Namakwa, as part of the Succulent Karoo, is a biodiversity hotspot and as such is the only arid hotspot in the world. It contains more than 6 000 plant species, 250 species of birds, 78 species of mammals, 132 species of reptiles and amphibians and an unknown number of insects, making it the world's most diverse, arid environment. More than 40% of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.
The world’s largest forests of quiver trees or kokerbome (Aloe dichotoma) lie outside Loeriesfontein, Kenhardt and Onseepkans. Owing its name to the San, who used the trunk, branches and its bark to make quivers, the aloe grows to four metres, stores water in its trunk, resists drought and lives for up to 400 years. Often the only trees for miles, their spiky branches are popular nesting places for sociable weavers, builders of the most intricate nesting systems in the world. The sterboom or star-tree (Cliffortia arborea) grows nowhere else but the southern sides of high ridges of the Nuweveld mountain where it finds shelter from the blazing sun. The parks and nature reserves are amongst the best places to view this floral wonderland.
The 103 000 ha Namaqua National Park, 22km north-west of Kamieskroon, is open to the public throughout the year, but a conservation fee is charged during flower season. An upgraded circular drive lets visitors experience a wide floral display. Tel 027 6721948.
15km southeast of Springbok is Goegap Nature Reserve, 15 000ha of typically rocky granitic, rocky hills and sandy flats. It supports 600 indigenous flower species, 45 mammal species and 94 bird species.
The Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden showcases a spectacular number of indigenous succulants. Limited accommodation is available. Tel 027 718 9906.
The incredible Richtersveld mountain desert is a must for anybody who enjoys spectacular scenery mixed with a variety of rare plantlife
Between July and September the Namakwa region sheds its drab facade and showers the world with flowers of every hue. Nature sheds any pretence at barren aridity and runs riot with tones and rainbow hues of rich and splendid brilliance. Infusing the air with fantasy and delight, she takes our senses and sends them soaring on flights of floral fancy before returning us gently to earth at the onset of summer. The splendour of the flowers, however, depends heavily on a good pre-season rainfall.