Drought impacts Namaqua National Park

09 November 2016

Namaqua FlowersThe Namaqua National Park’s manager says the drought has had a major impact on the traditional flower season. Thousands of tourists flock to the region every spring to view the wildflowers in bloom. Usually, the Namaqua National Park is a carpet of mainly orange blossoms as far as the eye can see.

However, Park Manager Angela Isaks explains they have bloomed two weeks later than usual because of a drastic decrease in the July rain. ‘Last year in July only we had 91 mm of rain. This year in July we only had 34 mm of rain.’

Isaks now expects the flower season to last well into September, but guest house manager in neighbouring Kamieskroon, Ernest Schulze, is not as confident, saying the moisture from later rain is equally bad: ‘The little bit of moisture that was in the air earlier did help some of the flowers, but [many] unfortunately didn’t make it because of the hot wind and that wind obviously killed most of the new blooms.’

Amid a crippling drought, Isaks says that attracting visitors outside of the flower season will help residents who’ve diversified into tourism. The park is equally beautiful at other times of the year and could benefit from year-round tourism. Either way, residents are making hay while the proverbial sun shines to rake in as much money as possible during the shortened season.

Elize de Bruin helps out at the local coffee-cum-information kiosk in neighbouring Kamieskroon. She says the 800-strong community has been depressed by the effects of the drought. ‘We also feel it with the tourists coming. They aren't spending as much as we’d like them to spend.’ De Bruin and many others are hoping the ecotourism and cycling packages being planned for the Namaqua National Park will have a positive knock-on effect.

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