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.
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? Cosmos Country Tourism Centre, tel 017-620-6282, www.mpumalanga.gov.za.
Located along 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.
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 3 500 species growing there, about 1 000 are found nowhere else on the planet. Entrance costs R22. Tel 027-672-1948, www.sanparks.org/parks/ namaqua.
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 14 to 16 September 2012, 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. Entrance to the show is R30 an adult and R20 a child. Tel 022-492-3361, email firstname.lastname@example.org, www.darlingtourism.co.za.
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. If you’re in the Eastern Cape around the same time, look out for the bright orange flowering Aloe ferox along the roadside.
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. Entry to the reserve is free. Tel 041-956-0038.
(Blog by Michael Maart, photo from iStockphoto.com)
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