Richtersveld Northern Cape South Africa

The Richtersveld Northern Cape is the only true desert mountains in South Africa. This Transfrontier Park measures 5 920 km² of rugged, desolate and hauntingly most spectacular arid and desert mountain scenery in southern Africa.

Dead Quiver Tree lined up with the Desert Mountains in the background
No water no life. The quiver trees situation highlighted the fact that climate change was having an impact on desert ecosystems
Richtersveld landscape with blue sky and mountains
The Richtersveld is a desert landscape characterized by rugged kloofs and high mountains, situated in the north-western corner of South Africa’s Northern Cape province.
Halfmens Tree ( Half Humen) At Richtersveld Africa
Pachypodium namaquanum, also known as halfmens or elephants trunk – Richtersveld

The extremely rare succulents plants such as the curious quiver tree (“kokerboom”) and the even stranger “halfmens” grows here where water is a great scarcity.

Venstervalle Hiking Trail notice board in Richtersveld
The Richtersveld is a desert landscape characterized by rugged kloofs and high mountains. Venstervalle Notice Board

Hakkies Doring Base Camp, Richtersveld for the Venstervalle Hiking Trail
Hakkies Doring Base Camp. Richtersveld, Northern Cape Sout Africa. From here you start the Venstervalle hiking trail

We did a hike in the Richtersveld Northern Cape, in August 2015. The Hakkiesdoring hiking base camp were our home for several days, since we could not complete the hiking trail due to the fact that there was no water on the trail. But that did not dampened our enthusiasm, or stop us from doing day hikes and exploring the surrounding areas of this beautiful arid landscape.

Kokerboom kloof
Dead Kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma, Quiver tree
Dead Kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma, Quiver tree, Granite mountain, at Kokerboom Kloof
Richtersveld Quiver tree Kokerboom with beautiful rock formations and clouds
The Quiver Tree or better known as the Kokerboom With beautiful clouds and rock formations. It is probably the most spectacular aloe species

From there, we went to the photogenic ”Kokerboom kloof” campsite for two days.  This is a magical place and an excellent location for landscape photography, as well as for star trails and the Milky Way. Unfortunately, one cannot have it all, and clouds at night made it impossible for star trails or Milky Way photography. What a pity! That just means one thing: We’ll have to go back there one day to do some night photography. (Who is joining us? 🙂 )

The next overnight stay on the list was De Hoop camp site, where we stayed for one night, and then to Potjiespram camp site. Both these two camps are situated next to the Orange River.

Richtersveld De Hoop Camp Site next to the Oranje River
De Hoop Camp Site at Richtersveld, Northern Cape South Africa. Dividing Namibia and South Africa
De Hoop Camp Site at Richtersveld next to the Orange River
De Hoop Camp Site at Richtersveld, Northern Cape, South Africa. Across the Orange River is Namibia desert mountains

Campsites have the basic ablution facilities, and  are very remote.  At Potjiespram we were lucky enough to have a cute little visitor, the local small-spotted Genet. It entertained us for the whole night and we took some beautiful pictures of it.

Wildlife in Richtersveld
Spotted Genet sitting on a tree at De Hoop camping site
Spotted Genet are nocturnal and lie up and remain hidden during the day. Genet are catlike omnivorous mammals.
Jumping Spider on a rock at Hakkies Doring Hiking Trail.
Cute little Jumping Spider taken at Hakkies Doring Base Camp, Richtersveld, Nothern Cape, South Africa busy doing the Venstervalle Hiking Trail

There are incredible rock formations all over, and colourful desert flowers were covering this dry earth, in little spots.

Yellow Gold Lobelia Flower close up.
Yellow Gold Lobelia Flower taken in Richtersveld a desert landscape characterized by rugged kloofs and high mountains.
Green plant with horns taken at Richtersveld South Africa
Green plant with horns. The Richtersveld is a desert landscape characterized by rugged kloofs and high mountains.

What an extraordinary and almost sacred place! This was our first time in the Richtersveld and definitely not the last. If you need a tranquil place and wants to get away from all the noise and hectic urban life, then this magical place is a must. Not even to talk about all the photographic opportunities in this desolate rugged place!

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Fanie Heymans

Fanie Heymans is a wildlife photographer and nature lover. Based in the West Coast at St Helena Bay, South Africa. Images of his wild life photography was featured in the local Wild Magazine, Wildcard blog, and internationally by Media Drum World, and Mail Online.

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