Places of Interest

These places of interest have been selected by our Growcery team. We have chosen towns and sights on your way to or from the Growcery Camp. These places on interest includes the following regions: West coast, Richtersveld, Namaqualand and Kalahari.

The Goegap Nature Reserve with its granite peaks and sandy plains are dominated by Carolusberg, the highest point in the area. Goegap’s wild flower garden contains an enormous collection of succulents endemic to the area. A visit to the Goegap Nature Reserve will make a lasting impression with the spectacular annual display of wild flowers in spring.

Besides the unbelievable number of floral species, Goegap Nature Reserve boasts a recorded 45 mammalian species including springbok, gemsbok, the endangered Hartman’s Zebra and the aardwolf amongst several others. Bird lovers will enjoy the more than 92 recorded South African bird species which can be viewed in the park including ostriches, black eagles, spotted thick knee and ground woodpeckers.

The Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve is renowned as one of the prime locations for the annual spring flower displays in Namaqualand from August to October. The 1000-ha Skilpad Wild Flower Reserve lies to the west of Kamieskroon and has a somewhat higher precipitation factor than the surrounding areas due to its proximity to the coast. The mountainous Kamiesberg area east of Kamieskroon is also superb for mountain biking.
The Diamond Route has lured geologists, adventurers and fortune seekers for over a century. Some were lucky while the fabulous riches avoided others all of their lives. Many of the gem quality diamonds remain buried deep under the desert sands while others must be dived out of the ice-cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Along this route you will step into a past that is rich in history, heart ache and wayward romance.

The history of the diamond coast is one rich with legends and uncommon heroes. Long before the first diamonds were found, a grand scheme had barges shipping mineral oar down the Orange River from the interior, to then be shipped south from the river mouth. Little did these pioneers know about the incredible riches directly underfoot.

In both Port Nolloth and Alexander Bay, the local museums provide an excellent introduction to both the history and natural wonders of this region, with maps, old photos and some truly unusual specimens. Tours of the restricted mining area can also be arranged given a few days’ notice.

The wetlands at the mouth of the Orange River forms an important stop over for a great variety of migratory birds and has accordingly been declared a Ramsar Site. The endemic Barlow’s Lark, a must for any birder, is also found along the riverbanks, along with smooth pebbles and semi-precious stones for rock and gemstone enthusiasts. Unfortunately this wetland is currently under major threat from several sources including reduced flow and desertification, but efforts are underway to restore the area. Also of interest are fields of green and orange lichen growing on a hill near the turnoff to Alexander Bay. These lichen fields are soon to be declared part of our national heritage.

The proposed coastal park, which stretches for 50 kilometers along the coast, will be situated between the Groen- and Spoeg Rivers in Namaqualand, just south of Hondeklip Bay. This area is an ecologically important tract of land in the Karoo region, encompassing a high number of endemic fauna and flora. It was announced recently that a marine reserve was to be proclaimed between the Groen and Spoeg rivers.

Eksteenfontein lies in a wide plain stretching to distant mountains and Halfmens trees. Like Kuboes, it belongs to the hot, dry semi-desert region of the Richtersveld, home to endemic succulents and desert wildlife. The Richtersveld National Park as well as the banks of the Orange River are within a two-hour drive.

With a few days notice, the women of Eksteenfontein, or !Obes, as they are called in Nama, will bake delicious fresh bread and cook a tasty traditional meal for you. Locally produced riempie chairs which make great souvenirs and gifts, are available for purchase, as well as T-shirts printed with a Halfmens, bokkie (small buck), or other memorabilia at the textile printing centre.

Eksteenfontein and Rooiberg offer you a true wilderness experience with walks and guided hikes taking you through rugged mountains and past lichen and lizards stretching out in the sun. 4×4 Tracks meander across empty plains to the Orange River and mountains of the Richtersveld National Park.

Eksteenfontein is the gateway to the World Heritage Site, a vast wilderness adjoining the Richtersveld National Park. This small town is 50 km from Lekkersing and 80 km from Kuboes, and a 4×4 trail connects Eksteenfontein with Vioolsdrift, where you can cross the border into Namibia. Eksteenfontein can be accessed easily without a 4×4 along tarred and gravel roads from Steinkopf.

Springbok is the largest town in the Namaqualand area in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. As of 2001 it had a population of 10,294. Springbok is located on the N7 national road which connects the Cape with Namibia, and at the western end of the N14, which connects it with Upington and Pretoria. It is the main town of the Nama Khoi Local Municipality, which also includes a number of surrounding towns such as Okiep and Nababeep.

The town lies at an altitude of 1000m in a narrow valley between the high granite domes of the Klein Koperberge (Small Copper Mountains). This name gives away the reason for the early settlement which gradually turned into a major commercial and administrative centre for copper mining operations in the region. Even though mining activities have dwindled, the town remains an important administrative capital in the region and due to its location, a favourite stopover for tourists on their way to Namibia. Today the main income is generated from tourism, mining activities, commerce and farming.

The streets lead off from a central koppie (small hill) which now shows off Namaqualand’s strange flora, such as the almost leafless Quiver tree whose branches were used by Bushmen to hold their arrows. This area is famed for the incredible transformation which occurs every spring, when the near-lifeless scrubland explodes into colour from thousands of flowers hidden in the dry dusty earth, brought to life by winter rains. One of the best places to view this phenomenon is at the Goegap Nature Reserve, a short distance south-east of the town. Apart from its spring flowers and various large antelope species, the reserve is also known for its collection of rare drought resistant succulents..

The region on top of the Kamiesberg is truly a forgotten world. Here lie small towns where Kokerbome are still used to build natural “fridges”.

Much of the area can be seen on a round trip from Bitterfontein to Kamieskroon via Kliprand and Leliefontein, or via Paulshoek. The route passes through the upper desert-like reaches of the pebbled Knersvlakte, edging the thickly sanded Bushmanland into a region known as Namaqua Broken Veld. The scenery is truly unusual, with patches of lush succulent vegetation spaced with granite koppies (small hills) – heaps of bare, rounded granite boulders piled as if a giant had been clearing farmland.

The Studers Pass, from Garies up towards Paulshoek and Leliefontein, winds leisurely through magnificent mountain scenery. In winter a waterfall tumbles over a large opening by the road side, and from various vantage points on the way one can catch glimpses of the sea some 70km away. Rooifontein, at 1700m the highest peak in Namaqualand, can be reached from Kamieskroon via Baileys Pass. From here the road winds back down again through Kamasies and Gamoep to the flat, grassy plains of the Bushmanland and on to Springbok.

Springbok is often regarded as the last town before the Namibian border, but Vioolsdrift, a tiny town lies on the border on the south bank of the mighty Orange River. The town is thought to be named after a Nama man who ferried travelers across the river before the bridge was built. His name was Jan Viool.

Vioolsdrift is largely an agricultural community and lucerne as well as vegetables serve as the major crops of the area. The little town also serves as a gateway into the Richtersveld area – a harsh and unpredictable climate where rugged kloofs, sweeping landscapes and towering mountains forms part of the mountain desert as it sweeps away from the Orange River. The Richtersveld National Park is managed jointly by SA National Parks and the local Nama people and provides some of the most vivid photographic scenery imaginable.

Dominating the landscape are succulents known as Half-man or Pachypodium namaquensis that stand looking for all the world like tall people with spectacular hats. Giant quiver trees and plants found only in this small area of the Richtersveld are must-sees.