South Africa remains a top tourist destination for so many reasons. It is budget friendly, the weather is incredible almost every month of the year, and there are so many things to see and do that you cannot possibly do them all in one trip. One of the best times to visit is in the spring when the flowers are in bloom and the rolling fields are dotted with their colourful splendor.
Best Time to See Flowers
Late September/Early October begins the flower season in South Africa, and Wilderness is one of the best places to go see them. Be sure you book your stay at Cinnamon House Boutique Guest House early since the flower season can come and go so fast that spots book quickly. There are a few notable flowers to watch for, but the entire area is dotted with so many that your camera will be put to serious work.
There are some quick tips you can use to optimize your flower photos to their best so they can be shared with friends and family.
- Flowers are always best for photos when it is sunny outside since they will all be open to the sunshine.
- DSLR cameras have macro lenses which are great for detail shots. *Telephoto lenses compress distances and help bring colour closer together. It makes a big field of flowers look far more dramatic and lovely.
- Wide angle lenses allow you to get super close for incredible flower detail.
- Normal digital cameras also have macro mode and landscape mode for bright photos
- Use a tripod as often as possible – it helps with a wide aperture. You need as much light as possible, which means a slower shutter speed. Since that is the case, a tripod prevents shaking from ruining the photo before the shutter closes.
- Use reflectors where possible, or shaders like a piece of paperboard or cardboard, or foil
- Lie down on the ground and take a photo at ground level
- Use things like the breeze to your advantage and different vantage points
- Be aware of too many white flowers, it can cause the image to be over-exposed
- BE RESPECTFUL! Try not to trample the flowers, be gentle and leave their beauty as you found it for other photographers.
Types of Blooms
Though there are over 4,000 different species of flowers out there during this brief blooming season, there are 6 we can list here for you to look out for while you’re roaming the fields.
The first one is called Dorotheanthus bellidiformis, locally referred to as the bokbaai vygie, which resembles a daisy with very thin petals. It enjoys full sun and sandy soil with good drainage. The leaves have evolved specifically to provide water during times of drought which you can see by the thick succulent leaves. The outer layers of the leaves even have tiny water sacks to store extra for when the plant needs it most. The colours on these flowers range from a white to pink and purple.
The next one is called Arctotis, from the family Asteraceae (Asters) which are more commonly known as the African Daisy. They bloom only a few weeks out of every year in late afternoon hours, and it’s advisable to see them only on sunny days since they close up when it is overcast outside. They come in a wide variety of colours from orange to yellow, pinks and many colours in between.
Another flower to watch for is Carpobrotus, but it is known locally as Pigface or as an Ice plant. These are ground creepers which have succulent leaves and very large flowers that resemble a daisy which has petals densely packed together. The leaves have been used for ages as a natural antiseptic which treats sore throats and insect stings. It also produces what is known as the sour fig, which is eated as jam or dried fruit locally.
Next up is Dimorphoteca pluvialis, which is easily identified because it is an abundance of sparkling white flowers that resemble snowflakes. They’re found almost everywhere, and are endemic to the Southwestern Cape.
This flower is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Gazania is native to South Africa and can often be found in gardens for its drought tolerance. These flowers, like sunflowers are heliotropic (which means they turn toward the sun) and they also need full sun to be fully open, and at night they’re fully closed. The Gazania krebsiana has a daisy-like center, surrounded by fiery hot petals that begin with burgundy, and segue to red, orange and then are finally surrounded by bold yellow. The petals overlap like a pinwheel, and it is one of the more well known and beautiful of all the flowers.
Last is Senecio, also from the daisy family of asters, and it is one of the biggest families of all the flowering plants here. There are over 1200 in the species, 300 of which occur in South Africa. They have smaller leaves, and smaller blooms of a bright pink with yellow centers and grow taller than most ground daisy plants.
Great Way to Relax
Studies have long shown the link between nature and mankind, and the passive benefits that both get from one another. Plants take in the air we breathe out and give us life-sustaining oxygen in return, they grow better when cared for and spoken to, some even respond well to music. It makes sense then, that this deep kinship that goes back to the dawn of time, would soothe a weary soul. If you’re not a gardener, and you have not felt the soothing sensation that it can bring, then coming to South Africa during flower season is a great way to find out. Plants seem to emanate a passive calming effect, and when you couple that with being outdoors, away from your daily grind, while you’re enjoying a holiday in a perfect destination, you’ve got a recipe for a soul renewal. You can go back feeling totally refreshed and rejuvenated, and you’ll get to say you saw flowers which only bloom 2 weeks out of every year!