All you need to know to make the right choice!

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

The Richtersveld is the only mountain desert in South Africa. The rainfall, on the coast, is as low as 50mm per year, and increase deeper inland. The dominant biome, is the "Succulant Karoo" biome, although there are small areas with grass, a section belonging to the "desert biome", and also small areas with limited "Fynbos" growth. 

A large part of the Richtersveld, has been declared a world heritage site, which in itself, says a lot of how special the area is. This is an unspoilt, undeveloped, destination, with mostly wilderness camps with limited facilities. Camping is in most areas the only accommodation. If you choose not to camp, there are a few camps with chalet facilities, although limited.

The wetlands, at the Orange-river mouth, is a RAMSAR site, with a rare variety of birds.

CLIMATE

The area gets a low winter rainfall, which resulted in the succulent plants being the dominant vegetation. Most of the plants survive in the dry summer season, on the mist, coming from the cold Atlantic ocean, that ends up being blown into the desert.

Although the Flower season in Springtime (August/ September) is the more popular time to visit the Namaqualand and the Richtersveld, certain of the attractions can be seen throughout the year. November to February is quite hot, and not ideal for visits to the Richtersveld, unless you can handle the heat. During the warmer months, one could spend more time close to the ocean, where it is normally cool throughout the year, and stick to the shady areas next to the Orange river.

The climate in this desert mountain area, can sometimes be extreme, and you can expect heat, sand, wind, cold and even rain. The weather should however not keep you away from this very special destination.

LOCATION

The Richtersveld is bordered by the Cold Atlantic on the Western side, the Orange river on the Northern side (also the border of Namibia), the N7 on the Eastern side, and the 'R382' on the Southern side.

ATTRACTIONS

There is an endless list of attractions in the area.

While on tour with the Richtersveld tours, we will take you to the places less often visited, due to it's location, or security arrangements, or the fact that it is on private property, and not accessible without special arrangements.

We will show you rare plants, amazing landscapes, fossils, rock engravings (petroglyphs), shipwrecks, caves, places where the Khoi people lived, fountains in the desert, rare aloes, seals and other animals. If you like, we will also let you meet the interesting local people, and travel roads not normally used. We will establish your interests, and put together an itinerary to suit you and your group.

Our guides are "culture" guides, and have a general knowledge of the area, history, plants, geology, archeology, and the location of certain places.

BOTANY

The Richtersveld is probably the best known for its plants, especially the succulents. Apart from the well known, Aloe Pillanssii, Aloe Dichotoma, and Pachypodium Namaquanum, we will show you many more special plants. Some of these have medicinal uses, some are toxic, and some could be used to brew coffee-like drinks. We will share much of this interesting formation with you while on tour. Even if this is not necessarily your interest, you will still find it fascinating, how these magnificent plants can survive in this desert, with very little, or sometimes no rain for long periods of time.

HISTORY

We will tell you about the pre-history, as well as the more recent history, of how things came about, with the copper mining in the Okiep and Springbok area, and eventually the diamond industry, which still plays a large roll in sustaining the economy of the area. We will visit a few places that will take us back in time to the days when the Khoi people still lived in the area. They are one of very few nations who managed to live a sustainable life, and looked after the earth, and only used what they needed, to make a living.

We could visit a few historic buildings in the area, and you will be amazed at how people survived (still do) with limited resources.

GEOLOGY

The Richtersveld is not only Heaven to Botanists, looking for, and finding rare plants in various locations. It has a great variety of formations, dating to various times, as well as a few locations with fossils. Although the mining is often seen as a negative issue, in terms of damaging the Earth, it creates opportunities to "view into the past". We could visit areas with prospecting trenches, exposing some very interesting formations.

CULTURE

Culture is the one big contributor, to the "World Heritage site" declaration. We could focus on the various cultures in the Area, if that is your interest. The one culture that stands out, is the NAMA. They still live in the same nomadic way, as they have been doing for more than 2000 years. We could visit some of them on the Tour. It is always very interesting to still see their uncomplicated lifestyle, looking for the best grazing opportunities, and travelling with their stock.

LANDSCAPES

Although there are more than enough excellent landscapes throughout the Tour, we will although make an effort, to travel to some really special viewpoints.

BIRDS & ANIMALS

Although the Richtersveld cannot be compared with Parks like the Kruger National Park, or the Kgalagadi, in terms of spotting animals and birds, there are always a few surprises. At the River mouth, we will normally spot a number of Flamingoes, Pelicans, Cormorants and possibly a few Ducks and Terns. On a normal tour we could spot Springbok, Gemsbok, Klipspringer, Dassies and Ostritches. It is however most rewarding looking for the small things, rather than the big ones. If we then spot large game, it is normally a bonus.

We suggest you bring the following items:

                                    Hiking shoes

                                    Sunglasses

                                    Hat

                                    Sun block

                                    Short and long sleeved clothes that could be

                                    warn in layers

                                    Waterproof jacket

                                    Camera

                                    Binoculars

ACCOMMODATION AND TRANSPORT

Camping is the preferred way of spending the nights in certain areas. Although chalet facilities are available in a few places, it is limited.

Some of the places to be visited have no or little facilities. You will be informed of the availability up front, and you will also be given a choice of staying in a chalet/guest house where it is available.

Although some of the roads are accessible with a vehicle with high ground clearance, it is definitely safer to enter some parts of the Park, as well as other Areas with a 4x4.

Our vehicles can carry different numbers of passengers. The combination of 4x4 vehicle, and special 4x4 trailer, will depend on the group size, as well as the length of the Tour.

Travelling over rough terrain in 4x4 vehicles, could affect people who get travelling sickness easily. There is no alternative in terms of the roads, for people with this problem, and they have to take the necessary medication in advance, for them not to be affected.

Our staff will put up and break down the camp

MEALS

We believe that our meals are an essential part of making the tours a pleasant experience.

We will have the necessary equipment, like fridges, gas stoves, tables and chairs, and the necessary equipment on the vehicle to prepare the food 'on the go'.

RATES AND COSTS

We have daily rates per person, which will include the following:

                                                1. 4x4 vehicle with driver/guide/fuel

                                                2. Meals

                                                3. Accommodation (camp or chalet)

                                                4. Entrance fees (where applicable)

                                                5. Security fees (where applicable)

                                                6. Bottled water/snacks

PICK-UP, DROP OFF & TRANSFERS

We are based in Port Nolloth, and choose to start and end our trips from here. We are registered to operate in the Western and Northern Cape, and can therefore start and end the tour anywhere in either of these Provinces.

We include the accommodation of the nights on tour, as well as the night before, and the night at the end of the last day, in our package.

We will provide safe parking for your vehicle in Port Nolloth, while on tour.

SAFETY

Safety is the first consideration when we are on tour. Up to date we have had no serious incidents, and believe it is a result of our policy.

We will NOT travel at night. We will always travel at safe speeds. The experienced guide will know how much time is available for traveling, and tourists may, from time to time, be requested to finalize their activities at a specific place, to ensure safe traveling to the next destination.

The guide is a qualified First Aider. A First Aid kit is part of our standard equipment.

Richtersveld Tours will not be held liable for any injuries or deaths resulting from negligence of the visitors, and everybody will travel with us at their own risk.

Everybody will be requested to sign an indemnity document before the start of the trip.

It is preferred not to wear open shoes, especially at night, as insects might find their way into these shoes. Some of the insects and snakes are very poisonous and a bite or sting could result in serious illness or even death.

Tourists are notified in advance to always be on the look-out for dangerous snakes and insects, like scorpions or spiders.

The tents that are used are insect- and snake proof, and if the zips are properly closed, these insects/reptiles will not be able to enter the tent.

ECO POLICY

We have a policy, of doing our part for conservation.

We will not allow visitors to remove any items, like rocks, plants or seeds, from the area. There are places where these items could be purchased legally.

We support campsites where solar power is used.

We only travel in small groups, to limit damage to the area. We do not encourage large groups traveling together, and use vehicles with larger carrying capacity, to limit the number of vehicles. We see the Richtersveld to be a "low volume" tourist destination.

We plan our trips different for the larger groups, and try to limit the traveling as much as possible.

JOB CREATION POLICY

We support local developing businesses when on tour. By supporting these small businesses, we assist them to create more sustainable jobs in this, generally poor community.

TOUR PRODUCTS

Our aim is to put something together that will suit your needs. Although we have Standard tour itineraries, we will be happy to accommodate reasonable special requests.

AMENDMENTS TO PROGRAMME

Richtersveld Tours will have the right to alter the itinerary, for the sake of safety, or if any serious incident occurred, or if extreme weather requires changes. We will also have the right to change itineraries if problems with roads, or accommodation arise. Clients will be notified in advance.

GROUP SIZE

Although we have a basic framework in terms of dates, we also work on a first come first served bases in reserving dates for trips. We will start to plan tours with two people, with the option to add more people to the group.

Groups are often put together with other Tourists, sharing the same tour dates.

The larger groups have to book as one group and can only be accommodated if they are prepared to camp. Most of the guest houses in the Richtersveld can only accommodate up to 8 people (sharing). If tourists prefer not to share, it might result in extra expenses.

Our preferred group size is between 4 and 10 people. A lot of planning and preparation goes into such a tour, and we need to know in advance if any changes in numbers are anticipated.

AGE RESTRICTIONS AND OTHER LIMITATIONS

There are no age restrictions, although children must be accompanied by someone who will take full responsibility for them.

Parents must keep in mind that the conditions are sometime extreme and not ideal for small children and elderly people. Rates are the same for children.

We do (have done) tours with handicapped persons. They must however have someone with them, to take responsibility for them, as our staff is not qualified to care for people with special needs.

Any other information is available on request. We will accommodate special requests as far as possible.

 SUMMARY OF IMPORTANT ITEMS.

  • Facilities are in many areas limited to camping, with basic facilities, like ablutions with cold showers, and flush toilets
  • Special 4x4 vehicles are used. These vehicles are more robust, and higher than normal vehicles, and more difficult to get in-and out of, for people with limited movement.
  • Please inform us of any medical conditions, that might affect you while on tour in a remote place. We will inform you of evacuation possibilities on request. Safety is our first priority.
  • Dates are decided on first person(s) to confirm booking. If your group is smaller than 8 persons, you might be joined by more people interested in the same dates. Groups will not be more that 10 persons, to ensure personal attention.
  • We will have the right to adjust schedules, due to safety precautions, or other unforeseen circumstances. You will be informed about these changes, as soon as they are considered.
  • We need to know about food preferences in advance, as meat purchases, packing etc is done in advance.
  • Use soft travel bags with dims 600x400x300, rather than suitcases.
  • Only take what you will use.
  • Wear closed shoes for safety.
  • You will not be allowed to remove rocks, plants or seeds from the Area