PICS: If Mars had forests this place in the Northern Cape is probably what they'd look like

2018-10-13 14:00 - Ethan Van Diemen
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quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,

(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen)

The Northern Cape is a must-see holiday destination to connect and re-connect with families and friends. It is a destination for exploration and discovery, offering real and authentic experiences for self-reflection and opportunity to experience a deeper communion with nation and culture.

Take on the open road. Discover misty seaports and mining legends. Dance with the daisies. Feast with the First People. Shield your eyes and get out into the vast desert sands. The Northern Cape has much to offer travellers.

One of the greatest ways to see some of the best of the Northern Cape's offerings is to explore the Namaqua Coastal Route. The route includes hidden gems like Garies, Kamieskroon, Hondeklip Bay, Koiingnaas and Kleinzee and much more.

This however, is about one of the most sublime South African, quintessentially Northern Cape and simultaneously 'alien' landscape - a quiver tree forest in Kamieskroon.

MAPPED: A visual guide to the Namaqua Coastal Route of the Northern Cape

Quiver Tree Forest, near Kamieskroon

Not too far from the small, nondescript town of Kamieskroon in the Northern Cape, is a marvel of South African topography.

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,The forest extends to the sides of mountains (Photo: Ethan Van Diemen)

Quiver trees can often be found growing in some harsh, climatic conditions and areas that would otherwise not be suitable to other trees and forms of plant life.   

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,(Photo: Chadwin Chetty, Flow Communications) 

The monotony of the vast open spaces of the Kamiesberg area are here broken by shrubbery and the famous Quiver tree. 

PICS: Explore the quintessence of the Northern Cape in the Goegap Nature Reserve  

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,Is this a forest? (Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

Stretching, and perhaps even redefining, the popular conception of what a forest is, the quiver tree forest is a marvel to behold. A quick search on the word forest brings up definitions such as "...a large area dominated by trees".

Although 'forest' is a term that is common and widely known, there is no universally recognised precise definition. Let's just agree that it is an area covered with trees and plants. 

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

The quiver tree is as beautiful as it is rich in character. The trees evoke and inspire visions of a wilder, more ancient Africa where only the toughest survive.

The quiver tree is part of the aloe family (Aloe dichtoma), the trees have branches that split off into smaller sections with tough succulent leaves that are designed to retain moisture and weather the intense Northern Cape sun.  

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen)

The name of this tree is derived from its historical use by the First People who would hollow out the branches and use them as quivers for their arrows. They would often attach a piece of springbok leather or sinew and strap it across their backs and head off hunting. Being strong and durable, the tree was perfect for this purpose. 

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quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

The Quiver tree, found growing mainly on the rocky habitat of the hills along the Orange River, was used extensively by the First People. The trunks of the trees were hollowed out and the spoils of the day's hunt would be stuffed inside as if the trees were some sort of makeshift refrigerator. 

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,(Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

Much like the Boabab tree, many have commented that the trees look upside down and that the leaves closely resemble roots. 

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,A close up of the Quiver tree's trunk (Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

The harsh climatic conditions that these trees exist in have forced them to adapt in order to survive. With low soil moisture, air humidity and intense levels of sunshine - the trees have adapted to be able to absorb every iota of moisture available. 

SEE: SA Road Trips Mapped: Exploring the Wild Flower route of the Northern Cape

quiver tree, kamieskroon, northern cape, mountain,This forest is set in a location that is incredibly remote (Photo: Ethan Van Diemen) 

With its earth-coloured peaks and sandy plains, the forest area may seem to be barren, dry and devoid of life but take a closer look and you will see that the area is in fact awash with interesting lifeforms.

One of the greatest ways to see some of the best of the Northern Cape's offerings is to explore the Namaqua Coastal Route. The route includes hidden gems like Garies, Kamieskroon, Hondeklip Bay, Koiingnaas and Kleinzee and much more.  

With dozens of adventure and leisure options available, the Namaqua National Park, nature reserves, hidden coastal hamlets and some of the most remote hiking and 4x4 trails imaginable - there is something for everyone to enjoy in the Northern Cape.

Ethan Van Diemen was hosted by the Northern Cape Tourism Authority

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