Port Nolloth was our next stop to resupply and rendezvous with Greg, the new trip leader who would take us through the Richtesveld. We took a passage road through large restricted areas of the De Beers diamond mines. On this passage, there were lots of turtles crossing the road. There is strictly no stopping allowed on this section, even for the poor turtle flicked out by the car in front and left spinning on its back.
Australia claims to be The BBQ Capital Of The World and so does South Africa with their Braai. After spending time with the club and other South Africans, I would say the South Africans have one up on us. There were 15 carloads of people on the trip cooking their meals night after night; the production and coordination around the braai was like poetry in motion. And it did not stop there, as they cooked extras for next day’s lunch or snacks. A plastic food container seems to be a Braai accessory.
Greg van der Reis, founder and owner of the 4×4 Offroad Adventure Club, took us through the Richtersveld, a desert area of northern S/A.
We travelled through many amazing landscapes, moon-scapes, mars-scapes; a lot of trails weaved through gullies and canyons, one track Greg had not been down in 12 years so there was some clearing to de done. (Heck! the trees and bushes here have massive spikes all over them!!!) We had lots of interesting stops including mica mines (we explored inside a few), gold mines, a granite quarry (Greg explained how they cut the granite blocks by drilling and using a cutting band), ruins, petroglyphs and a tank which usually has Baboons skeletons in the bottom (they climb in but cannot get out. Greg says they have put ropes and ladders in, but the locals steal them).
We were specifically asked not to share our GPS traces as this area was still largely unmapped and unspoiled.
It was wonderful spending time with the club and their members, some of the warmest, genuine people I have met. The majority of the trip attendees seemed to be young and many retired, a consequence of the regime change and many white South Africans being offered attractive early retirement packages. We had some great chats including:
Colin – all the hilarious things his pet meerkat gets up to. Steed and John (Amarula Coffee Mixologist and Potjki Master) – gave an overview on South African snakes and their own personal encounters. (Yikes. I think South Africa also out does Australia in the poisonous snakes area too….. scary!!) Peter (retired nuclear chemist) about his job at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, also giving me a quick lesson in the basics of nuclear reactions, reactors, Fukushima, etc….. So interesting. Bernard – a retired cameraman, looked after us throughout the trip, lovely, warm fireside chats.
So sad to say goodbye, as they headed south back to Cape Town, we continued north into Namibia.
More pictures in the Photo section