Namaqua National Park General Info

Say Namaqua National Park and people immediately think carpets of spring wild flowers. And they would not be wrong - Namaqualand not only has some of the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world, but more than a 1 000 of its approximate 3 500 plant species are not found anywhere else on Earth.

Whilst for most of the year Namaqualand is a semi-desert, July to September sees a burst of colour after the rains resulting in literally millions of flowers that literally transform the landscape of the Namaqua National Park into a show that easily rivals the natural wonders on Earth. Namaqualand is an area of striking contrasts and a harsh climate that has meant that flora and fauna have had to adapt or die.

The landscape in the reserve is dotted not only with fields of brightly coloured daisies in spring, but there are also quiver trees, massive granite outcrops, quartz patches, and a sky so vast, it has to be seen to be believed - small wonder that it has been coined 'big sky country'.

Namaqualand includes the Atlantic Ocean, from where it extends all the way to the small town of Pofadder in the east, the Orange River to the north and beyond the little village of Garies to the south.

There is a circular drive perfect for the spring flower season with viewpoints along the route, a number of short nature trails, picnic sites, and the chance to see the world’s smallest tortoise - the Namaqua Speckled Padloper.

The Skilpad Wildflower Reserve forms part of the Namaqua National Park.

The Namaqualand is a winter rainfall desert known throughout the world for its annual spring flower display. It is also recognised as both an important and threatened global centre of diversity with plants, reptiles and many invertebrates specific to the region.

The Skilpad Wildflower Reserve was established by the WWF in 1988 to raise awareness of the floral kingdom of the Namaqualand. Mainly shrubland and abandoned wheat fields, it may not look like much. But an incredible display of Namaqualand daisies errupts here annually (between July to September). The 930 hectare reserve is exceptionally popular as a result.

Because of its location, 700 metres above sea level up on a ridge of hills fairly close to the coast, mists and rain blow in from the sea over the reserve. As a result the reserve has incredible flower displays even when surrounding areas do not.

White, yellow and orange daisies – Arctotis, Dimorphotheca and Osteospermums – are annual stalwarts. But there are also beautiful small bulbous plants found in amongst the koppies and bushes that often go unnoticed – like Babiana and Mesembryanthemums, or Vygies as we know them.

There is a dirt road that circles Skilpad for roughly five kilometres through the blooms and is worth every inch of its route at the flower time of year. A halfway viewpoint is known as the 'roof of Africa' because of the huge granite domes from which one can see over the reserve and the Kamiesberg mountains.

If you are in a 4x4, take the Caracal Eco Route that stretches from Skilpad to Groen Rivier – truly beautiful.