After the eventful time in Cape Town and the surrounding area we look forward to nature, wilderness and loneliness. In pouring rain, however, the farewell to our new dream city is not difficult. Also, in the West Coast N.P. It still rains and storms and Shujaa – as part of the service at MAN Cape Town still freshly cleaned – looks after the drive over the first dirt road like s…. But our luck in the weather stays with us and soon we have great weather when heading further north.
The fishing village Paternoster reminds us of Sylt in Germany: beautifully restored, thatched fisherman’s houses coupled with great restaurants and fine sandy beaches …. And above all: no more security / electric fences. Here the world seems to be “in order” again! Despite a long weekend, it is quiet here and we again have great food at a local restaurant. We will not have this option for a long time pretty soon, because things get really lonely in the Northern Cape Province – comparable to Namibia.
In the Cedar Mountains, we hardly find the eponymous cedars but great hiking trails: we walk through deep gorges, from our beautiful pitch near the Sanddrif Farm to the “Wolfberg Cracks” and from there on a rocky high plateau to the “Wolfberg Arch”. This is completely bizarre in the middle of the rocky desert.
On the onward journey over Eselbank and Wuppertal to Clanwilliam, Shujaa can again use his offroad talents on challenging and narrow slopes. Then civilization finally ends: in contrast to the South Africa we have traveled so far, which is rather densely populated in comparison to Namibia and Botswana, there are hardly any more people and infrastructure here in the Northern Cape Province: a few individual farms, that’s all.
Nevertheless or because of that people are attentive towards foreigners: so we get once again a visit from the police at one of our Wild-Camping pitches: in contrast to the quite tense situations in South America, the police is -however- very relaxed and just want to check whether everything is all right.
Unfortunately, as the well-known Namaqua Wildflower Blossom took place very early this year, we are just missing it. Nevertheless, we see in the Namaqua Coast N.P. a few remnants of the beautiful, blooming coastal vegetation. Coupled with deep-sanded tracks and cold Atlantic air (the Benguela stream from the Antarctic provides here for a wealth of but also ice-cold water temperatures, which also affect the temperature on land) we like the area very well. Mostly there is fog due to the temperature situation, so there are many shipwrecks along the coast … we are of course once again lucky with the weather and enjoy bright sunshine.
Along mostly abandoned diamond mines we drive northwards and approach the Namibian border. Until recently, these mining areas were absolute “no-go areas”. Now that the landfill mines have dried up and the focus is shifting to off-shore production, the areas are opened for the public: deserted cities, rusting machinery, rugged earth surfaces and tons of shifted earth masses give a rather uninviting picture of the landscape.
For a long time, we are considering whether we should visit the Richtersveld N.P. It is considered to be extremely difficult to drive: narrow, rocky passes and deep-sand river crossings. For safety reasons, visitors are advised to drive in a convoy with several vehicles if possible. Our research also has shown that no big expedition truck has been driving here – for exactly these reasons. Nevertheless, we are tempted to enter completely new territory: (usually) you can turn around and we also have our quad bike Shujoo in the garage (where he can not get through, no vehicle can get through). So why should we not at least try it?! Accordingly, the park ranger is also surprised when we arrive at the entrance of the N.P. He is torn between the narrow tracks on the one hand (the passes are probably a real problem for a vehicle of Shujaa’s size) and the impressive, all-terrain appearance of Shujaa on the other hand. Finally, he lets us in but recommends the approach to our booked camp site “De Hoop” on the Orange River not via the main entrance at Sendlingdrift, but over the Helskloof Gate; the passes there should be a little easier to drive. For the next 60 km we need 6 hours … including extensive photo and film stops as well as two reversings and taking an alternative route …. We have already been travelling at a faster pace 😉. The slopes are truly challenging, but ultimately doable for us. However, the landscape crisscrossed by volcanic rock fields is absolutely spectacular and worth seeing … one feels like being on another planet and we enjoy the utter loneliness. Pure nature and wilderness. Mission accomplished and happily we arrive at our campground on the green “lifeline” – the Orange River. The exploration of the park through the many beautiful 4×4 tracks we, however, prefer to do with our Quad Shujoo.