Keetmanshoop is a city located in southern Namibia that is perhaps best known for its astonishing Giants Playground and Quiver Tree Forest – an enigmatic destination cloaked in mystery and boasting ancient trees and towering boulders.

Those enjoying a luxury train trip across Namibia’s famed arid landscape should factor a visit to Keetmanshoop into their busy itinerary. The landscape is utterly unique and the history of the town is fascinating in itself. In 1850, the area was initially occupied by the Kharo!oan clan – a sub-tribe of the Nama people. Later, in 1860, the Rhenish Missionary Society established a mission in the region, with the intent of religiously converting the local people.

A mission station was founded and christened after its benefactor, German trader, Johann Keetman; hence the area was named Keetmanshoop, translating to ‘the hope of Keetman.’ Today, the missionary church houses a museum recalling the history of the area. Architectural and cultural enthusiasts should also pay a visit to the old Post Office and the Schutzenhaus, which was built in 1907 and is thus the oldest German club in South Africa.

 The Mesosaurus and Fossil and Quiver Tree Dolorite Park is undoubtedly the area’s predominant attraction. Here, the famous Quiver Tree Forest can be found, hosting an incredible number of distinctive ‘Kokerboom’ trees. The quiver tree or Kokerboom, is a specialised plant highly adapted to the arid conditions of the desert. It stores water in its trunk and has a longevity of up to 300 years. Its namesake stems from the fact that the San people used to use its light and malleable wood to carve quivers.

The Giant’s Playground is another well-known attraction, which received its name due to the towering, granite boulders that are stacked on top of each other – as if a giant was playing with them one day. Formed approximately 180 million years ago via pressed magma, water erosion and weathering, this dolerite feature attracts thousands of visitors each year, drawn to its natural wonderment.