On Friday morning, bright and early, we are off to see a miracle. Okay, it is an annual miracle and the timing is quite predictable, so by definition maybe it is not a miracle, but it probably is as close as you can get!
Let me explain…
Namaqualand is a large area of arid land, extending along the west coast of South Africa. The area encompass two biome echo regions in South Africa, called the Nama Karoo and the Succulent Karoo. Basically, the entire area is semi desert and is bounded by the Namib desert to the north, and the Cape Floral Kingdom with it’s world famous Fynbos, to the south.
At first glance, the area does not look like anything spectacular, with some extreme temperatures in summer and winter, but it certainly has its own unique beauty. The Succulent Karoo boasts to house the world’s richest flora of succulent plants, and harbours about a third of the 10 000 species of succulents in the world. And to the east you find the Nama Karoo, with more summer rainfall.
However, this is not intended to be a geology lesson, but to set the background to the annual phenomenon that happens in this region in Spring. Overnight, this arid, semi dessert region transforms into a flower wonderland, with colorful flower carpets everywhere! A kaleidoscope of flowers.
The most common are the Namakwa daisies, yellow and orange flowers that hail from this region and springs up as if from barren ground during August and September every year. But, on top of this several other species of wild flowers colours the area, including vygies and gousblomme.
I have heard of this phenomenon many times in my life, and I have seen many pictures of this wonderland, but can you believe, I have never been!
For those who don’t know, South Africa is a huge country, and from where I stay, it is more than a 1000 kilometers’ drive to get there. So we are doing a bit of a road trip. We are all brushing up on our Afrikaans, as this is also the most common language in the area (95%). I grew up Afrikaans, but are living and working in an English denominated city, so my Afrikaans is littered with English words and phrases… My girls, both in English schools, are in for a surprise… And I am taking my mom along. It has been a life-long dream of hers to see the flowers.
I am looking forward, not only to the spectacular flowers, but also to mingling with the locals, eating some fantastic Karoo dishes, and soaking up the culture in an unique and remote part of this country. A bit of a pilgrimage. A chance to stop, and smell the flowers. Literally.