Nama Route is for those who are genuinely interested in the
history and culture of people. However, your journey will
always be blessed by magnificent backdrops of endless plains,
rugged mountains and the unique riverine valleys that mark
the !Gariep (meaning ‘Great River’ in Nama, and referring
to the Orange River that temporarily lost its name during
the colonial era).
Today the region’s population is a
true patchwork quilt of cultures tied together by a complicated
history of bloody wars, repression, dispossession of land,
and finally by a common desire to recover a fascinating past
and develop a common future where local resources and tourism
will help to sustain the people of this marvellous transfrontier
Who knows where the Nama Route really
starts? Some say it starts way down in Tulbagh near Cape Town,
because it is from there where the great Nama leader Jan Jonker
Afrikaner trekked north when Europeans settled at the Cape
of Good Hope and soon after started to make life uncomfortable
for the local people. Jan Jonker Afrikaner finally settled
at //Ai-//gams, meaning Hots Springs and referring to Windhoek
in central Namibia from where he ruled the entire country
for a decade. So, conveniently, the Nama Route really criss-crosses
the N7, becoming the B1 the other side of the border, and
going as far north as ancient Nama history and the present
day settlements reach.
on the Edge
The Topnaars, a group of Namas that live in the central Namib
along the dry riverbed of the Kuiseb, lead a most remarkable
existence in one of the harshest deserts in the world. The
lifestyle is closely tied to the !Nara plant (Acanthosicyos
horrida), a melon-like cucurbit that they use in a variety
of ways to sustain themselves throughout the year. The Topnaars
know their environment extremely well and can help unlock
the secrets of the Namib to those interested in the fascinating
ecology of what some scientists believe is the oldest desert
in the world.
[ read more: www.economist.com.na/2001/140901/story24.htm
About 130 km northwest of Keetmanshoop near the small settlement
of Berseba the Brukkaros Mountain towers over the flat landscape.
Brukkaros is not an extinct volcano as many people believe,
but the eroded remnants of a massive pile of rocks produced
by a gigantic gaseous explosion some 84 million years ago.
At its highest point it is about 1 580 m, and a high ridge
surrounds a deep crater of 2 kilometres in diameter. The mountain's
local name Geitsigubeb means the large leather apron traditionally
worn by Khoikhoi women.
[ read more: www.travelnews.com.na/index.php?fArticleId=767
the !Gariep Flows
The Gariep has played, and continues to play a big role in
the lives of the people who live in the region. It is the
locality of an emerging Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA)
that will tie together numerous individual protected areas,
all of them worth a visit, meaning you can spend an eternity
in the region and still wanting to see more. Two conservancies
on either side of the border, namely the Richtersveld Community
Conservancy (where an authentic Nama settlement is in progress)
and //Gamaseb Conservancy near Karasburg on the Namibian side
as well as the Eksteenfontein Museum will point you in the
right direction to learn more of the Nama culture.
[ read more (pdf file
- 70kb) ]
the Road Leads You
The Nama Route can be started anywhere and followed in any
direction. The Nama Route might take you to Luderitz, where thousands of Nama prisoners of
war died in appalling conditions under German occupation - be sure to visit the grave of Captain Fredericks on Shark Island.
Or to the route might take you to Gibeon, near Mariental, where the Hendrik Witbooi Museum will become an important interpretation centre for Nama history. Anyone can direct you to the house of Sophia Samuels (or you can call her on 081 2773714).
Pay a visit to Warmbad and the //Gamaseb Conservancy and see how the Namas on the other side of the !Gariep live. Then spend the night at Warmbad Hotsprings Community Restcamp.