Quiver tree forest & giants’ playground
The best-known attraction in Keetmanshoop area is the Quiver Tree Forest near Quiver Tree Rest Camp on the farm Gariganus. The rest camp is 13km north-east of Keetmanshoop.
The quiver tree or "Kokerboom" is one of the most interesting and characteristic plants of the very hot and dry parts of Namibia and the northwestern part of the Cape Province in South Africa. Actually it is no tree, but an aloe plant. The botanical name is ALOE DICHOTOMA. Dichotoma refers to the forked branches of the plant. The plant is called a "Kokerboom" because some Bushmen and Hottentots tribes used the tough, pliable bark and branches to make quivers for their arrows. "Koker" is the Afrikaans word for quiver.
The quiver tree is a stout tree up to 9 metres high with a smooth trunk which can be up to one meter in diameter at ground level. The plants are usually found growing singly but in some areas the plants grow in large groups, giving the effect of a forest. The quiver tree propagates only by seeds. They have their first flowers when they are about 20 to 30 years old. The flowers are branch panicles up to 30 cm tall from the base of the penducle to the apex of the terminal of the racem. The flowers have a bright yellow colour. The flowering-season is in the winter during June and July.
The quiver tree mostly occurs in black rock formations (called “ysterklip”) which absorb a lot of heat during the hot summer. (Average summer temp. is 38°C). The rocks anchor the plants which have a spread-root-system. The quiver tree is proof against frost.
The trees in the forest are natural. No trees have been planted by humans. The quiver tree forest was declared as a national monument on 1 June 1955. The big trees in the forest are between 200 and 300 years old.
There is another beautiful quiver tree ‘forest’ about 22km north of Keetmanshoop, it is part of the Garas Quiver Tree Park & Rest Camp. As this ‘forest’ is not very well known yet, there are fewer visitors.
A few kilometers further on, still on farm Gariganus, there is the Giants’ Playground. A circular route leads through a maze of huge black dolerite blocks, which indeed look as if giants had been stacking oversized playing bricks.