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The Richtersveld, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The plant life of the Richtersveld is special and unique. The area has the highest diversity of succulent plants in the world. No wonder then that it is a World Heritage Site consisting of three biomes – desert, succulent Karoo, and fynbos.

The Richtersveld, UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa, travel and home min

Flower season in the Namaqualand

The beginning of the flower season varies from year to year but it usually occurs between August and October.

Millions of brightly colored flowers pop up almost overnight. Similarly, the typically dry and quite harsh landscape is transformed into a wonderland of flower carpets – an unbelievable feast for the eyes. Namaqualand (Afrikaans: Namakwaland) daisies are a favorite amongst tourists because their orange, yellow, and white flowers create a magical flower carpet. Truly a festival of flowers for as far as the eye can see. This is the time when you fall short of words.

FAQ: Are the flowers planted by farmers?

Without sowing a single seed, the flowers sow themselves year after year. Year after year they create messages of splendor and symbolizing love.

There is a narrative about how Namaqualand’s flowers got there. God created the entire earth with its fauna and flora. He then had a handful of mixed seeds in his hand, gazing over the landscape with the sun in His eyes. And so He sneezed and his hand opened at that exact second and the seeds were blown over the barren land. And this is how it all started! What a beautiful story, right!?

It’s also believed that spring comes to an end when the purple vygies bloom.

Plant life in the Richtersveld, Northern Cape

This conservation area has the highest concentration of succulent plants in any of the world’s parched regions. 

The Richtersveld, UNESCO World Heritage Site in South Africa

Unique Afrikaans common names

The unparalleled vast Richtersveld landscape, with some rocks up to 2000 million years old, offers an unending terrain of natural wonders hosting plants with the most unusual Afrikaans common names.

Richtersveld, Kokerboom Quiver tree Aloidendron dichotomum
Aloidendron dichotomum is a succulent plant, indigenous to Southern Africa.


The ‘Kokerboom’ (Afrikaans common name) has hollow root-like branches which were used by the San people as quivers for their arrows. Thereby naming the tree also the Quiver Tree (Aloidendron pillansii). 

You’ll find them in the Northern Cape region of South Africa. Specifically in the Richtersveld, such as our photograph. Also, in parts of Southern Namibia.

Kukumakranka, Gethyllis namaquensis, tour, Richtersveld, Rey Janse van Rensburg, Namakwaland, Namaqualand
Kukumakranka, Gethyllis namaquensis.

Gifmelkbos, Kukumakranka

We were extremely lucky to have seen a Kukumakranka in bloom. The Kukumakranka is a rare plant and to see it in bloom was the best!

Halfmens Boom

Richtersveld Halfmens 1118

Halfmens (Half human trees,  Pachypodium namaquanum)

From a distance, the succulent plant has the appearance of a person trudging up a slope. Hence its common name of Halfmens (Afrikaans for ‘semi-human’).

Namakwaland, Namaqualand, plants

1. Botterblom, 2. Noordkyker, 3. Vleikoraal, 4.Soutslaai, 5. Woestynroos

Kokerboom, . Sandslaai, . Pedunculata, . Strepiesaalwyn, Strichiata, . Boesmandruiwe

1. Kokerboom, 2. Sandslaai, 3. Pedunculata, 4. Strepiesaalwyn, Strichiata, 5. Boesmandruiwe

Vygie, . Kukumakranka, . Tulp, .Perdeblom, . Nooienskokerboom

1. Vygie, 2. Kukumakranka, 3. Tulp, 4.Perdeblom, 5. Nooienskokerboom

Plan your trip to the Richtersveld

Where is Namaqualand?

According to an oft-quoted saying about the area, in Namaqualand you weep twice: once when you first arrive and once when you have to leave.

The Richtersveld is located in the Namaqualand region, a mountainous desert area situated in the northwestern part of South Africa, close to the border with Namibia. Sparsely populated, the region stretches south from the Orange to the empty Knersvlakte plains around Vanrhynsdorp, and from the Atlantic coast to the edge of the Great Karoo.

Namaqua National Park is about 87km from the nearby town of Springbok. The very small town of Kamieskroon is more or less in the center of Namaqualand, 20km west of Namaqualand National Park.

Nearest airport

Generally, the Richtersveld Challenge tours’ wheels start turning from Springbok. You have two airport choices:

  • Upington International Airport (UTN) is about a 3h40min drive (381 km) from Springbok. 
  • Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is further away at 583 km (about 6h10min drive). From the airport, you’ll pass some of South Africa’s most beautiful towns such as Clanwilliam, the quant town of Klawer, Vanrhynsdorp, Nuwerus, Garies, and Kamieskroon.

Where to stay

Springbok is the best base for flowers because the nearby Namaqua National Park provides reliable displays even in years of low rainfall, when displays elsewhere may be muted.

Cat Nap accommodation is in the center of Springbok, which is also the region’s capital. They are on 99 Voortrekker Street, opposite the tourist office. Call them at +27 718 1905, or email Attractive African-themed rooms, two with bathrooms, and twelve rudimentary pull-down bunks in the garage, with a kitchenette – there’s even room for you to park your vehicle beside your bed. Bunks 1, rooms 2.

I recommend that you book well in advance.

You don’t have a 4×4!?

Well, that is also not the end of the world. It may be arranged when you make your reservation at Cat Nap. 

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Tour Richtersveld with Rey Janse van Rensburg, advertisement min

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