13 June 2021

Namaqualand – South Africa’s Daisy Sensation

Namaqualand is dry for most of the year, an arid almost desert landscape which extends along South Africa’s western coast for 600 miles. Yet when the rains are good, something like a miracle happens.  Water, the driving force of all nature, soaks in to the parched earth.  An uncountable host of flowers materialize as if from nowhere, creating an extraordinary eruption of color, transforming the countryside and dazzling the eye.

From the west coast of South Africa’s turbulent Atlantic coastline up to the little town of Garies in the south and the Orange River in the north Namaqualand languidly stretches. Justifiably the area is protected: famous for this cornucopia of flowers, daisies in particular, Namaqualand is home to exactly zero accommodation for tourists.  However, the towns and camping sites on its periphery form a fine springboard in to this incredible phenomenon.

There are more bulb flora here than in any other arid region on earth.  Over three and a half thousand plant species live here and it is thought that more than a thousand of those are found nowhere else on the planet. Little wonder that the insect life goes in to something of a breeding frenzy during the time of the daisies.

It certainly does not happen every year. The rains must not only fall but fall in the right way.  Soaking winter rains in early May and June are vital.  This must then be followed up with plenty of showers, at least one each week, through July and August. It is in the later part of that month that the explosion of life happens.

This certainly does not happen every year.  Sometimes there is hardly a bloom to be seen throughout the area.  Other times, promising arrays can be decimated by an icy cold wind blown in off the Atlantic for days on end, withering the emerging flower heads. Locals and visitors alike must cross their fingers that the elements provide and nourish but do not destroy these delicate blooms.

Of course, in this feature, you only get to see what happens in a great year. So, sit back and take part in a riot – one of vibrant almost blinding color.

First Image Credit Martin Heigen Unless otherwise stated all images by Martin Heigen