Soon fields of flamboyant wildflowers will begin popping up all over the West Coast – experience it!
On this three-day trip you can lose yourself among blooms of every colour, shape, size and texture – from storybook daisies, sporries and magriets to maartblom, bloedblom, sugarbush and proteas. Just remember floral tourism’s cardinal rule: don’t pick the flowers. Appreciate their beauty, but leave them for the next person to enjoy.
The Namaqualand wildflowers start blossoming in the north late July/early August, rolling out southwards to Clanwilliam and the West Coast during August until early September. Because the flowers are at their blooming best viewed from the north, this trip heads north and then slowly wends down south.
1. Hopefield – private reserves
Hit the N7 and turn off left to Moorreesburg where the R311 will take you to Hopefield (108 km). Private reserves in the area offer floral feasts. Refresh with a good coffee and the heavenly (Scout’s honour!) carrot cake at Simply Bee Coffee Shop (022 7230569), 31 Church St. While here, pop next door to stock up on all-natural beeswax skin products. Above all though, time spent at the glass-enclosed Observation Centre to wise up on the mysterious ways of bees first-hand should top your to-do list.
2. Lambert’s Bay – Sandveld flowers
Follow the R45 to Koringberg and return to the N7. At Piketberg turn left onto the R365 to Lambert’s Bay (159 km). Once there, you can overnight at the delightful Kookfontein farm cottages (082 4564299), 5 km from Lambert’s Bay off the R364. Charming manager, Boerboel Luca, will welcome you with open paws, as will Joos Engelbrecht and Theunette van Heerden.
Dinner at the iconic Muisbosskerm (083 3700400), a mere 6 km away, will be a trip highlight. Dine on a wide variety of fish – baked, smoked and grilled; waterblommetjie bredie; veldkool stew; clay oven-baked bread; and koeksisters. The cost is R270 pp.
First thing next morning sip your morning brew accompanied by Theunette’s wholesome rusks while soaking up the tranquillity with Luca at your side. Then you’re ready to proceed along the R364 to Graafwater, marvelling at the Sandveld flowers enroute to Clanwilliam (58 km).
3. Clanwilliam – Ramskop Wildflower Reserve & Biedouw Valley
As you enter Clanwilliam, pause for breakfast at Velskoendraai Restaurant (083 4603773), 1 Graafwater Road. This is the one and only rooibos teahouse in the world. So don’t be surprised by the extensive range of everything rooibos on the menu: from muffins and cheesecake to lattés and cappuccinos.
Owner Louise Nortje recommends the Rooibos Tea Tasting Experience: sampling seven teas from more than 100 flavoured/blended varieties within the seven rooibos clans. Cost ranges between R35 and R70 pp depending on number of people.
But you’ll need some sustenance and the Velskoen full breakfast washed down with the restaurant’s legendary rooibos milkshake will be just what the doctor ordered. Before leaving, order the celebrated roosterkoek as take-aways for your picnic before heading for the 66-hectare Ramskop Wildflower Reserve next to the Clanwilliam Dam. Here you’ll find more than 350 cultivated wild flower species representing the Knersvlakte, Richtersveld and Boesmanland. The walks on laid-out paths through the garden offer terrific views over the Clanwilliam Dam, adjoining orange groves and Cederberg mountains.