Leliefontein, Namaqualand

Namaqualand is the least populated part of the country, due to the bleak, desert-like climate and the mountainous landscape. Leliefontein is one of the little towns in this harsh region, a pretty historic village that lies between Kamieskroon and Garies, just east of the N7.

Despite its apparent harshness the landscape is beautiful. Visitors from across the world head to Leliefontein, on the 'insider's route', to see the seasonal flowers. Annually across the hills that surround the village is a carpet of flowers.

Leliefontein means 'lily spring' after the natural spring that is the reason for the town's origin. At first glance Leliefontein is little more than a smattering of simple, square houses, most of them facing east to ward off the westerly winds that sweep through here.

The town started out as the kraal of a Nama chief, called Wildschut (wild shot), after which it became a mission village, and was known as a 'coloured reserve' during the apartheid years.

In town local tourism centres around the camping and caravan site, Leliefontein Lodge (named such for the few en-suite rooms), run by Vera Engelbrecht and a team of local ladies . Their matjieshuis (reed houses) accommodation is the most popular. The Richtersveld is one of the only places where you will find these reed houses, the traditional Nama home.

Vera and her team will cook you a traditional meal, served in the open-air boma, and if you are interested, she will arrange for demonstration of the Nama riel, or Nama Stap Dance, performed at birthdays, funerals, weddings and as a tourist event.

The local church, its presbytery and the gardens are particularly historical and worth a visit. Both the church and the parsonage are national monuments. In the pastor's yard stands a sundial

The shipwreck and daisies route begins in Leliefontein and ends in Kleinzee, a trip through a part of the Namaqualand least travelled. The little towns, the bright flowers and the back roads reveal the secrets of the Namaqualand.

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