Nature’s Artful Display
The Namaqualand Flower Route is a highly volatile and colorful natural exhibition of around 4,000 different kinds of flowers. It only happens once a year – and nobody knows exactly when. Between the start of August and the end of September, the semi-desert dusty planes of Namaqualand are suddenly transformed into what has been described as ‘a torrent of color’. This spectacular display of flowers makes its appearance when weather conditions are just right, and sometimes not at all. A lack of rain or one or two violent thunderstorms could easily put the show on hold for the year. Despite the risk, many avid adventurers travel all the way to South Africa in the hope of catching nature’s magnificent show each year. I thought, why not take yet another trip to Africa, and check it out – maybe I get lucky and Mother Nature smiles at me in this very special way.
Back to Africa, again
I booked my ticket to Cape Town international airport and excitedly started counting off the days to my departure. After doing some research I discovered that the flower route lies along the N7, and that an escorted flower tour is highly recommended. As always, I preferred doing my own thing and, instead of joining a group of tourists, rented a four-wheel drive car and a bicycle, stocked up on water and food and hit the road. I headed north; my plan was to quickly drive the entire route, all the way to the top, and then taking a leisurely drive back. As with all road trips through Africa – it is impossible not to experience breathtaking moments around every corner. Whether I saw Namaqualand in bloom or not, I knew I would have a great time.
Are you scared of snakes?
I drove all the way to O’kiep on the first day, only stopping for supplies and fuel. It was a grueling trip and I collapsed into a guesthouse bed without even having dinner. The next morning I was in a hurry to find some food and start sightseeing. For some reason I missed the signboard, and several signboards after that (even after stopping for breakfast!). The signboards I was oblivious to obviously showed that I am driving on the N14, and not the N7. By the time I realized I was lost, I was in a place called Pofadder (Afrikaans word for puff adder, which is a very dangerous snake), two hours away. I stopped for a well-deserved lunch at a gorgeous little restaurant and met some friendly locals. The owner of the place thought it was hilarious that I drove for over two hours without realizing that I am lost. After she finally stopped laughing at me, she showed me around town and helped me to find accommodation for the night. Although Pofadder is most certainly not a tourist attraction, it has some beautiful old architecture and great locals, like the lovely Lyndi – who, although she laughed at me, served me some of the best food I’ve had in Africa and was very helpful.
Soft flowers, sweet rain
After my Pofadder adventure, for the following three days I enjoyed leisurely driving and stunning sights along the way – stopping many times just to take in the absolute beauty of the landscape. Sometimes I thought it was like an alien landscape, other times I felt like this is what heaven is like. For the first time in Africa I didn’t feel assaulted by the heat, I hardly noticed it. I also barely noticed the caress of the soft rain; I just knew that I felt really nice – I felt really nice. The gentleness of the flowers and my surroundings soothed me, and touched my heart in a different way to what I have experienced in Africa. I have met Vibrant Africa, Colourful Africa, Harsh Africa and Friendly Africa. This was my first encounter with Gentle Africa.