A trip to Namaqualand

This web page shows a few of the 600 odd pictures we took on our wandering through Namaqualand in Apri 2006.

A typical Namaqualand scene. Miles and miles of apparently nothing.

And yes, the road do just go on for ever. A bad picture. In the distance partially obscured by the picnic shelter is the Gifberg over Van Rynsdorp.

It seems as if there is nothing, but if you stop and look. . . .


The plant you are looking at is smaller than the palm of my hand. Approximately 5 cm across.

And it all grows in the impossible soil!

Like this! Baba boudjies no bigger than the tip of a small finger.

The sunrises are beautiful – Hondeklipbaai.

Quiver trees dot the landscape. The eland apparently like the leaves. You can see the trampled circle where they walk around and around the trunk getting at the lowest branches.

Communal nest are every where that is even vaguely elevated.

These Eland wouldn’t stand still for me to get closer. The eland? Those little dots in the middle distance!

Who says nature isn’t geometrical?

Rock formations are many and varied. The bones of the earth stick out all over. This one was interesting, not only for the layers of strata but also because it rang when hit with a hammer.

Messelaars Pass. All dry wall supports. A work of engineering in a dry, dry land.

This poor guy had lost a leg. Maybe one reason he stuck around to be photgraphed.

“If I lie still enough you won’t see me. At worst case you will see my gaudy tail!” This was one of many lizards that inhabited the walk to the most inhospitable setting for a jail that I can imagine.

The Jail. Again dry wall with a bit of mud work here and there. In summer the area soars to well ove 45 degrees centrigrade and this is in a valley. It must have been terrible in mid-summer and of course the winters aren’t exactly warm either. This is winter rainfall region.

I must admit, I did not expect to see quiver trees flowering. How I thought that they reproduced, I am not certain. The pollinator? Lots of little birds, but if you need to know aim that question at a botanist.

Me! Looking far too pleased with myself. The silence, the beauty of the area and the company made for a wonderful trip.

The company? Amanda, who is very easy to photograph!

Lunch in Springbok. Don’t you like the vivid colours. Possibly a buffer against too much dry dun coloured Namaqualand.

A broken flower. A pity, but a wonderful photo opportunity.

Here is a whole one. Amazingly they stand in this desert type sand and blaze out of the dun coloured landscape. The leaves don’t appear till after the flower is dead. Kinda back to front, but there.

The Kroon. The mountain that gives this little dorp its name. Kamies was apparently a chief in the area and the top of the mountain reminded his people of his hat. Hence Kamieskroon.

On the way home. Gifberg near Van Rynsdorp. If you are wondering about the colouring, it is because it was raining. Amanda snapped this one through the rain and it is a beautiful shot.

Riviersonderend Flood Detour

How do you know when you have inadvertently done something kinda stupid and gotten away with it without breaking anything? Easy, you see this in your rear view mirror.

How did we get into this situation? Simple, we didn’t want to turn around when the road looked like this.

But then it got a bit more tense — note the whirl pool on the left bottom of the picture

And then we decided to investigate

And the road went ever onward and turning places became less obvious. And road kinda disappeared at times.

And then we were out

Interesting trip

SASOL Tankwa Birding Bonanza

The Tankwa Reserve has intrigued me since the time I inadvertently drove the R355. How, you ask do you “inadvertently” drive the longest road between two towns in the whole of South Africa. Easy, is the answer, you just turn left just outside of Calvinia, looking for a quick road home after looking at the Spring Flowers. Simple really.

What I didn’t know was that the R355 has, to misquote the Eagles, “A nasty reputation as a cruel road.”

Problem is that there is this oil shale that litters the country thereabouts. From a distance it doesn’t look too bad. A bit black maybe, but not too bad.

Its when you get closer that it gets to look a bit more threatening.

Those shards are razor sharp and cut holes in tyres without much effort. To make things a bit more tense, the closest garage and petrol station is 150 km away. And to complete the picture, there is NO cell phone coverage. None of our national cell phone companies has got this area “covered’. Which can be a bit problematic if you slash your tyres in a place that looks like this:

And it gets awfully hot or awfully cold, depending on the time you happen to be there.
That is Skoorsteenberg in the distance and to quote Mike Lodge (who made some informed comments – thanx Mike) “It is the place where all the oil companies have been investigating fracking.” This will not be a fracking site, but has been part of intensive exploration by the oil companies.

This is picture of  Pramberg in spring. Picture supplied by Mike Lodge and taken by Carl Gerber. The spring flowers are, I am told superb and the picture gives some idea of the effect of the spring rains on this barren land.

Having thoroughly dissuaded you from visiting, let me change tack and insist that you MUST see this reserve. If you love drylands and what the Americans call “Big Sky Country” this is the place for you.

On the eastern edge of the reserve is the Gannaga Pass a beautiful, rugged Bains Pass and a must do if you are into mountain passes as I am.

The seer-oog flowers bloom in April and wait for the Spring rains in September for water.

Some more flower pictures

Hoodia. Nice to look at, but kinda smelly.

There are mammals in the Reserve and they are fairly easy to photograph.

And other critters.

The roads aside from having sharp tyre cutting shale are good and well kept and the country is photogenic beyond belief.

I even saw some humans.

Actually that is Amanda and our guide and mentor Johan, a voluntary ranger who showed us the Reserve with patience, courtesy and friendliness.

Here is Johan stalking Mountain Wheatears in the grass. And before you start wondering and worse still muttering, yes, I did play with the images. There has been some tampering. And to show my complete brazen cheek, a couple of art photos.

There are farmhouses and labourers cottages spotted all over the reserve. We stayed at Paulshoek.

Take a look in the SANParks website to get a better idea what the places are like. As with all SANParks accommodation, the place was clean, well stocked with equipment and comfortable. The next picture is not official accomodation, but it made a great hook for a landscape picture.

But we were there for the birds. And here are some of the pics we got.
Sparrows you will see aplenty.

Morning song

And art pic and a bird at once.

White backed mouse birds.

Rock Kestrel

Jackal Buzzard

Baby Martin

Sand grouse

Gabar Goshawk

And a moonrise to finish off.