Some places are so special that everything you experience there becomes deeply imprinted on your mind. Namaqualand is one of these places. I visited it in 2009 for a weekend trip with two friends, and six years later I still get flashbacks to the place. At the time I had a very simple camera with low resolution and not much practice in photography, so these photos probably don’t do it justice, but until I go back, they will have to do!
Just for a bit of background, Namaqualand is a large, arid region spanning part of both South Africa and Namibia, and is famous for its spring flowers. Here is a map of the South African part, where we spent the weekend.
We drove from Cape Town on a Friday afternoon, and arrived in the small town of Kamieskroon after dark, where we had to drive up a mountain on a dirt road to get to the farmhouse we were staying at. This was quite an adventure in a mini-golf in the dark! Upon arrival we were welcomed to the farmhouse, where the farmer’s wife had prepared us a delicious dinner in Afrikaans style. My two friends, colleagues from Germany and Switzerland, realized that they hadn’t actually had traditional Afrikaans food before, and they really enjoyed it. The meal was lamb chops (in the dry countryside areas of South Africa, for example the Karoo, they have excellent lamb, probably because the sheep run around freely outside), served with roast potatoes, rice, pumpkin and poached quinces. The quinces were a great surprise as none of us had never eaten them like that before. Simply sliced and boiled in sugar and water, they were sweet, perfumed and delicious.
The next day we got up bright and early for a hearty farm breakfast of wheat porridge, toast, eggs, bacon and other things before setting off to see the flowers. There were even flowers on the farm itself and also many colourful birds. After driving down to Kamieskroon and getting a map and some helpful advice from the small tourist office, we drove north through the dry landscape to the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve which is part of Namaqua National park. As we drove on the dirt roads through the park we started to see fields and fields of flowers, bright orange, purple and blue. We couldn’t help jumping out a lot to take photos. At the park itself there was a short walking trail so you could spend some time among the flowers. With the backdrop of the mountains, the carpets of flowers were simply breathtaking.
After some toasted sandwiches and koeksisters (a sweet plaited pastry soaked in syrup), we headed on north to the small former copper-mining town of Nababeep, about 20km away from Springbok, the biggest town in the Northern Cape. The word Nababeep means “rhinoceros place” in the local Khoekoen language. The road to Nababeep was full of potholes surprisingly, it is probably the most pot-holed road I’ve come across, at least it was when we were there. But the town itself is a little gem. Its history as a mining town is very evident and there is a mining museum there for those interested in the history, as well as an old mountain steam locomotive on display. It’s a dry and rocky area, but as we drove closer to the town, flowers suddenly started springing up everywhere. Every little crevice that must have had some moisture, every rock crack, every drain, was brimming over with luminous orange daisies. We jumped out of the car again and again to marvel at it. The further we drove into the town, the more spectacular it became. We even came across National Geographic taking photos there! Nababeep is really in the middle of nowhere and life there might not be easy – but wow, in spring, Nababeepans live in one of the most amazing places on earth.
After our amazing day of flowers we drove back to the farm where we relaxed for a bit before another great dinner. We chatted over malva pudding (a local sponge pudding with a sweet sauce) and stood outside marveling at the sight of the skies filled with a million dazzling stars. It’s so dark in the northern Cape and other remote areas of South Africa that you can see the whole Milky way – great for telescopes and observatories.
The next day we had another hearty breakfast, then went for a hike on the farm. Although in the mountains there were not carpets of flowers, we spotted many interesting flower species along the walk.
After our walk, it was time to head back to Cape Town, and we took the scenic route via the agricultural area of Garies, which took us up a bit of a hill past many farms, where goats, cows and sheep frolicked in the flowers. Finally, with sadness we left the beautiful area behind and started the drive back to Cape Town. The funny thing was, after the little mini-golf had survived all the mountain dirt roads and potholes, we stopped at traffic lights in Cape Town a few blocks from my home, and when my friend rolled down her car window, it promptly fell down into the side of the car. Well, we were amazed that she survived that long!
I thought I would submit this post for this month’s Show your World, where different bloggers write about all the interesting places they have visited! Check out the blog posts from other people on this web page.