Once a year the Semi Desert region of Namaqualand in South Africa bursts into one of the most spectacular sights in the world. During the Spring months of August and September, just after the first rain drops hit the dry warm soil, millions and millions of flowers appear seemingly from nowhere. In an array of colours you have to see to believe. Witness millions of flower heads turn in search the sun making for some beautiful photography. Whether you are a botanist, an amateur flower hunter or just a nature enthusiast it is widely agreed that you have to experience the Namaqualand at least once in your life.
In this tour exciting lunch stops and true authentic local experiences are in the order of day. Unique in every way planned by a local South African guide that has been doing this for over 20 years! You will not only see the Namaqualand flowers, you will experience them in a one-a-life-time unforgettable tour!
Like any fine wine, our Wine, Stars and Wildflowers Namaqualand Tour just keeps getting better as the years go by! This year, our guided Namaqualand tour has been running for 4 years and due to popular demand we are offering two dates in September 2023!
Each year brings new experiences and opportunities, and we would love you to invite you to be a part of this ever popular event that comes around but once a year.
Spaces are limited so please book in advance to secure your spot.
Originally called Hooprivier the town of Robertson was founded in 1853 by two good friends, the Dutch Reformed Church minister at Swellendam, Rev. Dr. William Robertson and the Honorable Joseph Barry, who was the auctioneer when the farmland on which the town stood was cut up into erven. The new town was named Robertson in honour of the evangelistic Scottish minister who served the Overberg for 39 years.
Paternoster embodies the heart and soul of the West Coast. It’s the oldest fishing village along this coastline and a place of contrasts and seasonal colours. The traditional fishermen here live just has they always have, subsisting on snoek and crayfish caught by hand from their colourful wooden boats. Fisher wives collect mussels and veldkool and prepare dishes to old family recipes, sharing meals with neighbours. It lends an air of community and timelessness to the little village, as does the gentle pace of life lived to tides and winds.
To describe Garies as in the middle of nowhere does not do any damage to the reputation of the town (for those who stay here, particularly during the spring flower revolution, will come anyway).It lies in the heart of the Namaqualand and makes an excellent base for those exploring the spring flowers. And rumour has it that Hannie Louw’s Tamatie Blatjang (tomato chutney) is worth stopping for alone.
Calvinia was founded in 1845 on the farm Hoogekraal which was purchased by the Dutch Reformed Church in order to establish a parish for the far flung community of the Hantam Karoo. The original name of the region and the village was Hantam. The name Hantam has its origins with the Khoi people and it is believed that the name refers to “the hill where the red nut sedge grows”.
Soon after the arrival of the first minister, Reverend N Hofmeyr in 1851, the village’s name was changed to Calvinia to honour the Protestant theologian and reformer, John Calvin.
Today Calvinia is a pleasant town with a well preserved architectural heritage that provides an interesting window on its past. Calvinia’s economy continues to revolve around wool and mutton farming.
Sutherland was found in 1723 as a church and market town to serve the area’s sheep farmers. By 1872 the town had a population of 138 registered citizens living in 19 houses.
The large Dutch Reformed church in the centre of Sutherland was built in 1899.
The Sutherland region continues to be a strong livestock farming area as well as an astronomer’s delight. While you are here to experience the wonders of the stars, don’t forget to tuck into some of the classic Karoo dinners or feel what it’s like to be in one of the coldest places in South Africa on a crisp winter’s day.
Did you know that some farmers in the Sutherland area still “trek” with their sheep from winter grazing to the lowlands (Tankwa area) to summer grazing at more elevated altitudes?
Depart from Knysna to Robertson with a quick stop for a takeaway coffee at Swellendam to stretch our legs. We will not have time for a stroll through this historic town, but various well preserved buildings and houses dot the streets of the town and the Drostdy complex holds a number of tributes to its past, the town of Swellendam can transport you back to yesteryear at the blink of an eye.
At around lunch time we stop in Robertson to enjoy sit-down lunch or you can order a basket at the deli and
sit under the trees or in the sun outside and enjoy.
After lunch we depart for a wine tasting, where we will take up the tradition of blending red varietals to bottle, cork and label our own wine to take home as souvenirs. You can also purchase
wines to take home or to enjoy on the rest of the trip. After the blending, bottling, and tasting, we will depart for check-in at our over night accommodation. You will have time to explore the Robertson area on foot on your own or rest before dinner. Dinner is s set 3-course dinner paired with great wine. Just the perfect way to end the day.
Enjoy a scrumptious breakfast in Robertson before starting this exciting day. We will meander towards Paternoster visiting the beautiful Tulbagh for a lunch stop, you can enjoy a short walk-about and even visit their fine wine boutique that offers a unique variety of local wines.
We will continue our journey via the West Coast National Park for the first viewing of the exquisite Namaqualand
flowers. We will drive through the park and stop where the flowers
are the most abundant and pretty to take pictures.
We arrive in Paternoster late afternoon where we will first stop sea-side to enjoy the beautiful views and enjoy a quick drink before heading to our accommodation establishment for the evening.
Tonight, we will enjoy dinner at the popular sea-side restaurant in Paternoster (Drinks for own account). Watch the sun set over the Atlantic ocean, drink good wine and discuss our day with new friends.
Enjoy breakfast in Paternoster before departing for Garies. Today will be one of the longer drive days as we meander on into the heart of the Namaqualand. We stop en-route and grab a quick lunch. Our main aim today is to get from Paternoster to Garies and not in particular the flower viewing. Tomorrow we will go to the best spots available. We check in at our
Guesthouse for the evening where we will enjoy a drink together before dinner.
Tonight we will enjoy a special home-cooked dinner at our legendary guesthouse.
Please note that this guesthouse is not licensed to sell alcohol, but you are more than welcome to enjoy your own
wine for the two evenings.
After breakfast we will explore the Garies and Springbok areas. We will go in search of the best flower “hot-spots”
for a full day of guided flower viewing.
Once a year the desert turns into a sea of flowers, and we are going to do our best to experience this
wonderworld! Your guide for the day is a local Namaqualander who will share great information about
Namaqua’s unique culture – from the language and tales of old to the hardships of living in this harsh
environment. You will learn all about the beautiful local flower names like “Bababoudjies” and “Varkiesknol”
(and laugh trying to translate them!), breathe in the fresh Namaqua air and be astonished how much there
is to see and learn in this magical land that goes without rain most of the year. We will also visit
Kamieskroon and the Skilpad Reserve.
Please keep in mind that the number of blooming flowers is completely weather dependent, and every
year is different. It is hard to plan to see this, but this colourful spectacle is something to behold!
We will lunch at a local gem where after we will spend the afternoon visiting flower hotspots
around the Springbok area. After a full day we will be back to our guesthouse. Memory banks full and camera rolls even fuller where we will enjoy a three-course home-cooked dinner. Bring your own wine or drink to the table and reminisce about the beauty of the day.
After breakfast today we have a beautiful scenic drive to Nieuwoudtville and where we are bound to see flowers on the way. We will drive via Vanrhyns Pass which forms part of the R27, linking the Namaqualand town of
Vanrhynsdorp with Nieuwoudtville. The road pass winds up to the summit 825 metres above sea level. We will
stop at the viewpoint to admire the view of the Bokkeveld plateau and Knersvlakte below.
We arrive in Nieuwoudtville where we will enjoy a guided walking flower tour in the stunning Hantam Botanical
Reserve. Where after we will have a break of about an hour and a half where you will have the opportunity to walk through Nieuwoudtville and pick a spot for your own lunch. The annual local NG Kerk Bazaar and sightings of the church is a highlight of the town. Depending on flower viewing at Loeriesfontein, we will take a detour en-route to Calvinia to experience this viewing.
As we travel on , we will see the adjacent private farms that are normally wonderful for flower viewing before we proceed to Calvinia to check in for the night and explore the town on foot. Here you could
also visit the annual NG Kerk Bazaar before we have dinner together.
After breakfast we will depart for Sutherland.
On arrival in Sutherland, we will stop for a quick lunch because will have an early dinner tonight as we will be stargazing later.
We will take a drive to the SALT (Southern African Large Telescope) site for a spectacular guided tour.
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), the national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa. SALT is situated at the SAAO and is the largest single optical telescope
in the southern Hemisphere.
We will enjoy an early dinner at a local “must stop “eatery. Dinner tonight is early because we
need to leave for our private Stargazing with star expert, Jurg, 1 km out of town.
We will enjoy an informative, short lecture outdoor about constellations, planets, and speed of light in the
universe. Also, laser-assisted teaching on finding South with the Southern Cross, identifying constellations,
planets, blue stars, red stars, cluster of stars and nebulae!
***Please note: If there is rain or snow, stargazing may not be possible.
After breakfast we will start the journey home with a quick stop for a cappuccino in Matjiesfontein before we have a farewell lunch together. We will greet new friends and honour life-long memories made together, with our footprints left in the sands of the Namaqualand, our cameras full of exceptional pictures and an appreciation for the beauty of this word in our hearts…
*Namaqualand (khoekhoe: “Nama-kwa” meaning Nama Khoe people’s land) is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa, extending along the west coast over 1,000 km (600 mi) and covering a total area of 440,000 km2 (170,000 sq mi).
*It may be beautiful but it is hot. The temperatures in Namaqualand can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius, so be sure to bring along plenty of sunscreen and bottled drinking water for any hiking adventures you might be having in the area. Namaqualand might first appear to be a desert, but there is a diverse array of flora and fauna to be found.
*The evenings on the other hand can get extremely cold so remember a jacket and warm clothes.
*The flowers only bloom at a certain time and not throughout the year. It is important to note that the flowering dates will differ slightly according to the rains that occur, and whether there was a heavy or light rainfall during the months leading up to August.
*Namaqualand is a biodiverse region of South Africa, with some plants and animals that are not found in other provinces. One of the more unique animals you will be able to spot include the Cape speckled tortoise, considered to be the smallest tortoise in the world. You might also spot the strange looking insectivorous aardwolf as well as the stunning African wildcat.
*Namaqualand is truly a interesting place to see how our feathered friends can survive harsh conditions. You can expect to see interesting animals such as the Namaqua Dove.
*About 4,000 plant species grow in this area, and Namaqualand has more than 1,000 types of flowers that do not grow anywhere else in the world. It has many species of succulent plants, for example vygies which have attractive blooms.
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