Wittedrift, Plettenberg Bay, Western Cape
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This 8-night / 9-day adventure starts in the West Coast of South Africa’s Namaqualand during flower season and ends at Aussenkehr in southernmost Namibia on the banks of the Orange River.
Explore the extreme north-western reaches of South Africa, the mighty Orange River and the breathtaking beauty of the Richtersveld Trans Frontier Park.
This holiday offers kayaking on the Orange River and camping wild under the stars in a remarkable mountain desert wilderness surrounded by some of the most diverse flora in the world – this is a place where peace and tranquillity reign supreme.
We arrive at our beautiful campsite situated on the green banks of the Orange River against the backdrop of the Rocky Richtersveld, near Vioolsdrift, our home for the next two nights. Our tents are set up and while we unpack the Bhejane crew prepares the first dinner we will share together. During sundowners, your guide provides a detailed briefing on what we can expect for the next 9 days. From this point, we will traverse dirt roads until the end of the tour.
Sleeping alongside the river is a very special experience so this morning breakfast is enjoyed slightly later than usual – around the campfire deciding how we will explore the surrounding area – on foot or paddling on the river.
Our two options today include a guided hike or an easy paddle on rented kayaks through stunning mountain scenery on the beautiful Orange River – the longest river in South Africa. Experiencing this Great River against a backdrop of the only mountain desert in Africa is awe-inspiring and the birdlife and photographic opportunities are endless.
Lunch is served relaxing next to the River and after enjoying the sun on the riverbank or the cool waters of the river we make our way back to camp later that afternoon and while the crew prepares our dinner we take a short ride to a very special and beautiful spot where we enjoy sundowners and watch the sun sink beyond the distant ridges.
Today we make an early start and after breakfast, we enter the Richtersveld Conservation Area where we enjoy some 4×4 driving as we go through the first of two Helskloof Pass’s en route to Eksteenfontein – a small nomadic livestock farming town on the edge of the Richtersveld World Heritage Site.
Eksteenfontein is one of three little settlements in the Richtersveld Community Conservancy and it is here we learn about the history of this community – the Bosluisbasters and Nama people who caretake this remarkable cultural and botanical landscape. And after spending a little time here we head to our camp for the night set amongst the granite rocks of this unique mountain wilderness – tucked in the far north-western corner of the Northern Cape of South Africa.
We are camping wild tonight and our crew will ensure you are most comfortable and although there is no running water – we will enjoy hot bucket showers against an overwhelmingly beautiful backdrop. (Toilets are not flushing but pit toilets & we will use our own shower water). The peace and tranquillity of this remarkable mountain desert wilderness make camping under the stars a memorable experience.
Situated in the heart of the Richtersveld – our travels today take us to the remote and dry town of Kuboes, home to one of the oldest indigenous groups in South-Western Africa and the only true descendants of the Khoikhoi – the Nama people.
After leaving Kuboes we head up the second Helskloof Pass – a long slow pass to traverse, but with visual rewards that make it well worth the drive. The area is renowned for its specialized endemic vegetation that includes an incredible variety of ancient succulents and unique aloes found nowhere else on earth
The distinctive vegetation continues as we enter the Richtersveld National Park and head towards the best inland campsite in the Richtersveld situated between the surrounding (and unusual) Quiver trees – considered popular photographic subjects both at sunrise and sunset and indigenous to this region. Dinner this evening is around the campfire surrounded by these unusual but iconic “upside-down trees”.
At this time of the year, the Richtersveld is exquisite and our second day in Kokerboomkloof is spent exploring more of the mountains and a short drive over the shimmering open landscape takes us to the Springbokvlakte and onward to the ancient rock engravings that date back millions of years.
This is the perfect place to relax with binoculars and feel the stresses of the modern world melt away. Here there is nothing to distract your attention from the raw, rugged beauty and incredible silence.
We watch the sun going down atop one of the large granite rocks overlooking the breath-taking mountain ranges that recede far into the distance, and back at camp our crew prepares our evening meal and after another spectacular day, we settle for the night.
Today is spent driving through the Richtersveld mountains along steep and very twisty roads before coming to our next campsite – the De Hoop Campsite, set on the banks of the Orange River. This picturesque campsite offers warm soft sand next to the river suitable for swimming, bathing and fishing.
Our first morning in De Hoop we lie in and enjoy a slightly later breakfast than enjoyed during the past few days. Today we can enjoy exploring some of the richest desert flora in the world, the diverse spectrum of small reptiles, birds and mammals while in camp or we can take a short drive to the Richtersburg Camp Site and soak up these natural wonders here.
This evening is our last night in the beautiful mountain desert wilderness and we enjoy it around the campfire quietly soaking in the unique vegetation and wildlife.
After a hearty Bhejane breakfast, we pack up camp and leave the national park via Akkedis Pass and Sendelingsdrift, backtracking about 30km. After re-entering the conservation area, we overnight on a granite koppie overlooking the small dunes towards the coast.
Leaving our informal campsite after breakfast, we drive over the small dunes to Alexander Bay, a small town in the extreme north-western part of South Africa that lies of the mouth of the Great Orange River.
From here on a tarred road (about 85kms) it is not a long drive to Port Nolloth and just a stone’s throw to the seaside cottages south of Port Nolloth at McDougalls Bay, where we will be spending our last night together. We endeavour to arrive mid afternoon so we are able to enjoy the beautiful coastline and beaches of this hidden gem in the Northern Cape.
Sadly our exploration of the Northern Cape & Richtersveld Trans Frontier Park has come to an end.
From McDougalls is it an easy drive to Springbok and onward back home.
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