If you thought flower viewing was limited to the West Coast during spring, you’d be mistaken. Here’s a list of where to see spectacular displays of all sorts of flowers across South Africa.
Also read: New app: photo guide to wildflowers of SA
1. Cosmos Country, Mpumalanga
Cosmos Country straddles the borders of the Free State and Gauteng in the southwestern part of Mpumalanga and was named as such because of the multitude of cosmos flowers which bloom here, transforming the region into a kaleidoscope of pink, purple and white in late summer every year. What better place for a flower enthusiast to visit than a region named after a flower?
More info: Cosmos Country Tourism Centre, Tel 017 620 6282, www.mpumalanga.com
2. Sunflowers near Kroonstad, Free State
Located on the N1 between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg, Kroonstad is a truly golden destination around September and October, when the sunflowers come into bloom. Whether you’re visiting Kroonstad or just passing by, you’re bound to find yourself staring into those smiling golden faces. And there’s no need to worry about missing the sunflowers in your mad rush to get to Bloem or Joburg as they’re clearly visible from the highway.
3. Wild flowers in Namaqualand, Northern Cape
Namaqua National Park is a not-to-be-missed destination. After pre-spring rains, the landscape is transformed into a carpet of daisies in psychedelic colours, dotted with quiver trees and granite outcroppings that offer views to rival any natural wonder. Another reason to visit the park is that, of the 3500 species growing there, about 1000 are found nowhere else on the planet.
More info: Entrance costs R32 per adult, R16 per child. Tel 027 672 1948, www.sanparks.org/parks/namaqua
4. Daisies in Darling, Western Cape
With a range of spring flowers stretching from white daisies all the way through to purple skilpadblomme, the Darling district is a well-known favourite among flower lovers. The blooms are at their peak during August and September and the Darling Wildflower Show, from 18 to 20 September 2015, caters to all sorts of visitors. You’ll be able to enjoy beautiful flower displays as well as live entertainment, stalls selling all sorts of goodies and foods, tractor rides and so much more.
More info: Entrance to the show is R50 an adult and R30 a child. Tel 022 492 3361, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.darlingtourism.co.za
5. Aloes in Graskop and Lydenburg, Mpumalanga
If you’re looking for some real out-of-the-box flower viewing, try a drive along the route from Graskop to Pilgrim’s Rest or via the JG Strydom Tunnel on the Abel Erasmus Pass. It’ll be hard to miss the Graskop aloe (Aloe aloides) – which is restricted to this area – with its spikes of bright yellow flowers standing tall. According to an expert from the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the aloes in this area are best seen in June, so unfortunately a bit late for this year. If you’re in the Eastern Cape around the same time, look out for the bright orange flowering Aloe ferox along the roadside.
6. Eastern Cape extravaganza, Port Elizabeth
The Van Stadens Wild Flower Reserve is a great spot for enjoying the sights and smells of flowers and doing a little bird-watching, whether you’re alone or in a group. The focus of the reserve is the preservation of indigenous flora and visitors can explore the area to discover an array of flowering plant species such as fynbos, succulents and the ever-popular protea.
More info: Entry to the reserve is free. Tel 041 956 0038, www.vanstadens.co.za
7. Tankwa Karoo National Park
The Tankwa Karoo National Park’s flowers are best viewed in August, but you can still catch them in their bright yellow splendour before they begin to fade in early September. Expect especially beautiful displays around the area known as Die Spruit, as well as around Prambergfontein/Volmoersfontein. The area on top of the Roggeveld/Gannaga Pass usually comes into flower a bit later so head for the higher slopes if you’re visiting near the end of the season.
More info: Entrance costs R32 per adult, R16 per child. www.sanparks.org/parks/tankwa