There are very few places in the world where you can breathe almost pure ozone and feel as free, safe and secure in your solitude as you do at Kwass se Baai.
Number of stands: 4
Ablutions: Shared enviro-loos only
Braai facilities: Fire-pit, but bring your own grid
Pets allowed: No
Security: Not as such, but rangers do patrol daily
Tariffs: Rates: R145 p.p.p.n plus conservation fee of R 40 p.p.p.d.
Shop: The Groenriviermond office sells wood and water.
One of nine basic coastal campsites between Groenriviersmond and the Spoegrivier Estuary in the Namaqua National Park, it has few man-made facilities to speak of, bar an enviro-loo shrouded in stone and a low-walled stone boma nearby to keep the wind out. You are able to pick up on the sheer timelessness of this place:
It seems virtually unchanged from the days, some 300 0000 years ago, when early man first loped over these succulent-covered sands. In more modern times he was succeeded by the free-spirited San and Khoekoen.
There are four stands at Kwass se Baai which have their own low-walled stone boma and share two enviro-loos between them. There are nine different coastal campsites, stretching from Groenriviersmond in the south to Boulderbaai in the north. Only Groenriviersmond and Delwerskamp can be reached in a normal sedan vehicle.
The roads are very sandy, and you may need to deflate your tyres. There are now signposts put up by SANParks with recommendations about tyre pressure at these sandy patches.
There are no showers or water at Kwass se Baai, so you have to bring in (and take out) everything you need, including food and firewood.
If you are a “glamper”, you will find tented camps available at Delwerskamp during the flower season.
While walking down the long stretch of white beach south of the bay, probing the shallows of the myriad glassy rock pools with curious eyes, I picked up a limpet shell near the waterline. I pointed out to my co-pilot, David Lowe, how its edges had been smoothed by its having been tumbled around in the surf and sand before being washed up on the beach at our feet. By contrast, those limpet shells found in early San and Khoi middens discovered along coastal sites similar to ours show the edges of the shells still serrated, proving that they were picked off the rocks by these early beach foragers, not washed off naturally, and the that the limpets eaten near the sites of the shell middens.
David and I also took a drive to visit the seal colony some 20 km further up the engaging sand and gravel track. It was a worthwhile outing as both of us managed to get really close to these sleep-loving sunbathers.
Just north of the seal colony lie the Spoegrivier caves where archaeologists have uncovered the remains of sheep bones dating back some 1800-2000 years. This proves that the sheep-herding Khoi inhabited this region around that time. Their exact origin is a much-debated topic among anthropologists. Some believe that they were a separate ethnic group who migrated from central or northern Africa about 2000 years ago, bringing their fat-tailed sheep with them; others are convinced that they were formerly San people who wanted to learn the ways of herding from the more northerly farming communities which they came to work for, and who then migrated south to find their own pastures two millennia ago.
ACTIVITIES IN THE AREA
Nearly 100 km of gravel and thick sand 4×4 tracks ranging in difficulty from Grade 0 to 3. About 20km of this is real 4×4 territory: Grade 1-3.
Flower-watching in season (August and September)
Fishing, crayfishing and mussel-collecting
Cape Fur Seal colony
Around our braai fire later, we reflected again on the aboriginal peoples who had once populated these parts, and decided that perhaps the only commonality we could ever hope to share with them was their sense of wonder, and the resultant knowledge and acceptance of all that is in nature. Totally dependent on the natural world for their existence and sustenance, their reverence for their bountiful but often fickle environment drove their philosophies, powered their spiritual worlds and formed the basis of their folklore.
On our first day at the camp, we had discovered animal tracks in the sand around our campsite, and were wondering what could have made them. The riddle was solved for us just after breakfast on our second day, when we watched a lone yellow mongoose circle our camp and then cautiously edge closer. When it had assessed that we were replete from the cereal we were eating and were not about to skewer it on a stick like our ancestors may have, it groomed itself on a rock near us.
Perhaps our fixation with this furry critter’s antics was due to the fact that we were still waking up after having our minds washed by the sibilant-sounding surf all night; or maybe we were just becoming more attuned to the natural cabarets being performed around us all the time.
By Nick Yell