Northern Cape’s forgotten?wonderland

2014-10-12 15:00

Not many people realise the Northern Cape is SA’s largest province, with breathtaking landscapes and many vast open areas to explore. Denise Slabbert takes us on a tour

Click on the hotspots for more information

How to get there

According to the SANParks website, the quickest and easiest way to get to the park from the N7 (the national route that runs from Cape Town through the West Coast and Namaqualand to the border with Namibia) is to take the Steinkopf turn-off and approach via Port Nolloth and Alexander Bay.

That way, only the last 80km or so will be on dirt roads.

Those wanting to take the scenic route can go via Kuboes, Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein. If you have a 4x4, you can go over the mountain pass via Helskloof Reserve (between Eksteenfontein and Vioolsdrift).

You need to remember admission and overnight permits must be obtained at the park office at Sendelingsdrif before you enter the park, and if you are staying overnight, you need to arrive before 4pm to reach the campsites before it gets dark.

Internal roads are pretty rustic and sedans are not permitted (only 4x4s). Driving in the park at night is also not allowed.


It is 1?595km from Joburg to Sendelingsdrif on the outskirts of the park, 875km from Cape Town and 720km from Upington.

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park covers wide distances from one gate to the next on difficult terrain and it’s not recommended for day visitors unless they’re staying nearby. There is value-for-money accommodation at guesthouses in Eksteenfontein and Lekkersing. (see below)

Fuelling up and provisions

Diesel 50 and unleaded fuels are available at Sendelingsdrif.

There is no restaurant at Sendelingsdrif, but there is a shop to buy the basics (the shop is closed on weekends). It’s a good idea to stock up at Eksteenfontein or one of the other towns before heading towards the park.

Where to stay

You have a choice of eight places to stay inside the park.

Sendelingsdrif Rest Camp

This is a good place to start your stay in the park. There are 10 self-catering chalets on offer on the banks of the Orange River, but travellers have said it can be very noisy during the week due to the mining town nearby, so you could opt for something more serene.

De Hoop Camping Site

Located about 45km east of Sendelingsdrif, this site has 12 camping spots with communal ablutions. The views are incredible with steep mountains on both sides. It is hot and dry in this part of the world, so take an umbrella for shade. No drinking water available.

Tatasberg Wilderness Camp

Located high on a ridge in the northeast section of the park, here you’ll find four two-bed wooden chalets with beautiful views. These are self-catering and solar panels provide battery power.

There’s no drinking water at this site so make sure you bring provisions.

Ganakouriep Wilderness Camp

This camp is located in a rocky valley in the southwesterly region of the park. There are four fully equipped self-catering chalets and the camp is wheelchair-friendly (not all the camps are). You must take your own water for cooking and drinking as there is no fresh water available.

Kokerboomkloof Camp Site

If you like getting back to nature, this is the spot for you. Situated in the mountains in the southeastern region of the park, Kokerboom offers scenic lunar landscapes and, as the name suggests, kokerboom trees. There’s no running water so bring your own.

There are eight camp sites available and ablutions have been upgraded with flush toilets and wash basins, but there are no showers.

Potjiespram Camp Site

You have a choice of 18 camp sites on the Gariep (Orange) River, quite close to the park entrance. And if you’re not staying over at the noisier Sendelingsdrif, this is a good place to stay.

Richtersberg Camp Site

There are 12 camp sites at Richtersberg, with ablution facilities. It is rustic and the setting is quite spectacular.

What will it cost?

Spending the night is extremely good value for money in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.

Accommodation is worked out on base rates. For example, the base rate for two people staying at a camp site would be R200, with an additional R68 per adult and R34 per child.

If you are staying in a four-bed chalet, the base rate is R600 for the first two guests and an additional rate of R100 per person.

See the SANParks website for details of the pricing structure.

Park fees are R60 per adult per day and R30 per child per day. This is payable on arrival at the gate.

Outside the park

For accommodation on the outskirts of the park, you could stay in Eksteenfontein or Kuboes.

In Eksteenfontein, make a beeline for the information centre. Information on accommodation in the area is also available on the Northern Cape Tourism website:

Things to do

.?June to October is flower season and the wild flowers in this part of the world are incredible.

.?There are more than 200 species of birds in the park, making bird-watching a popular activity.

.?There are guided and self-guided trails on offer from April 1 to September 30, including Vesterval Trail (five days, four nights).

.?The Hiking Trails Base Camp opened earlier this year, situated in the scenic Ganakouriep Valley. It is important that you go with a qualified guide. Enquire when you make your booking. All bookings to be made at least three months in advance.

.?You can cross into the adjoining Namibian |Ai-|Ais/ Hot Springs National Park via the Sendelingsdrif pontoon.

.?Further afield, make your way up to the wild fishing and diving towns of Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth.

.?If you’re wanting to cross over the border into Namibia, the old point at Sendelingsdrif is an option as it provides a convenient 485km detour over the Gariep. You can cross over on the pontoon from 8am to 4.15pm.

Helfpul information

.?Bring along hats, sun block, comfortable walking shoes and insect repellent.

.?There is no running water at many of the camp sites, so bring your own. Water can be purchased at the shop at Sendelingsdrif.

.?Bring refuse bags with you. No litter should be left behind at the camp sites.

.?Lighting is limited at the camp sites so it’s a good idea to bring along portable lights and torches.

.?Due to scorpions, you shouldn’t sleep on the ground.

.?It is not permissible to drive off indicated routes, even on quad bikes or motorbikes.

.?Taking a gas cooker is a good idea. Make sure you bring enough food and supplies along for the duration of your stay. Taking extra tools, a spare wheel and water containers is also a good idea.

.?Cellphone signal is limited. Your best reception is at Sendelingsdrif.


Main office:

027?831?1506, or via

Park manager Nick De Goede: Tel: 072?621?1514

Duty manager Hendrik Prins: Tel: 084?742?9797

Visit for more information

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