left Pretoria on 31 March 2006. Normally we would have taken the
Krugersdorp highway, then to Ventersdorp, Coligny, Biesiesvlei,
etc. But now that the new platinum toll road to Rustenburg is completed
it is much easier to get on the N4 and then turn left towards Koster
just after Rustenburg. You will get Koster, then Lichtenburg and
connect with the normal old road at Biesiesvlei. I normally prevent
Ventersdorp because for some reason I ALWAYS get a speeding fine
there. Even now that I know they catch you, I start driving 100Km/h
15Km before the time, but religiously I get my fine in the post
for doing 124 in a 100 zone. Personally I think they are committing
fraud big time. So prevent Ventersdorp.
first stop was at Augrabies falls. We camped there for the evening.
From Pretoria to Augrabies is about 9 hours drive(or more if you
drive a landy). So you have to leave early. The falls was quite
spectacular after the good rains. Because the next days drive was
only about 600Km we went for a walk the next morning in the park.
The colours of the rocks are beautiful just after sunrise.
left Augrabies only at about 10h00. Filled up again at Pofadder.
We visited Pella. This is a must, it is only a 30Km drive out there.
Some people stay on some of the guest farms in the Pella area when
they travel to the Richtersveld. It is a beautiful area but personally
I think that makes the trip on the day you go to the park to long.
So we stayed in an old asbestos house of a friend in McDougall's
Bay, just next to Port Nolloth. There is a very nice camping site
in McDougall's. It is right on the sea. So the next time I would
rather camp there than staying in a house.
next day on our way to Sendelingsdrift, we stopped at Alexander
Bay to go to the area where the Orange River flows into the sea.
I photographed these old mining structures there. The town is nothing
for the eye and it heart breaking to see how they kill our nature
only to get hold of a couple of silly shiny rocks.
Alexander Bay you will travel on a fairly good gravel road all the
way to Sendelingsdrift. There are fuel pumps available, so we filled
up just for incase. After we booked in and started moving out to
Potjiespram, our 10 year old commented "This does not actually
look like a holiday place". The first part of the park is a
mine. Ugly and worst of all you drive on a graded road for the first
4 Km. These people make a joke of the word "conservation".
So after 4Km of badly corrugated road we turn left towards Potjiespram
and things started to look better. WARNING: Do not be mislead by
the surrounding towns' temperatures. It was 30 on Port Nolloth,
32 in Alexander Bay and only 45 Degrees Celsius in the Richtersveld
Potjiespram camping site is next to the river. The safest place
to swim is if you drive back from where you came from until you
reach the bend where you will turn left to go out of Potjiespram.
There on the right hand side is a nice hole where you can swim.
orange river was very full after the rains. The current was flowing
very strong and one could only swim on the side.
mountain next to the river.
facilities at potjiespram
next day we left Potjiespram for De Hoop. You go back the same way
as you came in and then at the fork in the road turn left. Although
the mountains are bare with almost no vegetation, it is still beautiful.
On this route you will find a lot of "Halfmens". They
normally grow on the Soutern slopes of the mountains. Apparently
you will see more plants and flowers in September.
worst roads in the park are the graded roads. I think they are there
for the mining activities. They are heavily corrugated and it is
almost better to travel next to the road. Luckily after Oena the
graded road stop and you start on a 2 wheel track which you travelled
1500Km far to get on. This is what you were looking for. After the
Oena turn-off you will go through a small mountain pass. At last
a small challenge. It is not that steep, even with the trailer we
went up and down without any hassles.
for the traffic to clear before we decent.
will regulary find these sharp rocks. It seems as if they shattered
from the heat.
rocks from closer. These are the buggers which will ruin the side
walls of your tyres. They are rasor sharp.
the other side of the little pass the area is mostly flat.
the cool 42 degrees of the days we stopped under one of the five
trees for some tea
is not all bare landscapes. In the river beds are more vegtation.
A large number of the roads run in the dry river beds, thus a lot
of sand driving.
we reached De Hoop at about 15h00. There were no water in the tanks
so the ablutions were of no use. There was a very strong wind blowing
which was a good thing because we could see where to put up the
tent, sheltered from the wind. Part of the De Hoop camping site
was flooded. The tree you see here is where people would normally
camp. The Richtersberg camp was almost totally flooded so people
who were booked to camp there also camped at De Hoop.
had a nice private spot next to the river. The spot was to close
to the river for Elmi to sleep. She grew up in Upington and knows
the Orange river. In the end her worries were quite relevant as
the level of the river did rise significantly.
river was flowing very strong and here you can see the strong current.
a hot day and unfriendly wind we relaxed the evening next to the
fire with only the noise of the river in our ears.
walking in the area the afternoon we found this little scorpion.
It was about 160mm long.
were booked at Kokerboomkloof for the next evening. But because
of the situation with flooded camps and limited camping space we
decided to leave our camp at De Hoop and only travel to Kokerboomkloof
and back for the day. The southern part of the park is the most
beautifull to me.
view on our way to Kokerboomkloof. It is a beauty you cannot describe
and cannot capture on film.
to Kokerboomkloof site
view from the Kokerboomkloof camping site. It is not next to the
river so it will be absolutely quiet and undesturbed when you camp
here. There are no trees, thus no shade.
facilities at Kokerboomkloof consist of a shower, basin and toilet.
Only problem is that there are no water in the camp. I think somebody
were very optimistic when they builded the camp and then only afterwards
realised that there are no water. You will note when you get there
that the water pipes at the back of the taps are neatly blocked
off and there are no pipes running to the ground. So the idea was
there but the water not.
our way back we went to visit the Tattasberg camp and the Richtersberg
camp. Above is the new fancy chalets at Tattasberg. On your way
there you will drive through very thick sand.
view over the river from Tattasberg camp. The Richtersberg camp
is only about 3Km from Tattasberg. The next time I go go the the
Richtersveld park I would stay in Richtersberg Camp and do day trips
around the park.
up early in the morning. The water level raised through the night.
Note the water level in the left bottom corner. The two heaps of
rocks was the children's braai (on the left) and our braai (on the
right) of the previous evening.
are parts that looks complete like small rockeries.
we entered the park the staff informed us that we cannot exit the
park at the Helskloof gate when driving alone. After three days
we decided that our Terrano can go anywhere and we will take the
risk. So we took the road to the Helskloof gate. I am very happy
that we decided to do so. This road is absolutely the most beautiful
road in the whole park. On this road you will find the most plant
species and the most stunning views. It is a pitty that the De Koei
camp was closed because we will actually need 2 or 3 days to do
this stretch of road. There are so many plants to see.
are two passes on your way to the gate. Here we are going down the
first called Oomrogh Pass. You cannot go down any other way than
low range first gear and helping with the brakes.
Botterbome is a must see. As I said, if I were to photograph all
the plants on this route it would take me 3 days. As we only had
1 day I could not stop every time when I saw a nice plant.
vygies grow everywhere in the dry river beds. On the last day I
decided to stop and photograph it. This plant is known as "kjennirpielietjies"
in the area as Mac (Kagiso) who grew up in this area pointed out
to me afterwards.
that was our trip to the Richtersveld. AFter we left the Richtersveld
we went back to the house in McDougall's. Of course we could not
leave the area without proper cray fish and snoek for supper.
next day we took the gravel road to Kleinsee. At Kliensee, which
is a mining area of De Beers, we obtained a permit to travel through
the Kleinsee area. I asked the Police Station commander for help
and he phoned the head of security at De Beers' office. This is
a tarred road which takes you all the way to Koiingnaas. From there
we took the Hondeklipbaai, Wallekraal, Garries gravel road. The
last 60Km before Garries is also a spectacular drive and an area
where I would like to spend some time in the near future. Then we
visited family and friends in St Helena, Langebaan, Cape Town, Hermanus,
George and De Aar.
of all do not mis judge the temperature and your water usage.
You have to take you own water. We were 3 adults and 1 child.
I took 60 litres of drinking water. I estimated that it will
be 20 litres per day which is 5 liter per person per day. We
only used it for drinking and cooking. We used river water for
washing and dishes. The last day I realized that the water was
almost finished and started to limit the usage. We returned
home with only 5 litres of water in the tank. So 5 litres per
person per day would have been just enough, but might not be
enough if you got stuck or had a broken down vehicle.
that you have to take your own wood. Some of the locals do sell
wood but you do not regularly see them and the wood I bought
are no control in the park. We left the helskloof gate without
anybody knowing. If you get stuck on your way to a camp, nobody
will know that you did not reach your destination and you will
sit there for days. I like traveling on my own, but if you are
not an experienced overlander, always travel in pairs.
The good thing is that if the park are fully booked, book space
at any camp as long as you book a space somewhere for the days.
Then go to your favorite camp and stay there for the duration
of your bookings. Nobody will know if you stay 2 or 3 days on
the same spot. They booked us at kokerboomkloof for one night
and afterwards we learned that people are not even permitted
to camp there anymore due to the lack of water and working toilets.
The same went for Richtersberg, the camp was fully booked but
almost fully under water. So those people had no option than
to camp at De Hoop.
Richtersveld Park is not everybody scene. I might be back there
in September but I can imagine some of my Yuppie friends' faces
if they travel 1500Km to get to a place where there are not
even plants, drinking water an average daily temperature of
42 degrees Celsius. Make sure that this is what you like before
you go there. If you are a succulent fanatic this the place
to go. If you want to get the modern wimp type of children away
from the TV and let them experience nature in its bare state,
this is the place to go.
the sharp rocks. I do not think that you will easily get a puncture,
but those sharp rocks can cut the sidewall of your tyre like
a warm knife through butter. Do not even think of going without
two spare wheels.
up at Sendelingsdrif and take at least one Jerry can of extra
fuel. I thought that I will have enough fuel because everything
is about 40Km from each other. The problem is that it takes
you 9 hours to travel that 40 Km. And after your trip in the
park you have 90Km of gravel road to travel to Alexanderbay.
If you go for three days, travel 40Km per day and nothing goes
wrong, you will just make it on one tank. But if you have to
take a detour or something you might be in trouble.
to take out what you take in. You are responsible for your own
garbage. I could not belief my eyes on the last two days when
I saw empty Windhoek Lager bottles next to the road on a regular
interval. The bottles were still fresh. So one of the so called
"nature lovers" who visited the park in the same time
as us dumped his empties as he was driving through the park.
the park the surface you drive on change from sand to hard soil
to rocks twenty times a day. The gurus on the 4x4 courses teach
you that you must deflate your tyres to 0.8 bar for sand, 1.6
for rocks and 1.8 for dirt road. You will spend more time inflating
and deflating your tyres than anything else. I deflated the
tyres to 1.8 bar after the first kilometer of very bad sinkplaat
road which helped a lot. Inside the park I decided to keep it
on 1.8 bar until I get stuck in the sand. That never happened
and we did the whole trip on 1.8 bar. We never got stuck, never
had a flat or any other problem. The thick sand in the riverbeds
is rather big particles. The only fine sand we found was on
the 3km between the Richtersberg camp and the Tattasberg camp
but even there we had no problem on 1.8 bar.
Richtersveld Park is something different and the area grows on you.
You will enjoy the quietness and being away from everything. It
is definitely worth the cost going there.