Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wildflowers in Namaqualand

Onward went Kate and Andy's quest to visit the most bizarre places on Earth. After saying goodbye to the parents from Cape Town, we drove rental car number 7 straight north from the city, into Namaqualand. Namaqualand gets its name from being the ancestral home to the Nama people, one of the last surviving groups of Khoikhoi, the original residents of South Africa.

Namaqualand itself is beautiful, as we thought it looked alot like South-Eastern Arizona, and every spring the whole landscape bursts with wild daisies, making this really tough place very, very pretty.

We based ourselves in a town called Kamieskroon (pronounced in Nama with a click for the first "K"), which is right outside of Namaqua National Park and the Skillpad Flower Reserve. There's absolutely nothing to do in Kamieskroon, except for drive around and look at flowers, which made for a very relaxing weekend.

It's hard to worry about too much when your whole plan for the day is to look at pretty flowers.

We drove the rental car down a "4x4 Only" road out to Hondeklip Bay, a kooky town on the coast.

Hondeklipbay is home to what must be one of the most dramatic shipwrecks in the world. The picture doesn't do it justice, because the ship was really big and it is tipped diagonally-sideways, with its bow jammed into the rocks.

We didn't spot any big game, as Namaqualand is much too dry, but we saw both the "Cute" and "Scary" brands of wild animals on one of our flower-drives.

The cute animal was the endangered "Namaqua Speckled Padloper." Likely endangered because it likes to walk on the road.

The scary animal was the very dangerous Cape Cobra, which was kind enough to show us its hood and give us a good fun scare. We couldn't get close enough to it to take a picture of the hood, but you'll have to trust us that it was very creepy, especially when it slithered off into the bush and camoflauged perfectly with its surroundings.

We finished off our visit to Namaqualand in the wacky town of Springbok, the largest town in the whole of Namaqualand (it's as big as that description makes it sound). Our visit to Springbok was made, just slightly, in honor of the Springboks, South Africa's national rubgy team, which has plowed its way into the Rugby World Cup finals this weekend, where they're going to see how many England players they can send off in stretchers...

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