Running Through Fields of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival

by | Sep 6, 2023 | Adventure, Event Experience, Featured, Outdoors, Run

It’s Spring! The flowers are out, the days are finally getting longer and the temperatures are rising, or at least in some parts of the country more so than in others. It’s a great season and for those of us who enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s that time of year where we dust off our tents, pack our bags and head to the trails.

That’s exactly what we did last weekend when we packed our cars to take on the 4.5 hour drive from Cape Town to spend the weekend frolicking amongst the flowers at the Gifberg Holiday Farm in Namaqualand. 

It is a spectacular drive this time of the year with green and yellow rolling hills filling each window of the car. The canola fields are that extra pop of color that we didn’t know we needed. A wet winter in the Western Cape brought on a picturesque flower season and we made sure to soak it all in on the drive there, at the festival AND the drive back! 

All flowered out? Maybe not quite, but we are definitely satisfied.

What is the Namaqualand Flower Festival?

The Namaqualand Flower Festival is a festival for the people by the people. . The only difference here is that “the people” are active adventure seekers with the goal of bringing a bunch of like minded people together to do what we all love to do; camp, trail run, explore, galavant in rock pools, shower underneath waterfalls, and sleep under a million stars. Although it’s technically a festival, it feels more just like a bunch of mates going on a camping trip. It has a proper vibe.

With there being many highlights of the weekend, it’s hard to choose just one. However, the ones that stood out the most for us and probably attract the most people to the festival are the trail runs. You’ve got a challenging 20 km and an easy 10 km trail run to choose from. Both trails follow along epic routes, well marked, across plateaus of flowers and through epic caves. 

Running Through Fields Of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival
Fields of wild flowers blooming at the Namaqualand Flower Festival

The 10km Trail Run

The 10km (or just short of) trail run is fairly easy and a great run for beginners or those eager to try out trail running for the first time. The route takes you up and over rocks, along the escarpment of a valley. You maneuver your body through caves, underneath branches and back over the rocks. 

The first 4km of the trail run is very runnable and for those speedsters it can also be a fast 4km with little elevation. Then after that is when you get to the caves followed by some technical terrain which slows you down or changes your run to a fast hike. For beginners or those looking to take this run a little bit easier, this “break” in the run comes just in time to take it easy, catch your breath and soak up the scenery.

Once you make it through the technical section, the trail is open, with a downhill flow all the way to the “finish line” where runners give one another a high five before heading back to camp to get ready for the rest of the day’s activities. 

Running Through Fields Of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival
Fields of wild flowers blooming at the Namaqualand Flower Festival

The 20km Trail Run

The 20 km trail run on the other hand is not ideal for beginners and deems to be a bit more of a fun challenge. Technical terrain on this trail claims ankles, knees, wrists and elbows every year so best to keep your eyes open and your mind focused on the trail.

This is the more popular of the two events with a lot of serious trail runners gunning from the get-go and those pretending not to be but who will still race past you at any chance they can get. 

This year a complimentary tequila shot awaited runners on the 5km mark to warm them up and get the GEES going for the rest of the trail. Shortly after, runners also went past a cave with rock paintings, an incredible form of history that we often find in more rural locations around South Africa. 

Running Through Fields Of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival
Scenes of the rocky terrain on the 20km trail run

The terrain changes between rocky and sandy, with a lot of river crossings and a few gnarly climbs. Out of the two routes, this one is more popular for flower viewing. The trail runs across a plateau of wild flowers, an incredible sight and the best ‘excuse’ to stop and take in the colourful scenery around you.

Luckily for all runners and walkers this year, the flowers were in full bloom during our time there which meant there were some picturesque scenes for everyone to enjoy. For more running content, check out this section on our website.

Running Through Fields Of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival
Trail runner on the route

The rest of the weekend looked like this

After all runners are in, everyone is back at their campsites, cooking up a brunch and rehydrating. Then there are endless activities to choose from. 

From dancing, to poetry, beading, to painting, yoga and meditation. The entire day is filled with workshops to choose from. The festival is also hosted on a piece of land with, as mentioned before, endless trails that lead to beautiful spots. We opted for the hiking trail to the rock pools and spent the day exploring and enjoying all the different rock pools. 

My personal favourite is the waterfall which is only a 10 minute walk from the campsite. The ice cold water was a painful delight on our tired bodies after the run. The water temperature wasn’t exactly ‘let’s stay here and enjoy it’, but a waterfall shower of the escarpment of the Karoo will always be a must-do activity. 

Running Through Fields Of Flowers At The Namaqualand Flower Festival
More scenery from Namaqualand Flower Festival

Hello Spring

Spending the first weekend of spring like this, camping in the karoo with a bunch of epic adventurers participating in activities designed to move the body and promote fitness was the best way to say hello to spring! 

If this was just the first weekend, then I for one cannot wait for all the epic micro adventures and explorations that will take place during this season. We’ve set the stone on what we want this season to bring, camping trips with trail runs all around the country, and that is what we’ll do! 

We’re excited to bring you along for the journey whenever we end up spending our weekend running around some gnarly trails.

For those of you who might have a day or two this month to go look for some wild flowers and enjoy the trails surrounding them, below are 5 special places within a 2 hour drive from Cape Town to visit and explore the blooming flowers this time of the year.

  1. West Coast National Park
  2. Ramskop Nature Reserve
  3. The Renosterveld Reserve
  4. Columbine Nature Reserve
  5. Karoo Desert National Park 

Don’t forget to tag us and share your adventure when you do end up going! We’re always keen to experience the adventure with you. 

Happy Flower Chasing!

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