Things To Do in KleinzeeKleinzee Museum
Where? Kleinzee Tourism, Kleinzee, Northern Cape
When? Please enquire.
How? Call +27 (0)27 877-0028
How much? Price on request
Way off the beaten track, where the Buffels River meets the sea 72 km from Port Nolloth, is the little former diamond mining town of Kleinzee (small sea).
Kleinzee, in the northern stretch of the West Coast, was established by De Beers in 1942, after first finding diamonds on the farm Kleyne Zee in 1927. For years this area was closed to visitors whilst stripped of diamonds.
Now De Beers has closed its mining operations. What remains is an area of coast that is literally kilometres of unspoilt beach marred by none of the commercialisation of other beachside villages. Only the occasional ostrich egg, long rejected by its parents, drift wood and kelp litter these shores.
Whilst Kleinzee is practically a ghost town (most residents packed up and left when the mines down-scaled their activities in 2009, and now there are only about 1 000 people living here) it is the beauty of the area that draws visitors.
The rock-strewn, sandy, kelp-ridden beaches, the red lagoon, the green banks of the Buffels River (which only runs once in ten years), the Molyneux Nature Reserve with over 100 indigenous plant species, the area between town and the beach that has been restored, the birdlife on the river estuary, and the resident seal colony – the largest on-land colony in the country.
And people have already started moving to Kleinzee to set up campsites and restaurants as they travel here and fall in-love with the place. De Beers appears active in working and restoring the area. One of their projects is the Kleinzee oyster farm taking shape on one of the dams created from mined out areas.
Kleinzee Mine Museum, a well-maintained museum worth a visit, lies alongside the tourism centre in town. It covers the history of diamond mining, the natural environment and the history of man in the area. There are exhibits on shipwrecks, geological, palaeontological and archaeological finds.
Visitors can do the self-guided Boulder Heritage Route, a 4 km walk highlighting the history of diamond mining and the early mining methods used at Kleinzee.
The Border, a ship wrecked on the shore between Kleinzee and Koingnaas in 1947, is worth a visit, and forms part of the Shipwreck 4x4 trail in the area.
Because town is still restricted, a visit involves signing a register and presenting ID at the gate office. There is a campsite, restaurant and spa on the grounds of the former Tennis Club, and a couple of guest farms and houses in the area.