Sunday, August 12, 2012

Richtersveld: Johannesburg to Potjiespram

Leaving Joburg well before dawn on Saturday morning, the mission for the day was to reach Springbok by nightfall.  The trip almost came to an abrupt halt before really getting under way when Dave had a mishap outside Ventersdorp in the dark, resulting in his Cruiser being planted sideways in the barrier, facing the wrong direction.  Apart from being a bit shaken, there was not too much damage to the vehicle (well, nothing that couldn't be tied back on with a cable tie or left behind on the roadside!), and we decided to carry on. 

It's a long drive to Springbok, with a lot of roadworks (with many of the dreaded 'stop and go's) and large mining vehicles, making for slow progress (15 hours in total). The last section between Upington and Springbok had a huge headwind coming off the coast, and fuel consumption was at least 30% higher than normal, giving me some nervous moments. With driving rain also arriving in the last hour of the trip, we were very relieved to finally arrive at our destination - a chalet at Jakkalswater Guest Farm (outside Springbok on the Nababeeb road).  

After a hearty breakfast the next morning, we headed north towards the Park, through Steinkopf, Port Nolloth and Alexander Bay. We made a quick stop at Port Nolloth to smell the ocean, and take a few snaps of the fishing boats, and then a last stop for fuel at Alexander Bay (there's a disappointment for a town!), before heading off inland about 90 kms on the well maintained dirt road to the park. All mobile phone coverage ends shortly out of Alexander Bay, so there would be no more communications until we were out of the park and back near Alexander Bay.

Fishing boats at Port Nolloth

About 20 or 30 km before the park entrance, we stopped beside the road at the well known Cornellskop and Wondergat. Wondergat was not a big highlight for me, but walking over the hill revealed the Kokerboom of Cornellskop, and a beautiful sprinkling of the first blooms of spring flowers, which gave us the opportunity to pull out the macro lenses and start getting into practice. And then it was on to the park, first signing in at the park entrance (near the Hellskloof exit), booking in properly at the Sendelingsdrif Reception, and finally on to the  Potjiespram campsite, arriving mid-afternoon.

Cornellskop Kokerboom tree
Kokerboom tree at Cornellskop
We soon discovered that our two way radios that we had brought along to help with communications while driving wouldn’t work with each other (a rather basic thing that should have been checked weeks before in Joburg!), which meant we would have to keep the two vehicles much closer than planned while driving, and communicate via the hooter!

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