TOP SPOTS – Escape the city for the annual West Coast flower spectacle
The annual early Spring spectacle that sees a riot of colorful indigenous flowers carpet the landscape along the Cape West Coast and inland is an event not to miss!
For those who are keen to experience this phenomenal floral abundance, the Bergrivier region – which is right on Cape Town’s doorstep – offers wonderful flower sightings in hotspots that are not as crowded as places like Posberg Nature Reserve and the Namaqua National Park.
Towns to visit that promise a blooming good time are Velddrif, Aurora, Piketberg and Porterville – all beautiful rural villages that offer a vast array of activities, eateries, and accommodation options to suit all tastes.
The town of Velddrif hugs the banks of the Berg River, a few kilometres from where the river enters the ocean. Visitors can look forward to a profusion of flowers to be enjoyed in the area, while also soaking up the welcoming lifestyle of this coastal village.
No trip to Velddrif is complete without a visit to the famous Bokkomlaan. Fringed by the Great Berg River this quaint dirt road is scattered with a cluster of historic buildings and jetties. In addition to the flower-filled scenery, visitors can expect to spot a vast array of birdlife in the Berg River estuary – rated as one of the most important birding areas in the world.
The village and nearby surrounds offer a plethora of places to stay, and visitors are spoilt for choice, but an overnight stay is highly recommended and the town is a great base from which to explore the West Coast flowers – a map of which can be collected at the Velddrif tourism offices.
Just inland from Velddrif, along a stretch of country road that promises brilliant flower sightings, lies the picturesque town of Aurora. This small village offers visitors the chance to look forward to carpets of flowers, dramatic mountain scenery, beautiful architecture, incredible night skies, and a wide variety of bird life.
Be sure to visit the impressive Dutch Reformed Church and take a drive up the mountain to the Danielshoogte Private Reserve to experience spectacular views of the valley – you can also stay here in the camping or self-catering accommodation. Another good option to stay near Aurora is the Klein Tafelberg Training and Adventure Centre, set on a picturesque private reserve. The Koekeloer @ Koffiemoer Coffee Shop in Aurora is highly recommended for hungry travellers – and on the 9th of August visitors can look forward to a flower-inspired high tea experience that is highly recommended.
Another 50km inland from Aurora will see flower-fundi’s finding their way to the town of Piketberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain range and surrounded by indigenous fynbos bearing beautiful blooms in Spring. Visitors can book and stay in a range of great accommodation options in Piketberg and travel to all the nearby flower hotspots – a map of which is available from the Piketberg tourism office.
The best way to experience the heritage of this town is by doing the Piketberg Historic Route – a tour that takes visitors to the Commercial Hotel, the old Sheriff’s Office and original police station, the original bioscope, and the Piketberg Museum. In total the route has 12 points of interest and visitors can walk, or drive to each at their leisure. To celebrate spring and the flower season, from the 23rd to the 25th of August visitors can join guided historic tours, with the option to also cycle the route on bicycles provided. The guided tour ticket also includes a welcome coffee and a voucher for soup and bread to be savoured after the tour.
The third must-visit flower hotspot on the list is Porterville, a beautiful rural village nestled on the slopes of the Olifant’s River Mountains at the base of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area – only 150 kilometres from Cape Town.
A visit to the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is a must-do for beautiful flower sightings as it is considered a vital sanctuary for the preservation of many endemic species of fynbos, some of which are threatened. Whilst in the mountains above Porterville, gin enthusiasts can enjoy a gin-tasting and tapas experience at the Ginsmith boutique distillery. For those keen to explore the town itself (after getting their fill of the stunning scenery with its spring blooms) an art experience is highly recommended as Porterville is home to a large community of artists. Visit them in their studios to view and buy a wide range of art from ceramics to paintings and jewellery.
There are a multitude of places in and around Porterville to book and stay for your flower-viewing experience. There are many great spots in the mountains such as the Pampoenfontein Guest Farm, Berghoff-Fynbos Chalets, Beaverlac, and the Cedarpeak Wilderness Area. You can also get your flower map at the Porterville tourism offices and from 14 – 18 August visitors can enjoy a free cup of coffee from here too.
These are just a few of the places to visit for this year’s flower show courtesy of mother nature. All of these towns within the Bergrivier region promise a great escape for the entire family and gorgeous flowers to be viewed.