Eksteenfontein, Namaqualand

Eksteenfontein lies on the southern verge of the Richtersveld World Heritage Site, west of Nababeep, in the north western reaches of the Northern Cape.

It is one of three little settlements within the Richtersveld Community Conservancy. The other two are Lekkersing and Kuboes. All three are linked by the R385 that starts just north of Springbok.

The residents of Eksteenfontein, which lies at the foot of the Rooiberg Mountain, were forcibly removed from the white farming community of Pofadder, in 1945, and supplanted here in the semi-desert in what was originally known as Stinkfontein, after the river that flows alongside the peaceful village.

Today its residents are mostly farmers who keep goats, sheep, cattle and poultry. Others ply their trade as donkey cart drivers, navigating visitors through the Richtersveld; make curios from wood, local textiles or needlework; or sell local roosterbrood made on open fires.

There is a tiny, but helpful, tourist information centre (TIC) in Eksteenfontein that arranges accommodation, if you need it, including a stay at the community-run Kom Rus 'n Bietjie, opposite.

Most of the residents are of Baster descent (Baster means 'mixed' in Afrikaans) who, upon arrival, met with a rather hostile reception by the Nama people who already lived here. The museum gives a detailed account of the month-long trek to their new home, along with the original iron-and-wood church they dismantled and brought with them.

Whilst back then this far-flung part of South Africa felt like the very margins of the earth, today it is one of the leading floral destinations in the world. The Richtersveld became a world heritage site in 2007, bringing thousands of visitors through here every year.

Stay awhile in Eksteenfontein and experience a truly nomadic livestock farming community, the Nama Stap (a traditional dance), dumplings in goats milk and an appreciation both for the remarkable landscape, and for the people who have managed against all odds.

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