Blooming good forecast as winter rains helping wildflower festivals
After some good winter rains, tour operators and towns on the West Coast and Namaqualand are gearing up for a busy season. This is in contrast to the past two years, when many wildflower festivals had to be cancelled because of the drought.
In 2017, Clanwilliam was forced to cancel its annual wildflower show because it lacked its usual number of blooms. Chairman of the Clanwilliam Wildflower Show Committee, Isle Saaiman, said this year was different.
The veld around Clanwilliam is awakening after a long, dry spell and a green sheen is covering the landscape. Although it is too early to know specifics about which flowers will be flowering, and where, experts in the area are feeling optimistic.
A statement from Namaqua Tours said: “The fields are becoming more and more cheerful every day. This year, flower season in Namaqualand is going to be extraordinary.”
Mike Spies, owner of Namaqua Tours, urged travellers to not worry too much about the media coverage of the drought in Namaqualand.
Although it has been detrimental for farmers and people making their living off the land, the flowers have still appeared every year, even in 2017, their driest year on record.
Every year the pattern of where the flowers bloom changes, but Spies promised visitors that regardless of the weather there were always plenty of blooms in Namaqualand.
This year the Western Cape has been experiencing steady rainfall. Tourists and residents have had plenty of reasons to worry about water in the past few years, with levels reaching startling low points in the dams.
MEC for local government, environmental affairs and development planning, Anton Bredell, said: “We are very happy to see the levels starting to increase dramatically.”
In the past week alone the average water level in dams in the Western Cape has increased by 6%.
With water levels on the rise, members of the tourism industry hope to see an increase in the number of visitors.
Spies said: “I’m excited about every year, but this year even more than the past few.
“It has rained continuously this season and even when it is just a little, it strengthens the little plants that are beginning to grow.”
Many people rely on the money tourists bring to these wildflower towns and hope 2019 will be the year that things return to normal.