Namaqualand is arid land split between South Africa and Namibia, and divided by the Orange River. The lower Namaqualand, is the section in South Africa and is part of the Northern Cape Province. The area is most famous for its amazing flowers, which come to life in the spring September/October. In this area spring is now known as “Namaqualand daisy season”!
Of the flowers that appear in this season, many are rare, endangered and extraordinarily beautiful. These are protected in many places; the Namaqua National Park, Goegap Nature Reserve and Witsand Nature Reserve are just three of the many, and each offers a different attraction.
Namaqua demonstrates the contrasts between the different climates in the region perfectly, from huge granite outcrops to beautiful fields of flowers. With an Atlantic coast it has the sea as well, and is blessed with a variety of different animals from baboons to scorpions.
Goegap has granite outcrops and sandy plains that accentuate the beauty of the huge number of absolutely gorgeous endemic succulent flowers that are from the area. With 45 different species of mammal including the rare Hartman’s zebra and aardwolf the park has an attraction during the drier months as well, and the birds varied and beautiful, making it ideal for bird lovers.
Witsand is well known for its brick red sands and the contrasting sand dunes that are a bright white and tower over the rest of the dune from a height of 20 to 60 metres. The wildlife is varied and includes some species that have adapted to the desert climate, in particular insects and beetles. The birdlife is also outstanding, with specially designed hides that are at ground level allowing a unique view of the animals in the harsh environment.
There are a large number of towns in the region, from towns that flourished in the diamond rush, to others that have grown up as part of the wool trade. With few large cities, the skies are incredibly clear, with up to 80% starlight; nights are beautiful and the general sense in this park is of unchanged beauty.
When visiting these areas, its important to take into account the recent rainy season which will dictate the best areas to visit. Remember to stop and look behind you as well as in front of you on the journey as the flowers present their petals in the direction of the sun!
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