Transfrontier National Park
The Richtersveld National Park is a spectacular mountainous desert region in South Africa's northwestern corner. In the park, which is inhabited only by small groups of Nama, one finds a singular vegetation with innumerable species of succulents. This is the only place where the remarkable halfmensboom (half-person tree) grows. The top of this succulent tree consists of a bunch of thick, crinkled leaves, reminiscent of a human head, the unusual appearance being the inspiration for its name.
The climate in the Richtersveld is extreme with summer temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius quite frequently. Rain is a rare event. Plants and animals get moisture primarily from the sea fog.
The Richtersveld National Park borders the Orange River. The park is not fully exposed to tourism, although several restcamps have been established recently with campgrounds and cottage-style self-catering accommodation, some even with air-conditioning. A four-wheel drive vehicle is essential to travel through the reserve. Especially difficult are some steep and rocky mountain roads and some sandy river crossings. One must report to the park office before one leaves and after returning to the gate.
Only a few small groups at a time are admitted to the reserve, to protect the delicate ecosystem.
Top: "Halfmensboom". Left: Driving is difficult. A 4WD is necessary in the park.