The Darling Fields, Western Cape: A Riot of Colour

If your cruise ship docks in Cape Town when the Mother City is shrugging off its chilly winter woollies then enquire about the status of the west coast wild flowers first before you commit your time on shore. If the veld has become a riot of colour then hire a car, and follow the shoreline to the northwest for approximately ninety minutes to Darling Fields. At the sign turn sharp right and follow the road to Darling , which is a typical ‘Karoo’ town slumbering in its past.

Darling Western Cape: Darling Fields in Spring
West Coast National Park: Darling Fields in Spring

Darling Western Cape near Cape Town, South Africa

Darling Western Cape in South Africa is famous for three things. The first two are superb butter and a semi-retired cross-dresser named Pieter-Dirk Uys alias Evita Bezuidenhout. He has been crossing back to male attire since South Africa’s dark days to mock its politicians. However even his gregarious nature becomes dull and grey compared to nature’s finery spread out like a magic carpet.

Darling Western Cape: A riot of colour
Waylands Wildflower Reserve: A riot of colour

The display of more than 1,200 unique varieties (many of which exist in areas as small as tennis courts) depends on copious rains to bring the bulbs to life in the normally dry soil. If rain does not come at the appointed time then the flowers miss the cycle, and Darling loses the tourist income that keeps it going.

Tienie Versveld Reserve

After a short while you begin to see bursts of colour culminating in the spectacular Versveld Reserve named after the wife of a local farmer who decreed her husband should not plough the field. This area is especially rich because it straddles five different veld types known as the Sand Veld, Strand (Beach) veld, Renoster (Rhinoceros) Veld, and Riet (Reed) Veld. I mention this just in case you wonder why the flora changes as you drive.

Darling Western Cape: Antelope grazing in spring
Snow on the ground? Antelope grazing in spring: Photo Maryberry

It’s best to walk into the fields because there is nowhere to park the car if you drive along the narrow, rutted tracks (and if you put a single wheel onto the wild garden you may learn a few choice Afrikaner words). Forty years ago, I walked gingerly between the flowers. That was okay then because few other people came and you could even picnic,.

Wild Flowers on the Beach

After you have saturated your sense of colour – and enjoyed a slice of cake and coffee at the Pieter-Dirk Uys restaurant if you have the time – head back towards the ocean and turn left back to where your cruise ship waits patiently in Cape Town. Along the way you may see dirt tracks heading towards the coastline. Follow them and you may see wild flowers etched against the ocean such as only fisherman ever see.

Darling Western Cape: Grotto Bay in the Western Cape
“Grotto Bay in the Western Cape province of South Africa” by OssewaCC BY-SA 3.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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