Cities and towns
Formerly a favoured holiday destination for farmers, fishermen and divers, Hondeklip Bay is separated from Springbok by 104km of gravel road, the Messelpad Pass and Soebatsfontein, a quaint village built next to a spring at the foot of the escarpment.
Hondeklip Bay’s harbour, from which copper ore brought by ox-wagon from Springbok was exported before the port was supplanted by Port Nolloth, now serves fishing and diamond-mining boats.
A servant was told it represented hope and made an imitation from tin which was nailed to the farm entrance. In 1866 a diamond, ‘Eureka’, was found and, in 1868, on the farm Zandfontein, the 83,5 carat ‘Star of South Africa’ diamond was discovered. Today, Hopetown is a farming town.
Set on a bush-covered, featureless plain, Hotazel is home to Samancor’s Mamatwan open-quarry manganese ore mine and sinter plant, and Wessels underground manganese ore mine and railway terminus. It offers a swimming pool to take the sting out of its onomatopoeic name, a mashie golfcourse and squash and tennis courts.
And nothing can prevent the visitor being overawed by the sheer size of one of the world’s largest open-cast iron mines, dwarfing giant ore trucks bearing up to 170 tons of ore each load. Home to one of the country’s most beautiful golf courses and the luxurious Gamagara Lodge, limestone houses characterise a desert landscape hidden by graceful palms. A small, well-stocked game reserve adjoins the town as does the Khai-Appel Pleasure Resort.
Originally the farm Phizantefontein, Loxton was bought from AE Loxton by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1899. Built to serve the sheep-farming community, it became a municipality in 1905. In March 1961, three-quarters of the town was destroyed by a flash-flood causing the dam above the town to burst. Loxton has long since recovered.
North of Springbok, Nababeep’s name combines two Nama words, naba, meaning ‘hump of an animal’ and bib, meaning ‘small spring’. Mining began in the 1850s and, from 1876, ore was taken to Port Nolloth by train, for export. The mine closed during the copper slump of 1919, but reopened in 1937. It is home to the Okiep Copper Company and the region’s largest copper-mining town.
Between 1700-1740, clashes between trekboers and indigenous people led trekboers to move to the top of the Bokveld escarpment. The town came into being in the late 1800s. On the Bokveld escarpment, Nieuwoudtville is known for its unique vegetation, with the biggest variety of indigenous bulbous plants in the world, and the 100m high Nieuwoudtville Falls on the Doring River.
A small town, its warm, sandstone buildings shelter in a well-treed hollow in a flat landscape covered by wheat, heather and proteas. Eight kilometres west of town, Vanrhyns Pass offers majestic views over the Knersvlakte on the descent to Namakwa’s coastal terrace.