The camp where Gareth and I are staying takes its name from Tatasberg, a boulder-strewn mountain peak about 8 kilometres from the river. Park manager Nic de Goede told us last night that it takes about “an hour” to walk up.
“My laaitie, who’s only seven, made it easily the other day,” Nic said without blinking. “You two guys should be more than fine.” Now, I’m not sure what Nic and his family have for dinner every night, but we’d like to try whatever it is they eat, because after four hours of sweat-drenched slogging up a mountain over boulders the size of houses, we finally summited the Tatasberg.
But it was truly worth every second and every drop of sweat and every curse. The views all the way up were simply amazing. A panorama of the stark, jagged mountains of the Richtersveld in every direction. We could see north out over the Orange River to Namibia, and south over the national park.
On the way up, spring flowers were blooming on the rocky faces- the recent winter rains have transformed this boiling desert landscape into a gardener’s paradise. It’s a wonderful time of year to visit the Richtersveld – on previous visits, all in summer time, I’ve experienced temperatures which could fry an egg. But now, the cool breeze and low winter sun make this region more accessible and really enjoyable.
The top of Tatasberg is about 1028 metres above sea level, and is one of the highest peaks in the Richtersveld, and its top is no bigger than a few boulders wide. We sat right on the summit, eating our peanut butter and honey sandwhiches, and slab of chocolate, thinking some not-so-deep thoughts, like why we didn’t put any beers in the fridge before we left camp, and whether it’s possible to paraglide off the top.
But there were some moments when we ran out of things to say –because the scenery and views were unlike anything either of us had ever seen. There were several times when we both simply looked at each other and said: “Wow” or “Jeepers” or just sighed and gave up on trying to verbalise our astonishment. The mountains here start quite abruptly and seem to stand guard over the Orange River, protecting her, and keeping the region pristine and wild. The boulders on the mountains stand jumbled and precariously balanced…the sandy valleys below are HUGE…it’s a truly ginormous landscape that cannot be captured with photography.
Once down, we headed back to Tatasberg Camp, and headed straight for the Coke in the fridge (and put the beers in the freezer), and then for a swim in the river, and lay on the sandy banks like lazy lizards. What a feeling. What a day. One that will stay etched in our memories for a long time to come.
Thanks again to my sponsors for making it all possible. CapeNature, South African National Parks, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Eastern Cape Parks, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Ford, Total, Evosat, Conqueror Trailers, Vodacom, Digicape, Lacie, Frontrunner, K-Way, EeziAwn, National Luna, Nokia , Goodyear, Global Fleet Sales, Hetzner and Clearstream Consulting.
A special word of thanks to EvoSat for making my Internet connection in the middle of the Richtersveld possible…it’s kinda strange accessing the web from here, but it’s a truly awesome thing.