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Your 2019 Guide to Spring Flowers in the Cape

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Your 2019 Guide to Spring Flowers in the Cape

PLUS The answer to your FAQs such as best places to see the wild flowers

Latest update: 16 August 2019


When it comes to the Cape's Spring wild flower season, there’s good news and there’s not-so-good news. The not-so-good news about flower season is it’s never guaranteed: it’s all tied to the amount of rain and winds. If it rains a lot, it flowers a lot.

If there’s an oostewind, a warm wind from the interior, it dries out the daisies, says Rupert Koopman, CapeNature’s Resource Ecologist of Flora. You can never really predict it.

But right now there’s great news: we’re on track for an excellent flower show. And even if the wind blows, there is so much flower abundance from the bulbs, succulents and other Strandveld vegetation, you’ll still be entranced.

More good news: if you’re a late sleeper, this is your ideal travel trip – flowers are best seen in the afternoon sun, when they unfold fully and soak up as much sun as they can get. 

FOUR WAYS TO EXPERIENCE THE SPRING FLOWERS
The flowers are already in bloom: many are already out, and it will last until the end of October in some areas. There are many ways to experience them.

1. Every year thousands of people drive to see the flowers, but imagine tasting spring instead? You can learn about the medicinal properties of plants in a workshop, or taste fynbos on the tongue in the Company Gardens in Cape Town, and learn how to make flower tea. And doesn’t this sound magical? Making flower crowns and teas and cakes, then drinking botanical gins. Follow our link below for the full list. Why only witness spring when you can taste it.

2. There are flower festivals everywhere and this spring the flowers promise to be extra special. Every year Hopefield, Darling, Malmesbury, Elgin/Grabouw, Hermanus, Barrydale and more. The organisers and local farmers put a lot of effort and creativity into these annual shows. Pick one or two, and plan trips around them because every little town, every community has something to show.

3. You’ll find flowers blooming anywhere in the Greater Cape Floral Kingdom, which is from Port Elizabeth to Vanrhynsdorp. You don’t need to go far – Table Mountain National Park is a good site for flowers, as is Blaauwberg Nature Reserve – but you can also take a road trip up the West Coast to West Coast National Park and the Tankwa Karoo National Park or to the Namaqualand. We asked experts to guide us.

4. Seeing the flowers on foot with an expert guide or by yourself is probably the number one way to get the most out of flower season. We have one tour, plus two hikes to recommend. So why not try any one of these walking tours.

HERE ARE ANSWERS TO YOUR MOST FAQs REGARDING SOUTH AFRICA'S WILD FLOWER SEASON.

Where can I see spring flowers in the Cape Region?
Two of the best spring flower-viewing hotspots in the Cape Region are the Postberg section (only open from August to September) of the West Coast National Park and the western section of the Tankwa Karoo National Park.

When is the best time to view the spring flowers in the Cape Region?
Spring flower season in the Cape Region runs from the beginning of August to the end of September; though, both the West Coast and the Tankwa Karoo National Parks’ best viewing period is from the last two weeks of August until mid-September. Remember: don’t go bloom hunting on a cloudy afternoon, and wait until the sun’s high in the sky (between 10:30am and 3:30pm is best).

Can I join a spring flower tour or follow a spring flower trail?
While neither the West Coast National Park nor the Tankwa Karoo National Park offer formal tours, both have a number of self-drive routes available. It’s also possible to walk out in the veld in the Tankwa Karoo National Park, and in the West Coast National Park, there are two trails that give uber-passionate flower followers an opportunity to get an up-close look at the plant life (booking is essential for both hikes: +27 (0)22 707 9902). These are the Postberg two-day trail, and the Steenberg one-day trail.

Can I make a weekend of spring flower viewing?
Yes, do. Both parks have reasonably priced on-site accommodation. In particular, the Duinepos Chalets (+27(0)22 707 9900 or +27(0)83 704 7067) in the West Coast National Park – each has a fireplace to help weather the cool spring evenings – are perfectly situated to cater to those on the hunt for budding beauties. Similarly, Tankwa Karoo National Park’s units at Elandsberg Wilderness Camp (+27(0)27 341 1927) boast a crackling hearth as well as stunning views of the Karoo plains and the Roggeveld Escarpment. For something more curated, we recommend you book a weekend stay in a luxury West Coast guesthouse and spend the weekend learning about more than 1200 flower species in bloom. This is the wildflower tour Nelson Mandela did.

WATCH: THE WILDFLOWER SAFARI

What else can I expect to see while on the lookout for spring flowers?
Both parks are home to countless birds, bucks (large and small) and, of course, bugs. In the West Coast National Park, keep your eyes peeled for passing whales and dolphins, bat-eared foxes, honey badgers and mongooses. In the Tankwa Karoo National Park, you stand the chance of spying mountain zebra, kudu, aardvark, black-backed jackal and any of the 18 bird species endemic to the area.

Useful numbers: 
If unsure about whether the blooms are still on show, give the park offices a call (West Coast National Park: +27(0)22 772 2144 and Tankwa Karoo National Park: +27(0)27 341 1927). It’s also idea good idea to stop off at the park visitor centres to confirm the best viewing routes.

West Coast National Park conservation levy: Adult SA residents and citizens – R83; Child SA residents and citizens – R42; Adult foreign nationals – R186; Child foreign nationals – R93

Tankwa Karoo National Park conservation levy: Adult SA residents and citizens – R43; Child SA residents and citizens – R22; Adult foreign nationals – R170; Child foreign nationals – R85

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CONTINUE THE CAPE'S WILD FLOWER SEASON: 

Spring flowers: edible flowers and where you can taste them with our collection of spring flowers you can eat.
See a visual guide to the magical and vibrant flower season in the West Coast National Park
Ceres Rail Company allows you to experience a West Coast Flower trip by train.
Get blooming excited for seeing Barrydale in bloom.


Explore more amazing reasons to visit Cape Town in winter and check what to do with our August events in Cape Town.
Get active and discover incredible hikes and hiking routes or explore some camping spots.
In the great outdoors, please be mindful of hiking safety.
How many have you found of these rock pools?
Be entertained and enthralled with this collection of day tours.

New idyllic summer hangout in Hermanus’s open-air restaurant, Ficks.

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