Spring Flower Tour - Northern Route (Code SP06) A 8 day tour

 

It is worth mentioning that the Namaqualand Spring flowers are by no means a guaranteed phenomenon. The flowering of the sometimes masses of spring flowers in an endless profusion of colours and scents is something we all want to see but this phenomenon is reliant on the timorous arrival of the late winter to early spring rains and the non-arrival of the hot, dry Berg winds that can sweep down from the north drying out and desiccating the new growth and buds of the myriad of annuals and perennial flowering shrubs.

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We do whatever we can to find the flowers using modern technology as well as the all-important local knowledge of the folks on the ground. It is never guaranteed but when it is does, as it so often happens, it is so spectacular that it will remain with you forever.  

The spring flowers only open on warm sun filled days with a minimum temperature of around 17 degrees centigrade. This is the same temperature that is needed for the bees to become active. The result of this phenomenon is that it is really only worthwhile starting to look for the flowers from around 9 o’clock in the morning. This also gives us a good time to get to the most favourable areas before optimum conditions prevail. The flowers generally start to close up again from around 4 to 4.30 pm depending on the daily temperatures and hours of sunlight.


m_aloe_ferox_726.jpgDay 1, Night 1

Port Elizabeth – Beaufort West

8:30 am pick up at place of residence in Port Elizabeth and depart for the wide expanses of the Little Karoo passing through countryside burnished orange by the blooms of the wild aloes. 

Past plateaus and through the Platteland of South Africa, we arrive at our first nights accommodation at a Karoo Game Lodge on the edge of the Nuweveldberg Mountains. Here we will take our evening meal and have a peaceful nights rest in comfortable accommodation.

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast

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Day 2, Night 2

Beaufort West - Nieuwoudtville

After a hearty Karoo breakfast we continue into Namaqualand and drive through Calvinia, an area known by the early Khoikhoi as the Hantam Karoo, a word that means “the place where bulbs grow”, referring to the many bulb producing plants that grow here as we head towards Namaqualand and areas that are famous for their spectacular display of spring flowers, produced after good winter rain. The region has a climate of relative extremes with very hot summers and freezing cold winters.

m_26115.jpgIt is in this region that we are expecting to start finding our first displays of spring flowers along the road side and further afield. Once again these displays of flowers are entirely dependent on good winter rains and there where abouts are entirely dependent on the vagaries of the fall of these rains.

m_img_7110.jpgWe continue onto Nieuwoudtville on the plateau above the low lying Namaqualand and the Knersvlakte with its harsh quartzite gravel plains and peculiar dwarf succulents. It is in the area surrounding Nieuwoudtville that we come across three different plant kingdoms, namely the Nama-Karoo, the Succulent Karoo and the Cape Fynbos found in the mountains.        

The Nieuwoudtville area has over 300 species of wild flower and bulbs and is especially famous for the unusual flower called the Red Cats Tail (Bulbinella sp.) which is only found this part of Namaqualand.

m_dscn101656.jpgAfter an exhilarating day exploring the plant life we spend the night at a local guest farm where we will experience the warm hospitality of the local farmers and their delicious traditional brand of home cooking as we take our dinner at the guest farm before a restful night in these peaceful surroundings

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast 


Day 3, Night 3

Nieuwoudtville – Kamieskroon

A delicious Namaqualand Farm breakfast will be served to us this morning before we head off in search of fields of flowers. Here the local knowledge is always an advantage to ensure we get the see the very best flowers the area has to offer.

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After stopping to view a spectacular waterfall (after good rains only) we take a break at the mystical Tree Aloe/Quiver Tree (Aloe Dichotoma) forest.

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Here we view not only the Aloes but also keep a watchful eye out for the many different birds, reptiles and small animals that inhabit these harsh rocky slopes.

This is the largest stand of Quiver trees in South Africa. There are over 8000 of these giant aloes here.

 

As we continue driving north we keep a look out for flowers along the way. This evening we will be staying in the town of Kamieskroon, where we will again enjoy the hospitality of Namaqualand.

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast 

 

Day 4 Night 4

Kamieskroon - Springbok

After a hearty breakfast and again using local knowledge, we will continue to looking the best flower viewing areas.  Part of the fun of viewing he spring flowers in Namaqualand is driving down farm roads and stumbling on a patchwork of vibrant coloured blooms stretching over the undulating fields. These are sights that will always be remembered.

Continuing north we will reach the Goegap Nature Reserve with its granite peaks and sandy plains are dominated by Carolusberg, the highest point in the area. Goegap's wild flower garden contains an enormous collection of succulents endemic to the area. A visit to the Goegap Nature Reserve will make a lasting impression with the spectacular annual display of wild flowers in spring. 

Besides the unbelievable number of floral species, Goegap Nature Reserve boasts a recorded 45 mammalian species including springbok, gemsbok, the endangered Hartman's Zebra and the aardwolf amongst several others. 

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Our overnight accommodation is in the town of Springbok. We will be dining in our hotel this evening.

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast

 

m_dscn1144_copy.jpgDay 5, Night 5

Springbok – Hondeklip Baai

Refreshed after a good nights rest and a delicious breakfast we will head south, down the Messelpad Pass through the Namaqua National Park. This National Park covers an area of more than 700km2 and is regarded as a biodiversity hotspot with the largest concentration of succulent plants in the world. The Park has an arid environment, but during spring, after good winter rains the park is transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour with flowers blooming far and wide turning it into a carpeted wonderland of wild flowers.

m_img_6643.jpgWe continue on the long and winding dirt road until we eventually reach the seaside fishing village of Hondeklip Baai on the edge of the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The bay was named after a large rock that once resembled a dog but it has become a bit tatty after a lightning strike and man have left their mark. The small natural harbour was first discovered in 1846. Initially iron ore was shipped from the harbour. Nowadays fishing the cultivation of Abalone and marine diamond mining are the main activities in the harbour.

The harbour and small bay are a bird watchers paradise with waders on the kelp fringed beach to flocks of cormorants and gulls resting on the old ship wreck or diamond mining platforms that seem to settle in the lea of the harbour, we explore this iconic area hopefully finding many ‘”gems” in the form of wild flowers.

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After a long day in the saddle we check into our accommodation for a peaceful, sea scented night in Hondeklip Baai after taking our evening meal at one of the local restaurants.

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast

 

Day 6, Night 6

Hondeklip Bay – Citrusdal

Wake to the sounds of the waves on the seashore and the gulls flying overhead, the mix of seaweed on the beach and the cold salt sea water combine as you wake in the comfort of your warm bed. Get up and take a stroll along the beach or simply make your way to the breakfast room for a hot breakfast before we start another day. 

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We pack up, check out and make our way south, away from the coast and head back inland along the Namaqualand Coastal Route. This area is in the centre of the Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot. Here the wide variety of wild flowers is largely due to the varied topography: fertile valleys contrast with high mountains and the semi-desert plains of the north contrast with the unique Sandveld region near the coast.

m_img_7080.jpgIn this area certain species of flora are found nowhere else in the world such as the yellow Leucospernum, the Snow Protea, yellow Sparaxis, pink Cyanella and the Clanwilliam Cedar.  We keep our eyes out for flowers and our ears open to the locals and any suggestion where we might find the best floral displays in their areas.

We continue south with the aim of visiting Clanwilliam a small west coast centre where they hold the annual spring flower show in the local N.G. Kerk (Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk [Church] ). This is a stunning display of indigenous flowers collected and displayed by the communities of the Clanwilliam.

We’ll pass a few farm stall on our way to Citrusdal where the stalls sell a lot of dried fruit, raisins and of course Oranges amongst the other products from the region. It is a good idea to stock up on a few bags of the famous oranges and other citrus from this area. 

We arrive in Citrusdal, situated in the Olifants River Valley at the base of the Cederberg Mountains, here we check in to a local guesthouse where we have our evening meal before another peaceful night on the road.

Overnight guesthouse, lunch, dinner, bed and breakfast

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Day 7, Night 7

Citrusdal – Barrydale

m_p8210125.jpgLeaving Citrusdal after breakfast, we will pass by the rugged wild landscapes of the Kouebokkeveld Mountains before finally arriving in the Hex River Valley. This valley was first settled in the 1700 when Simon van der Stel allocated farms in the area for grazing cattle.

Today the Hex River Valley is not only known as the biggest producer of table grapes in South Africa but also has the winery with the longest harvest season in the world (De Doorns Cellar).

This beautiful valley is surrounded by the majestic Hex River Mountains which are the second highest range in the Western Cape. Travelling through the mountains and past the town of Worcester, we arrive at the town of Robertson. The valley in which Robertson is situated is known as “the valley of wine and roses”. Robertson is in the heart of the wine route. 

Passing through Robertson we will join the famous Route 62 and continue onto the little Karoo and the town of Barrydale. Situated at the foothills of the Langeberg Mountains this peaceful village is where we will spend the night.

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Day 8

Barrydale – Port Elizabeth

After a hearty Karoo breakfast we say goodbye to Barrydale and continue along the R62 route through the Huis River Pass outside Calitzdorp and on towards the biggest town in this area, Oudtshoorn.

Oudtshoorn is the Ostrich capital of the world. This pretty town lies at the start of the little Karoo. Oudtshoorn was founded on the back of the booming Ostrich feather fashion industry when it became high fashion for ladies to where intricate feather hats topped with the ostrich plumes and convoluted feather boas around their necks and shoulders. It has been said that a single fine feather could pay for one’s passage back to England. Good old days that came to the end with the advent of the motor car and the First World War.

Continuing on Route 62, we will be able to view the flowering aloes for which this area is renowned.

As we drive on towards to Port Elizabeth we will remember the floral wonderland and magnificent scenery we have witnessed during our Namaqualand Spring Flower Tour.

End of Alan Tours services

 

m_dscn0449.jpgRates on request

A minimum of 2 people is required, maximum 6 persons in the tour vehicle

Price on request for bigger groups

Tour includes:

  • 8 days professional guided tour
  • 7 nights sharing accommodation as per itinerary
  • Tour vehicle, professional tour guide-driver and fuel
  • Entrance/conservation fees etc
    • Namaqua National Park
    • Goekap Nature Reserve
  • Toll fees
  • Meals as per itinerary per day
  • Bottled water in the tour vehicle

 

Tour excludes:

  • Bar bills
  • Activities not mentioned in above
  • Private shopping
  • gratuities

 

Alan Tours reserves the right to change routes due to availability of accommodation and weather and/or where flowers may be located.

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