Looking for flowers in the wilderness is similar to observing animals in the wild: different times of the day offer different opportunities, all equally rewarding. Like animals, flowers prefer to bask in the heat of the springtime sun, and some go as far as closing themselves up for the night only to ‘re-bloom’ in the morning light. Make sure you venture out during the middle of the day (say, after 10 a.m.) to see their colourful faces fully exposed. A useful tip to remember when admiring or photographing the flowers is to have your back to the sun. That way you’re sure of catching their good side as they turn their heads to follow the sun through the day.
If you’re deliberating over the best way to view this plethora of petals, bear in mind that extra elevation will give you a better view when facing carpets of colour, and that walking slowly though the veld allows you to see the individual plants growing in between the masses that aren’t easily spotted when driving. If you enjoy more of a challenge, hiking offers an entirely new setting for various species of flowers, ones that can grow in mountainous terrain and at higher altitudes. So choose the method that best suits your level of interest as well as fitness.
Different flower varieties grow in different areas, so what you see will depend on your chosen location. Daisies, vygies, gladioli, lachenalia, watsonia, babiana and protea are just a few plant species you can expect to see in and around Clanwilliam, the Pakhuis area and the immediate vicinity, but the main attraction is the spectacular display of the annuals – plants that seed every year, namely the Namaqua daisies and the bulbous, lily-like flowers. If it’s your first time experiencing the flowers, it might be worthwhile to invest in a flower field guidebook or visit the local tourist office for area-specific information. An important thing to remember is that if you plan on traversing the area extensively, you must obtain all the relevant permits, as there are some nature reserves that will insist on an access fee.
With the flowers comes an array of entertaining and intriguing wildlife. Various insects are associated with the blossoming fields of flowers as they play a very important role in the pollination process. More than just your typical bee or butterfly, other natural pollinators become transfixed in the fields of technicolour. Reaching far into the tubular heads of the flowers are several long-tongued moths that transport nectar during the night, and of course there’s the sugarbird, which adds a glistening charm to the colourful kaleidoscope.
Recognised as ‘ground zero’ during flower season, Clanwilliam comes alive with enthusiasm and expectation. Despite boasting several B&Bs, the town can run short of accommodation during flower season, so make sure you book in advance. The local campsite is the ideal spot to set up your tent or caravan if free-standing independence is what you’re after, though it is chilly in winter. The municipal park is fully kitted with electricity points and decent ablutions, offers visitors enough space to spread out, and is conveniently situated five minutes from town, so campers are able to enjoy the flowery festivities of the town and still savour the secluded serenity of staying on their own.