West Coast | Namaqua National Park


Hear the breakers crash. Near the Groen River mouth in the Namaqua National Park.

Few flower-viewing areas are as pristine as the West Coast between Hondeklip Bay and Strandfontein on the Namaqua National Park’s Caracal Eco Route. Pack the Jimny and hit the N7! That’s what Ali van Wyk did.

Start driving north early on a Friday morning because somewhere on that narrow stretch on the N7 between Citrusdal and Klawer you’ll be stuck behind a Namibian lorry.

Buy a bag of sweet potatoes and fresh dates a little bit past Citrusdal at the Kom Proe farmstall and kom proe their Kiyomis, a cross between an orange and a naartjie.

Aim for a beer in the Kamieskroon Hotel at 16:00. Sleep in this nice old platteland hotel or in a  self-catering annex of the hotel in the town. You can also camp behind the hotel underneath the Kamieskroon Hotel billboard with the sjrrr of the lorries’ exhaust brakes in your ears all night long.

Chase everyone out of bed at sparrow’s on Saturday for the long day on the route. The Namaqua National Park’s reception (the old Skilpad Reserve), where you pay and receive a good photocopy of a map, lies 10 km northwest of Kamieskroon, along a dirt road out of the town.

Go for a jaunt on the flower circular route through Skilpad before taking the route down the Soebatsfontein Pass through the Kamiesberge. After the pass you drive through a long valley, past Kookfontein and eventually down the beautiful Wildeperdehoek Pass to the sea.

Look out in the mountains for Ludwig’s bustard, Verreaux’s eagle, klipspringer, red hartebeest, gemsbok, springbok and leopard.

Pitch your tent somewhere near the Spoeg River mouth on the coast. You can camp anywhere.

Sunday morning you may decide to take Monday off too and move camp south to just before Groen River mouth.

Hot hint: Use a guide who knows the area. Without Virosa Tour’s Piet van Heerde we would never have identified the Cape clapper lark, Namaqua resin bush or harlequin hesperantha (perdeblom). Bring your pals, as Piet takes a minimum of four vehicles and a maximum of eight. Contact: 073 229 5014; www.virosatours.co.za

Kamieskroon Hotel: A double room costs about R540 in season (R400 out of season) and a self-catering cottage for four about R540. Camping costs ± R140 for two. Contact: 027 672 1614.

Caracal Eco Route: Spend more than a day on the trail, because it’s fantastic to camp on the coast. Sanparks have built braais, shelters and toilets here and there.

4×4 or 4×2? A standard bakkie may get stuck in the sand along the coast.
Cost: R100 per vehicle and R20 conservation fee pp (WildCard holders excepted).

Between waves and flowers

Originally published in DO #42 Jan-Feb 201