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Every year come mid-August, South Africa’s West Coast comes alive in a kaleidoscope of colour. In barren national parks, along busy roads and even on remote private farms, the land burst with multicoloured carpets of flowers, in a natural spectacle that has visitors from around the world clambering to witness.
The flowers don’t hang around for long. By late September – early spring in South Africa – they typically wilt away and return to their less colourful, dormant selves, where they’ll be waiting inconspicuously for another year. Yet, nature being nature, there’s no guarantee the flowers will even appear, with factors like drought and other weather conditions potentially limiting the numbers that appear each season. When all factors align, however, it’s a colourful natural phenomenon like few others in the world.
There are several key places to visit if you want to see the best of the flowers. Close to the city, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens has several beds filled with various wildflowers, but if you want to experience them in their natural habitat – which you absolutely should – it pays to venture out of town.
Those serious about flowers make long pilgrimages to the Namaqualand, several hours from the city, while others venture into the mountainous Cederberg. Perhaps the easiest and most colourful displays are found just 90 minutes north of Cape Town, in a small section of the West Coast National Park known as Postberg. There, antelope and ostriches roam freely among the daisies, day trippers picnic and barbecue near the cool Atlantic and thousands of tourists drive the remote dirt roads absorbing the colourful annual display.