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 Post subject: BB's Richtersveld trip : April 2006
Unread postPosted: Tue May 02, 2006 9:35 pm 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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We have just returned from the Richtersveld and are really whacked. I will post a full report in the next few days.

If anybody has questions, please ask via this thread, and I shall try to answer them in full, giving info that I would like to have known befoer I went.

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Unread postPosted: Wed May 03, 2006 10:50 pm 
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Being relatively inexperienced 4x4 people, Mrs BB and I were very pleased to be invited to the Richtersveld by Bullet, an expert, and his family. We met at Port Nolloth on the Thursday afternoon and headed for the park. On the way up from Cape Town, we saw the usual raptors on telephone poles, namely jackal buzzard, pale chanting goshawk, greater and rock kestrel and black shouldered kite, together with pied and black crows.

After seeing the north western corner of the country at Alexander Bay, where the muddy Orange river dumped into the blue Atlantic ocean, we turned inland and saw a group of oryx on the river bank. Tar soon gave way to gravel for about 85 kms to Sendelingsdrift (meaning missionary"s drift), the only (open) gate, and the only camp we had been able to book for the first three nights. This is mining country and all the signposts are so orientated, with the park's signage almost hidden beside. Bullet's gps almost led us to Bloeddrift, but the minute sign said turn right, which we did and eventually came to the gate control of the Reuning Mine. Bullet was sure we were lost, but I am nothing if not persistent, and asked the guard where the park was. He pointed to a road INSIDE the mine area and we found Reception half a kilometre along it. There was nothing on the mine gates to suggest we were at the correct place, nor the name Sendelingsdrift. I realize this is a newish park, and it must co-exist with mining and the local population.

Reception was manned by friendly staff, but there were no maps available, other than photocopied off an Internet miniature (Honeyguide productions - a gap here), which was not much use. The office and limited shop close between 13h00 and 14h00, but this is liberally applied in their favour. It would have been nice to be able to buy a souvenir t-shirt or cap or even bumper sticker (which we found @ R3.50 each in Springbok Cafe, 330 kms from the park), which could help finance the park, but there was nothing really. Some parks go overboard with souvenirs, but it is always nice to remind oneself or brag with a memento.

I must go now, but I intend splitting the rest into two parts.
I hope this will be helpful to those who go there, because it is not well marked at all.

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Unread postPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 1:57 pm 
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Did you mark the road(s) on your GPS? If you did you can upload them to maps4africa, thus helping all other people and getting a free one yourself....

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Arriving currently: The photos from our trip! Overhere! :yaya:

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 8:14 pm 
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The GPS is Bullet's, Du ques, I will tell him.

Part 2.

At Sendelingsdrift (SD) we found the new, almost complete campsite, alongside mining houses. There looked like a lot more than 6 sites as stated on the web site. After setting up camp, we braaied and I went to shower. We knew there was only cold water beforehand, but the installed lights must be for future use. The ablution block was clean and functional. In one of the most remote places in South Africa, I had hoped for tranquillity at night, but alas, dogs at the house nearby barked intermittently, and the late Tolla vd Merwe told a very long, loud story, with sakkie-sakkie music as an encore - it could have been worse - 7de Laan? It was a warm night and I eventually slept well. Bullet's family told me they heard a buffalo bellowing, but when I woke it seemed to stop :shock:

After breakfast, we drove past tennis courts, over the rugby/soccer "field", and came to a sign that said "park", which led us to do what we came for. We drove the 9 km to Potjiespram (PP) on unchallenging roads, passing unsightly mining gouges in some hills. Our first halfmens (the "half person" plant for which the Richtersveld is famous), appeared, and we drove down rivulets that are normally a dry river bed, but the recent heavy rain was in evidence all over.

Image

2km from PP, the road meets and follows the strong flowing Orange river. A high clearance vehicle is recommended for this stretch, but a 2x4 would make it.

Image

At PP we found a lovely riverside campsite and decided to stay there rather than at SD, so we went back to SD, changed our booking, packed up and spent our remaining 3 delightful, quiet nights at PP and swam from our private beach.

Image

The next day we did a trip to De Hoop (DH), where we had originally been booked in for the last night, but after 2 challenging mountain passes, it took 2,5 hours to do the 40 kms to get there. It was overcrowded, but a lovely long campsite on a wide beach. The route there contained stunning mountain scenery, wide valleys, with occasional herds of goats & sheep.

Image

It would have been nice to have had the route marked a bit more clearly with distance markers at intersections, and names of the passes on boards.
DH is a lovely spot, with safe swimming, but owing to the popularity there was no water in the ablutions for 3 days. People were swimming and some used inner tubes to drift down the river over small rapids. It looked pleasant, but a long walk upstream. The water was muddy and I could not see the bottom where I wanted to get in, so I stuck a leg into the water and leaned in. The foot did not touch the bottom and I went bum over kettle into about 75cm of water to the great amusement of the gathered populace. Nice to be able to make people laugh.

Lunch was watched by Cape white-eyes at the waters edge. We drove back to PP in 2 hours and had the braai ritual again. Into bed to the sound of the flowing Orange, and I believe the buffalo was there again, but I never heard it.

To be concluded.......

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 8:04 pm 
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BB wrote regarding De Hoop:

Quote:
It was overcrowded, but a lovely long campsite on a wide beach


BB, were there about 40 vehicles there, we passed them on our way back to Sendlingsdrift

Thanks for your report, saves me typing one up - we were there 16 - 21 April and spent night of 22 April in a chalet at Sendlingsdrift, which was very good.


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Unread postPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 11:21 am 
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Thanks all for the positive comments.

One thing we found was that Sendelingsdrift (SD) and Potjiespram (PP) were the only camps west of the 2 passes, making it a bit boring to do the same roads each day, so on the last day we explored the river area near PP. At one place there was a strong smell of cat wee, so we presumed that an invisible predator had marked its territory. Next time we will camp on both sides of the passes.

The river area yielded some very nice lookout spots, giving varied views of the river's character. Some being narrower, fast flowing bits, but mostly wide meanders with islands disguising the main channel which seemed to be on the Namibian side.

Image

The river is the life-blood of the park and provides riverine forests on both banks that house vervet monkeys, the only wild animals saw in 4 days. Our neighbours had obviously fed them, as they tried to get into their tents and had spread their garbage bags across their campsite. A few well aimed near misses with a catapult kept them out of our campsite. We packed all our food and garbage into the vehicle every time we left camp and there was no damage to our tents.

The mountain scenery was stunning, with much quartz in evidence, and some fallen boulders looking like they had been hand chiseled. The dry river beds used as roads often had streamlets running down.

Image

In camp, the birds were shy, but we spotted many Cape White-eyes and red-eyed bulbuls, occasional Cape robin chats, European & swallow tailed bee-eaters, Cape & pied wagtails and lesser double collared sun birds. Otherwise birding was a bit slow, other species being grey and goliath heron, gyppo goose, pied kingfisher, moorhen and pale winged starling.

Image

We left home on Monday morning having had a real chill out. The bacon and eggs, chocolate and granny's biscuits were finished, but some of our drinking water was undrunk, some 2 minute noodles and provita uneaten, some Amarula left and enough petrol to get back to Port Nolloth.

Observations: We only travelled in the west half of the park. We saw few solitary vehicles, mainly groups of 3-5. The park was fully booked over the long weekend and it appeared that people did not stay where they had booked, De Hoop (DH) was favoured. There was hardly an official presence except at SD. The park was litter free and courtesy reigned. Spend the first and last nights at SD or PP, and then move on to DH or Richtersdrift, at least 2,5 hours away.

Highlights: The stark beauty of the terrain, rock formations, PP campsite, DH campsite, the Orange river, challenging driving without wrecking the vehicle, halfmens, the stars at night, good company

Disappointments: Lack of information (maps, signposts etc), no souvenirs, no wild animals, small variety of birds, mining evidence, goats in a national park, saw no scorpions of snakes.

Conclusion: We will definitely return in a few years time in a group, and explore the east half, but also revisit some special places.

Acknowledgement: To my wife's usual stunning photography - keep going Linda!

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Unread postPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:10 pm 
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Something I omitted from my report/s

I proudly flew the yellow ribbon, with no comment from anybody. I also looked out in vain for others.

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 8:56 pm 
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Seems like we in the park at the same time as you - also saw the rubbish left at Richtersberg campsite which was a bit of an eye sore. The park is as stunning as ever and there's surely signs of big rains in the park! Richtersberg campsite is actually not even there any more as the main grassy sites are all under water.

What I really didn't injoy was the amount of mining operations, machinary, power cables, and an open, burning rubbishdump in the park. Once past that the rest is absolutely stunning and well worth visiting.

As mentioned earlier, I'd also like to see the whole reception area be upgraded to give a bit of a better welcome to the park. Painted signs wedged in a container filled with concrete isn't really very professional, as would be expected from a national park.

Apart from that we had a lovely and relaxing 5 days in the park.


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 7:16 pm 
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Howzit George,

Did you see any animals?

Was the road from De Hoop to Richtersberg usable?

Was the Richtersberg camp full?

REgards,
BB

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 15, 2006 7:58 am 
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BB,

Didn't saw much animals apart from some birds, a few ground squirrels and one snake.

When we arrived at Richtersberg it was quite full although most of the people departed the next morning. The river road between De Hoop and Richtersberg is apparantely open and driveable although we took the inland circular route to Richtersberg. When reaching the river we met up with people who did the river section.

Regards,
George


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