The Namaqualand is a winter rainfall desert known throughout the world for its annual spring flower display. It is also recognised as both an important and threatened global centre of diversity with plants, reptiles and many invertebrates specific to the region.
The Skilpad Wildflower Reserve was established by the WWF in 1988 to raise awareness of the floral kingdom of the Namaqualand. Mainly shrubland and abandoned wheat fields, it may not look like much. But an incredible display of Namaqualand daisies errupts here annually (between July to September). The 930 hectare reserve is exceptionally popular as a result.
Because of its location, 700 metres above sea level up on a ridge of hills fairly close to the coast, mists and rain blow in from the sea over the reserve. As a result the reserve has incredible flower displays even when surrounding areas do not. White, yellow and orange daisies – Arctotis, Dimorphotheca and Osteospermums – are annual stalwarts. But there are also beautiful small bulbous plants found in amongst the koppies and bushes that often go unnoticed – like Babiana and Mesembryanthemums, or Vygies as we know them.
There is a dirt road that circles Skilpad for roughly five kilometres through the blooms and is worth every inch of its route at the flower time of year. A halfway viewpoint is known as the 'roof of Africa' because of the huge granite domes from which one can see over the reserve and the Kamiesberg mountains. If you are in a 4x4, take the Caracal Eco Route that stretches from Skilpad to Groen Rivier – truly beautiful.
Popular Activities in or near Skilpad Wildflower Reserve
Namaqualand Flower Route
The spring wild flowers are a phenomenon that never ceases to amaze and delight, even for those who live in what is considered South Africa's "outback" – Namaqualand. What at first glance appears to be a wilderness of semi-desert, arid, dusty...
More info and contact details: Namaqualand Flower Route
Silver Sands Trail
This beautiful beach hike takes place within the new extension of the Namaqua National Park between the Spoeg and Groen rivers. Most people try to do the trail during the flower season - between late August and early October the trail is described...
More info and contact details: Silver Sands Trail
Did you know?
The Skilpad Nature Reserve was proclaimed on 29 June 2001 for the purpose of conserving the rich diversity of succulent plants.
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