The Namaqualand Flower Route is a stretch of road that connects the towns, cities, national parks and reserves that claims South Africa’s most impressive wildflower displays. The best place to see the acres of colorful springtime blooms is in and around the Namaqualand region on the northwest coast of the country.
The wildflowers in this area are nothing short of amazing. During the rest of the year, the landscape is mostly a dry and dusty desert. However, come springtime and the area is completely transformed with flowering life boasting more color than seems possible for one
place. Prepare to be blown away by the brightly-painted landscape rolling across acres of barren land. Even if you’re not a flora-enthusiast, it’s difficult not to be impressed with such a sight.
Here are some quick facts on the flower route to reference before you hit the road:
|Start/end location:||Cape Town to Port Nolloth|
|Distance:||Roughly 800 kilometers|
|Duration:||9 hours, not including stops along the way or the addition of Richtersveld National Park and Alexander Bay.|
|Best time to go:||The early spring months of August and September, which sometimes stretches into October. The rains this region experiences in the preceding winter months effects the beauty and abundance of the Namaqualand Flowers, therefore the flowers can bloom earlier or later, depending on the rain.|
There are many variations to this route, which can be extended or shortened depending on your time frame. The most popular of the route starts from Cape Town, although many argue that Nieuwoudtville, roughly 4 hours north or even West Coast National Park, just one hour north of Cape Town are the best defining starting point of the Namaqualand Flower Route. The finish point is Port Nolloth. From here, the Richtersveld National Park and Alexander Bay are accessible, tacking on another several hours of driving. If you’ve got the time, the explosion of colorful wildflowers in these areas are definitely worth the extra days.
Here is our recommendation on how to drive the Namaqualand Flower Route and where
to spend a few nights:
- Starting from Cape Town head to Nieuwoudtville. This is the longest leg of the trip; roughly 4 hours or 350 kilometers. If you are here during the flowering season, the bulb capital of the world will welcome you with 1350 species of flowers of which 22 are only found here. If you are here outside of the flowering season you will still be able to enjoy some flora. Or you can always check out Nieuwoudtville Wild Flower Reserve and the Hantam Botanical Gardens.
- Next, backtrack a bit to the N7 highway and head to Garies, roughly 200 kilometers away. Here you’ll find a tiny town with lots of gorgeous flowers and a 20km hiking trail — Roodebergkloof Trail — nearby.
- Leave Garies and drive north on the N7 about 53 kilometers to Kamieskroon. Visit the Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve, 17km northwest of the town.
- From Kamieskroon, continue another 70 km on the N7 to Springbok. You’ll pass the Goegap Nature Reserve just 10km before reaching Springbok. Stop here to admire the flora, fauna, and the enormous wildflower garden. Additionally, the desert-like landscape can be enjoyed via hiking, biking, or 4x4 vehicle. Keep your eyes open for zebras and springboks!
- Continue on the N7 before turning west on the R382 to Port Nolloth. From here you can access the Richtersveld National Park and the Alexander Bay area.
TIP: If your schedule doesn’t allow for driving the whole Namaqualand Flower Route, you can still catch all these gorgeous flowers in bloom at the West Coast National Park. This is a totally doable day trip from Cape Town. The park is centered around the Langebaan Lagoon with kayaking, kiteboarding, bike trails, and wilderness hiking for flower field viewing.
Suggested tour: Richtersveld Road Trip
Self-driving is the best way to travel at a leisurely rate and adjust your route according to the places in which you wish to spend more or less time. Remember, the Namaqualand flowers are not just in the aforementioned towns — you’ll see nature in all its glory from start to finish on this route. Schedule time to pull off to the side of the road and explore different offshoots from the
route we’ve outlined.
After a long day of driving the Namaqualand Flower Route, spending the night in Port Nolloth is the best option. The next day you can explore the further northern region of Alexander Bay and Richtersveld National Park (more picturesque towns and of course, flora and fauna!)
After your exploration around the Namibian border, head back down the western coast hitting any of the other little towns that you missed on your way up!
These cute little self-catering cottages on the beach give great value to the small cost per night. Each beachfront accommodation includes Wi-Fi, kitchen, braai area and uninterrupted sunset views! There’s also an on-site swimming pool and museum.
Located just a few minutes from the beach, these up-scale chalets have patios and terraces with ocean views, flat screen TVs, full kitchens, covered parking area, and free beach amenities.
Old Mill Beach Cottage
The spacious 2-bedroom, 3-bathroom beach house is the ideal place to relax for a few days while you explore the area. Located directly on the beach, 30m from the water, this house has a huge upstairs balcony overlooking the ocean, ground floor patio with braai/BBQ area, and direct beach access!
- There are many other small towns along the way as you follow the above outlined route. If you see or hear something interesting, don’t be afraid to stray from the route to do some investigation! It is safe to do that.
- Many of the accommodations in Port Nolloth require a 2-night stay minimum (like Old Mill Beach Cottage). It’s actually a nice idea to spend a few nights around the Port Nolloth area as there are many attractions here. It’s a great place to swim, snorkel, relax, and unwind before the long drive back!
- If you don’t reach Port Nolloth in one day, spend the night in Springbok.
- Book your accommodations early. Dates sell out quickly due to the prime flower-viewing season lasting just a few short months.
- The later the winter rain, the later the flower blooms. The season can start as early as July and end as late as October, depending on the timing of the rain.
- The Namaqualand region features around 3,000 plant species!
The Namaqualand Flower Route is not just for botanists and ecologists! There isn’t anyone on earth who can’t appreciate the beauty of millions of wild growing flowers carpeting an otherwise desolate, desert landscape. This is a unique occurrence lasting only a few months that can’t be experienced anywhere else in the world. Get yourself to South Africa in springtime and see it for yourself!