Vioolsdrift, Namaqualand

Springbok might be regarded as the last major town en route to Namibia from Cape Town but the little town of Vioolsdrift serves as a border post that lies virtually on the border with Namibia, on the south bank of the Orange River.

Legend has it that before the construction of the bridge that now connects South Africa to Namibia, a lone Nama, with the nickname of Jan Viool, was responsible for navigating travellers across the Orange River where the river is at its shallowest, also known as a ‘drift’. It’s not hard to see from whence the name Vioolsdrift thus emerged.

Vioolsdrift is largely an agricultural community and lucerne and vegetables serve as the major crops of the area. The little town also serves as a gateway into the Richtersveld area - a harsh and unpredictable climate where rugged kloofs, sweeping landscapes and towering mountains form an area of mountain desert as it sweeps away from the Orange River. The Richtersveld National Park is managed jointly by SA national parks and the local Nama people and provides some of the most vivid photographic scenery imaginable.

Dominating the landscape are succulents known as half-man or Pachypodium namaquensis that stand looking for all the world like tall people with spectacularly pathetic looking hats, when it comes to keeping the sun off ones face. Giant quiver trees, rare plants found only in one small area of the Richtersveld, are also found here.

Namibia and South Africa are in the process of considering a major dam at Vioolsdrift as a joint venture between the two countries.

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