Original source: yearinthewild.com
I’ve been to the Richtersveld National Park a few times, but I never get tired of going. The scenery is unique – desert mountains that surround massive sandy plains, and of course the Orange River (or Gariep, as it’s known locally by the Nama) that flows through the gorge. If it wasn’t for this river, then I imagine the Richtersveld would be almost impossible to visit in summer time. Park manager Nick de Goede says his record high is 62 degrees celsius.
My own is 57 degrees celsius, recorded in January a few years ago. Without the river to drink from and to cool off in, the heat is too intense. The river makes human habitation possible (the local Nama community are allowed to graze their goats in the park – in fact, the park’s land actually belongs to these communities, and SANParks rents the land from them for conservation purposes).
Nevertheless, the weather can be fickle. One morning, while staying at the beautiful Tatasberg Wilderness Camp, ranger Seth Domrogh and I left early to walk up Tatasberg mountain itself. This is a 1 000 metre high granite pluton, with thousands and thousands of massive granite boulders piled on top of each other. We left before sunrise to drive to the bottom of the mountain, and at that stage there was not a cloud in the sky. As we started walking up, the wind picked up, and we could see the fog bank rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean situated 150 kms to the west.
Within half an hour, the mountain was shrouded in mist and we battled to keep our balance in the howling wind. We waited it out and after a few hours, the clouds lifted enough for us to see the stupendous view.
The cold Atlantic is the reason for the desert conditions. The heavy air hardly ever gets a chance to rise, making condensation and rain cloud formation difficult. The only moisture comes from the fog which rolls in every now and then.