Nestled in the northern area of Namaqualand near Springbok in South Africa, Goegap Nature Reserve is a 7,000 hectare park home to a dazzling array of flowers and a sprinkling of large mammals and birds to keep the ecosystem intact. The terrain is quite varied, with wide open savannah-esque fields surrounded by craggy mountains and hills. It would be a nice enough park to explore even without the lure of the flowers.
We had been hearing that this was a good year for the flowers, but we still struggled to visualise what we were going to see. Were there going to be huge fields covered in orange, pink and yellow blooms? Was it going to be everywhere or just in pockets? Can you spend a whole holiday looking at flowers? Goegap provided some answers. Yes.
It started along the road into Springbok – patches of orange right along the edge of the tarmac. Then we dropped into the town centre and there were larger patches of orange crouched under road signs and circling park benches. The drips and drabs of colour turned into full blown swathes within Goegap.
Driving to the visitor’s centre we passed large fields with solid patches of orange, white and yellow flowers. From a distance it looked like you could have walked on them without touching the ground they were so thick, but up close it is a different story. The flowers delicately swayed in the breeze and they looked almost sparse in comparison to what they looked like from the road. In way that was indicative of the whole trip, lots of changing scenes and unexpected finds.
Goegap has a couple of nice little hiking trails and we wandered up the dry stream bed and over the silent hollow of a waterfall. The climb was sharp, but the views were fantastic looking out over the park. The small rocky hills popped up around the park and we could clearly see some of the 4×4 trails snaking their way into the more secluded places. After lunch we followed some of these to find more flowers and quite a few Gemsbok and Zebras. We also found the most hectic trail we have driven on, but the car performed admirably!
One thing that was fantastic about this trip was the open skies. There is very little light pollution or trees and so the views of the night sky in particular were at times phenomenal. We sat out under the stars, huddled around a small camp fire and looked out at the carpet of stars. Much like the flowers, from our perspective it looked like the stars were right on top of one another, but a closer examination would show a very different story.