Vineyards, semi-desert and quiver trees September 2020

Because we had not been able to do the Quiver Loop inside the Augrabies National Park this time around (which is a 91km round trip on gravel road), in camp we had searched for other places to see quiver trees. We had seen a few quiver trees on the last section to Augrabies but definitely not a whole forest of them and we desperately wanted to see one. We eventually found found an advertised “Quiver Tree Forest” just north of Kenhardt, about 120 km south-east of Augrabies so that’s where we decided to go.

After a beautiful sunrise over the falls and some cheeky early morning visitors when we had our coffee, we left Augrabies and decided to drive along the south side of the Orange River islands towards Kenhardt. The quiver tree forest would be just 10km south of it. Where we had driven on a national road (N14) north of the Orange River from Upington to Kakamas and Augrabies, the south road out of Kakamas was all gravel road: beautiful, quirky, interesting … but slow. With regular stops for photographs and (very) slow progress on some of the badly corrugated sections it took us about 3-4 hours to cover 60 km’s.

On the first section we passed more of the Orange River vineyards fed with the water wheels irrigating the fields from the network of channels. Moving further south we were still surprised to see huge expanses of vineyards  in a vast barren and rocky landscape. We were excited when we saw a nest with a bird right next to the road and were even more excited when the bird didn’t fly away. when we stopped the engine and got out of the truck. But the longer we hovered around for taking photos, the more we came convinced that it may have been a decoy: all the time we were there (easily 15 minutes) this bird didn’t move an inch. To today we are not sure. There were a few other birds of prey in the vicinity on the lookout so we really don’t know what the game was.

We are always amazed at the remoteness of some areas and some human footprints together with tire tracks on a dirt road reminded us again of the fact that so many people in these remote areas most probably walk for hours on end to get from A to B. 

When we hit Neilersdrift, we turned onto tarred road again for the last 70 km to Kenhardt. The landscape was dry, red and rocky. When we got closer to where we anticipated the forest should be, we saw the lacy edge of the quiver tress atop some of the hills. We saw the official quiver tree forests road signs, but were sooooo disappointed to see it closed, dilapidated and signage indicating it was private property. We took a fat chance and phoned a number on one of the signs and were very lucky this person was able to refer us to the owner on a farm just a km further down the road. We were twice lucky when this owner was at this farm at that moment (he actually lives in Upington) and when Stefaan chatted to him, he was more than happy to give us the key, advise us to have a glass of bubbly up the hill and stay overnight. And we took his advice to heart.

We parked the truck at the forest and went for a walk up the hill. Although we had seen the occasional quiver tree close to Augrabies, this was really something else.

We had a wonderful evening and amazing sunset with a glass of wine (unfortunately no bubbly) between the quiver trees. Amazing!

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