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 Post subject: Caracal Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring October 2012
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:52 am 
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Since being cheated out of our trip to Richtersveld during our trip to Namibia in April 2011 I have not managed to put the park out of my mind. We had planned to enter Namibia via Sendelingsdrift but seeing the pont had been washed away in the floods that was not possible. Nor was it possible 3 weeks later on our return from Namibia. The September long weekend was fast approaching and the flowers in the Northern Cape were beautiful ….so I did what I do best and planned an "on the spur of the moment” trip to Richtersveld. Doug,myself and Monty left on Tuesday 18th and overnighted in Vanrhynsdorp. From there we crossed the border into Namibia and spent one night along the Orange River. As these are SANParks unrelated I shall not write about that part of our trip here .
If you would like to see some photos from the beginning part of our journey you can check my Facebook Album here
And so to pick up the story…..

20th September
En route to Sendelingsdrift via the D212.

I had been really looking forward to travelling along this road because I had expected it to follow the Orange River all the way. Unfortunately there were many times that the road deviated away from the river through scenery like this.

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I had high hopes of seeing many Fish Eagles etc and sadly I did not. Birds that I did see but were too far away for any kind of photo were a Goloiath Heron, Grey Herons, Cormorants, a Black Stork, Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters and Pied Wagtails. There were many little roadside LBJ’s but it was pointless in stopping for them as they take off before Doug can bring Monty to a stop.. The only mammals that we saw along the way were a few baboons.
We continued our way through the desolate landscape

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and across the dry Fish River

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Seeing that Rosh Pinah is only 20km’s from Sendelingsdrift we decided to pop in there and have a look. Nothing much happens at Rosh Pinah but we were able to fill up with fuel. At least there were some roadside flowers that prettied up the scenery.

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As one approaches the the Orange River the stark rocky outcrops appear again…majestic rocky mountains but the afternoon light did not really make for awesome photography…so I just kept snapping through the windscreen.

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Approaching the Namibian Borderpost..

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Our passports were checked in no time but a couple next to us were given a hard time…
Why ? Because they were rude to the officials and were giving them a hard time over filling in a departure form. A departure form has to be filled so fill it in with a smile on your face :-) and you will get a smile back. :-) :-) Cussing and bemoaning the fact will probably end up with you having your entire car searched….when will people learn.
Bye-bye Namibia…

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Now it was time to cross over on the Pont…I was not entirely happy about this. :shock: I am not a great water fan. Imagine my relief when I realised that the river was not too wide at the point of crossing but imagine my horror when I saw the size of the pont….that little Pont was supposed to hold our precious Monty. Imagine my relief when I realised that Monty was the only passenger on that crossing ( the Pont can actually hold two fully laden 4 x 4's ) but imagine my horror when I saw how the Pont was rocking from side to side. :shock: :shock:

Image The Pont arriving on the RSA side …

Image Pont on it’s way back to collect us.

Image Pont crossing with SANParks reception building in the background.

Image Monty being driven onto the pont.

Once Doug had driven Monty onto the Pont ( horror) and parked in the middle (relief) we were told to get out ( horror) and we were given life-jackets to put on (relief). The following photos were taken with my camera in one hand while the other was tightly clenched onto Monty - did I mention that I don't do water....did I mention that the Pont was rocking from side to side !!!! And did I mention that Doug gets motion sickness and was already looking a bit green about the gills. I was not going to get any sympathy from him. :cry:

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The crossing was very quick...the Pont is in fact motorised...so it was with a huge sense of relief that I whipped the life-jacket off and jumped back into Monty to await been driven off. Doug hung about waiting to pay a fee for crossing but he was ushered into Monty and told to drive off. We now had to do two things...enter South Africa and check-in at SANParks. Clearly one should enter the country before checking in so we made our way to the borderpost. WRONG decision....one actually has to go to reception and pay your Pont crossing fee first(R100 and R150 if you are towing a trailer). Then you take your little receipt and go through customs....THEN you go back to reception and check in. No problem with that system but it would have been helpful if the chaps on the pont had told us what to do. Anyway everybody was very friendly and helpful and eventually we were back in Monty and ready to start the next part of the adventure

Image SANParks reception.

Image Border control


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 Post subject: Re: Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring
Unread postPosted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 8:09 pm 
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So at last we drove into Richtersveld and I was in two minds about it. I knew not to expect much around Sendelingsdrift due to the presence of mining etc but as we continued into the park I got more and more irritated with the telephone poles. :evil: Every time I wanted to take a photo the darn telephones poles got in the way. Eventually we left them behind :thumbs_up: and I managed to get a photo or two before descending into Potjiespram ( btw the Official Information Guide refers to Pootjiespram and the webpage refers to Potjiespram…take your pick!!! ) Again some shots through the windscreen.

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Seeing that Potjiespram is a mere 9km away from Sendelingsdrift and it was only 3 o’clock there was plenty of time to stop if I should want to take photographs…but nothing really inspired me. :cry: In actual fact I was beginning to stress about the road….did I mention that I don’t do little tracks that go over mountains very well either. :shock: What on earth had made me want to come to this park. :doh: All of a sudden the road was no longer a road….it was a silly little track that meandered it’s way through narrow little crevices until we eventually arrived at Potjiespram….a campsite along the Orange River.

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Luckily for us we managed to get what I, in my opinion, think is only acceptable campsite at Potjiespram. It seems there is only one campsite that has a view of the river….the others are all surrounded by trees. Under the trees is possibly a good place to be in the heat of the summer but I prefer to be able to see the sky and the stars. Again I was not going to be able to photograph the stars. :evil: Anyway we set up camp and had a bite to eat. Luckliy our little sandy patch along the river was just big enough for our table and chairs. Birds that put in an appearance were Familiar Chats, Cape Robin-Chat, Red-eyed Bulbuls and Southern Masked Weavers. Red-knobbed Coots, Darters and a family of Shelducks bobbed down the river but stayed out of reach for any decent shots. I then went on a voyage of discovery. The ablutions were quite adequate with flush toilets and cold water showers as well as a sink for washing dishes. I walked a good distance away from camp but all that I managed to get on camera was a Familiar Chat

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and at last a photo of a Orange River White-eye...not an very good one but proof that I have seen one !

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I had seen many flowers on the way down to Potjiespram but they were scarce in the vicinity of the camp….these yellow “Dubbeltjies” being the only ones on offer.

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I was disappointed in the fact that I had not seen one lizard, bug or butterfly in my little walkabout. :cry:
When I got back to camp it was time for a sundowner. We started on off sitting on our sandy little patch to watch the sunset but the wind soon put paid to that and after taking a quick photo or two to illustrate our private little river view we moved to the braai area which was more sheltered.

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The fire was lit…the Jagermeister was poured and we settled around our fire listening to the watery sounds of the Orange River….
My thoughts that night….I was not sure whether I was going to fall for this Richtersveld or not. It could very well end up being a one night stand…. :whistle:


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 Post subject: Re: Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 03, 2012 12:27 pm 
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21 Sept
Potjiespram to De Hoop

I woke up to the chirping of birds and while I was debating whether I should get up and try and capture them on camera or whether I should just turn around and go back to sleep I heard a very distinctive bird call. Well that was enough for me to make up my mind….I was up like a shot ,almost fell down the ladder (as we all know my reflexes in the morning are not of the best) grabbed my camera off the front seat and went in search of the bird. Just as I got to our private viewing point I heard it again…this is it. One amazing shot coming up !!! :dance: But where was the damn bird :hmz: ….ah there it is..it couldn’t be more further away or so well hidden even if tried. :evil:
Herewith my amazing photo of a bird that can get me out of bed quicker than a cup of tea can !!!

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What do you mean you can’t see a bird :roll: …look at the top of tree…believe you me that is indeed a Fish Eagle. :thumbs_up: To add insult to injury another Fish eagle dived bombed that one and they both flew away…bah !!! :evil: But it is always special to see a Fish Eagle ( remember that I do not get to Kruger that often) and even more special to hear one call ! Oh well I consoled myself with a photo of a South African Shelduck.

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Then back to the tent to make a cup of tea… and then back to the river with the cup of tea but the Fish Eagles had disappeared never to be seen again. It was while I was sitting enjoying this peaceful scene that I felt I was being watched :shock: …no it was not Doug..he was still enjoying another peaceful scene in the rooftop. :whistle: What was watching me…eventually I heard a twig snap…and yes there they were..two pairs of beady little eyes that were watching my every move. No doubt they were watching the bag of rusks on the table as well. :naughty: I guess these two vervet monkeys were waiting for a bird to distract me and then they would swoop down and steal the rusks. I foiled their little plan though and put the rusks away whereupon they went off to the next campsite to harass them instead.

We had a very relaxing pack-up….it makes a change from the get up and go go go go that we do in the KTP. We probably left camp at about 10.00 and started the journey towards De Hoop Campsite.
As BB mentioned the latter part of the road to Potjiespram is incredible pretty and I asked Doug to stop so I could take a photo.

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But on looking at this photo I thought it did not really show the vastness of the landscape at all. Before leaving Cape Town I had read up on taking Panoramic shots and although I did not quite know what I was doing I gave it a bash anyway. Here is the result…..6 photos taken handheld in portrait and stitched together in Photoshop. I am well pleased with the result although the sky is a bit patchy. That is probably because I neglected to take the photos in manual mode. I took them in AV which caused the exposure to change slightly. Anyway at least you can sort of see what a beautiful vista I was looking at.

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We continued on our way and before long I had Doug stopped again. One way to get him to stop is to say “ I think I need a photo of Monty on this road “..or something to that effect. :whistle:

Image Be prepared for many suchlike photos…..

I then use the opportunity to see what else I can photograph..in this instance these yellow flowers nestled amongst the rocks.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring
Unread postPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:51 am 
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And so we meandered further into the Richtersveld…stopping here and there. Birds were few and mammals were non-existent. But worse of all I had once again caught sight of the telephone poles. :evil: I thought I had left those behind. We were driving through the Halfmens Pass ..oh yes plenty of Halfmens to be seen but in such inaccessible places. Grumble grumble grumble… :evil: the Richtersveld was not faring well with me. :naughty: Eventually I saw a Halfmens fairly close to the road :D ….so we stopped and out I hopped…..thrilled at the prospect of getting some decent photos of a Halfmens.

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Within five minutes another vehicle pulled up behind Monty ...also clearly thrilled at the prospect of photographing a Halfmens. From then on every single angle I tried of the Halfmens either had the head of a very chatty lady in it or…yes you guessed correctly…darn telephone poles. :evil: :twisted: Yes I know I can photoshop the poles out of my photo…but I was fast approaching stubborn mode…and I really felt like photoshopping that very chatty lady clean out of the Richtersveld as well. I took a deep breath..calmed down..after all it is not all about taking photographs….and went back to Monty to fetch my Macro lens. I beat both the very chatty lady and the telephone poles at their own game…they would have a very hard job trying to get in between my macro lens and my subject.
Finally a photo of the Halfmens flowers.

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And a well camouflaged lizard

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And once again some flowers growing out of the rocks…

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By now it was fast approaching 11h00…and the wind had picked up. In other words less than ideal conditions for macro photography…so after one more shot of Monty I decided it was time to move on….without any decent shots of the halfmens. :cry:

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 Post subject: Re: Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:57 am 
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Our next stop was at the “ Hand of God” and ”telephone poles of Man”
The Hand of God is situated about 200m down the Oena-Mine turnoff. It is a 2 meter high image of a hand imprinted on the rock face. Local people believe it to be the Hand of God. Above it run the “telephone poles of Man” :evil: but at least this time I was able to get a photo without the telephone poles in it.

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Two chattering Sunbirds came flying over and landed in the tree . I rushed back to Monty to get my other camera but all I managed was a blurry photo…it was enough to ID as a Dusky Sunbird though.
After a quick flower shoot we continued towards De Hoop

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Next up was the Akkedis Pass…and once again I had my knickers in a knot . The following description that I read in the official booklet was firmly wedged in my head…..”this is the first STEEP pass with lots of SHARP turns, named after the typical walking pattern of a lizard.” Thank goodness it did not contain the other S-word….SHEER drops. I do not do sheer drops very well. Anyway to my surprise I coped pretty well with this pass. It is beautiful and I saw many beautiful things that I would have liked to photograph but I did not think it wise to ask Doug to stop on a STEEP SHARP bend. I also spent half the time stressing about what would happen if we came across a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. We never did pass another car so all my stressing was for nothing. We did however stop somewhere near the top…here the road was flat and wide enough for another vehicle to pass…and there were no telephones poles to irritate me.

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And eventually I managed to get one of these beautiful Cape Flat Lizards on camera...well sort of..

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There were plenty of Rock Agamas running around but they were far too quick for me.
Back in the car and down the pass we went….a truly beautiful vista.

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Again the road going down to De hoop became non-existent in places…the upside being that the recent rain had left puddles for the birds to play in. I saw many Cape Buntings, Sparrows, Mountain Wheatears and one lonely Three Banded Plover. It really did look out of place amongst all the rocks. Luckily Doug was able to stop for me to take a photo…

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We arrived at De Hoop at 13h30…..


Last edited by Caracal on Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Richtersveld - 3 dusty days in Spring
Unread postPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2012 9:44 pm 
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Apologies for the delay...and thanks to everybody for the comments. :)

Now if there is something that really irritates me when we arrive at a camp that we have not been to before is deciding where to pitch camp for night….but in this instance the camp was already fairly full so our options were limited. At least at De Hoop everybody has a view of the river. :D We finally settled on a campsite….under the watchful eye of the welcoming committee….

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Anyway it did not take us long to set up camp and after a bite to eat Doug got himself settled in the shade of a tree and I took myself off on a little walk. There were quite a few birds around….a Goliath Heron, African Darters and many Cormorants but a bit too far for any decent photographs. However a Pied Wagtail came hopping along and kept me entertained for a while.

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There were a fair amount of Southern Masked-Weavers around and I was soon to learn that these little birds put the monkeys to shame when it comes to thieving.

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I was beginning to like this camp...there was plenty of action to keep me happy. :D I was beginning to think that Richtersveld could end up being more than a one night stand. :whistle:
Later on in the afternoon I started setting myself up for some sunset shots...it looked like we were in for a good one…… :dance:

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Well I spoke too soon and before long clouds started pouring over the mountain and it became totally overcast….the sun was definitely going to set that I was sure of …but there was no hope of me getting it on camera. :evil: I packed up the tripod...caught my finger in it which actually called for the First Aid kit :evil: ……and to prevent myself from going into serious sulk mode I sat down with a sundowner….at least I did find something to photograph. I spent a while experimentinmg with different F-stops as well as the use of flash...:)

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The fire was lit and the Jägermeister was poured and we managed to get the braai done before the rain came down. Yes ...it rained :evil: ….it might have only been a drizzle but it rained. I could not see a star..I could not see the moon :twisted: ….again no opportunity for photographing the stars. It rained slighter harder through the night….
My thoughts as I lay in the tent listening to the rain…..fail Richtersveld…fail epic fail…..!!!!!! :evil: :evil:


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