of Simon van der Stel (1683).
In view of the extremely low and sparse rainfall patterns (300mm p.a.) Namaqualand has been classified as semi desert – the coastal areas receive even less rain but get regular sea fog due to the close proximity of the cold Benguela current.
Namaqualand is a quiet and remote area, sun drenched with sparse general vegetation but a huge variety of succulents which can store moisture over a long period. Hardly any industrial development is to be found and only select agricultural developments are feasible, but large sheep farms, often in excess of 5000ha, and goat breeding stations are successful.
Afrikaans is the most spoken and common language in the district and English is often only understood with difficulty.
Should you treasure wide open spaces and lonely landscapes, the stillness of the desert and admire the harsh intensity of often contrasting colours, then this is a journey you will never forget – a paradise for nature lovers and photographers!
An especially enchanting time is winter (end of July to mid October) when, after a short rainy season, the parched earth releases, for a short few weeks, an unimaginable carpet of wild flowers. Well over 4000 different kinds of succulents, aloes, lilies, shrubs, daisies, bulbous plants and tubers are to be found in the hills and valleys, many of them changing the landscape into a carpet of spectacular colours!
Proposed Itinerary (can be altered according to your personal wishes)
Day 1 JHB – Kuruman
We travel in a westerly direction via Lichtenburg – Vryburg to Kuruman, depending on time visit the historical Moffat Mission station (Museum), or take a walk around the “The Eye of Kuruman”, a large freshwater spring in the middle of town.
Overnight in Kuruman
Day 2 Kuruman – Upington – Kakamas (Augrabies Falls)
Continue the journey through the Northern Karoo semi-desert, past Sishen Iron Ore Mine to the Orange River, past the provincial capital of Upington and travel through the irrigated wine farms along the river bed. Depending on time, maybe visit an industrial winery and view some historic irrigation canals and water wheels.
Overnight in Kakamas
Day 3 Kakamas-Springbok
Visit the Augrabies waterfalls and the National Park – continue straight through to Springbok, possibly stopping over at the Pella Mission station, shorts stops along the road at curio stalls and craft sellers. Overnight in Springbok.
Day 4 and 5 Springbok and surrounds
Daily group decisions according to weather conditions and local recommendations: day trips to close-by attractions, visit the Skilpad Wildflower Gardens or the historic copper mining villages of Okiep and Nababeep, short strolls in surrounding nature reserves (Goagab Nature Reserve) etc.
Overnight in Springbok.
Day 6 Springbok – Upington – Kuruman
Return trip towards Johannesburg
Overnight in Kuruman
Day 7 Kuruman – Johannesburg
Arrival during late afternoon in time for overnight flight back home.
From R19 500
Day 1 – 5: As above
Day 6 & 7: Springbok – Vanrhynsdorp – Nieuwoudtville
Travel south through the Kersvlakte area to Nieuwoudtville with its Hantam Botanical Gardens and Wild Flower Reserve. On this side of the Bokkeveld Mountains, due to higher rainfall, different geological strata and soil many flowers, bulbs and orchid species that are not found anywhere else in South Africa can be seen in and around Nieuwoudtville – most of which are in main flower in July/August. This area is further influenced by the climate of the western Karoo semi-desert. Icy cold winter nights ‘clear up’ the high plateau on which, a bit further south, the world renowned observatory in Sutherland can be found. Depending on weather, an evening excursion can be taken to look at the brilliant southern night sky. Overnight in Nieuwoudtville.
Day 8: Nieuwoudtville – Upington – Kuruman
Travelling home through the Karroo via Upington to Kuruman and then in an easterly direction to Johannesburg. Overnight in Kuruman
Day 9: Arrival during late afternoon in time for overnight flight back home
Price From R24500
Included in the price:
- Travel in air-conditioned vehicle (including all road taxes and toll fees) with German/English-speaking guide.
- Accommodation in double or single rooms with Dinner/Bed/Breakfast.
- Entrance fees to national parks and museums.
NOT included in price:
- All beverages, snacks and meals not mentioned above.
- Personal expenses, tips, souvenirs etc
- Special excursions conducted by other companies, lodges etc
Please keep the following salient facts in mind when planning your tour:
- Accommodation facilities in this lonely north-west part of South Africa are sparse and the better places will be booked up early in the season.
- The density and variety of the wildflower phenomenon is dependent on the prevalent weather conditions and therefore cannot be predicted. No guarantees can be given as to the appearance or abundance of flowering plants at a particular time – some years are simply better than others. The natural wild flower show in 2012 and 2013 was fantastic, but occurred late during the season . . . . .
- As a rule of thumb, high season can be expected in early August to late September, beginning of October.
- And the last fact to consider is a Catch 22 situation:
An abundance of cold rain will result in an exceptional density in the number of blossoms which can be admired for weeks on end. But there is little joy in looking at plants which only open up in sunshine and temperatures above 16ºC if the weather is cold, rainy and windy!