Text and photography: PG Jonker
Acquiring this ultimate 4×4, I first had to sell my Venture. It turned out that, when I was looking to buy my Venture, everyone wanted one, and when I eventually tried to sell mine, nobody wanted it anymore!
When at last I sold my Venture, the 4×4 that I had identified was also sold in the meantime, but not to me. So the search for a 4×4 started afresh. Eventually I got an ex-car rental Mazda Magnum DC 4×4. So what now? Have 4×4, better get driving.
Frikkie solved the problem by suggesting a trip to the Richtersveld. Pieter and his family pitched in too, and off we went.
Cape to Port Nolloth
After leaving Durbanville early in the morning, we met up with Frikkie and his family at Vanrhynsdorp. Frikkie’s Hilux used to belong to a missionary outfit that travelled as far as Uganda in it. The elevated suspension gave the Hilux a real mean appearance. On Frikkie’s make-shift roof carrier, two bags of wood were obvious, as well as the four legs of a steel frame chair protruding upwards. That was Frikkie’s homemade porta potty.
Pieter and his family would join us in the Richtersveld.
At McDougal’s Bay (Port Nolloth) we rented a house with a garage. The reason for that was that I had a burnt valve repaired on my brand new second hand bakkie, and the obligatory 1000km “retorque” had to be done. This Frikkie did before breakfast the next morning, and then we departed for the Richtersveld.
Port Nolloth to De Hoop
We visited a shop and a fuel station in Alexander Bay, where we had to sign in at a security gate before entering the town. There was also a notice, warning you that you might be requested to unpack your vehicle for inspection. Eish! Heaven forbid, given what our luggage looked like.
From there we travelled along the Orange River on a gravel road to Sendelingsdrift, the entrance to the Richtersveld. Not too far from Sendelingsdrift we turned off to have a look at the Wondergat. It is a hole some 40m deep. It was a rather nervous experience, keeping the kids from falling in. It’s not like Kimberley’s big hole or anything, but you might battle getting out again once you have fallen in.
After attending to the formalities at Sendelingsdrift we were, at last, on a genuine 4×4 trip. Cool, huh? The first 7km or so were like an ordinary gravel road. From there it deteriorated initially to something similar to a farm road, and eventually to the point where the 4×4 functionality became very convenient, if not necessary. This was great fun.
Progress was hampered when one steep incline caused Frikkie’s roof rack to partially slide off and it had to be fixed. But fixing is mos Frikkie’s thing.
Here we saw the first halfmense growing. Being stingy with my pre-digital era photos, I kept holding out for a better halfmens until eventually I left the Richtersveld without a picture of a single one!
After a leisurely 43km drive, we reached De Hoop. We found quite a number of people camping there. However, there were quite a few kilometres of river sites from which we could choose, and we made camp right on the river bank.
At De Hoop the river runs in a northerly direction. Because of mountains on both sides of the river, the sunrises and sunsets are maybe not so spectacular. However, in the evenings the sun reflects orange on the river from the mountains on the Namibian side.
We enjoyed a leisurely day. It was one of the kids’ birthdays. Undeterred by our environment we had a birthday party, complete with a pot bread-cake and surprise packets for each kid.
The arrangements for sanitation were less than desirable. (I understand this problem has since been attended to by the Parks authorities.) It’s okay finding your spot and marking it to prevent others from having a close encounter of the fourth kind, but the following week’s visitors might not necessarily be fortunate enough to enjoy the same benefit.
Frikkie’s homemade porta potty earned its keep. I also utilised this invention on occasion. In my private little spot, however, I became aware of a commotion in one of the trees. A bunch of little apes were sitting in a row on an overhanging branch, watching me intently and chattering among themselves. I’m sure I heard one of them say: “Hey, check that larnie toilet, ek s?.” I might be mistaken, though.
Between the three families we brought along 150 litres of drinking water, but ended up using the water from the Orange River after boiling it before use for human consumption.
Two of the boys spent hours trying to catch fish. The piece of washing line and bent nail utilised for this purpose, however, turned out to be unsuccessful. However, “success” is a matter of opinion. Keeping two boys out of mischief for hours on end in my book actually counts as a great success.
* Get the full story in the February issue of Leisure Wheels. On sale now.