A few days ago we talked about the vibrant lavender fields in the French province of Provence but we didn’t tell you it has a sister region in South Africa, otherwise known as, Namaqualand.
Namaqualand is a huge region located between South Africa and Namibia, divided by River Orange into Great and Little Namaqualand, the latter being the South African part and where the famous Namaqualand daisy season takes places in the early Spring; Southern Hemisphere spring it is.
One of the oddest and most amazing things in Nature is desert blooming. Suddenly, after some random rains, the desert gets covered by fields of flowers in a few hours, springing from seeds that have survived deep down the dry sand for years. The effect of flowered desert can be spotted in the Atacama desert in Chile and some regions of West Sahara yet it’s hardly impossible to predict, unless you hit Namaqualand.
Namaqualand’s daisy season attracts tourist from the rest of the African continent but more and more international arrivals are happening off lately; nobody wants to miss this unique phenomenon of Nature. The park gets covered by thousands of orange and red daisies though thousand of flowers grow in a couple of days, carpeting the desert with the miracle of life.
Wildflowers blooming is the main attraction at Namaqua National Park, 55,000 sq km of protected biodiversity, that also contains the largest biotope of succulent vegetation, which are plants unusually thickly designed to retain water. Local people have always used them on their journeys as natural canteens.
Namaqualand was rich in diamonds and for many years this industry fueled the community. Nowadays the mining is over and the environment damaged by drilling operations, so people are turning towards tourism benefits to help them restore the beautiful natural landscape and create new jobs to replace the missing ones.
A couple of hours driving from Springbok, region’s capital, we reach Richtersveld National Park, also an arid region but crowned World Heritage by UNESCO out of its amazing and endemic wildlife. Water is scarce but unique plants and animals have found their way to thrive. Among the rare species that can be found, Halfmensboom tree stands out since they look like growing people from the ground.
Cool fact? The Nama and other local traditional peoples of the area, who believe their ancestors live in halfmensboom trees, are the managers and rangers of Richersveld National Park.
Once you are here don’t miss the chance to peek at Doorn River Waterfalls, not among the best known ones in Africa athough as unique as everything in the Namaqualand area. Your best chances to get to see these falls go through hiring a local guide because reaching them can be a little tricky. So hidden, you may feel like a Dr. Livingston yourself, discovering Nature’s wonders in Mother Africa.