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The Beauty that is Namaqualand

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Spring_in_Namaqualand

Namaqualand is a dry area located in Namibia and South Africa, stretching out to the west coast for more than 970 kilometres and spreading over a total of 440,000 square kilometres. It is split by the lower course of the Orange River into two sections: Little Namaqualand in the south and Great Namaqualand in the north. Little Namaqualand lies within the Namakwa District Municipality and forms part of the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. Great Namaqualand is situated in the Karas Region of Namibia and is sparsely populated by the Namaqua, a Khoikhoi folk who traditionally dwell in the Namaqualand area.

Considered a part of the Succulent Karoo, Namaqualand forms part of the only arid hotspot on earth. It is also known as a biodiversity hot spot, as well as some of the richest vegetation in the world. Starting from the Atlantic Ocean, the region stretches along the west coast to the small town of Pofadder in the east, to the Orange River in the north, Garies in the south, and contains the Hantam Karoo along the southern border of the Northern Cape.

During spring, the Namaqualand area of the Northern Cape is covered in vibrant daisies. The fields seem to spill over with lush flowers that turn dry Namakwa into a remarkable display of natural beauty. Though it is thirsty land, Namakwa is captivating to travel through. Along the flower route from Springbok’s Goegap Nature Reserve to Kamieskroon’s Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve is an explosion of stunning wild flowers. This phenomenon combines the marvellous landscapes of isolated towns, the Richtersveld National Park, the Hester Malan Wild Flower Garden, and the Namaqua National Park.

There is a lively fishing industry along this stretch of the South African west coast, specifically in Port Nolloth, the primary Namaqualand resort town, as well as in Honeklipbaai or Dogstonebay. Since the 19th century copper has been mined in Springbok and its surrounding towns, while a big mine extracting copper, lead, zinc and silver can be found at Aggeneys, 113 kilometres inland.

As a region, Namaqualand contains one of the highest percentages of Afrikaans speakers in the world, with more than 95% the population having Afrikaans as their first language. The original Nama folk with their complex system of clicking sounds or Khoekhoe language, still live in some isolated areas.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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