Namaqua Summer Camp: 5 days, 50 km
Words Kate Collins, pics Kate Collins, Nils Backeberg
We arrive in the Namaqua National Park with enough light to set up our campsite before a fiery sun sinks on the horizon. We’re at Delwerskamp along the 50km stretch of Groen-Spoeg coastline. There’s not another soul in sight.
While boundless carpets of Namaqualand daisies stand out in bright orange on the drive to the park entrance, delicate succulents of all sorts can be seen closer to the coast. Ahead of us a navy sea stretches out as far as we can see, with only white foamy waves breaking the continuity.
The next day the first activity is mountain biking. We ride our bikes along the dirt roads, careful to avoid sandy tracks. The sea feels close, almost as if I am able to stretch out my hand and touch the water.
That afternoon we drive through the park. A family of meerkats stands on guard before gallivanting through the grass and out of sight. We spot a steenbok, statue still, possibly unnerved by the presence of our nearby vehicle. Among the birds, we record sightings of a booted eagle and southern pale chanting goshawk.
The coast boasts a number of attractions and one of them is driving to the Spoeg River caves. This is where archeologists discovered signs of sheep farming that date back more than 2 000 years. We later stop at the park’s newly built viewing deck and I look out at the vast wilderness ahead. Sea on one side and land on the other. The deck is an ideal spot for having a picnic while revelling in spectacular views.
Another activity to try is the newly opened Heaviside Dolphin Trail. The 6,5km trail is now easy to access along neatly constructed boardwalks that lead to the beach. The walkway allows for minimal human disturbance to both the dunes and coastal vegetation.
The coastal section of Namaqua park is a destination where you can reconnect with nature. There are none of the endless new developments so common along much of our coastline. The coastline has been left untouched. It is the way it has been for hundreds of years: perfect.
Namaqua’s special campsites
Delwerskamp (S 30° 49’ 33.4”, E17° 33’ 56.6”)
The closest campsite to the Groen River entrance gate, Delwerskamp offers spectacular ocean views along a rocky shoreline. A rock wall embraces the fire pit and acts as a shelter from wind. The campsite has seven stands to choose from, all situated far apart from one another so it feels as if you have the coast to yourself. Morning visitors include a number of small birds and Cape weavers that will inspect the braai area for leftovers! Head for the small beach closest to the camp or enjoy longer beach walks further north. A 4x4 is not required to reach this camp.
Kwass (S 30° 41’ 12.5”; E 17° 28’ 45.4”)
The second campsite along the coast, Kwass, is 18,7km from the Groen River gate. The area is known for its excellent flower displays and vygies during spring. Enjoy the splendour of the coastline on a stroll along the sandy beach just south of the camp. This camp is smaller than Delwerskamp and consists of four sites. The coast can get cold in the morning and at night so come prepared. In the evenings, enjoy magical sunsets before starry skies steal the show.
Skuinsklip (S 30° 39’ 51.1”; E 17° 28’ 01.6”)
This intimate campsite, with only two stands, is 22,8km from the Groen River gate. Like the others, Skuinsklip has a large windbreak and fireplace. It is situated on a rocky coast, but the two pretty beaches nearby beckon you to explore. You’ll need a 4x4 to reach this site. The road is made up of stretches of soft sand and vehicles towing trailers or caravans should be careful not to get stuck. Enjoy a drive in the 4x4 section and see how many antelope and birds you can spot. The historical Spoeg River Caves are also close enough for exploring.
Koringkorrelbaai (S 30° 39’ 19.7”; E 17° 27’ 49.7”)
This is a little larger than Skuinsklip and has five campsites. It’s 24km from Groen River Gate. The bay is renowned for brilliant sightings of Heaviside dolphins. Just north of the camp is a beautiful beach that awaits exploration. The camp has a windbreak and fireplace for each site as well as three enviroloos. A 4x4 is required to reach the camp.
Skuinsbaai Noord (S 30° 37’ 13.9”; E 17° 26’ 07.5”)
If you’re looking for a spot where you can enjoy some of nature’s finest scenery and feel completely private, Skuinsbaai Noord is for you. The two stands form one large section, making it ideal for a small group. The camp can be accessed through Sarrisam, one of the park’s public access roads, using a high clearance vehicle or from Groen River Gate with a 4x4. The shore is rocky, but there are a number of beautiful bays in the area. Enjoy a walk or drive or take your bicycle as I did. A ride along the coastal roads is pure pleasure every minute!
Good to know: You need to bring all your own provisions including firewood and water. There are no ablution facilities, but a few of the camps have enviroloos. Most of the campsites can be reached only by 4x4.
Cost: R90 or R115 base rate for one to six people depending on the site.
Contact: Groen River 027-531-1015, Central Reservations 012-428-9111
Source: Wild Magazine