Namaqua National Park
About Namaqua National Park
Located in the arid reaches of Namaqualand, Namaqua National Park is one of the more unique South African National Parks. It encompasses 700 square kilometers of the succulent Karoo Biome which is a biodiversity hotspot containing the world’s largest concentration of succulent plants.
Apart from an interesting collection of succulents, the park is best known for the gorgeous displays of spring flowers which pop up out of nowhere in the springtime. The rest of the year you’ll have to be content with gorgeous arid landscapes, interesting fauna and plenty of peace and quiet.
You’ll find Namaqualand National Park near Kamieskroon and Springbok in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, about 495 km north of Cape Town.
It’s a coastal reserve, which includes the rugged seaside expanses between the Groen and Spoeg Rivers within its bounds. The reserve is located in a winter rainfall area and you can expect hot, dry weather from December to May with a chance of the occasional shower any other time of year.
The first steps towards conserving the amazing biodiversity of this area were taken in 1988 when WWF-SA bought a section of the farm, Skilpad, and put methods in place to preserve the wildflowers within. This reserve was taken over by SANParks in 1998 and officially opened in 1999.
In 2001, SANParks began upgrading and refurbishing the Skilpad Section of the Park and continued to buy land for inclusion in the park. In 2002 a new park was proclaimed which included this new acreage.
By 2003, the total area under their protection was 72 000 ha and SANParks commenced negotiations with De Beers Namaqualand Mines to include a corridor to the coast within the bounds of the park. The Groen-Spoeg River section was officially brought into the fold in 2008.
As a relatively new park, Namaqua National Park is still undergoing improvements and studies are ongoing into this fragile and unique environment.
Namaqua National Park retains an ‘old’ parks board feel with basic amenities and rustic accommodations.
SANParks accommodation comprises the following 3 options:
- Skilpad Restcamp
Skilpad Rest Camp is the main administrative section of the park and also the site of the main entrance and reception area.
The camp has four chalets available to hire. These are equipped with 2 single beds in the main bedroom and a ¾ sleeper couch which can accommodate 1 adult or 2 small children in the living area.
An open plan living room and kitchen leads onto an enclosed verandah and outside braai area. There is also an internal fireplace, ceiling fans and 220V electricity in the chalets. The kitchen is reasonably well equipped with a 4-plate stove, microwave, a fridge/freezer, toaster, kettle and enough utensils, crockery and cutlery for 4 people.
- Luiperdskloof Guest Cottage
This rustic 3-bedroom cottage offers intimate seclusion about 3 hours’ drive from Skilpad Gate and is accessible by 4×4 vehicle only. Light and heat are courtesy of candles and both the fridge and oven are gas-powered.
The cottage accommodates 6 people in 1 double bed and 4¾ beds. There is one bathroom with a shower, washbasin and toilet. The kitchen is fully equipped as far as the lack of electricity allows, but guests are requested to bring their own firewood.
- Beach Camp sites
For a truly rustic experience, the beach camp sites offer little more than just scenery. The aim here is to limit touristic impact as far as possible and guests need to bring all their own equipment. There are no ablutions provided and the camp has no water.
Caravans are welcome but guests are advised to make sure that their tyres are pumped correctly for sand driving before hitting the roads less travelled that lead to this camp.
The Flower Camps are run by a private operator and offer a luxurious glamping experience from around 23 August to 23 September every year, during the Namaqualand flower season.
The camps are located on the beach and in the flowery fields of the park’s Skilpad section.
Each has 12 fully serviced and furnished safari tents sleeping 2 people each. Plug points are provided along with the following amenities:
- Linen and electric blankets
- En suite showers
- Chemical toilets
- Electric lanterns
You can look forward to waking up to tea, coffee and rusks delivered to your tent every morning, followed by a full English breakfast in the communal dining tent. A sumptuous high tea and a full 3-course dinner make up the balance of the meals. Guests can order picnic baskets to go and cheese platters to enjoy with their sundowners at an extra cost. There is a cash bar available at both camps.
Visitors should note that there is no fuel filling station or ATM within the boundaries of the park. These facilities are available in the nearby town of Springbok.
SANParks welcome children at all its camps, although Namaqua National Park does not have any specific activities for children, but this is the best of nature and they will not be bored easily during a stay here.
There are no conference facilities in Namaqua National Park as yet.
While Namaqua National Park is more geared towards a restful and reflective break, there are several ways to keep yourself busy during your stay.
During the flower season, guests can embark on a circular route through the park with designated viewpoints overlooking the best floral areas.
Picnic sites are open year-round.
There are 3 official walking trails in Namaqua National Park.
The Skilpad Walking Trail take you on a 5km meander amongst the flower carpets, while the Korhaan Walking Trail takes a more rugged route to explore the bushier areas of the park. Both Trails start at the Skilpad Reception office.
Commencing from the Abjoel viewing Deck about 15km from the Groen River office, the Heaviside Hiking Trail descends onto the beach from a high dune and follows the rocky coastline to a pristine white beach. You can expect to see Heaviside dolphins and humpback whales during your time on the trail, and spend time exploring the tidal pools at low tide. This is a one-way trail that ends at the boardwalk.
The Caracal Eco-Route is a 4×4 adventure that follows a rugged track from Skilpad Camp to the Groen River Mouth. The journey usually takes about 6-8 hours to complete and is a testing, albeit beautifully scenic, challenge for 4×4 enthusiasts.
Mountain bikers can bring their bikes and do their own thing on any of the roads and tracks open to the public in Namaqua National Park.
Birding is a full-time activity during your stay. You’ll see numerous species while out on walks and drives and you may even spot some from the comfort of your tent or chalet.
There are no dining facilities offered at Namaqua National Park and visitors are advised to bring all their own provisions. The Flower Camps do offer fully inclusive accommodation during season.
Fauna and Flora
With 15 distinct bioregions inside its borders, Namaqua National Park writhes with a huge diversity of life forms each uniquely adapted to their specific zone. From arid estuarine salt marshes to sandy grasslands, nature lovers will find much to enthrall them here.
The main focus in Namaqua National Park is the plants. Over 3 500 plant species grow in the Karoo biome, and 1000 of these grow nowhere else.
Some of the more interesting ones include quiver trees, irises, amaryllises, geraniums, vygies and Namaqualand daisies by the thousands during flower season.
Most of the animals found in the park are of the smaller variety with the exception of graceful oryx. You might also come across baboons, klipspringer, aardvark, black-backed jackal, duiker and even leopard.
Birds are abundant and some of the more interesting species include the Karoo lark, Cape long-billed lark, black-headed canary, black harrier and cinnamon-breasted warbler.
Packing List for visiting South African National Parks
These are some of the essentials for any trip to Namaqua National Park:
- Sun Protection
- Swimming costume and towels
- Sturdy, comfortable walking shoes
- A map and guidebook
- A torch
- Mosquito repellent
Don’t forget a camera, memory cards and chargers for all your electronics. Protective covers for your photographic gear are advised for taking photographs along the coastline.
Most major tour operators offer fully inclusive tours to Namaqua National Park during the flower season.
For a self-drive excursion, a 4×4 is recommended if you want to make the most of your visit to this wilderness area.
Directions from Cape Town:
It takes about 6 hours to drive from Cape Town to Namaqualand National Park. Setting off from Cape Town, take the N1 and merge onto the N7 at Milnerton. Follow the road all the way to Kamieskroon in the Northern Cape and turn left at the signpost to the park.
The nearest airports to Namaqua National Park are at Oranjemund and Cape Town.
You can charter a plane to the nearest airstrip at Springbok.
For more information on the best national parks in South Africa, check back regularly for updates on our website. To book your trip to Namaqua National Park in South Africa, pop us a message via our contact us page, and we will gladly assist you.
Please Note: The details shared herein were correct at the time of publishing. However, with time some of this information may change. We recommend confirming information with suppliers prior to making final travel arrangements. If you do happen to find an issue with any information we’ve shared here, please feel free to contact us so that we can make the relevant changes.