The Richtersveld National Park

Discover & Exploration in the Northern Cape

Location: The Richtersveld is a desert landscape characterised by rugged kloofs and high mountains, situated in South Africa’s Northern Cape province. The park covers more than 6 000 square kilometres, 30% of it in the far northwest of South Africa (Richtersveld), the rest stretching across the Orange River into Namibia.

Geology: There are a number of interesting archaeological sites in this region. The earliest evidence of human habitation was discovered in a shelter at Die Toon near Tatasberg. Bones uncovered reveal that at least some of the species currently present in the region, such as springbok and zebra were also present 4 000 years ago. The presence of fish bones indicates that the Orange River was an important source of food for the hunter-gatherers.

Nature: There are more than 200 species of birds in the park and 10 different species of bats – so stay alert at dusk. The zebra that occurs here is Hartmann’s mountain zebra, unlike Burchell’s zebra of the Kruger National Park. If you pass any, see if you can spot the differences. (Hint: look at the stripes and dewlap.)

The Richtersveld is a desert landscape characterised by rugged kloofs and high mountains, situated in South Africa’s Northern Cape province.

Don't Miss... There are more than 220 kilometres of 4x4 tracks in the Richtersveld, but they’re all extremely sandy and often rocky, so you need a high-clearance vehicle (and probably recovery equipment too). To be safe, you should also carry extra fuel, a tow rope, two spare tyres, a tyre repair kit, a decent jack – and maybe a bottle of whiskey.

Starry sky over the desert rock

Richtersveld 4X4 camping

Taken from 50 Must-see Geological Sites by Gavin Whitfield (Struik Nature) R300 from leading bookstores and online at www.randomstruik.co.za/geology.