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Namaqualand, a rugged semi-arid landscape, is best known for its spectacular display of wildflowers in early spring. This is also the best time to visit the area, as many of the birds are opportunists which move into the area and breed after rain. Namaqualand forms part of the Succulent Karoo Biome, and the rocky hillsides and open flats are home to the greatest diversity of succulents in the world. Port Nolloth is located on the coast, northwest of Springbok.

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Birding

1. Goegap Nature Reserve, previously known as Hester Malan Nature Reserve, is situated just east of Springbok. The rocky slopes in the reserve provide habitat for a number of specials, including Cape Eagle-Owl and Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. The flatter areas in the east of the reserve are home to a number of lark species. Also look for Karoo Eremomela in low scrub in the flatter areas.

2. The mountains above Kamieskroon represent a unique floral spectacle, as the higher rainfall here has caused the normally arid succulent vegetation to be replaced on some slopes by outlying areas of fynbos, characteristic of the cape Floral Region to the south. Head north of Kamieskroon and take the turn-off to Liliefontein, and follow this road up the rocky escarpment. Look here for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, which can be called up with a recording of its call. Also look out for Cape Long-billed Lark, Karoo Lark, Black-headed Canary and Cape Bulbul.

3. Port Nolloth is the only place in south Africa to see Barlow's Lark, previously treated as a subspecies of Karoo Lark. Both Karoo Lark and Barlow's Lark occur in the sandy areas with scrub along the road north from Port Nolloth to Alexander Bay. Initially only Karoo Lark occurs (familiarise yourself with the plumage and call), followed by a thin zone of overlap, and after about 50 km north only Barlow's Lark occurs. Read the article "Barlow's Lark, a new endemic" by Peter Ryan in Africa Birds and Birding Volume 1, no.4 (Oct/Nov 1996) for a summary of how to separate the lark species. Also look out for Tractrac Chat and Grey Tit.

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General

Namaqualand can be reached by taking the N7 from cape Town. The entrance gate to Goegap Nature Reserve is situated 12 km east of Springbok just past the airfield. No accommodation is available at present, but there are a number of places to stay in Springbok. Port Nolloth can be reached by taking the tar road east of Steinkopf. There is a camping site in the town.

Claire Spottiswoode and Callan Cohen 1997.

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