Thursday, August 16, 2012

Richtersveld: Kokerboomkloof to Richtersberg

Thursday morning came with almost completely clear blue skies, and an opportunity to catch the early morning light on the rocky outcrops.  With all the rain of the day before we hadn't prepared any great morning location, so it was mostly a case of wandering around the kloof, looking for spontaneous opportunities.  The colour of light on the koppies and kokerboom trees was beautiful, but the contrast of dead kokerboom trees against the blue sky highlighted the tragedy of the dying kokerboom of the Richtersveld.  I haven't seen a definitive explanation of what is causing them to die, but it is sad to see only a few remaining living trees. Soon the kloof will look far too much like Deadvlei in Namibia.

Red rock sunrise
Richtersveld: Red Rock Sunrise at Kokerboomkloof
The dying Kokerboom of Kokerboomkloof
Richtersveld: Dying Kokerboom at Kokerboomkloof
Photographically the day brought nervous moments. My first camera battery was nearly empty, so out came the second, spare, battery.  With no power in the park at all, recharging the gadgets can only be done using an inverter in the car while transiting between camps. With two batteries this should be no problem. Discovering that in the rush to pack, the second battery had not been charged, and was almost empty from the previous outing, doesn't make a good start to a remote photographic holiday morning! 

Not too surprisingly, when it came time to depart, the Cruiser engine remained stubbornly lifeless.  Out came the 'jump start booster' for a second time, and we were on our way towards the Richtersberg camp.  Taking the long route around (via RT10) we were greeted by wide open spaces and different coloured mountains in the distance, with low koppies in the foreground of a whole variety of textures and colours.  So there we were, two cars parked on the side of the road, engines running, while we wandered around taking pictures of strange plants and coloured hills. One vehicle running to get an emergency charge in the camera battery, one because it probably won't restart when required! 

Colours in Rock
Richtersveld: Colours in Rock
River in the desert
Richtersveld: Rivers in the Desert

Stopping at a couple of viewpoints along the route, we stuck with the 'engine running routine', and by the time we arrived at Richtersberg camp in mid afternoon, both my camera batteries were recharged, and I could relax again. The camp site was empty when we arrived, and we could pick a beautiful spot right on the river.  It wasn't long before we realised that being back near the river brought with it open competition with a gang of marauding monkeys, who are well practiced at stealing food off tables, out of cars when the doors are open, and even right out of your hands if you are not paying attention.

Richtersveld: Richtersberg Camp Site
Later that evening we were treated to the site of what looked like a biggish cat, with short legs, stripes on its back and rings on its tail, slink out of the dark and help itself to some pieces of fruit that were at the edge of the camp. Dave quickly got out his camera to try and capture it if it returned, but it was not to be. With only a brief view, it looked to us like an African Civet, but these are not listed in the SANParks list of park mammals, so we are not sure what it was.

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