In South Africa’s arid western parts, winter showers equal spring flowers. If the 2022 flower season is on your radar, check out these mountain passes.
It’s been a cold and wet winter in the Cape thus far, but that bodes well for the 2022 flower season. In some places, the reënblommetjies (Namaqualand daisies) are already out. That means the other flowers won’t be far behind. Although flower season typically runs from August to September, there’s no fixed date in Mother Nature’s calendar.
In fact, research done by Wits University found that Namaqualand’s daisies are flowering earlier than in the past. After looking at flower reports (and pictures from Flickr!) for the period 1935–2018, researchers found that flowering had moved forward. On average, flower season advanced by around two days per decade over the period.
What does that mean for you? Whereas flower season used to be considered a spring phenomenon, it now gets under way in late winter. So if you’re keen to feast your eyes on the wildflowers, keep an eye on the daily media and Instagram. You can also contact the national parks and tourist information offices to get an update on the flower outlook.
Namaqua National Park +27 (0)27 672 1948
West Coast National Park +27 (0)22 772 2144
Niewoudtville Tourism Office +27 (0)27 218 1336 | email@example.com
Clamwilliam Tourism Office +27 (0)28 482 2024
Dates to note
Clanwilliam Wildflower Show 25 August – 4 September 2022
Darling Wildfower Show 16–18 September 2022
Mountain passes to view the flowers
Flower season lends itself to slow travel: you want to take your time to take in the sight of all those flowers. For this reason, mountain passes off the beaten track are ideal.
Kamiesberg Pass (among others)
You can do a lot of flower watching from the N7 that leads up to Namibia. But at 120km/h, the flowers whizz by. Instead, head up the mountain from Kamieskroon and enjoy the landscape at your leisure. The gravel road runs parallel to the N7 and you can rejoin the highway near Garies. You will find yourself on a series of passes that lead through the mountains. With names like Draaiklip, Leliefontein and Groenkloof, you’re on your way to both spectacular mountain scenery and spring flowers.
T4A travel tip
During flower season, travel from north to south. This will keep the sun behind you so that the flowers face you.
Along the R364 between Calvinia and Clanwilliam, the Botterkloof Pass is known for showstopping floral displays. In season, koppies covered in pink blooms and fields of yellow flowers await. Flower watching calls for fair weather, which is just as well. The Botterkloof Pass pass is considered tricky in wet or snowy conditions. But if the sun’s up, the flowers are out and you’re taking it easy, this pass is extremely rewarding. At the foot of the pass you’ll cross over the Doring River, which is responsible for carrying rich silt down to the vineyards of Klawer.
Hoek se Berg Pass
The Biedouw Valley is a hotspot for flowers and the Pakhuis Pass, which leads there, is a historic pass. Constructed by Thomas Bain between 1875 and 1877, it is also the site of Louis Leipoldt’s grave. However, you don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy it. The views over the rugged Cederberg mountains are epic of themselves. Your turnoff into the Biedouw Valley will lead you over Hoek se Berg Pass. Make your way to the viewpoint where you can look down into the Biedouw Valley in bloom. While daisies are responsible for the carpets of colour, the Biedouw is also home to interesting flowering bulbs. It’s worth getting out of your vehicle to take a closer look at these.
Suggested routes: West Coast and Namaqualand
Looking to explore the gravel roads of the region? Along with off-road guide Craig Marshall we’ve compiled a suggested route for the West Coast and Namaqualand. The 7-day itinerary takes in the main sights and is not specific to flower season, but can be enjoyed year-round. The GPS tracks are available for either 4×4 or SUV/high clearance/adventure bikes (different routes). Watch the video to learn more and get insights into the road conditions.