Jan 2017 Namaqua “West Coast” Park

A long weekend getaway. The West Coast is not one of my favourite places and usually I just have to utter the words “West Coast” and it starts Raining. In any event this was one Sanparks venue we had not been to (Namaqua Park) and I reckoned that well, end of January mid summer, we’ve got to be lucky. Well we were in the event – but on the Friday morning we were to leave, Cape Town had its best rains for months, so I was not impressed with setting off in the pouring rain. However we soon escaped the rain-belt to be back in hot sun.

Given that it was almost 500 Kms from home to the Park which is about 60Kms below Springbok we decided to leave on the Friday late morning and only travel 300 Kms to Van Rhynsdorp to Letsatsi Lodge part of the nc famous lodges group – see:Letsatsi Lodge

The group have taken over the old Catholic Church there and built some tented camps around a dam and chalet sites and on the whole I would have to say it is successful – It was very hot and extremely windy when we arrived which was unpleasant but the chalets are very well appointed and equipped, even an electric plug outside for the car fridges. It is a bit close to the N7 but the noise is minimal. Dinner in the Restaurant is OK and the staff very friendly. It is just not a suitable stop over in my opinion for the long-haul to Namibia as it is a long way down when heading South to CT and not far enough up when heading North into Namibia. That said if you are going NE via Calvinia & up that way to Bots then it may be not a bad place to stop. You are hardly spoiled for choice on the route up.

The illusion of a banquet breakfast is just that. It looks better than it is – this is the 2nd breakfast we have had here and it follows what is offered at their other venues but I fail to understand why the plates must be cold, the scrambled eggs tepid and like rubber – no bacon…………horrible “fruit” juice……..A disappointment – needs improving.

So after a late start as we were not in a hurry to complete the mere 200 kms to the park, the wind had dropped and it was going to be a beautiful day. We set off up the N7. After Vanrhynsdorp you seem to enter the “empty quarter” very little traffic, along the long and hilly blacktop – a real pleasure to drive slowly, taking in the wide vistas.

To access the park you turn off at Kamieskroon – not much happening here – and take the dirt road which follows next to the N7 up away and then ducks under the National Road. It is about another 20 kms or so until the pleasant dirt road brings you to Wolwepoort Farm where you enter the park road proper. I have a theory about Farmers – when they hear a car approaching they close all the curtains and hide until the car has passed 🙂 At Wolwepoort Farm we saw the Farmers wife watering the lawn ! Shock horror ! LOL.

The Park offices are situated at the top of the hill. The park is a very disjointed affair with many parts that sort of connect up; but the Park connects & adjoins with many farms in the expanded area and stretches all the way down to the Sea. Rather like the Tankqwa Karoo Park this would appear to be a work in progress. Staff very pleasant but not very knowledgeable so we bought a book on the area which proved useful.

Driving up and down the N7 and passing this area you always wonder where all those little roads off go – well it has to be said that they are well worth the detour and exploration – some magic kloofs and great tracks with stunning views.

We were sort of pointed in the direction of the Chalets which were 2 kms away – my new 276Xc had no info as to which way to go, so we sort of had a quick intuit and entering through yet another gate encountered this:

Go Figure ! There is no camping in this section of the park

There are 4 chalets in total so if you want to come here for the spring flowers I reckon you would have to book years in advance ! Chalet # 4 is the best one at the far end with the best unobstructed views. We had been allotted Chalet 1 which was fine as they are all the same. I have to say that this is one of the best Chalets we have stayed in by SanParks, it is in excellent condition and with comfortable furniture with good protection from the wind which came up again late afternoon necessitating braaing at the inside braai rather than outside. I do think however that this area is a fire-hazard – high risk – there is bush all around right up close to the chalets and in the event of a run away fire you would need to get out fast. Not good.

End of a beautiful day

Trying my hand at night photography Panasonic FZ220 Bridge camera

Playing around with the evening star

Beautiful night skies with no light pollution

Total peace & quiet, slept well and awoke to another beautiful day – you can see the sea coastal mist in the very far distance. we decide to go and do a route and see where we end up – these are big distances and the roads in many places are very corrugated indeed – you need to plan as unlike most parks there are few circular routes as such.

We set off down the dramatic pass from the top of Namakaland 4×4 route and went through old abandoned farms to Soebatsfontein which is quite a community just outside one section of the park – you find yourself entering and leaving at all sorts of odds times – the roads tend to be better outside the park. Joining up with the road to Hondeklipbaai we turned back and came back up via the Killian & the Grootvlei Passes – stunning views – magic passes.

View down from Top near chalets

End of another magic day

Next day same view same weather 🙂

These guys appeared for breakfast

So off again down the pass but this time right turn onto the Caracul route – the idea with this park – but we did not understand this at the time of booking is that you stay one night up at the chalets, then take the Caracul route and stay the 2nd night in the hill top-no facilities camping hut – and then go down and follow the coast for a camping night on the sea – with a sort of wall for shelter (great ! when the West Coast is at it’s frequent worst) and then back to the Chalets for the 4th night.

In any event we bypassed the “no assess” unless booked hut and headed around and up the Wildeperdehoekpass – not a horse in sight but my what views and what a climb – Also the Messelpad Pass.

Lots of deep water under the surface in the valley beds !

poor photo – bridge camera

Another end to another wonderful day

The next day we went down the pass again and went via Soebatsfontein with a view to getting to the coast.

Community Farms along the way

Finally Hondeklipbaai

Lunch on the beach – we were last here in 2005 and it was run-down then – the place has expanded plus an enormous police station has been built but it has to be said this is still a dump. Could be nice if it was tidied up – given that you have the impression that this must be a destination of note given that there are three separate sign-posted turn-offs from the N7 it’s a hell of a disappointment as a village. Nice on the beach though but broken glass etc everywhere. Yuck.

So back thought the farmlands in a round about sort of way lots of gates ! and a last night of magic sunsets.

Up early next morning – Tuesday – and an easy, just under 6 hour drive, back to Cape Town.

We went with absolutely no expectations at all – just goes to show how wrong you can be – will most definitely go back but only when it’s good weather.

SEE: SanParks namaqua park