The annual flower display put on by mother nature, which stretches along the Cape west coast up to Namaqualand and further inland, is a spectacle that has become world renown.
A riot of colorful indigenous blooms carpeting the landscape draws visitors from near and far, and this coming flower season promises to be one of the best ever after the recent bumper rainfall in the area!
For those who are keen to relish the spring wildflowers in August and September and get out and about to relieve lockdown cabin fever, there are many wonderful spots on Cape Town’s doorstep to visit in addition to the more well-know, and often crowded flower tourism hotspots like the Posberg Nature Reserve and the Namaqua National Park.
The perfect local adventure far from the maddening crowds.
Amongst these are the towns of Velddrif, Aurora, Piketberg and Porterville in the Bergrivier district – perfect on-trend travel destinations for South Africans of all ages that are looking to get away.
The Bergrivier region is a beautiful area peppered with small towns that offer a vast array of activities and accommodation options, as well as some of the most pristine and untouched nature reserves, wetlands, lagoons and more.
Top recommended places to visit & stay
Here are some highly recommended places to visit and stay during the flower season:
The popular West Coast village of Velddrif hugs the banks of the Berg River, just a few kilometres from where the river enters the ocean at St Helena Bay. Visitors can look forward to a profusion of flowers to be enjoyed, while soaking up the rich and welcoming culture and lifestyle of this coastal community – which offers an abundance of activities, accommodation options, and eateries to suite all tastes.
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.
Just inland from Velddrif, along a stretch of country road that promises wonderful flower sightings, lies the picturesque town of Aurora. This small, once unheard-of gem is a village of hidden surprises where visitors in Spring can look forward to carpets of flowers, dramatic mountain scenery, beautiful Sandveld architecture, incredible night skies, and a wide variety of bird life.
Be sure to visit the impressive Dutch Reformed Church while in town, and take a trip to McClear’s Beacon, a national monument situated on the farm Klipfontein which was used by the 18th century French astronomer, Abby de la Caille, to measure the shape of the earth in the southern hemisphere. Also take a drive up the mountain in the Danielshoogte Private Reserve and experience spectacular views of the valley – on clear days, Table Mountain and St Helena Bay can be seen.
Die Rooi Granaat Restaurant and the Koekeloer @ Koffiemoer Coffee Shop are highly recommended stopovers in Aurora for hungry travelers.
Another 50km inland from Aurora will see flower-loving road-trippers finding their way to the town of Piketberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain range and surrounded by a tapestry of wheat fields, vineyards, fruit farms and indigenous fynbos bearing beautiful blooms in Spring.
This historic village, which is named after the impressive mountain that it clings to, draws visitors looking to enjoy – amongst many other things – the rich history and architecture to be found here.
The best way to experience the heritage of this town, with its gorgeously restored cottages and the imposing neo-gothic style Dutch Reformed Church, is by doing the newly launched Piketberg Historic Route. Stops along the way, in addition to the church, include the Commercial Hotel, 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. (Should Covid-19 restrictions allow, Piketberg Tourism will be hosting guided Historic Tours for the week of 16 – 21 August. Tours will be led by a local resident and will include a free goodie bag.)
Piketberg offers an array of accommodation options. Highly recommended are the Cornerstone Guest House, De Berge Guest House, Elfreda’s B&B, Hagenheim B&B, The Views Guest House and Vue de Montagne. Great self-catering options include @1926, Home With A View, and Lemontree.
For those looking to refuel whilst visiting Piketberg, be sure to pop in at Bravo Wine & Food which serves up a smorgasbord of sweet and savoury offerings. Just outside of town, along a scenic flower-strewn drive up the Kardoesie pass is the Kardoesie Restaurant and farm stall. Slightly further along is the Kloof Restaurant at the Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort.
Last but certainly not least on the list of highly recommended towns to visit this spring is Porterville, a quaint 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.
Long known as the home of the rare Disa Uniflora flower, as well as a paragliding and hang-gliding capital, this beautiful town is now fast making a name for itself amongst art and food enthusiasts, as well as those looking for a memorable escape from the city surrounded by exceptional natural beauty and country charm.
Some of the top spring flower viewing spots in the mountains above Porterville are Beaverlac, Pampoenfontein and Berghoff – all of which also offer accommodation. Other recommended accommodation options on the mountain include Cedar Peak and Heidedal, and a visit to the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is a must do – particularly in Spring!
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.
“This is truly the perfect time to break away from the home bound restrictions we have all been under and get out to experience this year’s flower show – with reports indicating it is going to be a bumper year!” concludes Nomonde Ndlangisa, CEO of Bergrivier Tourism. “All of these towns within the Bergrivier region promise a great escape for the entire family, and gorgeous flowers to be viewed – but without huge crowds, meaning visitors can keep to Covid distancing protocols as well.”
For more information on these towns and where to stay, eat and things to do visit https://bergriviertourism.co.za/bergrivier/.