The Namaqualand Road Trip – Part Four

The fourth and final instalment of my road trip through Namaqualand you can catch the third part here. This narrative starts off as Andries and I leave McDougalls Bay and head towards Cape Town – sort of!


McDougalls Bay via Spingbok to Oudtshoorn!

Now the best part of planning these trips on your own is your seldom have to take other people’s timings, thoughts or needs into account and that’s exactly what happened at this point. Originally I had planned to head back to Augrabies via Clarens and then head home but now with Andries in tow I decided to switch it up he did need to try get back home (Cape Town) and although I wasn’t making the some 800km trip right into Cape Town we’d figure it out somehow!

We left Dave’s place in Spingbok at some ridiculous hour just on 3:30am and made out via, Garies, Klaer, Clanwilliam, Citrusdal, i dropped Andries off at the Gouda Hotel in Gouda where he’d get his lift from home and I continued on through Tulbagh, Ceres, Robertson, stopping over in Montagu to visit Gerrie Heynes briefly, Barrydale and finally Oudtshoorn at around 2pm.

Found many a co-workers turn off.


A road trip essential.


A casualty – Angulate Tortoise

After dropping Andries off in Gouda I made a quick call to see if Gerrie was in town down in Montagu where he stays and he was all but too keen for me to pop in for a quick visit and I photographed a nice looking Boomslang. After a few stories and a laugh or two I left Montagu and landed up in Oudtshoorn where I met up with Rian where’d Id spend the next day or two and we’d make some plans. We visited the local PicknPay and sorted a few essentials the last week or go on the road without fresh/green food does take its toll on you.

Cape Boomslang, From Montague, Western Cape

Andries Stop in Gouda.

An icon in Barrydale.

After a long 11 hours on the road finally in Oudtshoorn.

We decided to head out on the Swartberg Pass to see if we couldn’t find a few chameleons, waiting for darkness we then head out. We saw a few Bibrons Geckos, Karoo Toad and a DOR Boomslang.  Once we had reached our previous spot some 4 years earlier we parked and headed out into the darkness with headlamps and torches. Before long I spotted a nice Adult male on some small grass. Rian has mentioned most of the mountain had been burnt a year prior so most of the taller protea bushes and small shrubs I had come to know the chameleons from has all gone. We soon found a nice looking female and photographed both before heading back  down the pass and having an early night – around 11pm.

Always a pleasure another Bibrons Gecko.

An unfortunate Boomslang on the Swartberg Pass.

Rian Photographing a Swartberg Dwarf Chameleon.

Swartberg Dwarf Chameleon. From Swartberg Pass, Western Cape

Photographing a Swartberg Dwarf Chameleon. Photo Rian Stander.

Day 10.

Having spent the night at Rian’s place in Oudtshoorn we had a relatively relaxed morning, after a quick breakfast we headed out into the veld to walk for some tortoises before it became too hot. IN the summer months Oudtshoorn becomes to hot to actively walk and find tortoises so by 9 or 10am your window is almost closed until the afternoon. In the area it’s relatively easy to find Angulate, Leopard and Common Pad Padloper tortoises.

We walked around fro about an hour and found a number of small Leopard Tortoises, a few larger Angulate Tortoises but lucked out on the Padlopers this time around.

Stigmochelys pardalis – Leopard Toroise. From Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo, Western Cape.

Chersina angulata – Angulate tortoise. From Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo.

After photographing the tortoises we then headed back to pan some evening plans and decided we’d head off to Prince Albert for the night. A few trips prior we’d spent a significant amount of time and turned up a good few species. Making a few calls we were able to book into a self catering cottage which had aircon – which in the heat of summer is a game changer. The drive around the pass takes a good hour and half and is far less scenic and hair raising than going directly over the pass about much shorter Rian convinced me bypassing the pass was a better option – this may be due to his fear of heights!

We arrived in Prince Albert where most shops close at 1pm on weekends and don’t even open on Sunday – thankfully the petrol station was open failing which we may have been in a bit of a situation.

Our accommodation and this is what R350 per-night gets you – can’t go wrong!

Waiting out the heat of the afternoon I caught up on some field notes and we sorted out some dinner arrangements in the early evening. The sun was only due to set just before 8pm so we headed out around 7:45pm.

We started our road cruise and the surface temperatures were still relatively high, we found several Bibron’s Geckos, Common Banded Geckos, Common Giant Gecko’s which seemed to be common place and we counted some 20/30 individuals in a short stretch fo about 20kms. We stopped alongside the road and photographed a few before heading back to our accommodation.

After about 45mins without a single car passing us on the quiet road we turned around and started to head back towards Prince Albert, we saw a few more geckos but nothing we’d not encountered earlier so we just moved them off the road.

We must have been about 10km of out town as we could just make out the light pollution from the small town when Rian slammed on brakes and proceeded to get mildly excited ” COOOORAL SLAAAANG”  he exclaimed in a truly dramatic fashion. Leaping our the passenger side I saw the averaged sized orange and black unmistakable bands of a Cape Coral Snake or Coral Shield Cobra (whichever of the names tickles your fancy).

I secured it quickly by the tail and moved it off the road while Rian pulled over the car so we could get some photographs before releasing it. Coral Shield Cobra’s are one of the few snakes you know exactly how they are going to react to you. They huff, puff and immediately stand up and spread a narrow hood to let their aggressors know they mean business.

I had a good photo session thanks to Rian’s patience and wrangling skills. We packed up and got back to our accommodation just after 01:30am and I was set to leave the next morning at 4am.

Day 11.

At 4am I packed up my things and left Prince Albert and headed towards Bloemfontein then Clarens where I met up with the Rodney Moffett the author of “A Field Guide To The Clarens Village Conservancy” who I had supplied some reptile images for his book and was find enough to supply me with a signed copy.  At this point it was 4pm and instead of staying in Clarens i decided to push through and drive back to Durban some 1 300kms! Which seemed like a good idea at the time but arriving home that evening at 8pm I was shattered.

A Field Guide To The Clarens Village Conservancy By Rodney Moffett

Namaqualand was incredible, I drove just on 6 000km and already thinking about a repeat trip in December 2019 without a second guess. There’s always so much more to find, more to see, explore and photograph but only such a small window to do it in.
Wrapping up the last 11/12 days I put together the below post on Instagram to give you some idea a “round up” of sorts.

You can view part 3 here:

You can view part 2 here:

You can view part 1 here:

Thanks for reading!

by Tyrone Ping

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