It is said that the flowers of the Cape West Coast in South Africa are strong enough to stop a car. And it is true, for every year thousands of visitors to this unique part of the world gasp in amazement at the spectacular beauty of countless flowers, seemingly arranged for the exclusive viewing pleasure of those who went to the trouble of getting there.
The colour palettes vary depending on area and season. On any given day you might find yourself surrounded by vast patches of purple dotted with yellow, or a canvas of orange with white speckles. Flower names range from Daisies to Sambreeltjies (umbrellas) to Feëklokkies (Fairy Bells).
As a biodiverse region the Cape West Coast has few equals. As a natural work of art, in Spring, it’s right up there with the Great Barrier Reef and the Northern Lights in Alaska.
A Migration Of Colour
The flowers start to appear as early as July in the northern section known as the Namaqua West Coast. From there, they migrate south (a little slower than the Wildebeests in the Serengeti) all the way to Blouberg near Cape Town. The best places to view flowers up north include the Namaqua National Park near Springbok and Nieuwoudtville near Vanrhynsdorp. As the spectacle moves south, you can soak up the colours at Biedouw Valley and Ramskop Nature Garden in Clanwilliam. Other great stops include West Coast National Park at Langebaan and the Flower Reserves around Darling.
Those aren’t the only hot spots though. To keep track of the flowers, simply call the Flower Hotline (yes, a hotline) on 072 938 8186. First-rate accommodation ranging from B&B’s to guest cottages to rest camps is available at all the stops.
How to look
Catching the greatest flower show on earth is not simply a matter of pitching up. There are meticulous details to consider like the time of day and the exact direction you are facing. The best time for viewing is from 11h00 to 15h00 – known as the extended Flower Power Hour – it’s the hottest time of the day when the flowers are at their best. And they don’t stand still, either. The flowers follow the sun as it crosses the sky, so for the best view turn your back to the sun or drive north to south if you are in a car. Position yourself wrongly and you’ll miss the show. Oh yes, and get out of the car for a closer view – some of the most beautiful flowers are also the smallest.
Besides flowers there is…well, besides watching flowers there is tons of stuff to do on the Cape West Coast. Go surfing at Elands Bay or birding at one of a number of world-class birding spots. Visit museums, taste wine, dine and much much more.
For a good old-fashioned opskop (colloquial term for a party) visit the Hopefield Fynbos Show from 27-30 August. And don’t miss the spectacular Darling Wildflower Show (18-20 Sept.) or the Clanwilliam Flower Show (27 Aug.–5 Sept.)
For more information on West Coast Way visit westcoastway.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org. When: Flowers will appear end July to mid August.