Along our amazing west coast, just a few hours’ drive from Cape Town, you’ll discover a wonderland, also outside the popular flower season. Take your family to Namaqua National Park and West Coast National Park. By Peter Chadwick
Our first night was spent at Skilpad Rest Camp in Namaqua National Park, having driven up from the southern Cape on a circuitous journey. After a warm welcome from park staff, we settled into one of the four comfortable self-catering chalets that offered stunning views towards the west where deep valleys and hills lay silhouetted against a setting sun.
The Skilpad flats are renowned for their floral displays and like the other two sites on our itinerary, hot spots of global importance. With an estimated 3,500 plant species having been recorded to date, this is the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world.
The next day we reached the coastline, where a network of deep sandy tracks necessitated lowering the tyre pressures on our vehicle and engaging 4×4. These tracks led us close along a wild and unspoilt coastline where massive waves crashed upon the shoreline and white beaches stretched between outcrops of boulders. Our campsite at Kwas-se-Baai lay right on the beach edge.
The new dawn had us packing again for a southward journey past the Groenrivier estuary and onwards to Doringbaai, Lamberts Bay, Elandsbaai and Velddrift before reaching our destination of the West Coast National Park and the tropical blue waters of the Langebaan Lagoon.
For something different, we had booked into the SANParks houseboats at Kraalbaai. For my two daughters, this turned out to be the highlight of our trip. There were repeated delighted leaps from the boat into the warm waters where they swam for hours on end, only breaking to canoe around the houseboats or being towed behind a boat on a rubber ‘alligator’.
We had started our journey in search of floral splendours. In addition we had been blessed with a diversity and constant buzzing of life. These memories will call us back again and again to this west coast paradise.