Saturday, 20 May 2017

South African Road Trip 2016. Clanwilliam - Namaqua National Park- Upington

29/09/2016- Today we were traveling on the N7 going North. The weather had been a bit variable till now, raining and very cold at times, as we travelled North it got warmer. It wasn't a great distance today just 320 KM, so about 4 hours, so there was no need to rush off. We had a filling breakfast at Bushmanskloof than got the car back. What a lovely surprise, It had been washed for us. But the guide pointed out the broken wheel inner arch, also it had been 'mended' with duck tape. We have had many other hire 4x4 from Bushlore and they have always been new models, and at the prices they charge the vehicles should be new. This vehicle was really quite old and worn looking, the cab was shabby and all in all it was showing signs of wear and tear. I was very disappointed that we had been given a Hilux in such a poor  condition as Bushlore were fully aware of the journey we were undertaking and the terrain we would be covering. 
As we passed over the Olifants River we entered the area known as Namaquland . As it was Spring we were hoping to see the famous spring flowers, but this botanical display does depend upon winter rain. According to the Flower Route Map printed by the northern Cape Tourism visitors to the region can experience one of the greatest flower shows on earth with an estimated 3000 plant species in the area. The flowers will bloom any time between July and September; so we were late! The Namakwa National Park is listed as a place to see them, and this was our destination.

During the drive I did spot a few flowers along the roadside; and a few Mearcats- but not the blooms carpeting the landscape so assumed we were to late in the season. However as we left the N7 and took the dirt road towards Namaqua National Park we drove through fields and fields of orange flowers it was spectacular.

Namaqua National Park

Namaqualand national park
Namaqualand daisies
We were staying in National Parks Accommodation, at Skilpad Rest Camp. There are 4 chalets and to book go through the SAN Parks reservations, ring them on the numbers given on the official SAN Parks web page as the web page only gives availability you don't seen to be able to book via the web site. It may take a long time to get through, but be patient as the accommodation offers value for money in some fantastic wilderness locations.  
Skilpad offers 4 chalets that sleep 2 adults and 2 children or 3 adults. there are 2 single beds and a sleeper couch. A veranda, dining area, bathroom . A kitchen - fully equipped- a fireplace that is also a briaa. A briaa area outside. You must bring all food, firewood and most importantly alcohol with you as there are no shops.

Skilpad Rest Camp

Skilpad Rest Camp


Skilpad Rest Camp

Skilpad Rest Camp

Skilpad Rest Camp


Skilpad Rest Camp

Skilpad Rest Camp


Skilpad Rest Camp
We spent the afternoon exploring the walking trails in the Namaqua National Park and just in amazement at the wild flowers. In the evening we gazed at the Milky Way in all its glory and then snuggled up with the fire as it was very cold. Parks such are this one are not as well known as the Kruger for instance, but if you are in the Northern Cape it is defiantly worth a visit. Cost; it was Rand 960 for the night, worth every penny and far better value than Bushmans Kloof!
30/ 09/ 2016- today we had another 4 1/2  hour drive. From Namaqua national park to Upington. The first stop was for fuel in the town of Springbok, this town was nestled in a few hills that looked like big boulders. then we drove on what must be one of the worlds straightest and  most boring roads in the world. We saw a lot of accidents along this road, some very nasty ones.

The N 14 in South Africa from Springbok to Pofadder

The N 14 in South Africa from Springbok to Pofadder

This area must be one of the worlds true wilderness, the town of Pofadder was a lonely, dry town located in a harsh wilderness, again this was a fuel stop and I had though that we would be able to get lunch, but the food on offer at the one petrol station was very poor and the bakery across the road was shut. I had a very greasy cheeses sandwich. The road continued as before until we got to the town of Alheit, here we turned off to call in at the Augrabies Falls.
The falls are located in the Augrabies National Park, and we had to pay the park fee to get in as well as the fee for being foreigners.  
Augrabies Falls are a waterfall of the Orange River. The falls are commonly cited as being 480 feet tall. In full flood, the Orange River fills the canyon below the falls - However the river was not in flood! and the falls were a trickle. I actually think the Man on the gate should have told us there was a drought and there was nothing to see. Anyway we had a cup of tea at the 'falls' and looked at the rock formations.
Augrabies Falls
 Back on the N14 we followed the Orange River  towards Upington. A bit like the Nile, the Orange river transforms the dusty orange landscape into a green strip, growing among other things fruit to be dried and sold all over the world, the area along the river is irrigated and fertile. As we approached Upington we were distracted by a beacon, this turned out to be Khi Solar One, Solar thermal power plant. It was very distracting and your eyes were drawn to it rater than to the road!

Khi Solar One seen from the N14 towards Upington;

The town of Upington is located on the banks of the orange River and we had prebooked accommodation for the night at River Place Manor.  It was ideal, a clean room located on the river with its own small restaurant, perfect for a good nights sleep.
River Place Manor, Upington.