Sunday, August 19, 2012

Richtersveld: Gannakouriep to Springbok

Packing up was a lot easier this time, with no need to pack up stretchers, tents, gazebo, and all the cooking paraphernalia.  We took the opportunity to put the 20l of fuel we were carrying into my car.  With all the low gear driving in the park, my fuel consumption indicator was showing a consumption rate inside the park 30% - 40% higher than normal road consumption.

Once more, a boost from Dave's trusty 'jump start booster' was required to get the Cruiser on its way (how many charges is this small booster battery going to manage??), and we headed west towards Helskloof Pass and the park exit. Stopping regularly along the way to explore the flowers, we reached Helskloof Pass with low cloud and mist, so unfortunately we weren't able to enjoy any of the views along the pass.  Once again the rough and rocky road of the pass gave the Forrester a solid bit of exercise, and once again I would have preferred a slightly lower gear range, but I was still very pleased to exit the pass with no knocks or bruises.  I've never been interested in driving 4x4 routes 'for the sake of it', but I bought this car to take me to photographic locations that I would not otherwise have been able to reach, and it's done exactly 'what it says on the box'. Never again will I be tempted by a 'German luxury sedan'!
Hint of sun
Richtersveld: Hint of sun
After a short pause at the main park entrance to sign out, we were pleased to once again be on the main gravel road heading back to Alexander Bay.  Quite heavily rutted at first (enough to shake the Cruiser's front left light fitting loose - but nothing that a pair of cable ties couldn't hold back in place!), it wasn't long before we came across a grader doing what a grader does best, opening up a channel for us to catch up on a bit of lost time.

Port Nolloth was our refueling spot, and a quick calculation showed that without the extra fuel, I would have been very borderline to have made it back to Alexander Bay.  Dave's huge tank was still half full, no problems there!

From here we split up, Dave heading for Upington (one more booster start required!), and then home the next day, and me heading back to Jakkalswater farm outside Springbok (camping this time) for two nights to look for more of the Namaqualand flowers. 

Lessons learned: the preparations / precautions were all worth it, and even though we didn't need all the back-ups, I would do them again. The Richtersveld is a very isolated place, and we were reminded that 'smaller' things going wrong could easily unravel your complete holiday.  Just because you don't claim on the insurance doesn't mean it's not important.  And I  have been incredibly impressed by the 'jump start booster' - at least 5 or 6 boosts without any recharge - I will certainly add one of these to my future trips, at least on any solo ones.  And increase the stock of cable ties....

Leaving Port Nolloth, and on the lookout for flowers, it was clear that although there were some flowers around, it was still early in the flower season, and it wouldn't be easy to find the big fields of flowers that one reads about.  But I was still pleased with some interesting finds along the roadside.

Namaqualand flowers, near Port Nolloth
Port Nolloth: Daisies in the sand
Namaqualand flowers, near Port Nolloth
Port Nolloth: Daises in the sand

Arriving at Jakkalswater farm, I was greeted by the chill wind of a new cold front blowing in, and rather tiringly set up the tent for the 4th, and what I hoped would be the final, time.

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