Camping along the Namaqua coast. Picture by Nils Backeberg

Camping along the Namaqua coast. Picture by Nils Backeberg

A beach holiday in Namaqua National Park is unlike any other. By day, explore the endless shoreline, coves and bays that characterise the coastal section. At night, let the starry skies steal the show. By Kate Collins

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.

Mountain biking in Namaqua by Bjorn Backeberg

Take your mountain bike to cycle along the dirt tracks. Pictures by Bjorn Backeberg

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.

Namaqua National Park by Bjorn Backeberg

You need a vehicle with high clearance to explore the coastal section of Namaqua National Park.

Steenbok in Namaqua by Kate Collins

Keep your eyes peeled for antelope such as this shy steenbok. Picture by Kate Collins

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 4×4 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.

Namaqua coast by Marianne Backeberg

The deserted coastline is perfect if you’re looking for solitude. Picture by Marianne Backeberg

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 4×4 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 4×4 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 4×4 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 4×4. 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!

Contact: SANParks Central Reservations +27 (0)12 428 9111 or book online.