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Africa Geographic
Wildlife . People . Travel
Klaserie Sands River Camp

Original source: yearinthewild.com

So everyone knows that the spring flowers in Namaqua National Park are superb (although I think the flowers in Tankwa Karoo National Park are even better, but that’s another discussion!) I was recently in Namaqua National Park for a few days, and drove down the coastal section of the park. It’s very different to the inland section which, during spring, is covered in kaleidoscopic colours, but in summer the koppies and inland plains are very dry and rather uninteresting for the visitor.

This one is for my next Valentine...can you see the hearts in the flower!?!?
This one is for my next valentine… can you see the hearts in the flower!?!?

The coastal section however makes for a superb wilderness experience. A series of basic campsites are spread along the 45 km protected coastline. Strandveld fynbos predominates, and when I was there three weeks ago, there were still plenty of flowers.

My campsite... this is at Kwas se Baai. The best on the whole coast!
My campsite… this is at Kwas se Baai. The best on the whole coast!

Coves of pure white beaches are interspersed among rocky shores, where one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies can be found. And if you go during the week… there will be almost NO-ONE ELSE AROUND!! YES!

The seal colony, just beyond Boulder Bay.
The seal colony, just beyond Boulder Bay.

Of course, it’s much cooler near the coast because the cold Benguela current keeps temperatures down, so be prepared for fog sometimes (especially in summer), as well as some furious cold fronts (in winter). But for most of the time this part of the park is a superb place to chill out.

Cormorants perched on the granite boulders offshore, with the lurking cold front on the horizon.
Cormorants perched on the granite boulders offshore, with the lurking cold front on the horizon.

It’s good to know as well that there are imminent plans to declare a marine protected area offshore of the park. I’ve been told that this area will have some line-fishing exploitation rights, but it will be controlled. On the other hand, I’ve also heard that the government intends to sell licences to oil and gas companies to drill offshore. This is not good news for tuna and other fish because the blasting has disrupted normal fish migration and breeding behaviour. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems, especially when it comes to ecological impacts.

The coastal section is mostly strandveld, and there are some sections with thick beach sand...so you must drive a 4x4, and remember to deflate tyres to around 1 bar!
The coastal section is mostly strandveld, and there are some sections with thick beach sand…so you must drive a 4×4, and remember to deflate tyres to around 1 bar!
A granite outcrop, looking north up the coast.
A granite outcrop, looking north up the coast.
With the succulent Karoo hosting close to 6 500 species of plants, it's the most diverse arid biome in the world.
With the succulent Karoo hosting close to 6 500 species of plants, it’s the most diverse arid biome in the world.
The black oystercatcher is one of my favourite birds and is well protected at Namaqua National Park. Remember not to drive off the designated tracks - you will damage the beaches and shoreline, and crush the birds' eggs.
The black oystercatcher is one of my favourite birds and is well protected at Namaqua National Park. Remember not to drive off the designated tracks – you will damage the beaches and shoreline, and crush the birds’ eggs.
The chalets inland at the Skilpad section have great views over the hills towards the coast.
The chalets inland at the Skilpad section have great views over the hills towards the coast.
Shenton Safaris
Scott Ramsay

Photojournalist Scott Ramsay focuses on exploring the national parks, nature reserves and community conservancies in Southern Africa, taking photographs and interviewing the experts who work in these protected areas. Through his work, he hopes to inspire others to travel to the continent's wild places, which Scott believes are Africa's greatest long term assets. For more, go to www.LoveWildAfrica.com or www.facebook.com/LoveWildAfrica. Partners include Ford Ranger, Goodyear, Cape Union Mart, K-Way, EeziAwn, Frontrunner, Hetzner and Globecomm.