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Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 06:20
by andredurand
:goodpost: :thumbup:

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 14:44
by iandvl
Day 09 - Sendelingsdrift to McDougall's Bay
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Distance: 193km
Moving Time: 3h17

We headed out from Sendelingsdrif relatively early, taking the road West to Alex Bay. Very, very pretty road, but the next two days were the days of ghost towns...

Just before Grootderm, was the first one. Beauvallon. Whilst people still live there, and there is still a supermarket, it is just a shadow of its original self. Most of the buildings have fallen into disrepair. Abandoned pens on the right hand side of the road provide an indication that this was, at some point in the past, a thriving ostrich farming area...

The next one (although not really a ghost town, really) was Alex Bay. The last time I'd been there in December, 2018, the booms were still up. Nowadays there are no booms at all, and the old security office is the tourist information office. It was, however, mildly depressing. To be dead honest, I would have loved to have seen it in its hey days. However, since the mining stopped and similar, it has a very dilapidated air. And I don't think the Covid lockdown has helped things much... Whilst there, I also took out a recreational fishing permit. I'd wanted to get one for a bit, but the Post Offices were crazy with SASSA stuff in the week before I'd left. I was the only customer in the Post Office in Alex Bay.

We did not spend much time in Alex. When we left, we stopped at a rest area next to the road to inflate out tyres for tar pressures as we would be travelling a considerable distance on tar before we started with the next dirt roads...

Arriving in Port Nolloth, I first priority was to refuel. Thereafter, we restocked food, beer and wine for the next few days. We did this at the Spar. Once done, we sat on the beach front for a bit before taking a leasurely rive down to M[cDougall's Bay and set up camp in the caravan park. Similar to Alex Bay, the caravan park also has a very run-down feel to it. Whilst maintenance and similar was not perfect, the place was at least clean and had a security guard patrolling. We were the only people camping there, although several people were staying in the chalets there.
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Where we stayed: McDougall's Bay Caravan Park
Approximate cost: R50 per person per night camping.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 15:05
by iandvl
Day 10 - McDougall's Bay to Hondeklipbaai
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Distance: 163km
Moving Time: 2h31

We packed up in the morning, and took the road Southwards to Hondeklipbaai. The first bit is good - heading East on the R382 towards Steinkopf - for the first 13-odd kilometres. From there, one turns South onto a dirt road towads Kleinsee.

The last time I travelled this dirt road (December, 2018), it was in absolutely shocking condition. Corrugated, sandy and very, very, very rough... So in preparation for this, we stopped and deflated to bad gravel road pressures. Strangely enough, the road was a pleasure to drive. It must have been graded recently. Reinflated again when we hit the tar in Kleinsee, after which the road is tarred again up until Koingnaas.

Strangely enough, in December, 2018, Kleinsee had a massive issue with illegal diamond mining. It was so rough that the folk were blatantly pegging out claims right next to the road, and the entire area looked almost like the start of Kimberly. This has changed now. The illegal diggins were all but deserted. I'm not entirely sure what is going on there - the rumours I'd heard was that it was a problem that had not been solved, but there were also rumours of one of the diggers having been shot at some point. I have no idea what to believe, and it is not really a problem that is well document, or which hits the news regularly. If somebody here knows what is going on, I'd be curious to know too...

After Kleinsee, the next place is Koingnaas - another semi-ghost town. Like Alex Bay, the last time I had been there, there were booms and a security gate. There are no booms anymore. So I took a drive through Koingnaas too, before we turned out again for the destination for the day - Hondeklipbaai.

When we arrived at Hondeklipbaai, we were still to early to check in, so we took a drive to see the Hondeklip, as well as to see the wreck of the Aristea. I was a little bit disappointed. The last time I had been there, there were informational posters detailing the history of the hondeklip, as well as the wreck. Whilst the posts for these boards are still there, the posted are gone. Furthermore, I presume the wreck is on it's last bit of rust now. It is looking more and more broken up than it last looked, and the sand and rocks around it are littered with bits of rust.

This all done, we headed into town. We had an excellent lunch at the "Dop en Kreef" restaurant. This was a little bit marred by the appearance of a dozen-odd drunken older men from the Free-State. They were obviously having "old man's rag". The sight of a drunken 60-odd year old Free-State guy ambling around in his jocks in a restaurant and arbitrarily sampling wine from other peoples' tables was not one which appealed to me much. Thankfully, we were pretty much done when they arrived, so we headed out and checked into our pad.

What a surprise. The place we were staying was a *huge* three bed-room place with several different outside entertainment areas and similar. And a lovely view over the bay...
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Where we stayed: Honde Hemel Self Catering Accommodation - Bachus Unit - ... /resensies
Approximate cost: R250 per person per night.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 15:34
by iandvl
Day 11 - Hondeklipbaai to Boulder Bay
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Distance: 57km
Moving Time: 1h30

We woke up in the morning, checked water tanks and similar. I then stopped at the bottle store to buy more beer. I think my consumption of beer is worse than the Patrol's fondness for petrol... :)

We really did not have far to drive, so we first drove down to the rocks past the Aristea, and collected mussels for breakfast. We boiled them in sea water on the beach. This was to become our staple breakfast for the next few days... :)

After that, we headed out East from Hondeklipbaai. About 15km from Hondeklipbaai, there is a gate which marks the entrance to the coastal section of the Namakwa park. Normally, this gate is manned. However, with Covid, there was nobody. They did, however, have a radio intercom mounted to the wall with instructions. So I "checked in" via radio with the Groenriviermond gate office. They said that their rangers would issue permits to me when I met them in the park. That sorted, we took a drive in to the park.

We first drove to the Spoegrivier grotte and Spoegrivier mouth, and then slowly drove down the coast to the Boulder Bay camp site. There, I found a ranger, and they issues me with my permit. We set up camp, and I spent the afternoon fishing (or attempting to - at the very least) in the Bay. Just a note - there are several areas in the park where fishing is allowed. The various zones are signposted, but if you miss them there is a pamphlet that includes the GPS co-ordinates of the start and end points of the "restricted" (ie: no fishing allowed) vs "controlled" (ie: fishing is allowed under specific circumstances) zones.

Since my fishing prowess was definitely not up to scratch, we braaied meat that evening... :)
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Where we stayed: SAN Parks Boulder Bay Camp site.
Approximate cost: R41.50 per person per night.
Conservation Fees: R48.00 per person per day.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 15:52
by iandvl
Day 12 - Boulder Bay to Kwass se Baai
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Distance: 33km
Moving Time: 1h25

Woke up early, and took a shower. On the way, we took a drive past the seal colony just before the Bitterrivier dune field. We ended up going the wrong way (ie: back the way we'd come) but this worked out well. We ended up in a controlled zone (ie: fishing allowed) and, since there were mussels, we opted to have breakfast against the coast again...

Once done, we turned around, and continued on our way.

The previous day, when we'd entered the park, we'd not really dropped pressures to sand pressures, and were running more at "gravel road" pressures. Anybody who has driven in the park before will know that there are sections with very soft sand. In fact, some of the sections from the previous day on the way to the Spoegrivier can actually be pretty difficult. The drivers had driven this same road before, and a Patrol has enough muscle to get through sand, but we only deflated to sand pressures on this morning before leaving. It made the Bitterrivier dunes a pleasure to drive...

Having had breakfast, we continued to Kwass se Baai and set up camp.

Kwass se Baai is a gem. It has a sheltered bay which is fantastic to swim in (albeit cold). Furthermore, it is in the "controlled zone", which means one can fish North of the bay.

Shortly after setting up camp, we found a many-horned adder (horingman) in the camp. At this point, there was a SAN Parks team there checking our permits etc, and they carefully captured it and moved it away from the camp.

The rest of the day, we swam, caught fish (or attempted to, rather) and braaied later on.
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Where we stayed: SAN Parks Kwass se Baai camp site.
Approximate cost: R41.50 per person per night.
Conservation Fees: R48.00 per person per day.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 16:03
by iandvl
Day 13 - Kwass se Baai to Groenriviermond
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Distance: 25km
Moving Time: 52h33

We got up, showered, and packed up camp. Having noticed that there were mussels in the pools North of Kwass se Baai, I collected a few which we kept in sea water and took with us for a starter that evening. We then continued South towards the Groenriviermond gate.

Upon getting there, we exited the park and proceeded to the lighthouse. After that, we set up camp at Groenriviermond number 7, I seem to recall. We spent the day lazily chatting, before making a mussel soup in the evening and doing a braai. An early night was had as we would start heading back to civilisation the next day...
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Where we stayed: SAN Parks Groenriviermond camp site.
Approximate cost: R41.50 per person per night.
Conservation Fees: R48.00 per person per day.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 16:21
by iandvl
Day 14 - Groenriviermond to Prieska
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Distance: 637km
Moving Time: 8h18

We broke camp early as we had a very, very long drive ahead of us for the day, and then we headed out on the dirt road up until the N7. Here we inflated tyres and we turned South for a bit, before exiting the N7 on the R358 just before Bitterfontein. A side note: Bitterfontein is the first town in the Southern hemisphere to have a desalinisation plant for municipal drinking water...

Here, we continued cruising through the knersvlaktes until we hit the T-junction with the R355 where we turned right. Once again, we carried on strasight with this road until we hit the t-junction with the tar road R357 where we turned left to Loeriesfontein where we refuelled.

This done, we exited Loeriesfontein on the R357 through Brandvlei, Vanwyksvlei and Copperton. At Copperton, the road becomes tar again. There is also a *massive* solar farm at Copperton nowadays, and they are in the process of putting up a wind farm. I'm not sure how many units the wind farm will have, but it appears as if there will be a lot... There are also rumours that the mine is going to be starting up again...

Of the 640-odd kilos we drove this day, 560km of those were on gravel. I was massively impressed with the quality of the Northern Cape's gravel roads. There were very few potholes, and very little sinkplaat. Really, somebody is doing their job and they should be congratulated. Additionally, the drought is very, very, very, very bad... Most farms next to the road appeared to have been boarded up and closed. :(

After that, we drove into Prieska, where we checked into a guesthouse. The guesthouse is owned by one of my father's army colleagues, and he arranged this booking. As such, I cannot give prices on this, but it was fantastic to have a proper warm shower, sleep in a bed and not have to cook dinner for once... :)
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Where we stayed: Villa Danelle Guesthouse -

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 16:41
by iandvl
Day 15 - Prieska to Redsands, Kuruman
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Distance: 364km
Moving Time: 4h32

The second last leg of our trip dawned, and we left bright and early, first stopping to view the blockhouse at the top of the hill. It is made from blocks of raw tigers' eye. Once done, we hit the dirt roads again taking the R313 to Griekwastad vie Niekerkshoop. In Griekwastad, we stopped to view the two cannon donated toe the "Griqualand West" protectorate by Queen Victoria before pushing on to Postmasberg on the R325. Once again, the gravel roads were excellent.

We exited Postmasberg in an Easterly direction on the R385, and turned North onto the R31 towards Danielskuil.

About 45km before Kuruman, we turned into see the "Wonderwerk Grotte". This was amazing, and I'm pretty surprised that it is not advertised much more. In a nutshell, the cave is 142 metres deep. And it is the place in the world that shows the longest continued use of fire. Busman paintings there date back 80,000 years. It is fairly amazing to see. It costs R25 a head to get in. One has to have a guide to enter tha cave (although the one we had did not impress me much), but it was well worth it.

After this, we continued to Kuruman. I don't stop in Kuruman, so we drove to Redsands - about 14 kilometres west of Kuruman, and had many beers and an excellent meal that night.
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Where we stayed: Redsands -
Approsimate cost: R725 per head.

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 24 Nov 2020 16:51
by iandvl
Day 16 - Redsands to Pretoria
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Distance: 576km
Moving Time: 5h43

There was a massive storm in Kuruman during the course of the night, and it rained for most of outr trip home on this last leg of our trip. We refuelled in Vryburg, where the two vehicles parted company - my folks back to Potch via Schweizer-Reneke, Wolmaranstad and Klerksdorp. We were going back to Pretoria via the N14 - Delareyville, Sannieshof, Coligny, Ventersdorp, Krugersdorp. We got back in the early afternoon to very excited dogs and an overgrown garden. And I'm still trying to get my life back together since then...

Final thoughts:

This has been an epic trip, but it is going to take me a while to put the bits and pieces into their little boxes. I've seen to much - and the contrasts between the Richtersveld, and the Namaqua park for example, are the things that have overwhelmed me a bit.

Would I change anything ? I don't think so. It's been a tough trip. ie: Travel. Make camp. Make food. Sleep. Break camp. Repeat cycle. But that is sort of what I enjoy.

Anyways, hope it was not too boring. Hope it helps somebody. Thanks for reading. :)

Re: Richtersveld and Namakwa

Posted: 25 Nov 2020 07:13
by Tony
Thanks Ian, very well put together and certainly not at all boring. Well done :goodpost: