ATTRACTIONS: THINGS TO DO
Because of the mining, resticted access has ensured that some sites remain relatively pristine, such as the seal colony, the marine life, and the extraordinary bird populations. Over 200 species of birds can be seen here, including the rare Barlow's Lark, which is found nowhere else but in this region.
In fact the Orange River mouth is home to many rare and threatened bird species, as well as a critical stop over for migratory birds.
Diamond Mine tours are run from 08:00 to about 12:30. Tours can be run on other days for groups of six or more.
For security reasons all tours have to be arranged at least 24 hours in advance. Upon booking, tourists full names, identity numbers and home address will be required for security clearance. The price includes refreshments and an oyster. Unfortunately no children under the age of 18 are allowed in the mining area.
The mine tour includes a guided tour of the museum, a look at Alexkor’s Corporate Video and a look at the mining operation itself. In the mining area tourists are given information about prospecting, mining and recovering diamonds, the history of Alexander Bay and its people as well as information on all of Alexkor’s various activities.
You may also visit Alexander Bay Harbor, an oyster farm, one of the working plants and a seal colony on the coast.
Orange River Wetland Ramsar Site
In June 1991 the wetland at the mouth of the Orange River was declared a RAMSAR SITE of international importance, especially as a habitat for water birds, like flamingos and pelicans.
A must for any birder, found along the riverbanks, along with smooth pebbles and semi-precious stones for rock and gemstone enthusiasts. Unfortunately this wetland is currently under major threat from several sources including reduced flow and desertification, but efforts are underway to restore this wetland. Also of interest are fields of green and orange lichen growing on a hill near the turnoff of the town. These lichen fields are soon to be declared a national monument.
Visitors can bird watch along the road to the river mouth and also at a bird hide, which looks out over an oxidation pond.
A rare field of green and orange lichen further grow on a hill south east of the entrance road to Alexander Bay.
Though spoken of as plants, Lichen really consist of patches of fungi and algae which live in symbiosis. These grow on the ground, which is a powdery eroded rock substrate, and also on the remains of dried plants.
Lichen only occur in cool, misty desert climes. There are only four such regions in the world, of which the adjoining Namib Desert is one.
Over 30 species of lichen have been recorded on the outcrop.Though this sensitive area has been enclosed by a fence, visitors can clearly see and photograph the lichen fields from the main road.
The Living Museum
The diamond mining company Alexkor Ltd has diversified into agro-industry, mariculture and tourism. Informative diamond mine tours also pass the Bay of Alexander and a seal colony. They run every Thursday and should be booked 24 hours in advance. The Living Museum gives you a profound insight into the rich natural and cultural history of the area and will soon offer biologically and culturally oriented activities. You can also experience the rich natural and cultural heritage of the region by visiting the nearby towns of Sanddrift, Kuboes, Eksteenfontein, Lekkersing and Port Nolloth, as well as the Richtersveld National Park.
Though there are no official trails yet, there are excellent mountain biking opportunities in the area, taking you past lichen fields and along the river. You can also go fishing with the fishermen and a few seagulls at the River Mouth. The Tourism Information Centre can arrange equipment and guides for you through the angling club.
Alexander Bay is a mining town located at the mouth of the Orange River, 85 km from Port Nolloth. In the past strict security made access to Alexander Bay difficult but today this frontier town invites visitors to explore its fascinating pioneering history. Although the border post to Namibia is open from 6:00 till 22:00, you need a permit to enter the Sperrgebiet and Oranjemund which you have to drive through to get further into Namibia. Movement in the Sperrgebiet area is very restricted and entrance permits need to be approved well in advance for all visitors. Security clearances are done at the Security Department offices in Oranjemund and the Springbok Police Station in South Africa. Application forms can be obtained from Monday to Friday or by contacting the following department: