Heading North from Cape Town has even more to offer: West Coast National Park; Sandveld Spring flowers; Langebaan Lagoon and Saldanha Bay; Berg River Estuary; Bird Island and Lamberts Bay; Augrabies Falls (“Water that thunders”); The Great Orange(Gariep) River and Richtersveld National Park. A day trip from Cape Town to the Export harbour at Saldanha Bay, taking in the West Coast National Park, the un-spoilt beach and holiday Bay of Churchhaven, and providing it is August to September, a visit to the Postberg Flower Reserve (20 special passes issued per day for the flower trail). Zebra, Wildebeest (Gnu), Eland, Springbok and Gemsbok (Oryx). Not forgetting loads of smaller critters together with the world renown Fynbos – best examined on your hands and knees.
The fossil Park is a highlight of this region for discoveries and learnings while the farmlands teem with cattle, sheep and wheat. More adventure is available through the Cederberg, Tankwa Karroo and Koue Bokkeveld. The wild places here are reached with a 4-wheel drive vehicle and camping out, so equipment is important. Rock formations around high mountain peaks, fynbos including the Rooibos tea industry, prolific birdlife amongst the protea bushes, shy antelope and leopard.
Further north, not far from the little town of Kamieskroon is the entrance to Namaqua National Park, with a topography characterised by sandy alluvial valleys, granite outcrops and large round exposed quartz rock. Traces of stone axes and cave habitation reaching back hundreds of thousands of years to homo erectus have been found, linking the San people to this area while their descendants’ still live and work here.
Stock farming and mining followed until WWF-SA bought land to conserve the fauna and flora kingdoms to be taken over by SA National Parks. Spring flowers are a major attraction while relaxed accommodation in various chalets can be booked. Of particular interest to our focus on wild, far off places and for the very best scenery both inland and coastal is the Caracal 4X4 route. It covers the northern parts of the park taking you through all 34 biodiversity hotspots including the coastal areas. Here the park offers several basic camping sites down to Groenrivier.
The second days’ travel is through the West Coast 4X4 trail ending off at Strandfontein Park, near Olifants River mouth. Wild life includes: common duiker, steenbok, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, caracal, baboon, klipspringer, Cape fox, aardvark and African wildcat. Springbok, Red Hartebeest and Gemsbok has been reintroduced and Southern Right and Humpback whales may be seen.