The Namaqua National Park protects the world’s only arid biodiversity hotspot. For three quarters of the year it’s a bleak reddish-brown land of quiver-trees, granite outcroppings, massive silences and lush starscapes by night.
But in spring the landscape transforms as a blanket of flowers arises from the barren earth – this is the highlight of the entire area. Namaqualand has the richest bulb flora of any arid region in the world, and more than 1000 endemic plant species in a total of 3,500.
The fauna in the park has adapted to survive in the harsh Namaqualand environment: small, hardy antelopes, aardvarks, baboons, jackals and leopards eke out their existence here, along with the world’s smallest tortoise – the Namaqua speckled padloper (road walker).
Needless to say, the Namaqua National Park is not a typical safari destination, but it’s hugely rewarding for people who are interested in unique ecosystems and natural phenomena.