Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Richtersveld: Potjiespram to Kokerboomkloof

After a less than memorable morning photo session, and then packing up the camp site, we headed off to Kokerboomkloof. The route would take us well into the park, away from the park entrance and still operating diamond mines, over Halfmen’s Pass, past the 'Hand of God', across the Akkedis Pass, through Maerspoort, and on to Kokerboomkloof. 

Stopping in the middle of Halfmen’s Pass, we had a first glimpse of the incredible variety of plants dotting the hillside. From the car it doesn't look too interesting, but once you are out in the veld, and looking around, an amazing wealth of different species becomes apparent. And then to our surprise, we turned around, and there driving along the road, in the middle of nowhere, was a Telkom van. Where he would have been going to we have no idea (possibly another mine somewhere?), but with Gauteng number plates, we were not convinced this was strictly business!

Halfmens tree, on Halfmens Pass
Richtersveld: Halfmens tree at Halfmens Pass
Flowers on Halfmens Pass
Richtersveld: Flowers at Halfmens Pass
Flowers on Halfmens Pass
Richtersveld: Flowers at Halfmens Pass
Flowers on Halfmens Pass
Richtersveld: Flowers at Halfmens Pass
Telkom van on Halfmens Pass
Richtersveld: Telkom van at Halfmens Pass
After the necessary tourist stop at the 'Hand of God', we drove on through Akkedis Pass. A narrow, winding, rocky road took us to the top of the pass, giving the Forester a bit of a warm up for rougher roads to come. Dave's Cruiser didn't even notice the rocks. At the top we stopped for lunch, to be greeted by a rather disdainful look by someone being ferried in a 'real' 4x4 tour vehicle. I could almost hear him say 'how can you come up here in a car like that while I had to pay big money for my space in a tour Cruiser?'. 

New kinds of flowers, different colours, all required more exploration with the camera.  Having consumed a bit too much time on the passes, we had to significantly lift our pace once we were on 'decent' dirt road.  A quick stop for a snap at the incredibly beautiful Maerspoort (this needs an 'early morning treatment' but its too far from any of our stops to be able to get back to) and its time to push on again.

Hand of God
Richtersveld: "Hand of God"
Akkedis Pass
Richtersveld: Akkedis Pass
Flowers on Akkedis Pass
Richtersveld: Flowers on Akkedis Pass
Maerpoort Pass
Richtersveld: Maerpoort Pass

Another photo stop along the way, really in the middle of nowhere, and the next 'sinking feeling' - Dave's car decided not to start. Out came the trusty 'jump start booster', and all was well, and we were soon on our way again. But I am reminded why the Richtersveld is not the place to travel with only one vehicle - it could be a few days before someone else comes along this route. For the last stop along this route (at the "Big Toe'') both car engines stayed running as a precaution, before finally arriving at Kokerboomkloof in the late afternoon. 

Big Toe, Kokerboomkloof
Richtersveld: "Big Toe" near Kokerboomkloof
A cold wind was blowing, so we selected campsite number 2 which we hoped (completely incorrectly, as it turned out) would give us the best protection from the wind.

With the basics of the camp set up, we walked around the kloof to look for a good late afternoon shot, as well as try and predict a suitable morning location. Not a huge success, as the shadows of the surrounding mountain encroached a lot earlier than expected, and well before the last light of the afternoon.  We took the opportunity of the soft diffuse light to try out the macro lens on some strange looking plants.

Flowers in Kokerboomkloof
Richtersveld: Otherworldly flowers at Kokerboomkloof
Flowers in Kokerboomkloof
Richtersveld: Otherworldly flowers at Kokerboomkloof

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