This is the last place in the South Africa where pastoral people live on communal lands and one of the last remaining examples of the transhumant Nama way of living. Then the first Khoekhoen or pastoral people moved to these regions from Botswana some 2 000 years ago. Like the San, they were hunter-gatherers, and only slaughtered animals on rare ceremonial occasions. The Nama speaking herders in the Richtersveld, therefore, are said to be descendents from these first pastoralists and the San. Search for accommodation available near Springbok, Steinkopf or Port Nolloth.

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RichtersveldThe Richtersveld is a mountainous desert landscape characterised by rugged kloofs and high mountains, situated in the north-western corner of South Africa’s Northern Cape province. It is full of changing scenery from flat, sandy, coastal plains, to craggy sharp mountains of volcanic rock and the lushness of the Orange River, which forms the border with neighbouring Namibia. The area ranges in altitude from sea level, to 1,377 m (4,518 ft) at Cornellberg. Located in South Africa’s northern Namaqualand, this arid area represents a harsh landscape where water is a great scarcity and only the hardiest of lifeforms survive. Despite this, the Richtersveld is regarded as the only Arid Biodiversity Hotspot on Earth, with an astonishing variety of plant, bird and animal life (much of which is endemic). Part of the area is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to its cultural values, but remains a favourite amongst nature travellers to South Africa, the landscape is sometimes described as ” martian”. Though barren and desolate at first glance, closer examination reveals the area to be rich in desert lifeforms, with an array of unique species specially adapted for survival. Temperatures are extreme, and in summer can reach over 50 °C (122 °F). Rain is a very rare event. The northern part of the area was proclaimed as a National Park in 1991 after 18 years of negotiation with the local community, who continue to live and graze their livestock in the area. It has an area of 1,624.45 square kilometres (627.20 sq mi). In June 2007, the “Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape”, just to the south of the National Park and an area of equivalent size and beauty, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unlike the National Park, the Richtersveld Community Conservancy [1], which forms the core zone of the World Heritage Site, is not subject to diamond mining and is as a result the more pristine of the two areas. The climate here is harsh with temperatures of up to 53 °C (127 °F) having been recorded in mid-summer. Nights are cool and bring with them heavy dew. This unique climate is what has fostered such a unique ecosystem. “Malmokkies” With water so scarce, life in the Richtersveld depends on moisture from the early morning fog. Locals call it ‘Ihuries’ or ‘Malmokkies’ and it makes survival possible for a range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. The park boasts excellent bird watching opportunities, as well as a diverse range of animals including grey rhebok, duiker, steenbok, klipspringer, kudu, Hartman’s mountain zebra, baboon, vervet monkey, caracal and leopard. Home to c. 650 plant species, this park boasts the world’s largest diversity of succulents and represents an example of one of the most interesting mega-ecosystems in the world, the Karoo. Odd vegetation The area is home to a number of rather unusual plants, many of which are found nowhere else on earth. Chief among these is the “Halfmensboom” (Pachypodium namaquanum Welw.).

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