Did you know?
The word's smallest tortoise, the speckled padloper (padloper means 'path walker'), is found in Namaqualand.
When you go to the Namaqua National Park in spring, you may feel as if you've tumbled into a child's dream.
In the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve section, it's a world full of orange daisies – great drifts of them. From horizon to horizon, you'll see nothing but spring flowers nodding at you and the sun.
Your ears will be filled with people's laughter and the buzzing of eager pollinators. If you're new to the spring flowers of the succulent Karoo, you could ask for no better place to experience their magic.
Some people try to capture it all with cameras. Some sit in the shade and just stare. A few lie full length, making daisy angels.
Namaqualand, also called the succulent Karoo, is a low-rainfall desert.
Every year the timing of the flowers and their quantities vary somewhat. But somewhere between August and the beginning of October, this dusty stretch of land springs to flowering life for a few intense weeks.
Photographer Freeman Patterson describes this upwelling of colour perfectly: 'A sense of luxuriant abandon emanates from the land and fills the human spirit with delight.'
And it's not only the daisies that flower. Namaqualand is rich in bulb flora, and over 1 000 of the estimated 3 500 plant species that occur here are found nowhere else in the world.
To experience the heart of the succulent Karoo, there is the Caracal 4x4 Eco-route, over 180km long, that will take you deep into the park's newest lands.
It ends right at the coast, in secret coves between the Groen and Spoeg rivers, where the estuaries are rich with birds, and where you may see the rare Heaviside's dolphin. Here you'll find that in spring even the beaches are edged with flowers.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
From Cape Town, drive north on the N7 towards the Namibian border. You'll find Kamieskroon along this road, about 500km (six hours' drive) from Cape Town, and 67km south of the larger Namaqualand town of Springbok. The park is close by, and well signposted from Kamieskroon.
Best time to visit
Undoubtedly spring. Depending on the timing and duration of winter rainfalls, the flowering usually happens between the beginning of August and the end of September.
Tours to do
The Kamieskroon Hotel runs excellent photographic tours and workshops. Book well in advance.
What will it cost
A day visit to the park costs about R50 per person.
Length of stay
A morning or a full day, unless you're planning to take the Caracal Eco-route or stay overnight.
Where to stay
There are a few easily accessible self-catering cottages in the park, as well as a guesthouse that can only be reached with 4x4 vehicles. There are also several spectacular but rustic campsites on the coast equipped only with eco loos. Most of these are only accessible by 4x4 and you have to bring your own water. In spring, you can also check into the Flowers Beach mobile safari camp at Koringkorrelbaai on the coast.