Nieuwoudtville, a small but charming town that lies within the Bokkeveld escarpment of South Africa’s Namakwa district. Where the people are friendly, the pace is slow and at the heart of the town lies an old sandstone church that stands guard in the centre of it all. A town that miraculously comes to life every flower season and is known as the bulb capital of the world.
This is a must-visit spot to add to your list if you are on the hunt to see the Namaqualand Wildflowers.
Nieuwoudtville is a very popular destination during wildflower season and, in our opinion, was where we saw the best flower display this year. (2020)
As you drive towards the town, it becomes apparent. The roads are lined with bright yellow, white and orange flowers, stretching as far as the eye can see.
These are some of the flower hotspots in Nieuwoudtville:
As you’d expect, there are some magnificent flower displays here, but no matter when you’re visiting, there are 9 short hiking trails you can do, ranging from 450m to 8,2km.
From August to October, there are also guided tours that take place every day from 11am to 1pm and 2pm to 5pm.
Not surprisingly, they get booked out quickly, so don’t be us, make sure you phone ahead and book your spot!
Cost: Driven tours are R150p.p., while walking tours are R50p.p. This is something we would have loved to have done, so it’s definitely on our list for next time.
If you are not planning on doing a guided tour, the entrance fee is R25 each (applicable only in the flower season Aug-Oct).
Cost: R25 each.
Once you are in, you have a choice: you can drive straight or turn left. We’d recommend starting left.
As you drive along the road, you can’t help but stare at the endless fields of colour as the flowers reach up to the sun. We parked somewhere in the middle and just got out and walked. The air smells sweet, the bees are buzzing and life is good.
Further along the road, you get to a circle behind the rocks. You can park there and climb up to the lookout point.
This is where you can really see how the colours cover the landscape. We noticed that different coloured flowers flourished in different areas, this wildflower reserve, however, had the best mix of vibrant colours in the same area that we came across on our travels.
The loop is about 2km long and going the other direction is a similar distance. So if you’d like to explore more of this reserve, have a picnic or just sit and take it in for longer, you have more than enough space to choose from.
After you’ve parked, jump out and head into the actual Farm Stall. You can grab a snack, something to drink (which in hindsight would have been a good idea), you can familiarise yourself with the flowers of the area, read up on the farm and ask any questions you may have.
Cost: R25 each.
From there, you jump back into your car and follow the white arrows along a route that’s supposed to be around 13km, but was 7.8km in reality. Unless we missed out an entire section, but either way, we weren’t disappointed.
You’re actually encouraged to pull over, to kick off your shoes and walk amongst the daisies. It’s a great place to meet some friends and share your flower finding victories and if we had been as well-kitted as a few other families that we passed, we would have pulled out our chairs and cooler box and just taken it all in.
At Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve you can spend multiple hours just exploring the diverse botany in the area, or you have the option to embark on a more serious hiking adventure… Like the Rock Pigeon Route if you have 5 days to spare.
What is the glacial pavement? It is evidence of a glacier that covered South Africa 300 million years ago. Basically, there are long grooves or ridges that were caused by glacial movement aeons ago.
There’s a small parking area on the side of the road where you can stop and then you can simply walk in for free.
You’re allowed to walk along, look at and even touch these ridges that were formed by ice flow over 300 million years ago, as Southern Africa migrated over the South Pole. Geology is not really our forte, but by just blindly trusting what was written on the plaque, we enjoyed a moment of imagining and taking in this historical site.
Established In 1897, this Table Mountain Sandstone Church was an integral part of establishing the town that stands today. Still an operational church, you are more than welcome to walk around the grounds and even inside the church itself. Whether you are a fan of history, religious sites or just admiring beautiful buildings, you will definitely enjoy a short visit here.
This was something we never got to experience for ourselves due to bad timing, but if you visit the Caltex petrol station, you might run into the owner, Thinus, who has arguably the best collection of vintage motorcycles and cars (some modern, too) in South Africa. If you ask him very nicely he might just show you his collection… In fact, we hear he’d love to! We believe there are over 400 bikes in the his private collection!
With a small menu and no extra frills, you can expect a delicious local meal, without a hefty price tag. We ordered a cheese and tomato sandwich on a homemade roll and sat watching people move about the town.
This 90m waterfall staggers the Doring River and is most impressive after heavy rains. Even in the dry season though, it’s still worth a visit.
The pathway from the parking lot is very short and we’d suggest keeping left at the initial split; this will give you the best vantage point of the main waterfall and then take you back via the smaller one.
Once you get to the main waterfall, there are a few great vantage points to choose from, you can perch yourself on a rock in the shade or just meander through the flowers as the water echoes into the canyon below.
Cost: R25 each.
This Quiver Tree Forest is quite a popular stop for people passing through Nieuwoudtville, especially photographers. Many avid exposure photographers actually make the trip out here specifically for the stunning night skies and beautiful forest. You have to phone ahead and book yourself a spot as the Quiver Tree Forest is situated on a private farm called Gannabos and there are limited numbers of people allowed in between 18h00 and 06h00.
It also does cost you R250 per person.
Fun Fact: They are called “Quiver” trees because the San people used their branches as quivers (containers for storing and holding items like arrows).
A lovely café to visit between Nieuwoudtville and Vanrhynsdorp on the R27.
It is literally in the middle of nowhere, but offers a lovely pitstop for the weary traveller. They have really great plunger coffee and some of the best pancakes we’ve come across.
You can browse the rows of books and trinkets, explore their eccentric design, read their quotes scattered all around and if you’re here on a Sunday, consider phoning ahead to book a seat at one of their famous Sunday lunches.
Vanrhyn’s Pass (or Vanrhynspas) is literally 10 minutes from Bagdad Café. You will have to travel this pass no matter what, so why not turn it into a stop?
If heading up Vanrhyn’s Pass from Bagdad Café, the best viewpoint is near the top of the pass, on the opposite side of the road. So be sure to keep an eye out and ensure it’s safe to cross the road and stop off before you do.
The viewpoint is just after a very sharp hairpin bend and as you look down the pass, you’re standing in the Northern Cape, looking out at the Western Cape, separated in the middle of that very turn. Random trivia aside, the vast open vistas seen from here and even the rock face behind you are truly stunning.
Although this guide is all about Nieuwoudtville, don’t forget to pop into Calvinia.
You should have some breakfast at the Historical Hantam Huis, visit the giant (and functioning) Flower Post Box, and if you are lucky enough, visit one of Calvinia’s local markets held in the old church hall. We visited one and bought a load of wonderful homemade jams, crafts, soaps, you name it.
We passed this monument while heading back into Nieuwoudtville from Calvinia. We really had no idea what it was about at the time because the plaque is in Afrikaans, and well let’s just say our Afrikaans is not up to scratch.
So, only once we were home did we sit down to translate the plaque.
Apparently, the plaque is in memory of how the ‘Boers’ surrendered their independence to the British. A very vague translation would be that at last all weapons have been laid down, at the surrender of the second freedom war between 1899-1902. It happened in this area next to the Oorlogskloofrivier. The sounds of the weapons have stopped but with a pen, we continue to fight for our republic.
I did some more research myself, as I’ve never actually learnt anything about the Anglo Boer War and found that after a long war (2 years, 7 months, 20 days), the treaty of Vereeniging was drawn up; which was a peace treaty. It declared that the Boers had to surrender and become part of the British crown, but in return, they were allowed to be self-governed.
We suggest visiting this colourful town between mid-August to late September when the Namaqualand Flowers are in full bloom! However, as you can see, there’s lot’s more to do than just seeing the flowers… So don’t skip it if you’re out of the peak season!
Linda se Dop
Linda se Dop is a lovely boutique hotel that offers warm hospitality, a lovely property and an excellent location.
So whether you’re looking for a quick dip after a hot day, a relaxing braai with the family or just a very comfortable accommodation with the right ratio of luxury to homely, this is it.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning on heading to the Cederberg from here, go via the Botterkloof Pass (R364) instead of the N7 – it’s beautiful!
We had a great time exploring Nieuwoudtville and would do it again without a doubt, I mean, there’s still one or two stops we need to conquer! So please let us know in the comments if you have visited Nieuwoudtville and what’s your favourite hotspot on our list!
P.S. Ours was probably Matjiesfontein… Or the wild flower reserve… Or the waterfall… Argh! It was all really cool!