Situated in the extreme northwest corner of South Africa, and hunkered down within the muddy embrace of the Orange River, you will find the expansive 160,000 ha Richtersveld National Park. Proclaimed in 1991 following a land claim agreement with the Nama community, this mountain desert reserve offers the outdoor crowd a complete escape from everything urban.
The original Richtersveld Mountain Desert National Park was linked to /Ai/Ais – its cross-border counterpart in Namibia – in 2003 to establish southern Africa’s first transfrontier park. It was this international treaty that led to the formation of the much larger and current /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
Most significantly, the Richtersveld is part of the wider Namaqualand region, and the one cannot be profitably discussed without the other....more
The first evidence of human beings in Namaqualand and the Richtersveld is represented by crude stone tools, such as choppers and hand axes fashioned from a stone pebble or core. These Early Stone Age implements are associated with various Homo species...more
Summer-flowering succulents (such as crassulas) add a dash of colour during the hot months from November to February....more
In terms of location, the greater Richtersveld region can be said to form a rough square in the top left hand corner of South Africa....more
Moreover, the Richtersveld and Namaqualand boast a particularly long and convoluted geological timeline which, quite frankly, sets my mind a-boggle....more
The first exploratory missionary trip through Namaqualand was thus made by Christian Albrecht in 1805. Later that same year, he and his brother Abraham established a mission among the Great Namaqua at Warmbad (in present-day Namibia)...more
The last important climatic condition which sustains the Namaqualand ecosystem is the Berg Winds which blow down from the South African interior every winter....more
After van der Stel’s initial expedition to the Copper Mountain, the route to the far north was set. It wasn’t a busy road, by any means, but over the next 200 years a number of exotic people drifted into and around Namaqualand....more
Far up in the Richtersveld, the Kuboes mission station was being presided over by the good Reverend Hein, of the Rhenish Church....more
In 1957, the ‘coloured reserve’ of the Richtersveld was given a tangible boundary with the erection of a fence that ran between the communal lands and the ‘corridor’ farms along the river and the coast....more
In terms of cultural significance, the Richtersveld is the home of the last remaining members of the Nama tribe of Khoikhoi who still practice their traditional semi-nomadic way of life....more
They were the scientists, ornithologists and botanists who were attracted by the region’s bizarre plants and unusual fauna....more