Namaqua National Park, Northern Cape
Say Namaqua National Park and people immediately think carpets of spring wild flowers. And they would not be wrong - Namaqualand not only has some of the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world, but more than a 1 000 of its approximate 3 500 plant species are not found anywhere else on Earth.
Whilst for most of the year Namaqualand is a semi-desert, July to September sees a burst of colour after the rains resulting in literally millions of flowers that literally transform the landscape into a show that easily rivals the natural wonders on Earth. Namaqualand is an area of striking contrasts and a harsh climate that has meant that flora and fauna have had to adapt or die. The landscape is dotted not only with fields of brightly coloured daisies in spring, but there are also quiver trees, massive granite outcrops, quartz patches, and a sky so vast, it has to be seen to be believed - small wonder that it has been coined 'big sky country'.
Namaqualand includes the Atlantic Ocean, from where it extends all the way to the small town of Pofadder in the east, the Orange River to the north and beyond the little village of Garies to the south. The Namaqua National Park lies within this vast landscape, 495 kilometres from Cape Town, and close to the little town of Kamieskroon, just off the N7 route to Namibia. There is a circular drive perfect for the spring flower season with viewpoints along the route, a number of short nature trails, picnic sites, and the chance to see the world’s smallest tortoise - the Namaqua Speckled Padloper.