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Hoping for a natural spectacle

Avatar of inke inke - 12. janvier 2018 - Discover Namibia, Environment

When it rains on the Sandhof farm near Maltahöhe and the 700 hectare clay pan is 15 to 20cm under water, thousands of Sandhof lilies, an amaryllis plant, grow.

Inke Stoldt

In some years good rainfalls in the south bring about a rare and dazzling display of nature. Then a huge field of flowering lilies draws many visitors to Sandhof farm, some 40 km north of Maltahöhe, who spontaneously visit the usually dry clay pan.

The pink and white splendour of blossoms usually announces itself two weeks earlier when Sandhof farm reports 'land under water'. This means that the 700 ha clay pan fills up with water after good rainfalls in the area. For the phenomenon of mass flowering to occur there have to be at least 20 cm of water in the pan as was the case last year. Prior to 2017 there were many years without flowers. 

After the pan has filled up with water it usually takes eight days for the lilies to shoot up and unfold their white and pink flowers. Four to five days later they already start to wilt. As the flowers grow older they discolour and become pink.

The lily in question is the bushveld vlei lily Crinum Paludosum. It is part of the amaryllis genus of plants. The highest concentration of these flowers can be found in Sandhof, although they do appear in Botswana but not very frequently. 

As yet, hardly any research has been done on this mass display of flowers – nor on the weevil (Brachycerus inornatus) which appears together with the lilies, feeds on them and also disappears with them. The insect is about 5 cm long and a member of the snout beetle family.

Will the lily blossom splendour be seen again this year? If so, you need to be determined to see them. The Kalahari Anib Lodge and Kalahari Farmhouse near Mariental, both about 140km from Maltahöhe, offer fantastic overnight accommodation.

And once you are underway, here is additional information that may be useful: If the lilies are in bloom this year, you can get an entrance ticket for the Sandhof farm, at the Maltahöhe Hotel and get directions to the farm.

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