TRIP REPORT: Flowers of Namaqualand and the West Coast. August 2013.




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    Default TRIP REPORT: Flowers of Namaqualand and the West Coast. August 2013.

    TRIP REPORT: Flowers of Namaqualand and the West Coast. August 2013.


    I am pleased to be able to report on our inspirational trip to see the flowers of this normally rather stark and arid area. This harshness had always been my impression as we had only ever transited through here in the dry summers. Experiencing the flowers of the Northern and Western Cape proved to have been a worthy member of my bucket list! What better to do in the cold wintry month of August? This forum may seem a strange place to post a report that barely required a 4X4 and involved no camping. I will leave camping in this area, during the regular icy and wet cold fronts of August, to those with hairier teeth than we have. Nonetheless, each year at this time on the forum, there is a smattering of interest on seeing the flowers. I can absolutely recommend it to all with an interest in exploring this part of the world. You do not have to be a gardening or botany nut to enjoy this trip. It is not only about the flowers, the rugged beauty of the mountains and the west coast is worth the trip in their own right.

    The wild flowers are best viewed travelling from north to south with the sun behind you, as the flowers face the sun. Likewise the best view of the flowers is obtained by driving west in the mornings and east in the afternoon. Most of the annuals (daisy type flowers) only open if there is a decent period of full sunshine and these are the flowers that provide you with the carpets of colour most of us appear to anticipate. Cloudy and cold days can be disappointing. The flowers only open after about 10H00 and usually only open completely if and when the temperature reaches above 14, or more likely 16 degrees C. Thus, unlike game viewing holidays there is no need for early starts. The flowers begin to close by 16H00 on a sunny day, as the temperature begins to drop.

    The peak of the flower season is some time in August or September. The exact timing and duration is dependant on good early rains to encourage germination and then regular follow up rains for growth. Towards August and September some sunny, warmer days are then needed to encourage full blooming. The duration of the flower season is dependant on good follow up rains and the absence of early hot berg winds in September. The flowering is usually a couple of weeks later in the colder, high lying areas and a little earlier along the coast. The number of flowers and the magnificent show they can provide will often vary from area to area depending on weather variations for that season. As in game viewing trips your luck can vary in seeing all you could wish for.

    The types of flowers you see vary in different regions according to the habitat. The dominant colour of the annuals varies from oranges and yellows to white. It is these that provide the carpets of colour so often depicted in photographs. I found it interesting to discover that these carpets of flowers mainly appear on disturbed soil, for instance fallow fields and on the side of the road. In some areas the farmers very kindly carefully time when they put their sheep on these fields to graze. As I understand it the sheep need to be early enough to clear away any competing high bushes, but not so late that the newly germinated flowering plants are grazed. These are the areas rather disparagingly referred to by Willem van Wyk of Papkuilsfontein farm, Nieuwoudtville, as unnatural monoculture. The people of Namaqualand are almost without fail friendly, helpful and very proud of their floral heritage. I think we are all familiar with their typical accents, but I found their pronunciation of Nieuwoudtville as Nie-oud-ville, without the w, particularly amusing. Also of amusement was the recollection of this interchange at Leliesfontein- “nay meneer, die blommetjies hulle slaap as die son weg is.” At the kiosk at the entrance to the Hantam reserve I had to ask the attendant to repeat his words 4 times, but stadiger, as it was impossible to immediately understand his rapid fire, slightly breathless directions delivered via a gap in his front teeth.

    The geophytes (bulbs, corms, rhizomes or tubers) usually flower a little later and are possibly better seen during late August to mid September in most years. These are the flowers for the connoisseur and are most prominent in the Nieuwoudtville area, proudly claiming credit as the bulb capital of the world. The variety and density is astonishing as I hope my newfound interest in photography can illustrate. To see these best you need to get out of your vehicle and explore by scrambling around, often on your hands and knees. It is sobering to think that it is these gladioli, ixias, sparaxis, lilies, irisis and freesias that have been hybridised and exploited so successfully commercially by overseas countries like the Netherlands.

    The various succulents or vygies are the other group that attract immediate attention with their brilliantly coloured flowers, often in masses. These obviously are able to thrive in the harshest of environments and are most prominent in the high lying rocky areas and also along the sandveld of the coast. A degree in geology is needed to understand all the different soil types and how they influence the flowers. Words such as knersveld, hantam, dolerite, bokkeveld and renosterveld are thrown around with gay abandon.

    When then is the best time to go? Truly a million dollar question. It will vary depending on who you ask and where you are. Beware that many with the best of intentions, will tell you either that you are a little too early or late, or that you should have seen the flowers the previous year. After milking the locals for opinions all over Namaqualand, I would choose for my next trip, either the last 2 weeks in August or the last week in August with the first week in September. Unfortunately to stay at some of the prize destinations such as Papkuilsfontein or the Skilpad chalets in the Namaqualand National Park, one literally has to book a year in advance to secure accommodation over the peak flower period. It is always possible to find somewhere to stay at shorter notice but this may require a longer drive to reach the best flower viewing areas. I think the areas around Niewoudtville are not to be missed, particularly staying at Papkuilsfontein. I would also have loved to have stayed in the Skilpad Park’s Board chalets. I would base a future trip on these 2 bookings, as there are plenty of places to stay in the other areas we visited. It appears that 2013 has been an excellent year for the flowers with the persistent rains providing the potential for an exceptionally long season into late September. Certainly we were a little early for the best of the bulbs at Nieuwoudtville, nonetheless a highlight, but this simply means another visit in a few years time in early September! I would certainly advise visiting at least 3 or 4 areas to take advantage of the full kaleidoscope of flowers. I am afraid to say that those Capetonians who think they have fully experienced the flowers after a day trip to the West Coast National Park at Langebaan are missing the boat a little.


    ACCOMMODATION.

    UPINGTON: Affinity Guest House
    One night.
    CONTACT, Email affinity@lantic.net
    Phone 054 3312101 or 082 452 0406
    WEB www.affinityguesthouse.co.za
    DIRECTIONS, 4 Budler street, GPS S 28 27,400 E 21 15,025
    COST, R370pp B+B.
    Modern B+B, right on the banks of the GariepRiver. Lovely balconies and patios overlooking the river. Secure off road parking.



    SPRINGBOK: Naries Namakwa Retreat.
    Two nights.

    CONTACT, Email reservations@naries.co.za
    Phone Rhona at 0861991118
    Fax +27(0)21 930 4574
    WEB, http://www.naries.co.za/
    DIRECTIONS, from the centre of Springbok (opposite the police station) turn west on the signposted road to Kleinzee. Lies 27km from Springbok. Reasonable tarred road. GPS S 29 42 8,46 E 17 39 57,60
    COST, relatively expensive but included excellent 3 course dinner and breakfast, R1590 pppd.
    We splashed out and spoilt ourselves by staying in the mountain chalets, very luxurious and private with fantastic views. Best illustrated in the photos. Fully electrified, fantastic bath and showers. Each suite is equipped with a tea and coffee station, a heater and electric blankets and a well stocked bar fridge. In more clement weather I am sure that the wooden deck with its magnificent view would be put to good use.
    There are also 2 large self catering family cottages and also en suite bedrooms in the original farm house, with meals as above.


    KAMMIESKROON: No-Heep Farm Accommodation: Kliphuis.
    Three nights.

    CONTACT, Email verbenoheep@gmail.com
    Phone 027 6721772
    Fax 086 245 4484
    You need to book well in advance over the flower season.
    Owners: Pieter and Verencia Benade (They also own the Verbeno caravan park in Kammieskroon)
    WEB,http://www.openafrica.org/participant/No-Heep-Farm-Accommodation
    DIRECTIONS, No-Heep farm turnoff is 14km from Kammieskroon on the N7 heading towards Springbok. Turn east on a dirt road, sign posted Arakoop/No-Heep. It lies 8km down this farm road. The main farmhouse where you check in, is on your left and the cottages are on your right.
    COST, R750 for the cottage for 2 per night.
    We stayed in the only 2 person self catering cottage Kliphuis. There are 4 other farmhouse style cottages accommodating between 3 to 9 people nearby. They have no electricity and paraffin lamps and candles are supplied. There is a gas geezer and cooking is on gas with a gas fridge/freezer. The kitchen is fully equipped. There is a very handy fireplace and wood is for sale. There is an outside braai and the other cottages have indoor braais. I think the photos tell the story but we found Kliphuis very comfortable indeed with the unique atmosphere provided only by flickering lamps and candles. It was very cold here and the lovely fireplace added to the atmosphere. The old fashioned stone cottage was surrounded by flowers and farmland and the silence was only broken by the bleating of sheep. Pieter and Varencia are very hospitable and we were very happy to follow their advice on suitable trips to explore the surrounding area.


    NIEUWOUDTVILLE: Papkuilsfontein Farm: Rondekraal cottage.
    Four nights.

    CONTACT, Email info@papkuilsfontein.com
    Phone 027 2181246
    Fax 086 573 1246
    Bookings will need to be almost a year in advance over the peak flower season.
    Owners Willem and Mariette van Wyk. Their son runs the farm and will guide you through their 4x4 trail. Their daughter in law appears to run the restaurant. A more friendly and helpful family you will battle to find.
    WEB, http://www.papkuilsfontein.com/
    DIRECTIONS, from Niewoudtville continue south down the main road onto a dirt road. Pass signs to the Hantam Nature Reserve and Matjiesfontein. There is a farm sign on the right after 22km, Papkuilsfontein, which lies 1km down this turnoff. GPS S31 33.548 E19 10.978. In the wet season this road is fairly slippery and you need to take it slowly.
    COST, R870 for the cottage per night (2 people). No credit card facilities as was the case with almost all the other places we stayed.
    Three course dinner delivered to the cottage, R230pp. Tour of the farm and flowers with Willem R320 for two.
    Rondekraal self catering cottage, built of stone, lies about 2km from the main farmhouse and the Waenhuis restaurant. Nearby, but out of sight, are the other 2 slightly larger stone cottages, De Hoop (4 people) and Gert se Boom (6 people). They have no electricity but are very well equipped with paraffin lamps and candles. Cooking is on gas, as is the geyser and fridge/freezer. There is a large fire place and outside braai. These stone cottages are a class act and are fully equipped for self catering. At Rondekraal the shower is outside which was initially a little daunting with the very cold weather, but there is a bath indoors. Rondekraal is an open plan 2 person cottage and is nice and roomy. It is situated in amongst the flowers and at the time of our visit was completely surrounded by flowers. This is really the most beautiful and tranquil setting you can imagine and was probably the accommodation we liked the most.


    CLANWILLIAM: CEDARBERG: BIEDOUWVALLEY: Biedouw valley farm, cottage.
    Three nights.

    CONTACT, Phone 027 4822837-afternoons.
    Email, none.
    Owners, Bertus and Rica van der Merwe.
    DIRECTIONS, after exiting the N7 for Clanwilliam continue straight through the edge of the town on the R364 to the Pakhuis Pass. Pass Traveller’s Rest and Bushman’skloof and then turn right after 33km on the dirt road signposted Biedouw Valley and Wuppertal. After 14km via Hoek se Berg, turn left at the sign for Uitspanskraal into the Biedouw Valley and continue for 6km. Right would have taken you to Wuppertal. The Biedouw Farm is signposted on the left and you check in here. The farmhouse cottage you stay in is actually about 1km further back on this same road, but on the opposite side of the road and is fronted by a citrus orchard.
    COST, R200 pppn.
    This refurbished prefab farm house is comfortably appointed and very private. It is fully electrified and has all you will need for self catering. It has 3 double bedrooms, a separate lounge and kitchen. The only possible drawback is that there is no shower. However the hot baths were enjoyed by all with the cold weather we were experiencing. Unfortunately there is also no fireplace. There are braai facilities and you can help yourself to the delicious fruit from the citrus orchard.
    We ended up here after Enjo Nature Farm had made a mess of our bookings secured some 7 months before. The owner of Enjo was most apologetic and took the trouble to secure a booking with their neighbours at no extra cost to ourselves. This turned out to be most fortuitous as my sister Safron and her husband Michael Gluckman were able to make use of this extra accommodation to join us for a long weekend. As far as I could see Enjo and Biedouw farm provide the only accommodation in the centre of the Biedouw valley which is definitely the place to be for the flowers. We had a look around Enjo and their rustic chalets set right on the Biedouw river seemed most attractive. They also have some camp sites.


    PATERNOSTER: ZulaBeach House.
    Three nights.

    CONTACT, Toni Shina.
    Email toni@backpackers.co.za
    I have no further details as the original bookings were done via Safarinow, although we had some further communication from Mariet on 072 173 3556.
    DIRECTIONS, As you enter Paternoster, at the first stop street (4 way), continue straight and take the last road right to Langstrand. Zula Beach Cottage is well sign posted on the left hand side. It is an annexe to a larger beach house, also for hire, but is private enough.
    COSTS, R625 for 2 per night.
    There seems to be a large number of guesthouses and self catering accommodation available and vacant at this time of the year in the beachfront areas of central and northern Paternoster. I guess they fill up over the holidays. I doubt if booking long in advance is necessary over flower time. Zula is situated in the area of Paternoster known as Mosselbank and there was accommodation available all around us. This small but spacious open plan luxury cottage for 2 is situated right on the seafront, the closest building to the adjacent Langstrand beach, a very nice quiet area. Any of the surrounding accommodation would do just as well. A small kitchenette is present with all you will need for self catering. In Paternoster it appears that no outside braai fires are allowed (probably because of all the thatch), but a gas Weber is provided. However with the plethora of restaurants in Paternoster I doubt if these facilities are used for much other than breakfasts. Petty crime seems to have become a problem even in this small town.

    As you can see we spent a generous 16 days exploring the flower areas and the West Coast from north to south and from the mountains to the coast. Highly recommended indeed! We particularly enjoyed staying in the stone cottages on the farms with their fireplaces and lighting with candles and paraffin lamps.
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 08:18 AM. Reason: corrections
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  2. #2
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    Default Upington and Springbok

    UPINGTON and SPRINGBOK:

    UPINGTON – 1 night
    A marathon first day’s driving from East London via the Great Karoo towns of Hanover and De Aar. This 998km trip took us 11 hours. Far fewer stop/gos on the N10 compared to February this year.


    SPRINGBOK: - 2 nights

    I was keen to view the flowers over the whole of the Northwest Cape and West Coast and was particularly keen to travel from north to south to take advantage of the north facing sun and therefore to largely drive with the flowers facing us. The disadvantage was that the flowers in the north had not quite peaked yet although they were already parading themselves appreciably. I had been unable to obtain bookings at Papkuilsfontein, Nieuwoudtsville for late August or early September and had to build my carefully researched destinations around my Papkuilsfontein booking in mid August. As things turned out, in many areas the flower season was apparently a little early, so I don’t think we missed out too much under the circumstances. But not having done the flowers before I have no real yardstick to measure from. We were disadvantaged early in the trip by very cold conditions and a series of 4 cold fronts.

    Although I was fortunate to be able to allow quite a number of days at each destination, we were unable to find time to visit all of the local attractions. In Springbok for instance we had to shelve plans to visit places like Kleinzee (now deregulated) via the Spektakelberg pass and the northern coastal towns like Port Nolloth and the shipwrecks. I was also not able to get to Steinkopf, Eksteenfontein and Kuboes, the areas closer to the Richtersveld.

    The short, leisurely drive of 380km from Upington to Springbok along the N14 took just short of 4 hours. The first section of road to Keimoes was under repair but the rest of the N14 was brand new. Intermittent patches of yellow, orange and white daisies decorated the road verges but the cold, mainly cloudy conditions meant that few of the flowers were fully open. We were in time to have lunch at a small country style eatery named Melkboschskuil on the Springbok main road. They serve simple, honest country fare for breakfasts and lunch and the small menu included curried mince on toast, kaaings, roosterbrood and bean soup with fresh homemade bread. We settled on the soup at the ridiculously low price of R20.00.

    We settled on the relatively expensive Namakwa Mountain Suites at Naries Namakwa Retreat because of their luxury and relative isolation and were very impressed. There are 3 altogether and are generously spaced for privacy, about 1km from the main accommodation. These are completely thatched domes built into the large boulders on the edge of the escarpment of the Spektakelberg mountains. As expected, the view especially at sunset, was spectacular. These domes are designed to mimic the matjieshuisies of the indigenous Namas and are unique and very luxurious. When I learned that they had been developed by the same guy who had developed the chalets at Eagles Nest at Klein Aus Vista in southern Namibia, I was not surprised. Here too, he incorporates the large boulders into the walls of the thatched dome.

    Naries is a large property of 6,000 hectares of land. It is a privately owned reserve and we did see a few gemsbok. The Cape Leopard Trust has a motion sensor camera here and have been able to pick up the regular presence of leopards. There had been plenty of rain and the usually arid environment was looking pretty lush as was the case throughout the trip. Widely scattered flowers of an astonishingly wide variety were in bloom. These were best seen on foot wandering along the various hiking trails on the property. This area is best known for its flowering vygies (succulents) and these were just starting to come into flower. Visitors following us over the succeeding weeks must have had a real treat. There is also a short drive on the property to 2 view sites, facing east and west, giving a fantastic vista from the heights.

    On our first full day we decided to visit the Goegap Nature Reserve 15km south east of Springbok. This is a 15,000 hectare reserve consisting of valleys dotted with varying amounts of flowers with surrounding rocky outcrops and the mountains of the Carolusberg. We first visited the Springbok Information Centre on the main road, on the Cape Town side and they were very helpful.

    Goegap is definitely a must. It is approached from Springbok by driving north along the main road and then turning right at the signs to the airport and Goegap itself. There were flowers carpeting the plains on either side of the entrance road with orange arctotis, purple felicias and yellow daisies predominating. At the entrance gate we paid a R30 entrance fee, this entitles you to drive the tourist route of 13km on a good road. We elected to pay the R60 to drive the extensive 4x4 route of 60km. These one way single track 4x4 routes are fairly rough with some interesting ascents and descents but are no test for a 4x4 with decent clearance. You are handed a detailed map at the entrance gate. We were advised to do the Witsand route if flowers were our main interest and that the Ja-leegte route was better if animal viewing was a priority. If you want to stop frequently and walk about to take photographs it is probably not possible to cover all the routes on a single visit. Especially as the Hester Malan Wildflower Garden at the admin office just within the park, is worth spending some time exploring. The emphasis here is on succulents and there are rock gardens displaying the wide array of these present in the park. There are many photographic opportunities here. There are hiking and biking trails and guided tours available, as well as picnic and braai facilities.

    Our 30km drive was thoroughly enjoyable and very rewarding as far as the terrain and also the flowers were concerned. It took us about 3 hours with frequent stops for exploration and photos. It was evident that although there were splashes of flowers around every corner, the succulents were only starting to bloom fully. There are plenty of quiver trees and we saw quite a few gemsbok and springbok.

    On the suggestion of the Springbok Information Centre we then drove to the small villages of Okiep and Concordia where fallow fields were carpeted with orange daisies. This was the first time (but certainly not the last) that we had seen this type of en masse flower effect and we were very impressed. All in all, a very satisfactory start to our trip.
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 11:09 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  3. #3
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    Default kAMMIESKROON

    KAMMIESKROON- 3 nights

    We decided to visit the Skilpad section of the Namakwa National Park on the morning we moved out of Naries, as Kammieskroon is only 78km from Springbok. We had time on our hands and there was some decent sunshine about. We had heard that the flowers were superb and this was indeed the case, making Skilpad one of the many highlights of our trip.

    The quantity of flowers on the road verges was increasing as we drove south on the N7. From Kammieskroon we took the direct dirt road to the Skilpad section. This road leaves the northern part of town just beyond the Kammieskroon Hotel and is reasonably well sign posted. The confusing part is that this road heads due north on the wrong (eastern) side parallel to the N7, before dipping under the N7 and heading westward in the right direction. The 27km of this road was in reasonably good condition and plenty of saloon cars were driving on the dirt roads in and around Skilpad. The entrance fee was R15 pp. We also paid the R60 per vehicle in case we ended up wanting to do the extensive 4x4 network of routes within the park, right down to and along the coast. We ended up never doing any of these specific routes but spoke to people earlier that day who said that there were not many flowers there yet. We will have to explore the Namakwa National Park more extensively when we next visit. The office at the entrance is well organised and they had an extensive range of pamphlets and even a detailed map for the 4x4 Caracal Route. There are 2 shortish walking trails, Skilpad (4km) and Korhaan (6km), which I would advise doing if so inclined and we will do so next time.

    We slowly drove our way around the short (?5km) Skilpad circular drive with frequent stops to examine the flowers at close quarters and to take photographs. We had obviously seen photographs of fields densely packed with Namakwa daisies but nothing can prepare one for the shear visual impact of daisies filling every square inch with brilliant orange, even to over the horizon. We felt so privileged to be able to drink in this natural wonder. It appears that what we witnessed is about as good as you get at Skilpad. One needs to be grateful for each sunny day in this part of the country at this time of the year. These flowers grow on the previously tilled fields from the time when Skilpad was still a farm, hence the monoculture.

    For lunch we stopped at the park’s Skilpad Padstal. Good solid fare, I had lamb tomato bredie and Anne had a roosterkoek, cheese and homemade jam. Although we could not drive to the self catering cottages at Skilpad, these come very highly commended and certainly one can hardly beat the setting. Next time!

    By mid afternoon we had driven to our new cottage, the Kliphuis at No-Heep farm and were welcomed and shown around by the very hospitable Verencia Benade. This very quaint 2 roomed stone cottage has its back to the other 3 cottages and enjoyed an untrammelled view of the farm and flowers to the west. There were fields of yellow flowers around the cottage, very impressive, although our hostess expressed some disappointment as she felt that the repeated cold weather and cold winds had held back the flowers somewhat. The cottage is well, but not luxuriously appointed, with a simple layout of 2 rooms. One is a large bedroom with a large double bed and a single bed and an en-suite toilet and shower. The other room is an open plan kitchen/dining room/lounge with an essential fireplace. A very retero homely atmosphere with the open log fire and paraffin lamps for light at night.

    Verencia was pleased that we had already visited Skilpad, which she felt was the current highlight in the area. She further recommended 2 day trips in the Garies area a little further south, westwards towards the coast, which she felt were scenic and had reasonably good flower shows at that time. She felt we were a little early for the flowers in the very impressive mountains to the east.

    The following morning dawned clear but cold. We set off at a leisurely time as until about 10H00 the flowers sleep. We settled on one of the 2 routes Varencia suggested to the south and then to the coast. Driving to Garies, the 48km on the N7 were pretty picturesque with the greenery from the rains and clumps of yellow, orange and purple flowers on the road verges. There were minimal flowers in the veld. Garies is a typical Namaqualand small town and we reached our turnoff from the N7 to Hondeklip Baai and the coast 5km from Garies. The turnoff was well sign posted Hondeklipbaai/Koingnaas and was reached 25min from Kammieskroon, such quaint Nama names! This dirt road via the nondescript Wallekraal was in good nick and it took us 1hr 20min to travel this 82km section. There were not many flowers to see on the way down to the coast.

    Hondeklip Baai is a very small coastal fishing and mining centre named after a dog-shaped rock in the village. The unrehabilitated mining areas were a scar on the landscape. We had a look at the small fishing harbour with its picturesque small boats on the beach. There seemed to be a fair number of self catering cottages available and a few small country restaurants/coffee shops. There was a single small shop. The west coast has always lacked some appeal for me from the 15 years I spent living in Cape Town. It appears stark, cold and wind blasted with a very cold ocean. There is certainly none of the subtropical vegetation and feel that the east coast brings. But it does have its own appeal with plenty of crayfish and other seafood and the locals certainly add plenty of colour to this rather drab coast, as do the flowers at this time of year. We took a drive on the short coastal road to the south to the wreck of the Aristea. This drive was far more interesting and the flowers were now starting to come into their own with the iridescent colours of the vygie flowers standing out particularly. For the first time we saw masses of white daisies, a change from the yellows and oranges we had been seeing. The wreck of the Aristea is interesting and the rusting hulk of this large fishing boat/minesweeper high up on the rocks certainly is worth seeing and is very photogenic.

    As suggested by Varencia we took a slightly different route home, turning left, towards the north, at a junction in the road at the area on the map designated the name of Wallenskraal. The signpost here indicates Kammieskroon. This dirt road skirts the National Park and we were rewarded with a showing of orange daisies almost approaching that of Skilpad. It was amazing to see isolated farm houses and farmyards standing as if islands amongst the flowers. This round trip was 259km and involved about 5 hours of driving time including stops.

    Our last full day at Kammieskroon dawned very cold and rainy as another cold front moved in. We were at a bit of a loss as to how we could occupy ourselves until we went to buy more firewood from Pieter Benade at the main farmhouse. He suggested a trip to the east into the mountains for lunch at a “nearby” tea garden and then to continue into the mountains on a circular route ending up at Garies and the N7. He did warn me that the narrow farm roads would be slippery in the rain and that there were some steep passes, but nothing that should trouble my Land Cruiser. This worried me! What worried Anne was his mention of the fact that there were plenty of farm gates that would have to be opened in the rain.

    In any event we did not do this complete route because of the rainy and muddy conditions, but I include his description of it as it seems that it would be a very rewarding round trip into these very isolated mountain areas. He describes a route heading north on the road passing No-Heep farm until one reaches the turnoff to the right (south) to our lunch destination, sign posted prominently as Taaiboskraal Teetuin en Boskampe. This turnoff is 4km from No-Heep farm and thus 12km from the N7. Here it turns into a two track road heading ever deeper into the magnificent mountains. Taaiboskraal Teetuin lies a long 14km down this turnoff with regular farm gates to open and an increasingly slippery road with the persistent rain. This is as far as we went because of the conditions but I include his suggested route for interest’s sake. It certainly is beautiful countryside with the deep valleys and passes through the mountains impressively clad with massive boulders. Be careful of oncoming traffic as there is often not enough room for 2 vehicles to pass each other and plenty of blind rises.

    One continues on the road heading east past Taaiboskraal until you reach a T-junction. Here you take the right hand turn south, sign posted Leliesfontein. Have a look around Leliesfontein and then continue through the town to a T-junction. Here take a right (west) turn, sign posted Garies. Proceed on this road to Garies and the N7 via the apparently picturesque Studer Pass. This is certainly a route that I will save for the future as the first part that we drove was certainly quite special. This route definitely needs a high clearance vehicle. To Taaiboskraal was about 1 hour of careful driving with 7 gates to open. I would imagine the whole route as described above would take at least 3 to 4 hours of driving without any stopovers. Some flowers were definitely present but their true presence was impossible to assess in the cold rainy conditions. Apparently they can be memorable but being so high and cold one would expect them to be at their best in late August, early September.

    We had lunch at Taaiboskraal, Pieter having phoned ahead to warn them to expect us. It was still raining and freezing cold and we arrived to a warm welcome by the farmer’s wife to find that a large group of freezing and sopnat lady hikers and their guide had preceded us. They were wrapped in blankets and we followed their example by starting with some heart warming bean soup and fresh farm bread. We could not resist proceeding further on the absolutely classical lunch menu. This included typical sheep farm delicacies such as tripe, gebakte skaapskop, kaiings (sheep crackling?), baked sheep tail and lamb stew. Having grown up in sheep farming country we could not resist the sheep tails, although limiting ourselves to the starter portion of 5 beautifully cooked and crumbed crispy sheep tails. Some of you in the know will be salivating.

    Taaiboskraal has attracted my interest for the future and particularly their bush camp so far into the mountains is a prospect. Have a look at their website at www.taaiboskraal.co.za. All their details are on the website. It would certainly be appropriate for fine tuning as a stopover from the Cape, en route on a Namibian bush trip.
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 08:29 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    East London
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    Default Niewoudtville

    NIEUWOUDTVILLE - 4 nights

    Unfortunately our stay here was adversely affected by a series of cold fronts moving in, with only scattered periods of sunshine. Our 4 night stay at Papkuilsfontein was undoubtedly the potential absolute highlight of our trip. As it was, this district impressed me tremendously and even despite the bad weather it was the most interesting destination. Fortunately this is bulb country and the visibility of their flowers is less affected by the lack of warmth and sunlight.

    We decided to drive from Kammieskroon to Nieuwoudtville using the back roads for part of the route. On the N7 just before Bitterfontein we turned left (north east) on the R358. After 64km turned right (south) on the R355 for 76km before striking the R357. Here we turned left (east) on the tar for the 10km to Loeriesfontein which was one of the towns we wanted to visit. These dirt roads were wide and in good condition and we were able to travel at a comfortable 80km/hr. I must confess that the change in environment did not produce the flower viewing we had hoped for. I think this area is mainly succulent Karoo and there were certainly lots of vygies, but only a few were in flower. I am sure this would have improved substantially over the following couple of weeks.

    Loeriesfontein is certainly worth a visit and it a very quaint little town. The poorer neighbourhoods were plastered with orange daisies and there were signs in the town directing one to these flowers. The images of sports fields and the cemetery smothered with flowers were particularly appealing. The little township cottages were likewise surrounded by daisies. We spent some time at the windmill museum and I enjoyed the photographic opportunities here. Adjacent is the small town museum. A visit here is a trip back in nostalgia for the lifestyle and traditions of the small platteland towns of yesteryear.

    The R357 to Nieuwoudtville is tarred and passes the much touted Kokerboom forest and the waterfall. However by now it was raining steadily and we elected to drive on to our accommodation at Papkuilsfontein farm, Nieuwoudtville. A pity as we did not return to view these tourist attractions.

    Nie–oud-ville is a slightly more substantial town that seems to derive much of its income from seasonal flower tourism. Just out of town there is the substantial indigenous bulb nursery which is sign posted. The route to Papkuilsfontein involves turning left along the main road and exiting town on a dirt road known as the Oorlogkloof Road. The town itself has plenty of self catering cottages, guesthouses and a few restaurants. These all seemed attractive. The road to Papkuilsfontein was very wet and slippery in places. You could see that the people in their hired small saloon cars were driving very nervously indeed. My vehicle acquired a layer of mud which provided it with a very fitting rugged look for the rest of the trip.

    You drive past the turnoff to the Hantam National Botanical Garden about 4km out of town. This reserve was the farm Glenlyon famous for its flowers. The owner Neil MacGregor very generously transferred ownership in 2007 to the South African National Biodiversity Institute, a statutory body, which manages all our 9 National Botanical Gardens. Here you can do walking tours of this previous farmed land and there is also a guided tour in an old Bedford bus which apparently is not to be missed and requires booking. It leaves at 14H00 daily during the flower season in August, Sept and Oct. There are also picnic spots and there are 9 walking trails ranging from 450m to 8km, most of them are about 3 to 4km long. These walks are designed to take you through the varying habitats of this outstanding Botanical reserve and will demonstrate the astonishing biodiversity of this area around Nieuwoudtville. No self driving is allowed here.

    We eventually visited here 2 days later. As I will relate we had a series of cold fronts during our stay in this area, resulting in frequent showers, certainly not conducive to even short hikes as most of the flowers were closed and the paths had turned into slush. Even the Bedford bus trip was cancelled during our time here. There is a small entrance fee to pay at the gate and we were at least able to get a sense of what this iconic reserve was about. Here I was able to see and photograph the very rare red version of the cat’s tail flower (Bulbinella species), there being a potted specimen of this bulb at the office of the reserve. That we were not able to explore the Hantam garden reserve was really a major disappointment to me but is yet another reason for a repeat trip in the future.

    Along this road you also pass Matjiesfontein padstal, restuarant and farm. This farm is also famous for its flowers and has a flower route that can be self driven as well as a guided tour on a trailer towed by a farm tractor. The Oorlogkloof Nature Reserve in this vicinity offers extensive hiking trails. One also passes the turnoff to the glacial pavement, a series of rock slabs showing the deep ridges gouged out by glaciers during the ice age. Sadly these were all features we missed out on.

    Later this road becomes known as the Moedverloorpad, probably because of its treacherous condition during the winter rains. The flowers and their diversity along the road were a real eye opener despite the atrocious weather. Here we saw our first cat’s tail flowers, both the common yellow variety and also some white ones. Fourteen km after Nieuwoudtville you pass De Lande guest house also belonging to the owners of Papkuilsfontein. This is a B+B but there is self catering here for 4 people in the form of Jan Voorman se Sinkhuis. Papkuilsfontein is only 8km further and its turnoff is very well sign posted.

    We were now seeing fantastic flowers along the road verges and in the surrounding fields, this despite the cold and partly cloudy conditions. The predominant colour here was a buttery yellow as opposed to the orange further north. Many more white flowers were present too.

    The Waenhuis is just inside the entrance to Papkuilsfontein and serves as an office, little shop and then a large restaurant open to the public. From here it was only about a 2km drive to our self catering stone cottage for 2, Rondekraal. On the way to the cottage and almost completely surrounding it, were large massed fields of the wonderfully tall yellow cat’s tails. Really a gob smacking display of natural beauty. Photography can hardly do justice to the scale of these beautiful flowers.

    During our first night another cold front moved in but we were very snug with logs burning in our fireplace and lovely down duvets. The lighting again was in the form of candles and paraffin lamps lending a very nostalgic atmosphere. We had a very quiet relaxing day. With the rain coming down steadily and an icy wind there was not much opportunity for outdoor activities. We bought more wood at the Waenhuis at R20 per bag and kept the fire going much of the day. During the breaks in the rain I spent my time scrambling amongst the flowers around Rondekraal trying my hand at macro photography in the soft light. We later took a slow drive to Nieuwoudtville. On the advice of Mariette and Adri van Wyk we went to have a look at the historic church and had coffee and lovely fresh pancakes at the church hall bazaar. The old fashioned homemade items on sale at the bazaar made Anne remark that she felt she was in a time warp, what with crocheted doilies and knitted bedsocks. On the way back stopped at the 2 or 3 padstalle for Anne to browse and shop.

    We stopped off at the Waenhuis restaurant at the farm for lunch. This renovated barn is very attractively set up with a large log fire. We indulged in some very tasty lamb pies. The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent around the fireplace at Rondekraal. I was able to download and edit my photographs on my laptop. We spent our time talking and relaxing around the fire as well as reading our Kindles (a great space saver for travellers). These are all things that we share together far too seldom. The peace and quiet were all pervasive and just what I needed. As with most of our accommodation, there was no cell phone reception and no TV sets.

    The following morning we went for the wonderful 3 hour drive and walk with Willem van Wyk, which we had booked. He drives you through the farm and you get out of the vehicle frequently to explore certain habitats and examine the various flower varieties. Willem’s knowledge of the geology, vegetation types and of the various species of flowering plants is encyclopaedic. His love for and pride in his farm shines through. We visited the Oorlogkloof canyon on the farm with its very impressive waterfall. He was also able to show us some very unusual and interesting bushman paintings. If you are staying here please be sure not to miss out on this tour and it was worth every cent of the R320 it cost us for this private tour. The weather had improved a lot with reasonable spells of sunlight. Many of the flowers had opened and not only were there splendid massed displays but the wide variety of individual blooms that Willem was able to show us was astounding.

    I think it is appropriate to illustrate some of the pertinent facts about the flowers and the different geological habitats that Willem shared with us. He felt we were still a little early for the best of the bulbs but that our timing was great for the mass displays. The wild flowers here are sensational even by Namaqualand standards. On this farm and area of the Nieuwoudtville district, 3 vegetation types and their underlying geology converge. Here Renosterveld, Succulent Karoo and Doleritic soils all occur with their respective flower species. This lends the area to have large numbers of endemic and red data flower species. This area is known as the Bokkeveld plateau and here Cape Fynbos meets the Hantam Karoo, Bushmanland and the Knersvlakte. It is apparently not unusual to find up to 50 different flowering plant species in 1 square metre, not all flowering at once of course. This is why Nieuwoudtville has become a mecca for botanists and flower lovers from all over the world. The density of the geophytes is such that 1 spadeful may easily contain more than 100 bulbs and corms. Willem also explained that the porcupines and their frequent diggings for bulbs, that he was able to show us, have a positive effect on the bulbs. When digging for bulbs to eat, the porcupines spread the smaller bulbs of vegetative reproduction and help to propagate these bulb species.

    There are at least 6 flower routes to explore in the Nieuwoudtville area; Hantam National Botanical Garden, Matjiesfontein Flower Route, Papkuilsfontein Public Drive, The Rondekop/Narcissie route and Trekpad. Information on all of these can be obtained from the local information centre at the church hall. Here you can also find out about the many coffee shops and restaurants in the area.

    That night we had booked the 3 course dinner which is delivered to your cottage. The table was set for us and we ate under the candlelight they arranged. This was a real treat and well worth the R230 pp. The fare included butternut soup, roast mutton, rice and gravy as well as bobotie with home made chutney and quince preserve. Caramelised sweet potato and courgettes made up the veggies as well as a French salad. The dessert was a deliciously rich chocolate torte. This was gross over catering in true South African tradition.

    Yet another cold front moved in during our final day here. I guess this bodes well for those visitors following us and will lead to a more prolonged flower season. It was still clear enough for us to explore the farm by vehicle that morning. We retraced the drive to the waterfall with Willem’s blessing. It was good to alight from the vehicle and explore at one’s own whim. We also covered the public flower circuit for the first time and were once again blown away by nature at its most resplendent. We had planned a bus tour at the Hantam reserve but by now the rain had set in and they cancelled the drive. We visited this reserve in any case just to have a look-see.

    Papskuilsfontein also has a 4x4 route, graded 3 to 4 and usually will need to be guided. There are also a few campsites with a boma, flush toilets and gas heated showers, in the public section of the farm. This site looks good but was empty and very unappealing in the rainy cold conditions. There are also hiking routes which appear to be very attractive. A map of the driving routes and hiking trails is supplied when you check in.

    DO NOT TAKE A TRIP TO SEE THE FLOWERS WITHOUT CENTERING IT AROUND THE NIEUWOUDTVILLE DISTRICT!!
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 08:37 AM. Reason: Pictures
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    East London
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    Default Biedouw valley

    CLANWILLIAM, BIEDOUW VALLEYAND THE CEDARBERG: - 3 nights

    After Nieuwoudtville this was the second high point of our trip. The cold fronts had largely passed and the flowers had peaked, unabashedly parading their glory. The locals felt that this was the most exuberant flower season in the Biedouw for a number of years. This was just as well as Anne and I were heading for cabin fever. At this time we were also joined by my little sister Safron and her husband Michael Gluckman. They were a joy to share this experience with, as they always approach things with unbridled enthusiasm. By now we also needed the company. Many couples have remarked that they could not head off into the wilds with only their spouses for company for the length of time that Anne and I do. We do not find this exceptional at all and we are completely comfortable with each others company. At this time we bumped into some old friends of ours, the Johnstone’s from home and it was great to entertain them for a braai on our second night.

    We drove to Clanwilliam on the R27 initially via Vanrhynsdorp. The Vanrhyns Pass was spectacular with the sharp descent from the mountains to the coastal plain. We then travelled on the N7 south via the picturesque Oliphants River valley with its vineyards. There were quite impressive patches of daisies all along the route. The drive into the Cedarberg via the R364 and the Pakhuis Pass and Bushman’s Kloof was likewise very scenic. The rugged sandstone cliffs of this part of the Cedarberg are very impressive. The detailed route into the Biedouw Valley is as described in the accommodation section of this report. We reached our destination in 5 hours for the 215km trip. However this included a stop in Clanwilliam for lunch and to buy some wood, probably about a 90min delay.

    I had considered the alternate back road route to reach Biedouw, where you take the R27 towards Calvinia, turning off to the right (south) on the R364 after 34km. You then proceed over the Botterkloof Pass to reach Doringbos, here turning left (south east) to the Biedouw Valley on the road signposted Uitspanskraal. This route is shorter but probably not quicker than the tar route. We decided to skip the scenic route because of all the rain.

    We remain most grateful to the van der Merwes of Biedouw Farm for stepping into the breach after Enjo Nature Farm had so belatedly let us down with our booking.

    From the top of Hoek se Berg we could see down into the Biedouw Valley and we had a fantastic view of the swathes of brightly coloured flowers in the valley far below. This first glimpse was an apt introduction to the brilliant flowers we were to spend the next 2 days admiring.

    The next morning dawned with fairly clear skies but still an icy wind. The wind made macro photography of the flowers difficult and until you try to photograph them, you do not realise how much they move in this sort of breeze. Our drive was up the valley on a reasonable dirt road along the Biedouw River which was in full spate. This drive was about 14km long until one could no longer ford the river at Uitspanskraal. The route necessitated fording the river in 3 places via causeways, fortunately not very deep despite the strong flow. We passed Enjo Nature Farm and I must say the main farmhouse and the cottages looked very inviting.

    Flowers were absolutely everywhere. Large carpeted areas were seen in fallow fields, but what was most impressive were the flowers dotted throughout the undisturbed bushes of the veld. The flowers were best seen on the way back with the sun behind us. The wide spectrum of colours had us spellbound. Orange, yellow, blood red, purple, various shades of blue, white, coral and the luminous colours of the vygie flowers were enough to mesmerise one. It was truly astonishing and like a patchwork quilt.

    We stopped every few hundred meters to explore on foot each time the predominant colour changed. This is the only way to truly appreciate what we had before us. Our explorations were punctuated by frequent cries of “come and look at this”. Our cameras were working full time and I will try to add captions identifying the flowers in the photographs that I will post below. In generic terms there were daisies, lilies, bulbs, vygies, flowering bushes, pelargoniums, orchids and many other flowers that I lack the knowledge to characterise. Truly one of the greatest natural wonders that I have been privileged to witness. I am confident that all of our forum members would have experienced the same sort of emotions.

    After about 3 to 4 hours of this we set off on our planned drive to visit the unique little missionary community of Wuppertal. This involves travelling about 20km along the only narrow dirt road to this historic settlement where all the land is owned by the Moravian mission church. Fortunately most of the road is sandy although there were some slippery bits with all the recent rain. One drives over the very steep Kouberg Pass where we nearly got into trouble. We noticed a small bakkie stuck in a muddy ditch on the side of the road ahead of us on one of the steepest sections. We climbed out of the vehicle to find that the road was a quagmire here and that the bakkie was stuck in the mud of the deep ditch on the side of the road. There was absolutely no prospect of towing them out without having 2 vehicles stranded. Fortunately they had friends travelling just ahead of them who could transport them home. The narrowness and steepness of the road here made turning around or reversing down the very long and steep pass too hazardous. Thus it was forward that we proceeded in low range first gear, inching our way along, playing with the revs to alternately avoid slipping into the ditch and gently accelerating out of a fish tail. Fortunately the steeper parts of the pass ahead were covered with concrete.

    The town of Wuppertal is well worth the drive with its picture perfect white cottages and imposing white gabled mission church. We were able to obtain some coffee from the little coffee shop but no food as the electricity was down after the storms. The mission was established by the German missionaries as a sanctuary for the freed slaves way back when. They still control the mission completely, for instance no members of the community may have overnight visitors without the approval of the kerk raad. Needless to say crime is virtually unheard of in Wuppertal.

    The next and last day in the valley dawned with warm sunny skies and not a breath of wind. Far and away the best weather of our trip. Fittingly it was my sisters birthday and after the opening of presents, it was another trip up the valley. The increased temperature and sunshine resulted in even better flower viewing and all the vygies on the mountainsides were now fully open, lending a purple haze to the slopes. We capitalised on the improved photographic opportunities before heading back towards Clanwilliam for a birthday lunch. Rica van der Merwe recommended the Khoisan Kitchen at Sevilla before the Pakhuis Pass, as a good venue for lunch and kindly phoned ahead to make a booking for us. Here we had fine fare in the form of a few cold ones and the most delicious venison fynvleis, which was Eland.

    On the way back we bumped into old friends of ours from East London who coincidentally were to stay at Enjo, so that we were able to drive back with them and have them over to join us for a few drinks and a braai that night. The afternoon and evening were spent walking about on the farm and enjoying the flowers.
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 08:42 AM. Reason: Pictures
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  6. #6
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    Default Paternoster

    PATERNOSTER: - 3 nights

    We wanted to spend some time on the coast on the way to Cape Town and chose Paternoster as we had never stayed there before. We were looking for a fishing village atmosphere coupled with access to good restaurants and this town fitted the bill perfectly. We also wanted to be able to see flowers in the sandveld environment along the coast. The nearby Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and the West Coast National Park ticked this requirement as well. We were not disappointed.

    My sister and Michael were in no great hurry to get to Cape Town and we drove with them, taking the coastal route rather than the national road. We first stopped to have a look at the Clanwilliam Dam, all the sluice gates were open, impressive. Then to Lambert’s Bay on the R364, where fortunately the Muisboskerm beach and seafood restaurant was open for lunch. What a feast and as we did not take the crayfish option, being already completely sated, cost only R190pp (R230 with crayfish). Fortunately it was only half full so there was no queuing for the delicious food as it came off the fires. This was real artisan fish, seafood and West Coast fare, beautifully and simply done with no fancy sauces or overspicing to kill the delicate flavours of the sea.

    The setting is obviously right on the seashore with attendant seagulls and a high protective skerm of dried brush from the local muisbos, rustic chairs and tables with a pub. The cooking fires are right before you and you can see when a newly braaied whole fish is placed on the serving table. There are no knives and forks and you scoop your food up with large mussel shells or with your fingers. The fare included paella and the following species of braaied fish; snoek, angelfish, kabeljoe, harders, tuna cutlets, fried calamari and hake and my favourite hottentot. Other dishes included curried tripe and lamb tomato stew. Veggies included caramelised sweet potato and potato wedges as well as salad. Pudding was koeksusters and guavas with moerkoffie. There was freshly baked bread and homemade jams. We ate ourselves into a coma! Highly recommended but I am unable to compare it to a similar establishment down the coast at Langebaan, the Strandloper, as I have never been there.

    We continued along the coast to Eland’s Bay where we had coffee in the quaint fishing harbour. Fairly good groups of flowers were present all along the route but nothing show stopping. We drove along the Sishen-Saldanha railway line on the old toll road and saw one of the incredibly long trains. Some flamingos were photographed in the Rocher Pan area. At Vredenberg our travelling companions turned off for Cape Town and we made our way to Paternoster.

    The following morning we drove via Langebaan to explore the West Coast National Park using the entrance gate on the southern outskirts of town and spent the whole day there. This 53km leisurely drive took us only an hour from Paternoster. Entrance fees are R48pp including a visitors map. This 30,000 hectare park includes the huge Langebaan Lagoon and sections of the adjoining coastline as well as the Postberg section (only open to the public during August and September) where the best flower showing and game viewing is found. Bird hides overlooking the sandy lagoon flats exposed at low tide are present at Seeberg, Abrahamskraal and Geelbek. We used these hides to do some bird watching and took some photos of the large numbers of flamingos.

    Other facilities include 2 picnic spots at Tsaarsbank and Kraalbaai where there is a beach for swimming. No angling is allowed in the reserve. There are also hiking and cycling trails. There is a restaurant and coffee shop at Geelbek where we had calamari and hake and chips. Accommodation in chalets and cottages is available in the park but no camping. Houseboats can also be hired. All accommodation is booked through SANParks central reservations and seemed to be a decent option.

    The flowers were almost all present in the Posberg section where the ground is sheeted with brilliant yellow, orange and white daisies. Some vygies were showing their colours but I think they would peak a little later. It was impressive to see the wild animals present right amidst the flowers. It is also impressive in that you can see flowers going right down to the seashore, as also experienced at Cape Columbine closer to Paternoster. We saw bontebok, eland, springbok, zebra, duikers and ostriches in the Posberg section. This park is well worth a visit if you are in the area and is the closest area for decent flower viewing from Cape Town. I must emphasise though that the best flower experiences lie further north.

    The following day was cold and windy with some rain and clouds, a typical West Coast winter’s day. We took the opportunity to explore the nearby Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, the lighthouse and the Tietiesbaai seaside camping area within the reserve. The entrance gate is on the southern edge of Paternoster and we paid R14 and 10 cents for entrance and a map. Ten cents, for goodness sake, only the crazy beaurocracy of a government department could dream up this entrance fee! We drove directly to the impressive lighthouse but should have taken the guided tour. There are cottages for hire here. We then drove onto the camping sites at Tietiesbaai so beloved by the west coast fans. There were no campers in the chilly, windswept and exposed camp sites of which there were many right on the sea shore. There are communal ablutions, taps and some braai stands but no electrical power points. To be fair it must be lovely here in summer--- when the southeaster is not blowing. There is an attractive drive right along the boulder encrusted seashore with interesting names like Moordbaai and Koeliebaai with occasional little beaches. Attractions included nesting comorants and flowers right down to the water’s edge.

    Just a few things about Paternoster. Although there have been lots of new housing developments here, they have managed to retain the fishing village style and character with thatched roofs, white paintwork and shutters in various shades of blue. What was a little concerning were the large number of for sale signs. I guess the tough financial climate is biting in Cape Town as well. On the drive down the west coast we had come across numerous coastal holiday cottage developments, many of which were half completed and some had ground to a halt with only the infrastructure of roads and street lights. Apparently many developers and speculators had burnt their fingers with these blots on the countryside.

    In Paternoster the original fisherman’s cottages in the centre of town are very attractive. Beware of buying crayfish from the frequent touts and the area in front of the Paternoster hotel is the approved place for this. Also be aware that you need a licence to be in possession of crayfish, this is purchased at the superette at the 4 way stop on entering town. The going price appears to be R20 to R40 for a crayfish but be careful as you can be prosecuted if they are undersized. Paternoster has a thriving restaurant culture and excellent meals can be had at the following restaurants that we sampled; Voorstrand, Noisy Oyster and Gaaitjie. Here I would strongly recommend any of the seafood dishes. I fondly recall the snoek samoosas and Malay seafood curry at Voorstrand and the whole grilled hottentot at the Noisy Oyster. There are also interesting small shops to visit, be sure not to miss the jars of pickled mussels, pickled fish and rollmops at the Paternoster se Padstal, absolutely delicious. Also visit the Winkel op Paternoster which has a large variety of local fare for sale including their own country style breads. Fresh fish and chips can be purchased at the fisherman’s market at the harbour.

    Some of our time here was spent strolling on the beach, Langstrand being on the doorstep of our cottage, photographing the sea gulls, the sunset over the sea and even a lost seal pup. Paternoster was an ideal conclusion to our trip and from what we saw is probably the West Coast destination that best served our purposes.


    Finally there are only a few great natural phenomena accessible to nature lovers. The Arctic, the Amazon jungle, the Namib Desert, the Okavango Delta, the Serengeti migration. The wild flower spectacle of Namaqualand and the West Coast is right up there with them and it is right on our doorstep. So get yourself organised and get out there and just do it!
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    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/09/01 at 08:51 AM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  7. #7
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    Baie dankie vir die verslag Thank you very much for the trip report.
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  8. #8
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    Default Paternoster

    More West Coast photos
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    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  9. #9
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    Thank for the nice report Stan ,brings back good memories.I just love the west coast.

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  10. #10
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    Very nice, thanks for the report.
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  11. #11
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    Amazing!!

    Brilliant Stan. Thank you.

  12. #12
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    Dankie Stan. Pragtige fotos.
    Elize

    en ry saam met SarelF in
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  13. #13
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    Wow Stan, that's a great report! After this a similar trip is now also on my bucket list.
    Dewald

  14. #14
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    Baie nice, dankie.
    No one ever ruined their eyesight by looking at the BRIGHT side!!
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51KljMSXOnI




  15. #15
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    Thank you all for your acknowlegement. I hope it will spur others to experience this different but wonderful trip.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  16. #16
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    Fantastic report and wonderful photos Stan. Brings back great memories of the trip we did to the Nieuwoudtville area in Sept 2008. We stayed on a farm in a little Karoo huisie called Ouma Kahn's - 2 room with gas water heating, paraffin lamps and an indoor braai plus 2 plate gas stove. Wonderful fun. Drove out each day from the town on a different route - the Matjiesfontein route, Van Rhynsdorp, Doring Baai and also in and around the town including the waterfall and the Kokerboom forest route. Phenomenal flowers and I'm certainly ready for a second trip - you have whetted the appetite!!!
    “Marry an outdoors woman. Then if you throw her out into the yard on a cold night, she can still survive.” -
W. C. Fields

  17. #17
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    Thanks for all the input, esp Stan

    We spent a day in Greyton, then the night and next day at Betty's Bay, with other in-laws. Must say something that they gave up life in Bordeaux to relocate to the Cape. He is an engineer and has some intersting things to say about workmanship in SA. But hey!, to live in a house you built yourself must be amazing

    Up coast to Paternoster. Stayed at Seekat 1, booked via stayinpaternoster.com. Highly recommended

    Via Velddrif to Clanwilliam. magic! Alto' we were late for flowers, there were still impressive patches. Saw a lot of kaputmedusa in the dunes, but some aragument about was it really that?

    In Clanwilliam, we stayed at Du Barry. Highly recommended, again

    No offroad highjinks, we hired a Chevy Spark. Can not fit 2 suitcases into boot, but uses almost no petrol. And if you hit 140kph, you get a days free rental

    Up Kranspas, wonderful fynbos. And, as twilight fell, the fragrant hyacinths opened to entice the pollinating moths
    Up Pakhuispas (all tar) next day. Marvellous again. Within about 10 metres, SWAMBO found 7 orchids
    The joy of fynbos, no need to walk, just sit down and open your eyes!

    Surprised Leipoldt's grave not on T4A? Input it, and you get directed to Lambert's Bay
    Anyway, found it on Pakhuis and sat silently reflecting upon life, 'n handvol Hantam gruis, the universe and everything . During this time several bakkies/SUVs stopped, took a pic and drove off. People had put stones on the grave. Someone had scattered someone's ashes and left the box. I thought tis would be really neat for my drill bits, but SWAMBO sed too ghoulish. I should not have listened

    Next time.
    Take a vehicle that goes on stofpaaie
    get the Slingsby maps
    Stay longer

    Wonderful week!
    Sephulamthetho (Cory Voigt)
    'The cut worm forgives the plough'

  18. #18
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    Thanks for sharing Stan.
    Good report and nice photos.
    Howard

    Nissan Murano

    VW Caddy 2LTdi

    Metalian Off Road Trailer

  19. #19
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    Cory, glad you enjoyed your trip.

    As you say next time a sturdier vehicle, so that you can go right into the Biedouw valley and on to Wuppertal. I personally would never spend any length of time with the flowers without making sure Nieuvoudtville was on my schedule.
    Last edited by Stan Weakley; 2013/10/04 at 03:37 PM.
    Landcruiser 76SW.

    “Great journeys are memorable not so much for what you saw, but for where you camped”.

    At least "Once a year go someplace you have never been before" Delai Lama.

    TransAfrica 2015/2016 blog www.slowdonkey.com

  20. #20
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    Hi Stan,

    I read, I asked around, I Googled....
    Right under my nose, by one of my favorite authors, all the information I wanted, written in the most informative and entertaining way.

    As always seeing the flowers is up high on the bucket list and this year I decided to gather all my information before the clock strikes at midnight on the 31st of December. You most certainly moved most of my puzzle pieces in place for me.

    Thank you so much for a lovely and beautifully written report!

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