Why You Should Visit Namaqua National Park In South Africa.
Why You Should Visit Namaqua National Park In South Africa. Namaqua National Park, located on the desolate west coast of South Africa, provides something entirely different from the usual safari experience. Instead of Big Five animals and broad savanna grasslands, the park allows visitors to immerse themselves in a magnificent, dry setting of sweeping scrubland, towering granite outcrops, and hillsides studded with lonely quiver trees.
Expect to see unusual species that has adapted to thrive in a nearly waterless environment, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and the kind of stars that can only be found in places where light pollution is non-existent
.Namaqua National Park is located 495 kilometers north of Cape Town and 22 kilometers northwest of Kamieskroon in South Africa. It covers an area of almost 1300 km2. The park is part of Namaqualand, a 55,000-square-kilometer region in the semi-arid Succulent Karoo biome. This biome is a biodiversity hotspot with the world’s highest density of succulent plants.
There is also an arid climate with succulent vegetation in the park. The park was established to safeguard the park’s flora. Wildflowers bloom in a stunning display there in the spring. This profuse spring bloom of vividly colored wildflowers is the park’s principal visitor draw.
It was gazetted as a national park for the first time in August 1999. Skilpad Nature Reserve, established in 1993 to safeguard Namaqualand’s plant life, became the basis of the new national park, which was expanded by 500 km2.
Since then, 270 km2 have been added to the park, bringing its total area to almost 700 km2. The park is semi-desert, with hot, dry summers and cold, variable, and generally sparse winters. The months of May to August have the most precipitation. Rainfall is heavier in the east of the park than in the west.
Attractions In Namaqua National Park.
The arid environment of Namaqualand has virtually little flora except hardy plants for the majority of the year. Wildflowers, on the other hand, bloom in spectacular manner across hundreds of square kilometers in August and September, following the winter rains. Daisies, lilies, aloes, and perennial plants are among the many-colored blooms. During the spring, Namaqualand is known around the world for the magnificent sight of its various colored wildflowers. There are about 4,000 plant species in this area, and Namaqualand boasts over 1,000 flower species that are found nowhere else on the planet. It has several succulent plant species, such as vygies, which have lovely blossoms.
Many succulents have thick leaves that retain moisture, and many of them grow low to the ground with a stone-like look. The plump trunk of the quiver tree is one example of a tree that can store water in a dry climate. The blooming of the flowers is determined by the amount of rain that falls in the area. The blooms are photosensitive, and many will only open when the sun is shining brightly. The blooms face the sun and open entirely between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Winds might cause the blooms to fade soon.
The availability of resources, such as food and nesting material, appears to influence bird movement throughout the biome. Major rainfall events or changes in rainfall seasonality are linked to fluctuations in bird and animal populations. Mammal populations have fluctuated in the past due to resource availability and predator activity. Elephants, black rhinos, lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, eland, red hartebeest, gemsbok, springbok, and Hartmann’s mountain zebra were once common in the area but are now locally extinct.
Caracal 4×4 Eco Route
The 188km Caracal 4×4 Eco Route takes visitors through some of the most spectacular scenery in Namaqua national park, from the Kamiesberg with unending vistas, through the inland dunes and along 50km of breathtaking West Coast. The Luiperdskloof Cottage is also along this route.
Activities Offered in Namaqua National Park.
Viewing the wildflowers during the annual August to September blooming season and taking in the stunning beauty of Namaqua National Park’s different driving routes are two of the park’s most popular activities.
The bloom arises nearly overnight in the first or second week of August, lasts for about a month, and then vanishes as quickly as it appeared. It is triggered by the yearly winter rains. The park is a stunning sea of color during this time, with a blanket of pinks, whites, oranges, yellows, and purples spanning as far as the eye can see.
There are a number of ways to take advantage of the super bloom. The Skilpad and Korhaan Walking Trails, as well as a seasonal circular drive with spectacular flower overlooks, provide close-up views. You also have the option of staying in one of two temporary flower camps.
Game viewing is also popular, albeit the creatures that reside here are not the same as the renowned African safari animals that most visitors are familiar with. The national park is still incredibly undeveloped, with only one main driving route and numerous 4×4 tracks and detours branching off of it.
The Caracal Eco Route, which begins at Skilpad Rest Camp and leads tourists through the park’s various habitats, is a must-see. It runs all the way to the Groen River mouth, passing through mountain ranges, grass plains, and fynbos flatlands — a distance of between 110 and 125 miles depending on whether you take any of the detour rounds.
It takes between six and eight hours to drive one way; you can exit the park at Groen River and circle back on a tarmac road to the entrance and lodging at Skilpad. This will extend your journey by two hours. The roads at the park’s closest area to Skilpad can be driven in a sedan or 2×4, but the off-road trails and coastal section require a 4×4.
Guided Nature Walks & Hiking
Several hiking paths offer excellent views throughout the park, making it a popular choice for those searching for an active approach to see what Namaqua national park has to offer. The Skilpad Walking Trail and the Korhaan Walking Trail both start and end at the Skilpad Rest Camp’s main office. They are three miles and little less than two miles long, respectively.
The Heaviside Hiking Path, a third trail, runs for little under four miles along the isolated Namaqua coastline. The former is especially popular during bloom season since it leads hikers through the finest wildflower carpets. You’ll stroll along a white sand beach, discover tidal pools, and have a high possibility of seeing Heaviside dolphins and humpback whales from the shore.
Where to stay during your visit to Namaqua National Park in South Africa.
For those looking to spend a night or two in the national park, check out the following accommodation facilities; Skilpad Rest Camp, Luiperdskloof Cottage, and Namaqua Coastal Camping Site.
Getting to Namaqua National Park in South Africa.
Kamieskroon, about 14 miles southeast of Skilpad Rest Camp, is the closest town to Namaqua National Park. To get to the park from Kamieskroon, take Main Street north and then turn left onto Ou Hoog Weg. The village is located 43 miles/45 minutes south of Springbok and 305 miles/five hours north of Cape Town on the N7 motorway.