“And the rain stirs the dry course, then my heart’s colors break open, and I quickly knot my flower coat from Kamieskroon to Komaggas,” sings Coenie de Villiers in the song “Namakwaland” about this floral splendor.
Every year in August and September, parts of the Northern Cape are covered with the flowers of more than 3,500 species that have a home here.
“It’s amazing to watch. One can hardly believe that the Northern Cape – which is known for its hot, harsh and dry weather conditions – can be so colourful,” says Lucius Moolman, regional manager of SANParks in the Northern Cape.
“What makes this year particularly exceptional is that it is the first year in a very long time that the entire region, in other words the entire Richtersveld and the entire Namaqualand, has been covered with flowers.”
SANParks staff who live in the Richtersveld believe that the region has never looked like this since the park’s inception in 1991, while others say they last saw Richtersveld flourish like this in the 1970s.
“The area has never looked like this,” says Moolman.
“I have been regional manager here for 11 years and I have never seen the Richtersveld so beautiful.”
According to Moolman, the good winter rainfall is the reason for this year’s exceptional floral display.
The Namaqualand National Park has already received about 250 mm of rain this year – almost double the average rainfall.
“The average winter rainfall is usually between 120 mm and 150 mm, but we had extremely good rainfall in May, June and July this year,” says Moolman.
“It’s incredible and we see it in our occupancy figures. We have 30% more visitors than last year.”
Moolman says the flowers in the Richtersveld should be at their most beautiful for another two weeks.
“Namaqualand should bloom until the end of September, especially the sections on the coast, between Groen River and Speegrivier, about 60 km from the Namaqualand National Park,” he says.
Genevieve Maasdorp, regional communications manager of SANParks in the Northern Cape and now in the park herself, says the flower carpet is indescribably beautiful.
“The people should come and see; it hasn’t looked like that yet, I can assure you.
“We hope and trust that it will still look like this until mid-September. There are places where the wind has already done some damage, but most areas are breathtaking. Words really can’t describe it.”