Way off the beaten path near South Africa’s northwest corner, the exposed and sandy little nowhere town of Port Nolloth exudes raw, final-frontier vitality. The bracing air smells of fish and salt, and the town is home to a motley, multicultural group of runaways, holidaymakers and fortune-seekers. The drive alone justifies a visit to this remote seaside town – one minute you’re engulfed in nothingness, covered in a layer of red Kalahari sand; the next, you’re cresting a hill, watching the icy blue vastness of the Atlantic appear on the horizon.
Established as the shipping point for the region’s copper, Port Nolloth is now dependent on the diamond dredgers and crayfish trawlers that gather at its small commercial pier. The dredgers are fitted with pumps, which vacuum diamond-bearing gravel from the ocean floor.