Journey along the Caracal Ecoroute
Stretching from Groen River in the south, to Skilpad in the northeast, the new Caracal Ecoroute 4×4 trail opens up previously unreachable areas of the spectacular Namaqua National Park in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. The first adventurers traversed the trail in July 2009 and no doubt the word will soon be out that the Caracal Ecoroute has much to offer.
The route incorporates some of Namaqualand’s most breathtaking scenery, such as the magnificent vistas from the Kamiesberg, majestic inland dunes and about 50 kilometers of spectacular west coast shoreline. Other attractions include the historic hand-constructed Wildeperdehoek Pass, caves and estuaries hosting diverse birdlife, as well as gigantic granite outcrops and the unusual kokerboom, called quiver tree by the San hunters due to its practical use as quivers for arrows. Depending on the season, visitors can enjoy the kaleidoscope of flowers that the region is renowned for, or the whales along the coast as they travel to their breeding locations. Schools of dolphins are a common sight along the west coast of South Africa, and never fail to delight onlookers with their playful antics in the waves. Other animals that may be seen while traveling on the Caracal Ecoroute include gemsbok, springbok and hartebeest in the flatter areas, while in the mountainous regions you are likely to spot aardwolf, baboons and maybe even an elusive leopard.
From the viewpoint of a 4×4 driver the Caracal Ecoroute is considered to be easy, with some sandy stretches of coastline and mountainous sections providing a challenge, but none of the route is graded at more than 3 for difficulty. During the rainy season (around June to August) conditions may change considerably, with strong-flowing rivers and streams becoming impassable. If you plan to visit during this time, be sure to check beforehand as to road conditions and it is advised to travel in two vehicles to assist one another when necessary.
The Caracal Ecoroute can take anything from four to seven hours to complete, but it is best to start out early and plan to spend the day, as you will want to take every opportunity to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of South Africa’s Namaqualand region.