Striated skies No. 42 – The bulb sentinel

42. The bulb sentinel

The Nieuwoudtville Dutch Reformed Church towers over the very small town of Nieuwoudtville. The Church a Gothic Cross style Church was designed by John Gaisford. The cornerstone was laid in 1906. The church seats 500 with oak pews. The town of Nieuwoudtville has between 1000 and 2000 people. The church is built of Tafelberg sandstone and stands out above the dusty town.

The day we visited the area in front of the church was carpeted with purple flowers. The church was open and we went inside. There was a strange history posted on the notice board which you can read below. We climbed up into the church steeple to see the bell. Click here to see more pictures inside the church.FullSizeRender (30) IMG_4205 IMG_4206

Striated Skies No. 41 – Hantam Windmills

41. Hantam WindmillsThe Hantam botanical gardens are found just outside the extremely sleepy town of Nieuwoudtville. We visited the area in mid September in order to see the flowers. Unfortunately we did not get to see the flowers at their best although the flowers were still amazing.

The Botanical garden is 6500 hectares. The land was once the farm of the late Neil MacGregor, who took down all internal fences and opened the area to his livestock . The livestock pruned the plants, ate the dry residue and trampled the seeds. Niel was rewarded with the flowering of an extraordinary biodiversity, the sheep also flourished, botanists came to visit, and tourists started to arrive. Neil’s Flower Bus tours were world famous (karoospace.co.za).

Nieuwoudtville is known as the bulb capital of the world. The town is on the plateau above the Bokkeveld mountains of the Northern Cape. The town does not have much to offer and the petrol station is only open for certain hours in the day, as discussed in Striated Skies No.37.

One piece of advice I can give is know what you want to see and explore without a time limit. going up for a weekend is not enough time and makes the trip frustrating.

Striated Skies

Striated Skies No. 37 – Unexpected falls

Striated Skies

Nieuwoudtville (Locals pronounce it “knee – hout – ville”) is the bulb capital of the world. The flower displays that take place in August-September are what drew us to visit this fascinating place. Nieuwoudtville was established in 1897 and lies on the bokkeveld escarpment. The town is extremely small and there is not much going for it besides the flowers. The petrol station for example is only open for certain hours in the day.

The visit to the town and the falls took place on a Sunday. We drove up to see the flowers for a weekend staying the Saturday night in the neighbouring town of VanRhyndorp. Being mid September many of the flowers had passed and VanRhynsdorp does not really have anything beyond the flowers either.

The Nieuwoudtville waterfall is amazing as it is completely unexpected as you drive to the parking area. There is an entrence fee so you will require some cash in order to pay. The entrance was R18 per adult when we visited. The two pictures below from Nieuwoudtville.com show an aerial view of the waterfall in a dry session. The picture below that shows the waterfall in summer after heavy rains (Picture from Kontrei Travel).

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Our trip to the Namaqualand flowers was not the most successful trip that we have ever been on. If you are considering taking a trip to see the spring flowers and I would recommend this if you are a lover of natural beauty, then I would consider the following advice:

  1. Do your own research. The internet is a wonderful place but many places in this part of the country are not on it :-). Phone and ask for advise to get the best ideas.
  2. Phone up before you leave – Contact the many tourism offices in the flower areas. Here are some weblinks to help:
    1. Namaqua West Coast Tourism
    2. Northern Cape Tourism
    3. Namakwa District Municipality
    4. Cape West Coast
    5. Flower Route Map (has all the phone numbers!!!)
  3. Go in Late August early September in order to see the most flowers. Use the guided trips as an example.
  4. Go up for more than a weekend. You will not have enough time to see the vast expanse of the area in a weekend. Take more time. If you only have a weekend then make sure it is the right weekend and plan well!!!
  5. Consider using a flower tour company, these fill up early so book in advance:
    1. Namaqua tours (Facebook)
    2. Kontrei Travel
    3. Happy Holidays
    4. Redwood Tours (@redwoodtours)
    5. FS Tours
  6. Visit one of the flower festivals
    1. Clanwilliam Flower Festival
    2. Darling Flower Festival
  7. If you are South African and you live in the Western Cape there is no reason not to go. If you are further away then I would advise planning well.