Padlopers, birds, butterflies and blomme Just 17km northwest of Kamieskroon is the Skilpad section of Namaqua National Park. Twitchers and butterfly afficionados love it and it's worth spending a few days here - even in ‘bad years’ the sandy plains are plastered with vivid orange.
The dirt road that circles Skilpad takes you an overwhelming five kilometres through magnificent blooms. Halfway through is the “Roof of Africa” viewpoint, an area of huge granite domes affording panoramic views of the reserve and Kamiesberg mountains.
Skilpad is situated on a ridge of hills that capture most of the rain blowing from the west coast. Because of this the flowers are consistently spectacular, even when other areas are not. Outside of springtime much of this area is used as grazing land for sheep, clearing the bushes that would suppress the growth of the annual daisies and break the continuity of colour.
Adventurous and energetic? Try a new 4x4 trail, the Caracal Eco Route, which opened during July 2009 at the Namaqua National Park. The 153 km trail stretches from Skilpad in the Northeast to Groen Rivier in the south. The route enables visitors to enjoy previously inaccessible spectacular areas of the Namaqua. You can also do the 50 km 4x4 eco route or get on your bike for the 6km mountain bike trail. Bikes can be hired in the park.
Skilpad? Namaqua National Park is home to the world's smallest tortoise, the Namaqua Speckled Padloper!
Hot tips for flower gazers
Get up close and personal - explore on foot and go down on your hands and knees! Closer inspection reveals a multitude of little floral treasures that hide among the daisies. Happy flower gazers have pollen dusted noses and grubby knees. Take a magnifying glass along.Plan to drive with the sun behind you - generally from north to south and westward in the morning, eastward after noon.
On a sunny day the flowers are fully open for five hours between 11h00 and 16h00.
Two days is ample for a region if you have good weather but don’t rush it.
Get a multi-day weather forecast at www.weathersa.co.za
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*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling