Explore South Africa’s amazing biodiversity without leaving home
Your complete guide to spring flowers in the Western Cape
Plus, a few flower tracking tips to help you get the most out of the season
Latest update: 20 August 2020
We’re in for one of the most spectacular flower seasons in years, thanks to the heavy rains we’ve received this winter. Experience the kaleidoscope of colours carpeting the Tankwa National Park, an ocean of daisies in the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park, or your local flora at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Plus, discover two lesser-known flower hotspots that you don’t even need to leave the city to enjoy.
WHERE THE WEST COAST FLORA BEGINS
Blaauwberg Nature Reserve is one of the very few places where you’ll get a view of two national heritage sites. At the top of the Blaauwberg Hill, you can see both Table Mountain and Robben Island.
The reserve boasts a stunning array of flora, particularly between August and October. To discover everything the reserve has to offer, pack your hiking boots and trek through the reserve’s Coastal Hiking Trail or The Two Hills Trail. There you’ll find the most intact and diverse lowland vegetation in Cape Town with over 560 plant species to see. Keep your eyes peeled for the three threatened vegetation types: the Cape Flats dune strandveld, Swartland shale renosterveld and Cape Flats sand fynbos.
Lunch: If you’d like to have lunch with a view On The Rocks Restaurant serves up a range of freshly caught seafood. Share the Plate of The Sea Platter with your family or partner.
Overnight: There are a host of guesthouses, villas and hotels nearby for you, your friends or family can stay overnight.
Distance: Blaauwberg Nature reserve is just 30km from Cape Town’s city centre.
DRIVE PAST WILDFLOWERS AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
If you want to see bright and beautiful colours from yellows, purples, oranges and reds, pay a visit to the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park. Between August and September, the wildflowers here are unbeatable. These blooms cover vast areas, making it seem like there’s an ocean of daisies and bulbs.
Pro tip: Although the Postberg section is home to the majority of wildflowers, there are more hiding out at the Seeberg Lookout Point. Flower season only comes once a year, so take your time exploring the whole of the West Coast National Park.
Lunch: If you’re feeling peckish, venture a little further inwards to the end of the Langebaan Lagoon. There you’ll not only find a flock of wading birds but the Geelbek Restaurant which serves up a delicious Cape Malay Chicken Curry.
Overnight: The cottages within the park are available for overnight stays, and you are encouraged to pre-book online via sanparks.org.
Distance: The West Coast National Park is about an hour out of Cape Town.
CARPETS OF DAZZLING YELLOWS, PURPLES AND REDS
Don’t be fooled by the Tankwa Karoo National Park’s dry and arid climate. There is plenty of plant life blooming here. The park is home to the richest succulent plant population in the world with over 780 species to discover.
If you are looking for a pop of colour, the best time to catch the Tankwa Karoo National Park’s dazzling display of wildflowers is between August and September. In the Western Section of the park, you will spot carpets of yellow and white wildflowers as far as the eye can see. Venture a little further onwards to the Roggeveld Escarpment and soak up the deep purples, reds, pinks and oranges.
Lunch: Make sure to stop off at the quaint little restaurant the Veldskoen Padstal on your way to the park. They serve up a range of burgers, salads, sandwiches, jams and freshly-baked bread you can take for the ride.
Overnight: Tankwa Karoo National Park has a range of cottages, guest houses and camping facilities you can check out online via sanparks.org.
Distance: The park is just under four hours from Cape Town.
HIKE FAR ENOUGH AND YOU MAY FIND A SHIPWRECK
Head East and pay a visit to the rich and diverse vegetation in the Agulhas National Park. What makes this area so unique is its ability to support a wide range of wetland plant species. The Agulhas plains are known to have as much plant diversity as tropical forests. Because of this, you can spot unique vegetation such as the limestone fynbos. Keep an eye out for one of the endemic species like the Elim fynbos.
You can also track down blooming wildflowers by foot. The park’s Rasperpunt Hiking Trail is open for visitors which starts and ends at the Meisho Maru shipwreck.
Lunch: If you’re in the mood for some fresh fish L’Agulhas Seafoods in just a minute away from the park. Share one of their seafood platters with salmon, yellowtail or tuna.
Overnight: Accommodation is available in the park, but gets booked up fast. Otherwise, check out local guest houses and cottages which surround the national park in Struis Bay or in the coastal village of L'Agulhas.
Distance: The Agulhas National Park is about a three hour drive from Cape Town.
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GET TO KNOW YOUR LOCAL FLORA
If you’d prefer to enjoy the flowers closer to home, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is the perfect place to visit. Did you know that Kirstenbosch is home to over 7,000 plant species? Here you could find some rare and threatened flora from the gold-dusted red nerine, to the critically endangered cycad.
The best time to go is at the end of winter between August and November when the popular Fynbos Walk is alive with colour. Be prepared to spend hours amongst the plenty of proteas, sugarbushes, pincushions and cone bushes. Remember to keep an eye out for some of the rarer proteas like the Spiderhead species. If you’re up for it, on your next visit grab your takkies and hike one of the many Kirstenbosch Garden routes.
Lunch: The Fynkos Tea Room is open for visitors and serves up an extensive selection of baked goods, sandwiches, salads and snacks.
Overnight: Kirstenbosch Gardens is strictly open only for hikes, walks and exercise every day between 8am and 6pm. You can pre-book your tickets online via webtickets.co.za.
Distance: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is about 13km from Cape Town city centre, in Newlands.
STAY ALONG THE PATHS TO SEE BRIGHT BLOOMS OF FLOWERS
Just half an hour away in Brackenfell you could discover up to 300 plant species. There you’ll see carpets of the bright Dimorphotheca pluvialis, which most of us will know as the Cape Daisy. You can spot more colourful and bright blooms along the paths. While walking, keep your eyes peeled for the park's 10 endemic and threatened plant species. Three of which are the Lachenalia aloides, Lampranthus glaucus and Orbea variegata.
Lunch: Before you reach the park stop off for a bite to eat a Rio Grande Restaurant Pub and Grill. They serve up an extensive menu of burger, ribs, seafood and pizza.
Overnight: Take a look at a host of quaint guest houses and cottages dotted nearby the nature reserve.
Distance: Bracken Nature Reserve is about a 30 minute drive out of Cape Town.
PRO TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF FLOWER VIEWING
The best time to frolic through the wildflowers is in Spring between August and September.
Flowers are at their best when in the afternoon sun, so don’t go bloom hunting on a cloudy afternoon. Wait until the sun’s high in the sky (between 10:30am and 3:30pm is best).
When missioning out around the Western Cape it’s always best to head out a bit earlier to avoid the crowds.
For the safety of the visitors, fauna and flora it is best to pre-book your self-game drives, hikes, accommodation or restaurant reservations beforehand. This way the parks are able to plan for the number of people.
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