The Northern Cape is South Africa’s largest and most sparsely populated state, wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Namibian border. Not many travellers venture here, but the ones that do make the journey will be exhilarated and transported by the expansive landscapes, spectacular natural phenomena and fascinating history.

An oryx enjoying the wild flowers of Namakwa © Grobler du Preez / Shutterstock

Rarely does the natural world put on such a spectacle as the Namakwa desert in full bloom. An eye-popping patchwork of orange, yellow, white and purple wild flowers seems to cascade out of distant valleys and flood the landscape as far as the eye can see. The majority of the blooms belong to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and, somewhat surprisingly, the most impressive displays tend to appear not in pristine nature reserves, but on recently disturbed ground such as fallow farmland. The flowers are true sun-worshippers, only opening between 11am and 4pm on sunny days, and turning their faces towards the sun, so you’ll get the best views (and photographs) with the sun at your back.

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