About 10km north of Springbok, lies Okiep. The name is derived from the Nama word ~U-geib (‘the large brackish place’). Okiep is the oldest mining town in South Africa. By the 1870s it was ranked the richest copper mine in the world.
In 1876, in order to overcome the transport problem once and for all, the company set about constructing a narrow-gauge railway from Okiep to Port Nolloth, a distance of about 146km.
After the First World War, the copper price dropped so low, that the mining operation stopped all together until 1938 when it resumed again. Conditions inproved and a new mine was opened in 1945.
Okiep enjoys a semi desert climate which is hot to very hot and dry during the summer months and cool to very cold in the winter months with snow on the mountains.
- Goegap Nature Reserve – hiking trails, wild flowers and over 100 bird species. There is also some game viewing such as zebra, fox, buck and honey badger. It is open daily from 8am to 4pm.
- Anglo Boer War – The remains of the Crows Nest Blockhouse on a hill north east of Okiep.
- Fort Shelton – Between Okiep and Concordia – which was part of the war and manned by a 6 pounder gun.
- Cornish Pump House – A steam engine (still in tact) which was used from 1882 to pump water from the mine.
- Smokestack – Built as a ventilation shaft in 1880, now a national monument.
A few kilometers west of Okiep, lies Nababeeb. The name derived from two Nama words combined. ~Naba (‘hump of an animal’) and ~bib (‘small spring’).
The town is the largest of Namaqualand’s copper mining towns. Mining began in the 1850s and from 1876 the ore was transported, by train, to Port Nolloth for export. The mine closed during the copper slump of 1919, but reopened in 1937.
- Mining Museum – It charts the development of the copper mining in the area by photographs and other exhibits. A narrow-gauge steam locomotive which was used to rail copper ore to Port Nolloth (called Clara) is on display outside.