In African nature, the circle of life has fangs: mosquito bites man, fish eats mosquito, crocodile eats fish, man shoots crocodile, man dies of malaria. But for a few weeks a year, South Africa witnesses the climax of a somewhat gentler natural cycle. Most of the time, Namaqualand is a featureless swath of scrub desert running from just north of Cape Town up the coast to Namibia. From August to October, however, these plains explode in a display of wild flowers. What was once brown, dusty and flat is transformed into a sea of pinks, oranges, yellows, whites, purples and reds. Better still, there are few towns around, so if you go to see one of Africa's most pastoral natural spectacles, you're likely to have it all to yourself.
As for where to stay, head for a spot that is possibly even more vibrant: Kersefontein Guest Farm, a national monument that is now a luxury hotel on the Berg River, north of the town of Hopefield.
Proprietor Julian Melck is one of the eighth generation of Melcks to farm this barren land, which his family first settled in 1770. He hosts extravagant dinner parties foie gras, venison, malva pudding, set to robust reds from nearby vineyards around a giant polished table at which he arranges guests with a view to conversation. Accommodation is king-size and regally furnished leather armchairs, four-poster beds, wall-to-wall libraries in a line of converted outbuildings. And with geese wandering down the dust avenue that runs between the buildings as horses nuzzle in their pens beyond, the view is every bit as bucolic as the flowers in the surrounding fields.www.kersefontein.co.za