Thursday, March 18, 2010

Richtersveld and Karoo - 11 Day Trip - 18 to 28 March 2008

Because this was a long trip, eleven days in total, I will deliver two days at a time over the next couple of days.

In March 2008 we had a wonderful opportunity to travel to the Richtersveld.

Day one: With vehicle loaded, complete with rooftop tent, ablution gear etc., we made our way to Kuruman and camped at De Oog (The Eye), the source of the Kuruman River. A fine ornamental pool, covered by waterlilies and surrounded by tall shady trees is a welcoming sight after a long, hot travel from Johannesburg, approximately three hours away.

Day two: we passed through Upington, notorious for its history of river pirates, bandits, rustlers, renegades and desperadoes who used the densely wooded islands as strongholds in days gone by. This is also where the second longest railway bridge in Southern Africa was built over the Orange River to carry the railway from De Aar on its way to Namibia - when the area was abundantly rich with fruit, cotton and grain.

We drove through Kanoneiland, the largest island in the Orange River. The name originates from the period of the war against the river pirates. In 1879 the island was bombarded with a small cannon for several days, and so the name was born. The river was finally cleared of these unruly elements after attacks by the Cape Mounted Rifles. The area was extremely fertile and became a prosperous community where crops were planted and harvests were rich.

Leaving here, we travelled through Keimoes, then Kakamas (Hottentot name meaning "poor pasturage"). The area was established as a settlement for the poor in 1898 under the auspices of the Dutch Reformed Church. Ninety-five settlers in the area in 1900, each received 12 Pounds from the church, and were left on their own to clear bush, level dunes, lead irrigation water and turn the river valley into a giant garden. Peaches grew well, but Sultanas even better. This became the principal producer of sultanas in Southern Africa.

We reached Augrabies just before sunset and settled down for the night in a chalet at the Augrabies Falls National Park.

And so we drifted into sweet slumber....
dreaming of what we had seen and learnt and of what tomorrow would bring....

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