NAMAKWA-4X4 ECO TRAIL (3)


SEPTEMBER 2020

DAY 2

It was a bit overcast when we got on the road again this morning – this mean we might not see a lot of flowers today. But it was still a great day to drive through the park.

Most of the time the road was quite nice to drive. There were a few thick and soft sandy stretches where you definitely needed a 4×4 vehicle to find your way – that was fun to drive! But then there were badly corrugated sections – fortunately everything in (and on top) of our car were strapped and boxed in, so nothing could get loose! 

On the soft sand, a 4×4 vehicle is required
The corrugated sections made driving a bit uncomfortable

As mentioned in yesterday’s post – Namakwa-4×4 Eco Trail (2) – this area received more rain than in previous years. The field were definitely greener and when we’ve stopped next to road to have a closer look, we could see little flowers almost everywhere.

Namaqua National Park is situated in a water scarce environment, but we could see the recent rainfall had a positive impact on the field

During our drive through the Namaqua National Park, we had to stop a couple of times to open a gate (and close it again) to continue driving. We made use of these opportunities to take more photo’s of the tiny flowers next to the road.

Remember to close the gate behind you!

Towards the exit of the Namaqua National Park, the road became more corrugated … it was at times so bad, that the wipers of our car went on automatically 😝!

More corrugated road – time to take a break (Credit: Fiela Basson)

At the park exit, we’ve turned left towards Hondeklip Bay (a coastal village in the Namaqua district). Just a few kilometers before Hondeklip Bay, we’ve turned right and drove towards Koingnaas.

Koingnaas was established in 1970 and was once a flourishing diamond-mining town, but after the De Beers Group (an international company that specialises in diamond mining) departed, the population has fallen rapidly from its peak of about 1000 people.

In Koingnaas, Frans wanted to inflated his vehicle’s tyres at the garage station to drive better on the tarred road that was ahead of us. But we came to a closed garage station – it was after all Sunday, but it was also clear that Koingnaas is now almost a deserted town.

The garage station in Koingnaas was closed – fortunately we only wanted to inflated the tyers (and not for petrol) … we will travel to the next town …

We kept driving along the coast for about 45km, until we got to Kleinzee. This too, was a diamond mine town, but the De Beers Group also closed their mining operations here. Kleinzee is now a public town and we drove through the earlier “checkpoints” without being stopped by any security. Here we found a shop that sell literally everything – from groceries to camping equipment and clothes!

In Kleinzee, we saw this bicycle on a pole next to the shop

We bought some stuff that we will need for the next leg of our trip (and some interesting sweets 😊), before we got on the road again.

Just outside Kleinzee, we’ve stopped at a local church next to the road. This is the Dutch Reformed Church of Grootmist … the church where Berto was baptized as baby about 50 years ago!

The church where Berto was baptised as a baby
There is something very special about this photo: Many years after Berto was baptised here, he was now sitting as a 50-year old man in front of the very same church (the notice reads: Dutch Reformed Church, Grootmist, Sundays, 10h00)

The last 90km of today’s drive was on a tarred road. We’ve stopped one last time in Port Nolloth to refuel our vehicles before we continued to our final destination for the day, namely Alexander Bay.

The last 90km of today’s journey was on a tarred road (with endless views)

We’ve arrived late afternoon in Alexander Bay. We will overnight here at our friends’ house … with a real shower and a real bed 😁 … no camping for us tonight!

Since we all lived in Alexander Bay in earlier years, Carel took us in his vehicle on a tour through the town.

History on Alexander Bay:

Alexander Bay is in the extreme north-west of South Africa. It is located on the southern bank of the Orange River mouth. The town evolved after the discovery of alluvial diamonds in 1925 by Dr. Hans Merensky. Alexander Bay became one of the richest mining towns along the Namaqualand and Northern Cape’s border.

Unfortunately, like the other mining towns, Alexander Bay became just a shadow of its previous glory. Mining activity is still active, but on a very small scale.

Carel showed us some farming fields close to the Orange River where the owners are doing a great job – it was beautiful to see the green fields and that it was being taken care of.

Beautiful green fields on the banks of the Orange River – the bridge in the background connects South Africa with Namibia (Credit: Fiela Basson)

The wetlands close to the mouth of the Orange River is home to a variety of migratory birds. Unfortunately, this wetland is currently under major threat from several sources – like reduced flow and desertification. I wish they could restore this area to its former glory …

The wetlands almost changed into a desert. A mining building can be seen in the background where they used to sort diamonds in earlier years

Our last stop was at the church where Carel is a pastor. Though the town seems at places almost battered and deserted, this little church and garden is beautiful and well taken care of. I’ve once again realised, that if someone is taking ownership of something, you can make it work and be proud of it. I hope Carel’s mindset will encourage others to do the same … 

Carel and Estelle prepared a wonderful meal for us. We sat around their table and enjoyed a feast of roasted leg of lamb, vegetables and salad. To top it off, we had ice cream as dessert.

Tomorrow, our journey will take us into the Richtersveld National Park – more off road riding and wild camping 😉.

Categories: Namakwa-4x4 Eco Trail

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