Every year I say I am going to go to the West Coast National Park to see the flowers, particularly in the Postberg section which is only open until the end of September.
This year I actually made it there (luckily for me during National Parks Week so it was for free) and it truly was a sight to behold. There are flowers everywhere! We crawled along the roads taking it all in and kept on stopping to take photos. There was much exclaiming of “Can you believe this? I have never seen so many flowers!”
But even greater glee awaited us as we passed through the gates of Postberg. It was an ocean of colour – fields covered in a sea of purple, yellow, orange, blue and white. We only intended on staying an hour, but time flew by and three hours later we left feeling jubilant with full memory cards and covered in pollen.
We made a stop at Kraalbaai, dipped our toes in the water and sat on the jetty staring dreamily out to sea. Houseboats (that you can rent) bobbed gently on the aquamarine ocean and for that moment in time nothing mattered.
I have every intention of going back again before month-end as a few hours simply wasn’t enough to bask in the glory of spring. At risk of starting to sound like a brochure, I cannot urge you enough to get out there and see it for yourself. You’ll be glad you took the two hour drive.
Watch out for the bugs
Flowers bring with them a whole swarm of insects who also love them, but for entirely different reasons. We were bitten by the occasional horsefly and also found a tick or two. Take insect repellent as a precaution and check yourself thoroughly for ticks.
How to get to the West Coast National Park
Get onto the West Coast Road (R27) from Cape Town and follow it towards Langebaan. Driving time from Cape Town is about two hours, but you may find yourself stopping along the way as the flower show is not only restricted to the park.
About the West Coast National Park
Apart from a myriad of flowers, you could spot bat-eared foxes, eland, bontebok, zebra, gemsbok, red hartebees, Kudu and more. We saw a kudu, a tortoise and a pair of ostriches. The Plankiesbaai and Uitkyk areas inside Postberg offer dedicated picnic areas with beautiful views. Geelbek Restaurant, 10km from the West Coast Gate (on the R27), is open from 09h00 to 17h00 and offers a an array of traditional food. During Flower Season food is served deli-style and you are welcome to picnic on the lawns, or sit at the tables inside or outside the beautifully restored Cape Dutch building.
West Coast National Park opening times and costs
West Coast National Park is open daily from 07h00 to 18h00 (last vehicle entry at 17h30) and the Postberg section is open from 09h00 to 17h00 (last vehicle entry at 16h30). Entry fees are R44 for South Africans; R64 for SADC visitors and R88 for international visitors. Children up to the age of 12 pay half price. Remember to take your South African ID (and Wild Card if you have one as you get a reduced entry fee). Postberg is only open to the public until 30 September and no motorcycles or bicycles are allowed in this section of the park.
Contact the West Coast National Park
Quick tips for photographing flowers
- Flowers are best photographed on sunny days as they will be fully open.
- If you have a DSLR camera, you may want to consider taking a macro lens for detail shots. A telephoto lens will compress distance, which brings patches of colour closer resulting in a field of flowers looking more dramatic. You can also use a wide angle lens and get in close, resulting in more specific flower detail (you’ll also capture the landscape behind the flower). If you don’t have a collection of lenses, you can hire lenses from Photo Hire for about R500 for the day.
- If you have a point-and-shoot camera, don’t get disheartened. These little cameras usually take wonderful photos on Macro mode and the Landscape mode is perfectly adequate for bright and cheerful pictures of fields of colour.
- Use a tripod if you can as you need as much light as possible when using a narrow depth of field or focus. With a wide aperture the shutter speed is often slower and this can cause camera shake if your camera is hand-held.
- Reflectors can also be handy in shooting flowers as they give a natural, diffused light into areas of your subject. Even a piece of cardboard or tin foil will do.
- Get down to the flower’s level for macro detail. Take wind factor into consideration as your image will be ruined if the flower is gently swaying in the breeze.
- Try different angles and look out for contrasting colours, patterns and textures. A backlit flower can make a beautiful image as well as imperfect petals.
- Watch out for white flowers which can easily be over-exposed. Keep an eye on your histogram.
- Remove any distractions from your subject, but don’t pull out blades of grass or tear off leaves. In some cases you may have to move yourself to find a better angle.
- Be respectful. Don’t trample on the flowers if possible and be aware of other photographers who are also trying to get beautiful pictures.