Escape to fields of daisies and fragrant fynbos at these flower-spotting getaways…
1. Western Cape – 3Flavours Guest House, Pringle Bay
Nothing mirrors the promise of spring like a floral explosion and, although this might not happen as profusely here as it does on the renowned West Coast, an abundance of charming wild flowers such as the modest disa, daisy, arum lily and tiny bell-like erica can be found just beyond the rocky shorelines of towns along the Overberg coastline.
Trails vary from rough and rugged footpaths to well-maintained cliff walks that allowed us to fully appreciate the beauty of the rare flora. Within the district is 3Flavours Guest House – a gracious place in the heart of the Cape’s unique fynbos region from which we were inspired to explore the splendour of the surrounding countryside. Bed and breakfast accommodation on this 8,5-hectare fynbos farm comprises two family rooms, four rooms with queen-size beds, as well as two superior rooms with king-size beds. All are well appointed with en-suite bathrooms and an emphasis on luxury.
Take a drive, as we did, to the Cape Floral Kingdom Expo in Bredasdorp, Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay, and the Hermanus Botanical Society Flower Festival. Remember that spring also brings a surge in whale activity. – Olivia Schaffer
2. West Coast – Bo-Bakkies, Paternoster
Perched on a knoll overlooking giant boulders brooding at the edge of the Atlantic, are the quaint fisherman cottages of Bo-Bakkies 1 and 2. In flower season there are white and yellow daisies within striking distance in all directions, and it’s also an ideal base from which to explore the West Coast flower carpets. Sitting on the stoep at No 1 and looking out to sea, it’s easy to imagine the fisherman lifestyle of years gone by, as we look down at the brightly coloured, wooden fishing boats drawn up above the high-water mark.
Located in the colourful and vibrant Fisherman’s Quarter of Paternoster, the self-catering cottages are quaint, rustic and very comfortable, with each one-bedroom unit having a fully equipped kitchen, living area and en-suite bathroom. Bo-Bakkies 1 also has a sleeper couch.
Each cottage has a stoep and braai, and an indoor fireplace made of rock, where we huddled when the evening fog rolled in off the sea. There’s drive-in parking and pets are welcome too, but the yard is not enclosed. – Keri Harvey
3. Western Cape – Algeria Cottages, Cederberg
The annual wild flower extravaganza is always a good excuse to visit the Cederberg; that’s just one of the reasons why I find myself returning there again and again. But until recently, accommodation options in the wilderness area have been limited. With the launch of the new cottages at Algeria Forest Station, stewards CapeNature have changed all that, creating stylish, eco-friendly accommodation that is a match for the surrounding natural environment.
The six cottages, which can each sleep up to four adults, plus two children on a sleeper couch in the lounge, are designed to maximise the spectacular location and sense of space, with big windows and lovely stoeps with wooden benches where we enjoyed the views and the night skies. The decor is fresh and chic – a far throw from most ‘traditional-style’ cottages in conservation areas – with bright paintings on the walls, big bathrooms and everything we needed for a self-catering break. Best of all, the units are great value.
One tip: Algeria isn’t spring-flower central. The area around Clanwilliam, 21km further north, is more dazzling when it comes to blooms. So if flowers are your focus take a drive to the lovely Ramskop Wildflower Garden just outside town. It’s a little-known gem. – Fiona McIntosh
4. Swartland – Waylands Guesthouse, Darling
Just 6km from Darling, Waylands is a working farm that has been in the Duckitt family since 1865. The gracious Victorian guest house has five spacious en-suite bedrooms with magnificent antique furnishings. Two lounges each have a wood-burning fireplace and a deep veranda overlooking the pool. Kicking back here for a sundowner on a Friday afternoon, Nguni cattle and sheep grazing in the distance, was a fine way for us to welcome the weekend – and peacocks provided the background music.
Yes, Waylands is located right in the Darling daisy carpets, but the farm also has its own wild-flower reserve. It’s part of the critically endangered Lowland Fynbos biome of which less than one per cent remains. Still, there are more than 300 flower species to see there, and just as many bird species.
The Waylands Wildflower Reserve is open to the public in August and September, but staying right there is so much more enchanting. We walked to the dam at sunrise and cycled the farm roads later. The warm hospitality of the Duckitt family made our stay truly memorable. If you somehow haven’t seen enough flowers at Waylands, the biggest orchid nursery in the Southern Hemisphere is right next door and open to the public on the first Saturday of the month, May to November. – Keri Harvey
5. Northern Cape – Calvinia Hotel, Calvinia
When it comes to viewing spring flowers, the Northern Cape grabs the headlines. Every year crowds of eager tourists descend in August and September to check out the colourful displays and rare endemics that grace the plains of the Hantam Karoo. Calvinia, the centre of the region, is an interesting place with a lovely church, museum and some eclectic buildings – and characters.
On the Calvinia-Hantam Flower Route, there are numerous accommodation options, one of them the historic Calvinia Hotel. With 25 rooms, it has everything you need for a relaxing stay, including a good restaurant that serves authentic Karoo fare. There’s also a bar, off-street parking and a splash pool (although you might not need to avail yourself of it in August). I found the layout of the place slightly odd, with several rooms (mine included) facing in on the courtyard rather than offering views, but was impressed by the large comfy bed, the quality of the bed linen and the colourful drapes that reflect the owner’s attention to detail. With wonderfully friendly and helpful staff, the Calvinia Hotel is a good base from which to explore the region both in and out of flower season. – Fiona McIntosh
6. Northern Cape – Madeliefie Cottage, Kamieskroon
The small town of Kamieskroon bursts into bloom in the flower season, like Cinderella dressing up for the ball. Every patch of pavement and bare ground is covered with a tapestry of multi-coloured flowers, turning the sleepy settlement into an enchanting wonderland. Madeliefie Cottage on Dr Steenkamp Street is one of the self-catering options in the town that resonates with platteland character.
The colourful, well-equipped cottage, decorated with an abundance of hearts, mobiles and knick-knacks, makes you feel as if you are a guest in owner Elsabé Smit’s home. And, so you are, as she might just pop by to say hello and make sure the sugar bowl is topped up. Named after the Namaqualand wild flower, the golden-yellow aster, Madeliefie is a self-contained cottage that sleeps four – we were downstairs in the bedroom while the small, open loft upstairs is ideal for kids.
The cottage is a comfortable base from which we explored and were dazzled by the display of spring flowers (Peet from Kuiervreugde coffee shop is a fount of flower knowledge) and it’s just the place to absorb the Kamieskroon spirit. – Ron Swilling
7. West Coast – Weskushuis, Jacobsbaai
The quaint village of Jacobsbaai, close to Vredenburg, is a collection of whitewashed houses trimmed in stone, and in the flower season (July to September) there are white daisy carpets everywhere. Staying at the lovely Weskushuis is ideal if you want to be among the daisies. It’s spacious, comfortable and perfectly appointed for self-catering; one unit is pet friendly too with an enclosed private courtyard and there’s a guest carport alongside.
We kicked off our stay with an evening braai on the long veranda, enjoying stillness but for the sound of the sea, which is just down the road, and had all the glass doors flung open for the breeze. The tranquillity and privacy of the place make it really special.
Owner Frik de Jager says bat-eared foxes, mongooses and small antelope are regularly seen around the village, so there are natural attractions here throughout the year. If you head from there towards Saldanha, you might see pink flowers as we did; a little further on towards Langebaan they were yellow and then became rainbow colours along the road. – Keri Harvey