I have never seen the iconic Northern Cape Namaqua daisies in bloom in real life. Those orange velvet carpets of flowers spread over acres of a typically dry landscapes have always remained behind the walls of photographs for me.
So I decided to change that.
I rallied up one of my girlfriends and headed up the N7 in search of the Daisies. We couldn't contain our excitement.
In Malmesbury, already, small patches of orange and white daisies along the tar was the perfect trailer to what we were to see in the Namaqua National Park. We didn't even bother to stop and take photographs - the real thing was just over the hill, right?
It was late afternoon when we rolled into the Namaqua National Park, struggling over small canyons and craters on the dirt road in a low Mercedes E-class.
Small patches of flowers were open, but my big fears were confirmed when the Namaqua National Park receptionist said we were a week too early for the flowers...
What!? How could this be? When we phoned they were certain the flowers would have been opened by now?
The flowers were only to open after another big shower of rain, and that was due any minute, a field guide from the Park, Eugene Kordom explained. He is an expert at expectation (and disappointment) management.
"The flowers are very temperamental," he explained. "They only open to their full at about 18°C, it's still too cold for them now. We're also waiting for the big rains."
Our road trip was only on day one and we were already against the wind. More so when we tried to fill up our fuel tank in a small town on the N7 - Kamieskroon - and were told the pumps had broken.
A single kilometre before the closest fuel station in Springbok, the next town on our route, our E-class ran dry and we had to walk to Engen with an empty two-litre-bottle. A local helped out, giving us a lift back to the car.
"This is life for you," the local Springbok oom said as he helped funnel the fuel into the car. "You can plan all you like, but life has its own plans."
Oom Norman's wise words hit close to home. Our road trip had been a series of mishaps and 'almost-theres', but still revealed some of the most amazing experiences of South Africa - ones we couldn't of dreamed up ourselves.
And, on the way back from the round-trip, we managed to see fields of Namaqualand flowers, all starting to show their full colours!
If you're thinking of doing a road trip to see the Namaqualand Daisies, take a page from our book with these Travel Lessons...
Fill up and gear up
If you're going on a road trip in South Africa, do not take any fuel station for granted. Fill up wherever you go, regardless of how full your tank is.
Also, if you're driving into the Namaqua National Park to go flower spotting, go only with a 4x4.
Especially after the anticipated rain, the ground is very soft and muddy. And even without the rain, the coastal section of Namaqua National Park can only be visited with a 4x4.
Plan, but not too much
You can anticipate seeing the flowers all year long... but when it comes down to the day, it all depends on the weather. So don't rest your entire experience on seeing only one thing.
This would make for certain disappointment.
Be open to an adventure, and love the landscape with or without the flowers. It is truly something to behold.
What you DO need to plan, however, is where you are going to stay over. The accommodation options get booked out quite quickly in the high season. Have your outline and sleepover spots lined up, and then don't be afraid to travel back and forth searching for flower hotspots.
Great and affordable places to stay are definitely the Namaqua and West Coast National Parks' chalets. The chalets in Namaqua National Park have indoor fireplaces, and stunning views to the setting sun. These are also slap-bang in the middle of all the action, so you can't go wrong.
Live for the last minute
Still, I have never seen the Northern Cape Namaqua daisies in bloom in real life.
But that's okay, I'll just go again. Perhaps the best way would be to just up and go one Saturday morning before dawn and chase the sun to where they are...
*Disclaimer: Traveller24 Content Producer Louzel Lombard's road trip was sponsored by Arid National Park.