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Namaqualand’s Little Old Copper Town
Just a few kilometres north of Springbok, in the heart of Namaqualand, lies the former copper mining town of Nababeep – just a spot on the map now after the mine’s closure in 2004.
The towns name was derived from two original Nama words, naba meaning “hump of an animal” and bib meaning “small spring”. Nababeep also means "the water behind the little hill" or "the place where the giraffe drinks water" to the Nama people, after the spring at which the town was established.
Born out of the copper boom era, Nababeep’s must see when visiting is its mining museum. The museum portrays the history of the town and its mining heydays in the forms of relics and photos. National monument "Clara" the steam locomotive, built in 1890, is on display outside the museum. Clara is the last of the Kitson type mountain locomotives used by the Cape Copper Company to transport copper ore from Okiep to Port Nolloth.
Nababeep also enjoys the distinct Namaqualand floral displays in spring. During the springtime the magnificent display of spring flowers is spectacular to say the least and the entire town is ablaze with orange and yellow masses of spring flowers.
Nababeep is an easy detour off the N7 and worth stopping in at during the flower season. Many of the old mining buildings and houses have been turned into guesthouses and hotels for tourists so be sure to stop in and enjoy some Namaqualand hospitality.
Things to do and see
- Nababeep Mine Museum
- Goegap Nature Reserve
- Namaqualand Flower Route
- Caracal Eco Route & Mountain Bike Trails, 63 km
Nababeep is regarding a desert climate with only 158 mm, on average, of rain per year with most of its annual rainfall taking place during winter.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 14˚C and 29˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 6˚C and 19˚C.
There are the occasional domestic flights into Upington Airport which is approximately 398 km away via the N14. A more popular route, however, is to fly to Cape Town and travel the 580 km along the N7, stopping along the way at the many wonderful West Coast towns. Car hire facilities are available at all Airports.
Nababeep is home to the Okiep Copper Company. Mining of copper began in the Nababeep area way back in the early 1850’s and, from 1876 the ore was taken to Port Nolloth by train for export purposes.
Mining activities shut down during the copper slump of 1919 and reopened again in 1937. Today Nababeep was the largest of the Namaqualand’s copper mining towns and at night, when the molten ore glows and the white, hot slag is being carted to the waste dumps, Nababeep is a spectacular sight.
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