9 things to do on cloudy days in Namaqualand

Posted by Marion Whitehead on 26 August 2011


No sunshine, no flowers, no fun? Not quite. Here’s how to enjoy spring trips to Namaqualand on cloudy days.

Only certain flowers need sunshine to open. Daisies, which mass on old ploughed or fallow fields to form the carpets of colour spectacle loved by tourists, need bright sun and temperatures from around 17 degrees C to unfurl their petals. The good news is there are plenty of other plants blooming, even on a cool, cloudy day.
1. Keep your eyes open for bold bulbs and tiny, shy flowers which are not as obvious as the daisies.

2. Play with the macro setting on your camera to capture the sex happening all around you. Flowers offer food to pollinators in exchange for reproductive services and bees, beetles and flies flit from one blossom to the next, performing interesting acts.

3. Succulents have their own fascination. Visit one of the best succulent plant nurseries in the world at Vanrhynsdorp, centre of the Knersvlake’s biodiversity hotspot, where you can see around 500 indigenous succulents, including 50 endemics (tel 027-219-1062). At the Hester Malan Wildflower Garden at Goegap Nature Reserve outside Springbok (entrance R15; tel 027-718-9906), it’s easy to get your eyes tuned into even the tinest masters of camouflage.

4. Drive to the West Coast to enjoy a fine fish lunch at Hondeklip Bay, Lambert’s Bay or Elands Bay.

5. Pop into quaint country museums to get an insight into rural lifestyles. The Windmill Museum in Loeriesfontein gives an idea of the tough, self-sufficient lives of pioneer farmers of previous centuries.

6. Visit the Quiver Tree Forest north of Nieuwoudtville off the R357 to Loeriesfontein. It’s said to be the most southerly colony of these striking plants, which spread over a north-facing slope of a range of koppies – but don’t expect a close-canopy forest in the normal sense.

7. Go on a coffee crawl and stock up on local jams, chutneys, dried fruit, nuts, crafts and gifts from farm stalls and interesting eateries. Try Muis Huis at Vanrhynsdorp (tel 027-219-1232), Smidswinkel in Nieuwoudtville (tel 027-218-1535), the Toeristestal in Garies (tel 027-652-1220) and at Kamieskroon the Kliphuis Kombuis (tel 027-672-1642), Kuiervreugde Coffee Shop (tel 027-672-1904) and pop into the old trading store next to the hotel for cake amid curiosities of bygone times (tel 027-672-1614). In Springbok, Titbits Restaurant and Pizzeria serves tasty meals (tel 027-718-1455)

8. If you have a sturdy vehicle with high clearance, tackle a scenic drive in the mountains and enjoy dramatic landscapes at their springtime best, when they’re studded with flowers and small streams sparkle between normally dry rock massifs.
– Try the loop up Ouberg Pass south of Vanrhyndorp and return via Gifberg Pass.
– Drive up the modern Vanrhyns Pass over the Bokkeveld Mountains to Nieuwoudtville and down the older pass further north; it’s not shown on most maps and is simply known as a “Hel se Pas” by locals.
– From Kamieskroon, take the Kamiesberg Pass to Leliefontein to see the historic Methodist Mission Church and return via Studer’s Pass.

9. Take a hike: places like Gifberg Holiday Farm (tel 027-219-1555. www.gifberg.co.za) and Waterval Resort (tel 027-219-1142, www.watervalresort.co.za) in the mountains south of Vanrhynsdorp welcome day visitors and rock paintings are among their attractions.

It’s wise to factor in a couple of cloudy days on any flower-spotting trip and plan accordingly. That way, you won’t be disappointed – even if the sun just happens to put in a strong appearance every day.
For more ideas, see Namakwa Tourism’s website at www.northerncape.co.za

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