Experience the Northern Cape, South Africa

Main centres: Hondeklip Bay, Koingnaas, Noup, Kleinzee, Groenriviermond

Region: Colloquially known as Namaqualand

In spring, hordes of tourists flock to what is colloquially known as Namaqualand. The reason is the spectacular fields of wildflowers that bloom throughout this area at this time of year. The dry and dusty plains are transformed – almost overnight – from dull browns to a kaleidoscope of colour, with millions of flowers coming alive to salute the sun.

This carpet of colour stretches from the main centre of Springbok – located within the embrace of the Klein Koperberg range – all the way to the rugged coastline. There are too many travel secrets to mention within this mythical region where Nama pastoralists once roamed, but the best way to discover them is to roam along the dirt roads spider-webbing among rocky koppies and across shimmering plains.

There are dozens of action and leisure options for tourists passing through, including the Namaqua National Park, nature reserves, hidden coastal hamlets (do not miss Hondeklip Bay and Kleinzee), and some of the most remote hiking and 4x4 trails you could envision.

Things to do on the Namaqua Coastal Route

Best you invest in a generous dollop of adventurous spirit when you head into this hinterland. Many of the places in this region are featured in the book Things to do in a Dorp, and there are some not-to-be-missed gems along the way: places such as Garies, Kamieskroon, Hondeklip Bay, Koingnaas and Kleinzee, which are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Natural splendour

Outside the spring wildflower season, the expansive Namaqua National Park is pretty much an exercise in minimalism. Looking at the seemingly barren plains, the stark outcrops and dry riverbeds, you wonder what the attraction is. That is, until you step back and refocus on the minute detail embedded within the scorched tableau – microscopic bluebells, diaphanous daisies, neon-striped skinks … Once you train your eyes, the wonders come alive.

Adventure and adrenaline

Mountain bikes, hiking boots, binoculars, trail shoes, GPS, power kites, celestial scopes … you had better bring all your toys, because you will need them in this incredible outdoor arena. Hike the Silversands Trail on the edge of the icy Atlantic, or pedal among oryx within the Goegap Nature Reserve. Just get out there and clear your mind!

Culture and leisure

Stargazers, history boffins and soul searchers will all feel welcome here. Go succulent sleuthing with a botanical guide or hike the Springbok Klipkoppie for a dose of South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War) history. Visit the Blue Mine along the Kleinzee Road or see Namastat, a traditional matjies-hut village, to name but a few of the cultural attractions.

Eat and sleep

A sign on the N7 near Springbok fires a warning shot across the bows of any vegetarian travelling north: “This is Red Meat Country.” Immediately visions of slabs of rump, rolls of boerewors, cabanossi, skilpadjies (minced lamb liver wrapped in caul fat) and unapologetically fatty lamb chops come to mind. On the flipside, you will find a number of farm stalls and unique getaways such as the Naries Namakwa Retreat.

Highlights on the Namaqua Coastal Route

Namaqualand Guided Flower Tours – Namaqualand Guided Flower Tours offers authentic trips into the wilderness, exploring natural plants and their uses, as well the culture of the Nama people.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)21 886 7457 or email bookings@gocape.co.za.

Taaiboskraal Tea Garden & Bushcamps – This tea garden serves refreshments, farm-style breakfasts and light lunches with genuine Namaqualand hospitality. Activities include hiking, mountain biking and birdwatching. The campsites are situated in private, safe and unspoilt environments featuring a braai (barbecue) area and flush toilet.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)27 672 1225 / +27 (0) 82 785 7242 or email sulene.archer@gmail.com.

Kliphuis Kombuis – Come and enjoy hearty food and freshly brewed coffee with home-baked bread at Die Kliphuis Kombuis in the heart of Namaqualand. It is located just off the N7 highway in Kamieskroon. Breakfast and light lunches are served daily, while dinner must be booked in advance.

For bookings, contact +27 (0) 23 741 1870 or email kliphuisfraserburg@gmail.com.

Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve – Just 10km from Nieuwoudtville, this reserve offers a variety of spectacular scenery, with hiking trails traversing gorges, rivers, caves and plateaus. The Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve lies in the transition zone between the fynbos and Karoo biomes.

For bookings, contact +27 (0)27 218 1159 or email oorlogskloof@gmail.com.

Download the Open Africa 'Cape of many Routes' write-up below