12 Oktober 2020 | Tourismus

It is the Season!

By Frank Steffen

Namaqualand is often understood to be the region that forms part of Northern Cape Province, South Africa. That does in fact apply, but it is technically only Small Namaqualand, as the region transcends across the natural border between Namibia and South Africa, in the form of the Orange River that splits Namaqualand into two portions, with the Great Namaqualand being found north of the river. And in fact that part of Namaqualand is simply known as Namaland in Namibia, as this was the traditional region that they and their forebears called home.

As is true for so many parts of Africa, here too the Orange River was simply regarded and defined as a border by the newcomers, rather than accepting that this river was actually a life line, that ran right through the middle of a people’s land, that spans roughly 440 000 square kilometres and runs along the stretch of west coast for about 100 kilometres. Namaqualand is derived from the language of the Khoikhoi and should be read as “khoi Nama kwa land” meaning as much as the land of the Nama Khoi people.

This region, starting from below Klawer and Vanrhynsdorp north of the Clanwilliam Dam right up to the Fishriver Canyon in Namibia is teeming with conservation areas of which the most well-known parks are likely to be the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve near Vanrhynsdorp, followed by the Namaqualand National Park at the height of Koingnaas and Kamieskroon, and the Goegap Nature Reserve at Springbok, all of these being situated in the Northern Cape.

In 2003 the South African Richtersveld National Park on the southern banks of the Orange River was combined with the |Ai-|Ais Hot Springs Game Park in Namibia, found north of the river. This culminated in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, which was explored in the July 2020 edition of the TN-magazine.

All of these areas really do not care for human made borders, they are essentially part of the Karoo Region, a semi-desert that experiences very hot summers and just as cold winters with scarce rainfall. It is this region with its relative proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which during early spring literally explodes with wild flowers, much sought out by international and local tourists alike. The flower season obviously varies from year to year, but can be expected between August and October, when the blooming of the Namakwa Daisies simply keeps any nature lover in awe. The area is regarded as one with the greatest biodiversity and highest concentration of succulent plants in the world, with at least 1 000 species of the more than 3 000 species being unique to this area only.

Mike Spies of Namakwa Toere in Vanrhynsdorp was recently thrilled when he spoke to Tourismus Namibia: “This is a gift from heaven! At a time when COVID-19 caused us so much harm, we literally experience the best flowering season in Namaqualand for many years. Some of the older folk reckon this could be most intense flower variety that they have seen in more than 30 years. Local tourism is better than ever and might have saved us in these difficult times.”

Interesting Fact: An estimated 100 000 tourists visit Namaqualand every year. 65% of these visitors are South African and 35% are from other countries.

Quote: “Some of the older folk reckon this could be most intense flower variety that they have seen in more than 30 years.” Mike Spies

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