The best flower hikes in Namaqualand, Northern Cape during Spring

Best of EcoTravel, Hiking: By Susan Parker-Smith, 22 November 2023 The best flower hikes in Namaqualand

There’s a village in the Northern Cape called Nigramoep, also known as, “The place to be” or “Place of Hope.” The Northern Cape is an arid region, the soil is dry and life is tough, but once a year after the winter rains, the area explodes with colour, as one of the world’s best flower displays covers the landscape.

 In most years, there’s almost no rain in the Northern Cape, but in 2023, the rains were exceptional, with most of the area receiving more than double its average annual rainfall in a matter of days. Roads washed away, and river beds turned into swirling torrents after years of drought. Some of the farms around Springbok received more than 300mm of rain. Soon the normally bleached landscape transformed into lush meadows, while hundreds of species of flowers burst out of the ground as seeds and bulbs which been lying dormant for over seven years came to life. 

As botanists and flower lovers flocked to the area to examine the diversity of species, we came to hike among the flowers in August. Invited by Trisport Boutique Tours to do their Namaqualand flower hike, we explored the region from Springbok across to Okiep over the next days.

In a wonderfully diverse trip, we hiked across Namaqualand’s valleys and mountains of abundant wild flowers, explored quiver tree forests, visited the dramatic landscape  of Gougap Nature reserve, and listened to local farmers sharing fascinating stories of the early settlers and the challenges farming in the area.

The Goegap Nature Reserve, in a semi-desert region about 8km east of springbok, was a highlight of our visit. The  land was previously used to graze livestock and mine copper. In 1966 it was proclaimed as a nature reserve, it was then fenced and wildlife was introduced. The landscape consists of boulder strewn mountains interspersed with pancake flat valleys. Clusters of quiver trees, fields of flowers and a healthy wildlife population, add to the beauty.

The flowers throughout Namaqualand are spectacular, but the charm of the Northern Cape lies with the people, the wide spaces, the clean air, and the feeling of vitality that hiking in the area brings.

As always, the hospitality in the area was excellent with delicious local cooking waiting for us after the day’s exercise. We loved our stay on Nigramoep Guest Farm with its abundant flowers, beautiful hiking trails, and excellent hospitality. Our accommodation consisted of self-catering cottages, with meals taken in the restaurant. The farm also accesses the Schaaprivier Canyon, an enormous gorge, which Trisport also does a multi-day hike through.

Part of our tour took us to the town of Okiep, where we stayed in the Country Hotel on the main street next to a derelict Copper Mine. This typical dorpie hotel has wonderful hosts, excellent food, and  bedrooms that are clean and functional. It also has an excellent museum that covers the history of the copper mines. The hotel offers a useful stopover or base to explore the region. Copper mining is a legacy in the area, with large disused mines still visible in many places.

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If you want to see the flowers and enjoy the best of Namaqualand, we recommend visiting the area with Trisport Boutique Tours, who arrange several hiking and mountain biking tours and Women on Safari Tours in the area. You will benefit from their careful research and planning to find the best of the flowers and to enjoy  beautiful off the beaten track places. Owners of Trisport, Hano and Sonja Otto, are wonderful hosts – both extreme sports people with a love of nature and the outdoors, they bend over backwards to give their guests a great experience. Their boutique tours offer the great outdoors with slackpacking comforts and good food.


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