South Africa

Capitals:
Pretoria (administrative)
Cape Town (legislative)
Bloemfontein (judicial)

Largest City:  Johannesburg (about 3,888,180)

Population: 49.99-million (mid 2010)

Area: 1 219 090 square kilometres

Agriculture: 81.6% of total land area
Arable land: 12.1% of total
Irrigated land: 10.15% of arable land

Independence: From the United Kingdom

–  Union 31 May 1910

–  Statute of Westminster 11 December 1931

–  Republic 31 May 1961

Provinces: 9 Provinces
Eastern Cape                          Northern Cape
Limpopo                                  North West
Free State                               Western Cape
KwaZulu-Natal                        Mpumulanga
Gauteng

GDP: US$527 500 billion (Estimate 2010)

Per Capita: US$10 700 – nr 106 out of 230 countries. (From CIA World Fact book list)

The Republic of South Africa is a country in the southern region of Africa with a population of almost 50 million. South Africa is next to Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland. (Swaziland and Lesotho is an enclave surrounded by South African territory.)

There are 11 national languages – Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swati, Setswana, Sesotho, Sesotho sa Leboa, Venda and Tsonga. According to the 2001 National Census, the three most spoken first home languages are Zulu (23.8%), Xhosa (17.6%), Afrikaans (13.3%) Northern Sotho 9.4%, Tswana and English both 8.2%.

Though English is commonly used in public and commercial life, it is only the fifth most-spoken home language.

One of South Africa’s most known people is Nelson Mandela. He was its president from 1994 until 1999. The current president is Jacob Zuma.

Geography:
South Africa is a medium-sized country – it is one-eighth the size of the US, about a third the size of the European Union, twice the size of France and over three times the size of Germany. It measures some 1 600km from north to south, and roughly the same from east to west.

It is flanked on the west by the Atlantic Ocean and on the east by the Indian Ocean, whose waters meet at the countries and Africa’s most southern tip, Cape Agulhas.

The coastline stretches 2 798 km from a desert border in the northwest, down the icy Skeleton Coast to Cape Agulhas, then up along the green hills and wide beaches on the coast of the Indian Ocean, to a border with subtropical Mozambique in the northeast.

The low-lying coastal zone is narrow for much of that distance, soon giving way to a mountainous escarpment that separates it from the high inland plateau.

A subtropical location moderated by ocean on three sides of the country and the altitude of the interior plateau, makes South Africa a warm and sunny country. But it’s also dry, with an average annual rainfall of about 464mm. While the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is mostly a summer-rainfall region.

Ethnic groups:
79.4% Black (39 682 600 79)
9.2% White (4 584 700 9)
8.8% Colored (4 584 700 9)
2.6% Asian (4 584 700 9)                   Source: Statistics South Africa

South Africa is known for the diversity in cultures and languages.

History:
South Africa contains some of the oldest archaeological sites in the world. Extensive fossil remains at the Sterkfontein, Kromdraai and Makapansgat caves suggest that various australopithecines existed in South Africa from about three million years ago. These were succeeded by various species, including Homo habilis, Homo erectus and modern humans, Homo sapiens.

Modern humans have inhabited Southern Africa for more than 100,000 years. At the time of European contact, the dominant indigenous peoples were Bantu-speaking peoples who had migrated from other parts of Africa about one thousand years before. The two major historic groups were the Xhosa and Zulu peoples

Settlements of Bantu-speaking peoples, who were iron-using agriculturists and herdsmen, were already present south of the Limpopo River (now the northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe) by the fourth or fifth century. They displaced, conquered and absorbed the original Khoisan speakers, the Khoikhoi and San peoples.

In 1487, the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias became the first European known to have reached southern Africa. Dias continued down the western cost of southern Africa. After 8 January 1488, prevented by storms from proceeding along the coast, he sailed out of sight of land and passed the southernmost point of Africa without seeing it. After he had reached as far up the eastern coast of Africa as what he called Rio do Infante, probably the present-day Groot River, in May 1488 on his return he saw the Cape, which he first named Cabo das Tormentas (Cape of Storms). His King, John II, renamed the point Cabo da Boa Esperança or Cape of Good Hope, as it led to the riches of the East Indies.

In 1652, a century and a half after the discovery of the Cape Sea Route, Jan van Riebeeck established a refreshment station at the Cape of Good Hope, at what would become Cape Town.The Dutch transported slaves from Indonesia, Madagascar, and India as labour for the colonists in Cape Town. As they expanded east, the Dutch settlers met the southwesterly migrating Xhosa people in the region of the Fish River. A series of wars, called the Cape Frontier Wars, ensued, caused by their conflicting land and livestock interests.

The discovery of diamonds and later gold triggered the 19th-century conflict known as the Anglo-Boer War, as the Boers (original Dutch, Flemish, German and French settlers) and the British fought for the control of the South African mineral wealth. Cape Town became a British colony in 1806. European settlement expanded during the 1820s as the Boers and the British 1820 Settlers claimed land in the north and east of the country. Conflicts arose among the Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaner groups who competed for territory.

During the 1830s, approximately 12,000 Boers (later known as Voortrekkers), departed from the Cape Colony, where they had been subjected to British control. They migrated to the future Natal, Orange Free State and Transvaal regions. The Boers founded the Boer Republics: the South African Republic (now Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces) and the Orange Free State (Free State).

The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1884 in the interior encouraged economic growth and immigration, the so called Mineral Revolution. This intensified the European-South African subjugation of the indigenous people. The Boer Republics successfully resisted British encroachments during the First Boer War (1880–1881) using guerrilla warfare tactics, which were well suited to local conditions. The British returned with greater numbers, more experience, and new strategy in the Second Boer War (1899–1902), which they won.

During the Dutch and British colonial years, racial segregation was mostly informal, though some legislation were enacted to control the settlement and movement of native people, including the Native Location Act of 1879 and the system of pass laws.

Within the country, anti-British policies among white South Africans focused on independence. Power was held by the ethnic European colonists.

South Africa became a Union on 31 May 1910, eight years after the end of the Second Boer War. The newly created Union of South Africa was a dominion of the British Empire. The Natives’ Land Act of 1913 severely restricted the ownership of land by blacks; at that stage natives controlled only 7% of the country.

Legislature passed legally institutionalized segregation, later known as apartheid. The government established three racial classes: white, colored (people of Asian or mixed racial ancestry), and black, with rights and restrictions for each. While the White minority enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Africa, comparable to First World Western nations, the Black majority remained disadvantaged by almost every standard, including income, education, housing, and life expectancy.

On 31 May 1961, following a “Whites Only” referendum, the country became a republic and left the Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth II ceased to be head of state, and the last Governor-General became State President.

Despite opposition both within and outside the country, the government legislated for a continuation of apartheid. Apartheid became increasingly controversial, and some Western nations and institutions began to boycott doing business with South Africa because of its racial policies and oppression of civil rights. International sanctions, divestment of holdings by investors accompanied growing unrest and oppression within South Africa. The government harshly oppressed resistance movements, and violence became widespread, with anti-apartheid activists using strikes, marches, protests, and sabotage by bombing and other means. The African National Congress (ANC) was a major resistance movement.

In 1990 the National Party government took the first step towards dismantling discrimination when it lifted the ban on the African National Congress and other political organizations. Ultimately, F.W. de Klerk negotiated with Nelson Mandela in 1993 for a transition of policies and government.

Nelson Mandela was released from prison after twenty-seven years’ serving a sentence for sabotage. A negotiation process followed. The government repealed apartheid legislation. South Africa held its first universal elections in 1994, which the ANC won by an overwhelming majority. It has been in power ever since. The country rejoined the Commonwealth of Nations.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South African politics have been dominated by the African National Congress (ANC), which has been the dominant party with 60–70% of the vote. The main challenger to the rule of the ANC is the Democratic Alliance party, which received 16.7% of the vote in the 2009 election and 14.8% in the 2006 election.

In post-apartheid South Africa, unemployment has been extremely high as the country has struggled with many changes. While many blacks have risen to middle or upper classes, the overall unemployment rate of blacks worsened between 1994 and 2003. Poverty among whites, previously rare, increased. While some have attributed this partly to the legacy of apartheid, increasingly many attribute it to the failure of the current government’s policies. Since the ANC-led government took power, the United Nations Human Development Index of South Africa has fallen, while it was steadily rising until the mid-1990s.

Flora and fauna:
South Africa is ranked sixth out of the world’s seventeen mega diverse countries, with more than 20,000 different plants, or about 10% of all the known species of plants on Earth, making it particularly rich in plant biodiversity.

The Cape Floral Kingdom has been identified as one of the global biodiversity hotspots since it will be hit very hard by climate change and has such a great diversity of life. Drought, increased intensity and frequency of fire and climbing temperatures are expected to push many of these rare species towards extinction.

Numerous mammals are found in the bushveld including lions, leopards, white rhinos, blue wildebeest, kudus, impalas, hyenas, hippopotamus and giraffes. A significant extent of the bushveld exists in the north-east including Kruger National Park and the Mala Mala Reserve, as well as in the far north in the Waterberg Biosphere.

South Africa houses many endemic species, among them the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit (Bunolagus monticullaris) in the Karoo.

Economy:
The 1994 government inherited a weak economy after long years of internal conflict and external sanctions. The government refrained from resorting to economic populism. Inflation was brought down, public finances were stabilized, and some foreign capital was attracted. At the start of 2000, then President Thabo Mbeki planned to promote economic growth and foreign investment by relaxing restrictive labor laws, stepping up the pace of privatization, and cutting unneeded governmental spending. His policies face strong opposition from organized labor. From 2004 onward economic growth picked up and both employment and capital formation increased.

South Africa is the largest energy producer and consumer on the continent. South Africa is a popular tourist destination, and a substantial amount of revenue comes from tourism. Among the main attractions are the diverse and picturesque culture, the game reserves and the highly regarded local wines.

The South African rand (ZAR) is the most actively traded emerging market currency in the world. It has joined an elite club of fifteen currencies, the Continuous linked settlement (CLS), where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones. The rand was the best-performing currency against the United States dollar (USD) between 2002 and 2005, according to the Bloomberg Currency Scorecard.

Refugees from poorer neighboring countries include many immigrants from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and others, representing a large portion of the informal sector. With high unemployment levels amongst poorer South Africans, xenophobia is prevalent and many people born in South Africa feel resentful of immigrants who are seen to be depriving the native population of jobs, a feeling which has been given credibility by the fact that many South African employers have employed migrants from other countries for lower pay than South African citizens, especially in the construction, tourism, agriculture and domestic service industries. Illegal immigrants are also heavily involved in informal trading. Many immigrants to South Africa continue to live in poor conditions, and the South African immigration policy has become increasingly restrictive since 1994.

Principal international trading partners of South Africa—besides other African countries—include Germany, the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain. Chief exports include corn, diamonds, fruits, gold, metals and minerals, sugar, and wool. Machinery and transportation equipment make up more than one-third of the value of the country’s imports. Other imports include chemicals, manufactured goods, and petroleum.

Agriculture
South Africa has a large agricultural sector and is a net exporter of farming products. There are almost a thousand agricultural cooperatives and agribusinesses throughout the country, and agricultural exports have constituted 8% of South African total exports for the past five years. The agricultural industry contributes around 10% of formal employment, relatively low compared to other parts of Africa, as well as providing work for casual laborers and contributing around 2.6% of GDP for the nation. Due to the aridity of the land, only 13.5% can be used for crop production, and only 3% is considered high potential land.

Although the commercial farming sector is relatively well developed, people in some rural areas still survive on subsistence agriculture. It is the eighth largest wine producer in the world, and the eleventh largest producer of sunflower seed. South Africa is a net exporter of agricultural products and foodstuffs, the largest number of exported items being sugar, grapes, citrus, nectarines, wine and deciduous fruit. The largest locally produced crop is maize (corn), and it has been estimated that 9 million tons are produced every year, with 7.4 million tons being consumed. Livestock are also popular on South African farms, with the country producing 85% of all meat consumed. The dairy industry consists of around 4,300 milk producers providing employment for 60,000 farm workers and contributing to the livelihoods of around 40,000 others.

Health:
The impact of AIDS has caused a fall in life expectancy. The spread of AIDS (acquired immune-deficiency syndrome) is an alarming problem in South Africa with up to 31% of pregnant women found to be HIV infected in 2005 and the infection rate among adults estimated at 20%.

In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government made efforts to fight AIDS. AIDS affects mainly those who are sexually active and is far more prevalent in the black population. Most deaths are people who are also economically active, resulting in many families losing their primary wage earners. This has resulted in many ‘AIDS orphans’ who in many cases depend on the state for care and financial support. It is estimated that there are 1,200,000 orphans in South Africa. Roughly 5 million people are infected with the disease.

Science and technology:
Several important scientific and technological developments have originated in South Africa.

The first human-to-human heart transplant was performed by cardiac surgeon Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in December 1967. Max Theiler developed a vaccine against Yellow Fever, Allan McLeod Cormack pioneered x-ray Computed tomography, and Aaron Klug developed crystallographic electron microscopy techniques. These advancements were all (with the exception of that of Barnard) recognized with Nobel Prizes. Sydney Brenner won most recently, in 2002, for his pioneering work in molecular biology.

Mark Shuttleworth founded an early Internet security company Thawte, that was subsequently bought out by world-leader VeriSign.

South Africa has cultivated a burgeoning astronomy community. It hosts the Southern African Large Telescope, the largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere. South Africa is currently building the Karoo Array Telescope as a pathfinder for the $20 billion Square Kilometer Array project. South Africa is a finalist, with Australia, to be the host of the SKA.

Sport in South Africa
South Africa’s most popular sports are soccer, rugby and cricket.

South Africa hosted and won the 1995 Rugby World Cup and won the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France. It followed the 1995 Rugby World Cup by hosting the 1996 African Cup of Nations, with the national team going on to win the tournament.

It also hosted the 2003 Cricket World Cup, the 2007 World Twenty20 Championship, and it was the host nation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was the first time the tournament was held in Africa. FIFA president Sepp Blatter awarded South Africa a grade 9 out of 10 for successfully hosting the event.

Tourism:
The best places to visit in South Africa include the stunning coastal towns of Hermanus, Cape Town, Knysna and Durban.

Travel on the spectacular Garden Route form Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and enjoy the diversity of South Africa’s Fauna and enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the South African People.

Enjoy the mountain air in Hogsback and the Drakensberg.

Settle back with world class wines from the Cape Winelands or enjoy a safari in the oldest and best Wildlife Park in Southern Africa — Kruger National Park. There are many other Parks – each with it’s distinctive attraction.

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a visit to a township, and Soweto is the largest and most vibrant of them all.

It’s easy to travel around South Africa with several low-cost airlines operating throughout the country and excellent roads, which makes it convenient to rent a car. You need 3 weeks to take in all the best sights.

Origins of the “Three Farmers and a Greek” in South Africa:

Richard Bennett comes from Post Retief.

Post Retief Anglican Church

Post Retief is a village with church, historic fort and sports club. The fort was designed by Major C.J. Selwyn and built by Piet Retief on his farm in 1836 to protect the Winterberg farmers from marauding Xhosa. Sir Benjamin d’Urban named it in honour of Piet Retief. (The farm is now called Killaloe and this is where Rufus grew up as a neighbor of Richard Bennett) It was part of the Lewis Line of six forts planned by Lieutenant Colonel G Lewis, commanding officer of the Royal Engineer Cape of Good Hope, during the Sixth Xhosa War of 1835-1836. The post is situated on a plateau at the foot of the Didima Mountains in the Winterberg at the top of the pass leading down into the Blinkwater Valley.

 

Piet Retief House Monument

After Piet Retief’s departure on the Great Trek in 1838, Retief and his whole party were killed by the Zulu King, Dingane. Dingane invited Retief’s party to witness a special performance by his soldiers, whereupon Dingane ordered his soldiers to capture Retief’s party and their colored servants. The Zulus killed the entire party by clubbing them and killed Retief last, so as to witness the deaths of his comrades. Their bodies were left on the hillside to be eaten by wild animals, as was Dingane’s custom with his enemies. Dingane then directed the attack against the Voortrekker laagers, which plunged the migrant movement into temporary disarray.

Though a proclaimed National Monument, the fort is in poor condition. A trust has been formed to rehabilitate the site.

See Photo’s of the Post Retief Barracks in the slide show.

Adelaide:

Adelaide Dutch Reformed Church

Norman Emslie is from Adelaide.

Adelaide is a town and area in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Adelaide is situated near the Great Winterberg Mountain range. The town is a beef, mutton, wool and citrus farming district.

The modern day area of Adelaide was first inhabited by Bushmen, later on with the arrival of the Xhosa and the Europeans, the Bushmen were displaced and are no longer found in the area.

Adelaide’s origins date back to 1834 when a British officer named Captain Armstrong established a military encampment which he named Fort Adelaide after the wife of King William IV. Despite the earlier English settlers, who were part of the 1820 Settlers, later on a large number of both Scottish and Afrikaans people soon immigrated here too. The Scottish was also the first to erect a church in the local area.

Oyster Bay:

Rufus now lives in Oyster Bay. (Previously from Post Retief)
Oyster Bay is a small coastal hamlet and resort located about 14 km west of St Francis Bay on the Eastern Cape Coast of South Africa. It forms part of the Kouga Local Municipality of the Cacadu District in the Eastern Cape.

Controversial negotiations about the possibility of building South Africa’s second nuclear power station in this area are still taking place.

See several photo’s of this small coastal town and the dairy farms around it.

Fort Beaufort:

Stelios Georgiou comes from Fort Beaufort.
Fort Beaufort is a town in the Amatole District of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province and was established in 1837 and became a municipality in 1883. The town lies at the confluence of the Kat and Brak rivers between the Keiskamma and Great Fish rivers.

Fort Beaufort serves as a mini-‘dormitory’ for academic staff and students of Fort Hare University, based in the nearby town of Alice, (Nelson Mandela qualified at Fort Hare)  and is also close to sulphur springs. Schools in the area include Healdtown Comprehensive School.

Fort Beaufort actually started out as a mission station that the Reverend Joseph Williams of the London Missionary Society established in 1816. In 1822, Colonel Maurice Scott constructed a blockhouse about three miles from the mission station as a military frontier post and stronghold against raids by the Xhosa. The British named it Fort Beaufort to honor the Duke of Beaufort, father of Lord Charles Henry Somerset, first British governor of the Cape Colony (1814 to 1826). After the 6th Xhosa War (1834–1835), Governor Sir Benjamin d’Urban authorized construction of a fort at the site of the original blockhouse. The new buildings included a military hospital, guard houses, infantry barracks, and officers’ quarters.

Fort Beaufort - Martello Tower

In 1839, the British commenced work on what is probably the world’s only inland Martello tower, a small, circular Napoleonic era design hitherto used only in coastal defenses. The tower was completed in 1846. Today, the original howitzer remains mounted on the roof on a traversing carriage that gives it a 360 degree field of fire. The tower has been restored after having served for some time as a public latrine.

CAPE TOWN:

This is from where the group will depart 0n 31st March 2011.

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the largest in land area, forming part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality. It is the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape, as well as the legislative capital of South Africa, where the National Parliament and many government offices are located. The city is famous for its harbor as well as its natural setting in the Cape floral kingdom, including such well-known landmarks as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Cape Town is also Africa’s most popular tourist destination.

Today it is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, reflecting its role as a major destination for immigrants and expatriates to South Africa.

Cape Town was home to many leaders of the anti-apartheid movement. On Robben Island, a former penitentiary island,10km from the city, many famous political prisoners were held for years. In one of the most famous moments marking the end of apartheid, Nelson Mandela made his first public speech in decades on 11 February 1990 from the balcony of Cape Town City Hall hours after being released.

Nobel Square in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront features statues of South Africa’s four Nobel Peace Prize winners – Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, F. W. de Klerk and Nelson Mandela.

Table Mountain forms a dramatic backdrop to the City Bowl, with its plateau over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) high; it is surrounded by near-vertical cliffs, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head. Sometimes a thin strip of cloud forms over the mountain, and owing to its appearance, it is colloquially known as the “tablecloth”. The peninsula consists of a dramatic mountainous spine jutting southwards into the Atlantic Ocean, ending at Cape Point. There are over 70 peaks above 1,000 feet (300 m) (the American definition of a mountain) within Cape Town’s official city limits. Many of the suburbs of Cape Town are on the large plain of the Cape Flats, which joins the peninsula to the mainland. The Cape Flats lie on what is known as a rising marine plain, consisting mostly of sandy geology which shows that at one point Table Mountain itself, was an island.

The Cape Peninsula has a Subtropical Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters, and dry and very warm summers.

Located in a CI Biodiversity hotspot as well as the unique Cape Floristic Region, the city of Cape Town has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world. An often quoted fact is that there are more indigenous plant species just on Table Mountain than there are in the whole of the British Isles.

Population:
Colored – 48.13%
Black Africans- – 31%
Whites – 18.75%
Asians at 1.43%

Language:
Afrikaans – 41.4%
Xhosa – 28.7%
English – 27.9% speak

Economy
It serves as the regional manufacturing centre in the Western Cape. It also has the primary harbor and airport in the province. The large government presence in the city – both as the capital of the Western Cape and the seat of the National Parliament – has led to increased revenue and growth in industries that serve the government. Cape Town hosts many conferences, particularly in the recently expanded Cape Town International Convention Centre, which opened in June 2003 and is due for another expansion within the next year.

Much of the produce is handled through the Port of Cape Town or Cape Town International Airport. Most major shipbuilding companies have offices and manufacturing locations in Cape Town. The Province is also a centre of energy development for the country, with the existing Koeberg nuclear power station providing energy for the Western Cape’s needs. Recently, oil explorers have discovered oil and natural gas off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

Tourism
The Western Cape is an important tourist region in South Africa; the tourism industry accounts for 9.8% of the GDP of the province and employs 9.6% of the province’s workforce. In 2004, over 1.5 million international tourists visited the area.

The distinctive Cape Malay Bo-Kaap is one of the most visited areas in Cape Town.

Cape Town is not only the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa, but Africa as a whole. This is due to its good climate, natural setting, and well-developed infrastructure.

The city has several well-known natural features that attract tourists, most notably Table Mountain, which forms a large part of the Table Mountain National Park and is the back end of the City Bowl. Cape Point is recognized as the dramatic headland at the end of the Cape Peninsula. Many tourists also drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive, a narrow road that links Noordhoek with Hout Bay, for the views of the Atlantic Ocean and nearby mountains. Many tourists also visit Cape Town’s beaches, which are popular with local residents. Due to the city’s unique geography, it is possible to visit several different beaches in the same day, each with a different setting and atmosphere.

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is another tourist attraction.

Cape Town was also the location of several of the matches of the FIFA 2010 World Cup including a semi-final, held in South Africa. The Mother City built a new 70,000 seat stadium (Green Point Stadium) in the Green Point area.

Both the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch University are leading universities in South Africa.

The Cape Town International Airport was among the winners of the World Travel Awards for being Africa’s leading airport.

Namaqualand:

The group will travel through this area.
Namaqualand is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa, extending along the west coast over 970 km and covering a total area of 440,000 km². It is divided by the lower course of the Orange River into two portions – Little Namaqualand to the south and Great Namaqualand to the north. Great Namaqualand is sparsely populated by the Namaqua, a Khoikhoi people who traditionally inhabited the Namaqualand region.

Some of the more prominent towns in this area are Springbok, being the capital of this region, as well as Kleinzee and Koiingnaas, both private mining towns owned by De Beers Diamond Mines. This area is quite rich in alluvial diamonds deposited along the coast by the Orange River. Oranjemund is another mining town along this coast, situated in Namibia but very much on the border. As the name suggests, it is at the mouth of the Orange River which forms the border between South Africa and Namibia. The town of Alexander Bay is located 5 km away opposite the river on the South African side.Other links crossing the river further upstream are a re-introduced pontoon at Sendelingsdrift in the Richtersveld National Park, and road bridges at Vioolsdrif (the main border crossing between the two countries) and at the remote border crossing of Onseepkans.

There is a vibrant fishing industry along this stretch of the South African west coast. Since the 19th century copper has been mined at Springbok and its surrounding towns, while a large mine extracting copper, lead, zinc and silver is located at Aggeneys, 113 km further inland.

Namaqualand is quite popular with both local and international tourists during early springtime, when for a short period this normally arid area becomes covered with a kaleidoscope of color during the flowering season. A part of Little Namaqualand, known as the Richtersveld, is a national park and a World Heritage Site

As a region it has one of the highest percentages of Afrikaans speakers in the world, with over 95% of the population speaking the Afrikaans Language.

SPRINGBOK:
Springbok is the largest town in the Namaqualand area in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. 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 favorite 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 little koppie (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 color 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.

Augrabies Falls:
The Augrabies Falls is a waterfall on the Orange River, South Africa, within the Augrabies Falls National Park. The falls are around 60m in height. The original Khoikhoi residents named the waterfall Ankoerebis, “place of big noises”, from which the Trek Boers, who settled here later on, derived the name Augrabies.

The falls have recorded 7,800 cubic metres of water every second in floods in 1988 (and 6,800 cubic metres in the floods of 2006). This is over three times the average high season flow rate of Niagara Falls of 2,400 cubic metres  per second, more than four times Niagara’s annual average, and greater than Niagara’s all time record of 6,800 cubic metres per second.

The gorge at the Augrabies Falls is 240 m deep and 18 km long, and is an impressive example of granite erosion.

Onseepkans:
Onseepkans is a small settlement on the banks of the Orange River in Northern Cape Province, South Africa. It is at the border post with Namibia for traffic between Pofadder in South Africa and Keetmanshoop in Namibia. The name, translated literally from Afrikaans, means “(an) opportunity to rinse (off soap)

Onseepkans was established in approximately 1916 by missionary settlers and relies today on the irrigated lands which are supplied with water from the Orange River.

There are small communities on both sides of the Orange River in one of the most remote and beautiful parts of the country. The Quiver tree (Kokerboom in Afrikaans) forest between Pofadder and Onseepkans is stunning and is the largest forest of its type in the Southern Hemisphere. It is undoubtedly one of the natural highlights in the area which is dominated by the stark desert landscape and unusual granite outcrops.

The area is very hot, and anyone deciding to risk the journey should be well prepared with plenty of water and adequate protection against the sun. Summer temperatures can exceed 50 C while in the middle of winter temperatures in the high 30’s can still be experienced. To reach the settlement one has to travel about 50 kilometers of dirt road from Pofadder.

Pofadder: (meaning Puff Adder in English)
Pofadder is a small town in the Northern Cape and the surrounding districts are arid, sparsely populated, rugged and picturesque. Due to very low rainfall local farmers run sheep or goats for a living.

The town is named after the Puff adder – the common name of several snake species.

The puff adder is probably the most widespread snake in Africa, avoiding the severe parts of the Sahara desert, tropical rain forests and high the altitudes, it extends from the southern Cape to southern Morocco and also into southern Arabia. In southern Africa it may be found in most areas, but it avoids the extreme desert conditions, dense forests and altitudes above 2000 meters.

Most of the information comes from Wikipedia, Wikitravel and Lonely Planet.

One response

  1. hi guys, been following your movements. keep spirits up over half way now. enjoying seeing the pics.good luck on remainder through ethopia and sudan. from andreas and viv and family.

    April 25, 2011 at 16:54

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