We’re not in the mid­dle of nowhere but we can see it from here…

South African Country Life - - In This Issue - Nita Hazell, Ed­i­tor

From­mer’s travel guide refers to the North­ern Cape as ‘Thelma and Louise ter­ri­tory’, the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for ac­claimed pho­tog­ra­pher and au­thor Obie Ober­holzer, who likes noth­ing bet­ter than to pack up his bakkie and head off on long road­trips, past end­less horizons with lit­tle sign of hu­man habi­ta­tion.

True, the North­ern Cape is vast, by far our largest prov­ince. Slightly big­ger than Ger­many and tak­ing up nearly a third of South Africa’s land mass, its pop­u­la­tion is a mere 1.2 mil­lion, which cer­tainly makes it the go-to place if you’re look­ing for some quiet. But there are many more rea­sons to travel north.

In the prov­ince, no less than five na­tional parks Kgala­gadi, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, Au­gra­bies, Na­makwa and Tankwa Ka­roo of­fer some of the great­est game view­ing and get­aways. Then there are the spring flow­ers that stretch for miles, the mighty Or­ange River that feeds lush vine­yards and cot­ton fields, and the breath­tak­ing Au­gra­bies Falls. Peo­ple also ar­rive from across the world to stargaze un­der the clear­est skies on the planet.

What re­ally grabs me are the en­chant­ing names of towns like Lekkers­ing, Khuboes, Lo­eries­fontein, Keimoes, Noe­nieput, Kaka­mas and Ho­tazel. One I had never heard of, un­til Obie sug­gested it to me, is Mier, and I was not en­tirely sure if he was pulling my leg. Obie uses ‘map roulette’ to pin­point ob­scure, out of the way places, which is how he dis­cov­ered the ex­is­tence of Mier, two set­tle­ments (Groot Mier and Klein) that ‘lie in a fin­ger of land that bor­ders the Kgala­gadi Trans­fron­tier Park, Namibia and Botswana’.

The good Prof Google is a fount of info. Mier is a mu­nic­i­pal­ity big­ger than the Free State, but with only about 8 000 peo­ple, and it in­cludes the com­mu­ni­ties of Ri­et­fontein, Phi­lan­der­s­bron, Lou­bos, Klein Mier and Groot Mier, Welkom, Askham and Noe­nieput.

One of the world’s an­cient tribes, the ‡Khomani San owns farms in the Mier area. The peo­ple are poor, mostly small-time stock farm­ers, and 90 per cent de­pend on gov­ern­ment grants. But for all the hard­ship in these gra­ma­doe­las of the North­ern Cape, it is here that Obie finds true hu­man­ity and love, which you can read about in his story

The King­dom on page 22. of Mier

Leav­ing Mier be­hind, we hitch a ride with vet­eran jour­nal­ist and road­trip afi­cionado Chris Marais (an Isuzu bakkie is another thing he and Obie have in com­mon) to the far-off vlak­tes of Vos­burg in the Bo-Ka­roo. It’s worth not­ing that the most di­rect route from Gaut­eng to flow­er­ing Na­maqua­land is via Vos­burg, about 60 kilo­me­tres west of Brit­stown.

‘Come and en­joy our shady trees’, reads the sign that wel­comes trav­ellers (you have to love a town that cel­e­brates its shade). Es­pe­cially in the Ka­roo, where sum­mers can top 50°C. Read Chris’ story

Shady Town, on page 30. Cool Peo­ple

For those of you on your way to the Na­maqua­land flow­ers, the news is ex­cel­lent. Good rain over the past weeks (and more down­pours ex­pected) prom­ise a spec­ta­cle, some­thing the area hasn’t seen for a while.

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