Quiver Tree Forest – Nieuwoudtville

The town of Nieuwoudtville, with it’s reputation of being the bulb capital of the world, was established in 1897 and lies on the Bokkeveld Escarpment in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa – prior to 1897 the Khoi San inhabited the area for many centuries and the local rock art bears witness to this.

Interesting fact is that besides sheep and wheat farming the area is also famous for Rooibos Tea which is indigenous to the Bokkeveld region and plays a critical role in the agricultural well-being of Nieuwoudtville.

As a photographer I was eager to visit Gannabos Farm as it’s Quiver Tree Forest is recognised as the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

Quiver Tree Facts:

The Quiver Tree is not actually a tree at all, but rather an aloe plant – which is named after Bushmen and local tribes that used their tough, pliable bark to make quivers for their arrows. They can live up to 200 years old and are able to survive in areas with erratic and little rainfall by soaking up water and storing it in their succulent leaves – nature is truly amazing!

Let’s Go:

The alarm went off at 1:10am as Nieuwoudtville is +- 4 hours from Cape Town and I wanted to photograph the Forest at sunrise. As the sign post to Gannabos Farm appeared in the headlights it was difficult to control my excitement and as soon as my tyres made contact with the gravel road I frantically searched the darkness for the first sight of these magical trees.

It was not long before the first light hit the horizon and instantly I realized that composition was going to be the greatest challenge in photographing these trees – it was such a sureal picture with the hillside literally covered in Quiver Trees of all shapes and sizes!

After taking a few test shots I managed to find a composition that appealed to my eye:

Satisfied I had a few keepers (photos I was happy with) I decided to make my way back to the car when all of a sudden a burst of light broke through the clouds, instinctly I grabbed my camera gear and ran up the hillside desperate to capture the moment. I had no time to pick a composition so I grabbed the first opportunity and snapped a few frames before the light disappeared – I was fairly happy with the result:

I certainly want to visit again post rainy season (Aug/Sep) as the trees and wild flowers will be in full bloom – an added bonus is that there is a 90m waterfall just 10km closer to Nieuwoudtville which should be another great photo opportunity.

Till next time…

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