Richtersveld Arid Landscape

Richtersveld Northern Cape South Africa

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

We have returned to the Richtersveld in 2022. We have revisited the De Hoop and Kokerboom kloof campsites for a few days. There is no water available at that camp, but they have upgraded the campsites, and built some sort of ablution facilities. There is a flushing toilet- septic tank system, and then an ablution where you can use your own bucket system to shower. Outside is a work space and washing basin where you can wash your dishes. One has to have your own water supply when camping in this rest camp.

Kokerboom kloof

Dead Kokerboom, Aloe dichotoma, Quiver tree, Granite Mountain, at Kokerboom Kloof. It stretches from Steinkopf and Port Nolloth in the south, to the Orange River in the north, and from Alexander Bay in the west to Vioolsdrif in the east.

Quiver Tree or better known as the “Kokerboom” in Afrikaans. It is probably the most spectacular aloe species.

Dead Quiver Trees

Dead Quiver Trees in the Desert Mountains. The Richtersveld is a unique mountain desert wilderness of great beauty, tucked in the far north-western corner of the Northern Cape. With beautiful clouds and rock formations as background, it is a very photogenic place to be at.

This is a magical place and an excellent location for landscape photography, as well as for star trails and photographing 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.

Quiver tree with Rock formations

Quiver tree with Rock formations in front and background. 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.

Dead Quiver Tree’s where ever you look. a Very dramatic mountainous desert in north-western South Africa. No water no life. The quiver trees situation highlighted the fact that climate change was having an impact on desert ecosystems

The Richtersveld is a harsh desert landscape characterized by rugged kloofs and high mountains, situated in the north-western corner of South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

Previous overnight stays were Kokerboom kloof, De Hoop camp site, where we stayed for one night, then to Potjies pram camp site. Both these two camps are situated next to the Orange River.

Desert Mountains. The Richtersveld National Park lies in the last curve of the Orange River before it flows into the sea.

De Hoop Camp Site at Richtersveld, Northern Cape, South Africa. Across the Orange River is Namibia desert mountains. The campsite at De Hoop had several bird species to photograph

De Hoop camp site

Campsites have the basic ablution facilities, and are very remote.  At Potjies pram 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.

We went to do the Venstervalle 4-day hike in the Richtersveld Northern Cape, in August 2015. We could not complete the hiking trail, due to the fact that there was no water on the trail. The Hakkiesdoring hiking base camp were our home for several days.  But that did not dampen our enthusiasm, or stop us from doing day hikes and exploring the surrounding areas of this beautiful arid landscape.


Venstervalle Hiking Trail notice-board in Richtersveld

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

Wildlife in Richtersveld

Spotted Genet are nocturnal and remain hidden during the day. Genet are catlike omnivorous mammals.

Elephant Shrew Richtersveld. The area is regarded as South Africa’s most pristine kept wilderness.

We made friends with the “Dassie Rats “that live in the cracks of the huge rocks.

Cute little Jumping Spider taken at Hakkies Doring Base Camp.

Chrotogonus Hemipterus Grasshopper

Black and orange Cmr-Bean Beetle bug on a rock

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

Pachypodium namaquanum, also known as halfmens or elephant’s trunk These succulents have fleshy, thick tissues that are good at storing water.

Yellow Gold Lobelia Flower

Hoodia Gordonii Succulent Plant

Quiver Tree Bark

Green succulent plant with thorns.

Cape Daisy

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 want 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 remote part of our country.

Check out some more of my photos at 500PX and PhotoPixSA and the Trip Reports and Hiking Trails

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