Richterveld

Trip Start Apr 24, 2012
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Flag of Namibia  , Karas,
Saturday, May 26, 2012

Richtersveld.

Getting there…………Following the river as far as we could (due to mining restrictions). Brandkaros turned out to be desolate.  It has been sad to see so many places in ruin along the river.  Remember the kids in Transkei shouting "Sweeti" every time? Well, at the turnoff to Brandkaros we found it!.......see photo.  We also found the birthplace of the Blue Bulls (sorry Sarie).

Ok, so this one is a “big deal”.  With high hopes and great expectations we enter into the Richtersveld.

My first reaction – outrage!  Then disappointment.  Why?  Because this is a “World Heritage” site and it has been “raped” by the diamond mining industry.  Everywhere are heaps (mountains) of sand that have been processed, mining signs and structures.  Not happy about this, we arrived at Sendelingsdrif, gate into the park. We had planned on sleeping here the first night.  It is more of a mining “town” than anything else.  Lucky for us Sendelingsdrif had a group of 50 occupying the campsite that night so we booked Potjiespram, about 13 km away, as our first night.  (Sendelingsdrif has a ferry to cross over to Namibia)  Keep in mind that 10km = 1 hour drive.

The obvious comparison at this stage was that of a moonlike terrain. Rugged, and foreign to the eye.   A Multitude of different colors, textures, shapes and vegetation.  We sensed that we were in for a treat.  We could not describe it if we tried and even the photos will not do it justice. Once in, one feels complete solitude in this wilderness with its grotesque mountains.  This, a feeling you will either love or dislike. 

 Shortly before arriving to Potjiespram the road opens up and the river lies right in front of you.  So unexpected and refreshing in this arid environment.  The camp itself is on the river bank in between lots of trees (bushy pine).  We were the only ones there and could take the prime camping spot with a view of the river and amazing sunset.  Well protected by the trees, we had a good night.  Early morning we went to where we entered and could see fisherman on the Namibian side of the river.  Beautiful views.  Carlos reminded me that soon we would be on the other side of the river in Namibia ourselves,  exactly where those fishermen were.  Sad thing was that the mining scars on the other side were even worse than on this side.

We noticed lots of animal spoor but did not see anything other than birds.  The birds are extremely tame and love hanging around the camp.  One can watch them for hours going about their business.  Then still, they will not only get close to you but treat you as just another tree and come sit right on you.

Although the Richtersveld last had rain in April last year, we saw flowers in the most unexpected places. If you bother to walk around a bit, there is life in abundance.  It is just not that obvious.

I could only think how Oom Peet, Elza's dad, would go mad here.  He collects strange stones.  Well, he would be like a kid in a candy shop for sure! Endless  variety.

Our next camp is De Hoop.  The most memorable about this stretch was Akkedispas.  A total 4x4 off road experience.  Took lots of photos of Tuna and Lynxi in this new playground. Very exciting! We noticed that some locals still live inside the park.  The live like nomads with their goats. Must be a hard life. One travels in river beds quite often and thus see water every now and again. Spectacular scenes.  I realized here, like so many times on this trip already, that one needs 3 cameras with 3 lenses.  All ready at the same time.  One extra-long lens, one normal lens and one extra wide lens. Even then, I doubt one could capture the Richtersveld to satisfaction.  The panoramic views are something one can only experience for oneself by being here. We went from wanting to take a photo of everything I saw (800 photos) to realizing there is simply no way to capture it!

We must have left Potjiespram at about 8h30 and arrived at De Hoop at around 2pm. This not entirely due to the road but also my constant shout to “stop” for yet another photo. De Hoop also on the river but total different feel to it.  Open space and wide river. Two sets of campers were already settled here.  Carlos found a good spot a bit further downstream.  Waiting in the water across the river was another Goliath Heron.  Super stoked we could watch it for hours and see it successfully catching a huge fish.  The ritual after the catch and the long process of drinking water after having swallowing such a big fish. Much later he took flight as if he did not weigh a gram more than before.   This turned out to be our favorite camp in the Richtersveld. You will see why (photos).  We would stay here for 2 nights.

The plan was to stay at Richtersveld camp on the third night. There are however two ways of getting to it.  The short way (10km) or the long way (about 40km).  The long way would mean that we had to pack up and move which we did not want to do.  So we took the short road without Lynxi.  Just as well.  Right from the start an off road experience.  Lots of deep sand or should I say dust.  We thoroughly enjoyed it. We did it just as the sun came up so our timing was great.  We would not have made it with Lynx.  Richtersveld camp seems nice enough but we still liked De Hoop better.  Besides the Baboons on the other side of the river were having a huge fight that morning and then came to the river to drink water.  I did not like the looks of that at all.  On the way back to de Hoop we came across a German WALKING the Richtersveld!!  Having had a very short drive today (2 hours rather than the norm of about 8-10 hours) we had a relaxing day next to the river.

The next day, knowing that we had quite a distance to cover, we got going early. The ever changing landscape kept us on the edge of our seats.  From vast flat open spaces, to enormous “boulders”, and mountain after mountain all in different shades of blues.  One moment you would literally scarcely have room the maneuver the bakkie over narrow roadways and the next it opens up. There are no words to describe this.  And even though a picture paints a thousand words, none of the photos give justice to what the eye can see.  One almost feels defeated knowing you cannot begin to show what you have witnessed.

On the morning we packed up in De Hoop we spotted the first and last scorpion . Wheat colour with small pinchers.  Lesson, wear your shoes at all times.  Our little bird friend would not let us go.  It hitched a ride with us on the bakkie.  Picking at us through the window as to say “don’t leave me here”.  When we got to the first “gateway” birdie decided he’d better go back. 

By the time we got to Kokkerboom camp area we started feeling the need to get out of there.  We still had to pass Hakkiesdoring and get to Hellskloof gate before dark.  This is when we saw the first little bokkies in the park.  Two duikertjies.  Other than that we had only seen goats and sheep and about 5 cows.

I have not even started telling you about the vegetation!! Strange, beautiful, hard and fragile.  Colourfull and pale. Structured and flimsy.  Apparently flower season is only in August.  Wonder what it would be like to see this place in its full slender.

Short before entering the park our friend Albert asked us if we thought he could bring his boys to the Richtersveld.    They are still in primary school.  Probably not.  They would soon be bored with the long drives.  On the other hand it might leave “the impression of a lifetime “ on then.  Anyone with the slightest imagination(kids have plenty of that) can envisage dinosaurs here.  Rocks take on forms of all sorts of things, etc.

We loved it. It is not for everyone and unfortunately you will not know it before you actually in it.  It is an off road, 4x4 play ground that does not run out of ground.  (if that is your reason for being there). It is a natural phenomenon on a grand scale. It is one of the places on earth were one realize just how small you are in Gods creation.  (one rock, just one – dwarfed me to the size of an ant) It is a place where you soon realize that nothing can compare with the wonder of creation.

Having said all that, by day four we felt the need to “get out” of there, almost as if to be able to breath in something new.  I guess in a way it becomes too much to take in anymore. On a too big a scale.  Like your brain needs a break.  All the same……….it would be different for each person.
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Comments

veronica on

fantastic pics!!!!!!

Wena Naude-Goelst on

What stunning pictures. Being a Karoo girl, I can appreciate the feeling of desolation and beauty. Such a fragile eco system. Keep posting!

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