Thursday, August 6, 2009

Springbok - Part 2

Namaqua National Park

Visitors from around the world come to this place every year for the late winter - early spring flower show. We have been twice and touched only a very small part of the park. There are campsites and roads accessible only to four-wheel drive vehicles and ours is a station wagon with very low clearance.

Access to the park is a process. We leave the lodge in Springbok and drive 65km south to the little town of Kamieskroon ( The N7 is a main highway, two lanes for the most part, through hills and small mountains in this section, so the drive is not taxing.

We did a drive-thru in Kamieskroon. It seems a quite normal small town with this picturesque church. South Africans take the security of their children seriously as you can tell by this fence around one of the local schools.

At Kamieskroon we exit onto a gravel/dirt road toward the park for another 17km. This is a much more exciting drive past farms and through streams and puddles.

The flowers are the big attraction for this park and for the entire area. The weather becomes quite hot and dry in the late spring so these blooms are taking advantage of the winter rains and cool temperatures. It’s time to bloom, be pollinated and reseed. Mats of orange, blue, yellow, red and white cover the flats and hillsides.

That rock in the picture? It’s really a termite mound as you can see below. When the termites finish with the mound other critters move in. No, we didn’t see which critters.

Aardvarks, porcupines, snakes, rodents – all tend to use shelters like these.

There are some great vantage points within the park. Here Betsy is taking advantage of one of them.

Meantime I’m taking pictures of some of the other wildlife who are trying to catch some rays. These are dassies (yes, there are two – see the one peeking over the rock ledge?), rock hyrax, the closest living relative to the elephant. They’re about the size of a big housecat.

Let me close with a few photos of the daisy-like flowers from the area. Cape Daisies (Osteospermum) and Gazanias are two that can be bought at garden centers in the US.
I’ll deal with some of the more unusual flowers in a later journal edition.


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