A new 4x4 trail, the Caracal Ecoroute, was opened for visitors during July 2009 at the Namaqua National Park. The 153km trail stretches from Skilpad in the Northeast to Groen River in the south, and will enable visitors to enjoy previously inaccessible new areas of the Namaqua.
The Caracal Ecoroute will take visitors through some of the most spectacular scenery in Namaqua, from the Kamiesberg with unending vistas, through the beautiful inland dunes and along 50km of breathtaking west coast. Along the way you can see amongst other the hand- constructed Wildeperdehoek pass; historic caves; estuaries rich in birdlife, and in flower season, the whole spectrum of flowers in Namaqua.
Animals such as Gemsbok, Hartebeest and Springbok are common in the flatter areas, and in the mountains you may even see such rarities as Leopard and Aardwolf. Along the coast and in the countless picturesque little bays you may see Heavisides’ dolphins (a West Coast endemic) and the occasional whale further offshore.
The trail is considered easy, with the most ‘difficult’ areas being some sandy stretches along the coast and some mountain sections - graded no more than three anywhere. The wet season can be tricky though and strong-flowing streams and rivers should not be crossed. During wet season it is recommended that two vehicles do the trail together. The trail can take anything from 4-7 hours, depending on conditions and time spent sightseeing. Best time of year: Any time, because of the diverse habitats the route goes through. The route may be closed after heavy rains- please enquire beforehand.
No bookings are necessary for the Caracal Ecoroute, but it is essential to obtain a booklet and map at Skilpad Office. Fees are R100 per vehicle and normal conservation fees per person will apply. The trail is free of charge for Skilpad Rest camp residents. Residents can either return along the same route or via Garies.
There can be few things more enjoyable than staying in one of our picture- perfect, fully equipped self-catering chalets at Skilpad, and then doing the trail at your leisure from there. The Ecoroute will show a side of Namaqua few people are aware of.