ban3_namaqua2.gif (1629 bytes)

July 2002; July 2003
The Namaqua 4x4 Route is one of South Africa’s best kept secrets and least visited routes. Running along the Gariep River (previously known as the Orange River) for most of the length of the first lap and then traversing the mountains of the southern Richtersveld for the second lap, it gives you access to some of South Africa’s most beautiful semi-desert regions.
The entire route thus passes through an isolated desert landscape believed to be home to the richest diversity of succulent plants in the world.
There are numerous tracks all over the fields and following the true ones, according to the route descriptions, needs a sharp navigator. The best about this route is that although its feels as if you are out in the wilderness all the time you are never too far away from civilisation.
Most of the route traverses over the communal land of the scattered Nama tribe living in that region. The trail fee paid by visitors is divided among the communities over whose land the trail traverses.
The route is divided into two sections, giving you the choice of doing only one lap or both during your visit to the region.
Route 1, running from Pofadder to Vioolsdrif, can be done in a hasty two days or a leisurely 3 - 4 days. Adding another day to your itinerary, by taking a short detour to the Amam Dune Route, will give you the best of desert driving you can experience in South Africa.
Route 2, running from Vioolsdrif to Alexander Bay, can be done in one day, following the badly corrugated public roads, but it is more fun doing it in 2 to 4 days, exploring the unique mountain tracks of the Southern Richtersveld.
Always travel in a convoy of two or more vehicles, otherwise you may find yourself stranded deep into unknown territory if an unexpected break-down occurs.
ban3_facilities.gif (630 bytes)

Although there are guest farms, serviced camping grounds and guest houses along the route, you will have to camp out in the veld at at least one wilderness spot along the Gariep River if you want to complete the entire route. This info is available after payment of the route fee.
Recommended accommodation at the start of Route 1; Karsten Farms’ Klein Pella Guest Farm (054 972 9712) and Pofadder Hotel & Chalets (054 933 0063).
Amam Dune Route & Guest Farm is halfway along Route 1 (027 752 5733).

Recommended accommodation at the end of Route 1 / start of Route 2 at Vioolsdrif; Fiddlers Creek (027 761 8953), Riverside Camp (027 761 8677) and Peace of Paradise - (extremely expensive) – (027 761 8968).
General dealer, ice, bottle store and fuel at Vioolsdrif; Rooiwalwinkel (027 761 8844).
Info received from Namakwa Tourism regarding accommodation along Route 2; Eksteensfontein Guest House (027 851 8772), Lekkersing Guest House (027 851 8580) and Kuboes Traditional Accommodation (027 831 1185).
Recommended accommodation at the end of Route 2; Brandkaros campsite and carlets (027 831 1390).
Visit www.northerncape.org.za for info about more accommodation in the region.

Pofadder is about 700 km from Cape Town. The entire distance of the Namaqua Route is 612 km from Pofadder to Alexander Bay, plus another 120 km or more if you take the detour to Amam and its dunes. Seeing that most of this route is running close to public roads you can cut out many parts of the trail if you are in a hurry.
The first leg, from Pofadder to Vioolsdrif is 328 km, while the second leg from Vioolsdrif to Alexander Bay is 284 km.

Most of the first part of the route runs parallel to the Gariep River. Communities along the first part of the route are Pella, Witbank, Goodhouse, and Henkries, with Pofadder as the starting point and Vioolsdrif as the end. Amam is situated close to Goodhouse. There are no supplies available at any of these spots.
The second leg of the route commences at Vioolsdrif and runs past Kotzeshoop, Eksteensfontein and Kuboes on its way to Alexander Bay. There are general dealer stores at all these settlements.

The route starts at Pofadder on the N14 main route. Routes maps and detailed descriptions will only be available after the payment of the route fee to Namakwa Tourism.

Contact Braham van Zyl at 082 457 0019 or braham@explore-sa.com to book for our 2003 winter tour on this route.
All other bookings for the trail must be made at Namakwa Tourism at tel 027 718 2985 / 6 or tourismsbk@namakwa-dm.co.za.
Contact 012 428 9111 or visit www.parks-sa.co.za for bookings for the Richtersveld National Park.
Refer to facilities, above for info about accommodation venues.

Julie 2002

Die Namakwa 4x4 Roete is waarskynlik een van Suid Afrika se bes bewaarde geheime en word deur bitter min mense besoek. Dit is ook nie algemeen bekend dat die eertse deel van die roete ook met 4x2’s gedoen kan word nie.
Aangesien die eerste deel feitlik al die pad parallel met die Garieprivier (voorheen die Oranjerivier) loop en die tweede deel deur die onherbergsame dele van die suidelike Richtersveld se bergwoestyn gaan, gee hierdie roete jou toegang tot van Suid Afrika se mooiste semi-woestyn gebiede. Dit is ook die tuiste van die rykste verskeidenheid van vetplante in die hele wreld.
Die beste van hierdie roete is, dat alhoewel dit die hele tyd wat jy daar ry vir jou voel of jy ver weg in die wildernis is, jy nooit baie ver van die beskawing is nie.
Die grootste deel van die roete gaan oor gemeenskaplike grond van die wyd verspreide Nama gemeenskap wat in daardie streek woon. Die roetegeld wat van die besoekers gen word, word dus tussen hulle verdeel.
Daar is ‘n hele netwerk van paaie in daardie gebied en om die regte spore te volg het jy nogal ‘n wakker navigator nodig.
Die roete is in twee verdeel, wat jou ‘n keuse gee of jy net een of albei met een kuierslag in daardie geweste wil doen.
Jy kan Roete 1, wat van Pofadder tot by Vioolsdrif strek, haastig-haastig in twee dae doen of vier dae neem. Daar is geen tydsbeperking oor hoe lank jy mag kuier nie. Deur boonop vir ‘n ekstra dag ‘n kort ompad na die Amam Duineroete te vat, kan jy van die beste woestynondervindings in Suid-Afrika beleef.
Roete 2, wat van Vioolsdrif tot by Alexanderbaai strek, kan in een dag gedoen word as jy die uiters slegte openbare sinkplaatpad volg, maar dit is veel meer pret om liewers vir 2 tot 4 dae kruis-en-dwars met veldpaadjies deur die unieke bergwreld van die suidelike Richtersveld te reis.
Onthou om altyd in ‘n konvooi van twee of meer voertuie te ry om te verhoed dat jy heeltemal alleen daar in die vreemde gestrand raak.

ban3_fasiliteite.gif (682 bytes)

Alhoewel daar gasteplase, gediensde kampeerterreine en gastehuise langs die roete is, moet jy op die eerste been ten minste een nag in die wildernis langs die Gariep slaap as jy die volle roete wil volg. Hierdie inligting is verkrygbaar nadat die roetefooi by Namakwa Toerisme betaal is.
Aanbevole oorblyplekke by die beginpunt van Roete 1 is by: die Karsten Boerdery se Klein Pella Gasteplaas (054 972 9712), en Pofadder Hotel en Chalets (054 933 0063).
Die Amam Duineroete is halfpad langs Roete 1 (027 752 5733).
Aanbevole oorblyplekke by die eindpunt van Roete 1 / beginpunt van Roete 2 by Vioolsdrif is by: Fiddlers Creek (027 761 8953), Riverside Kamp (027 761 8677) en Peace of Paradise – geweldig duur – (027 761 8968).
Daar is ‘n algemene handelaar, petrol, bottelstoor en ys by die Rooiwalwinkel naby Vioolsdrif (027 761 8844).
Inligting vanaf Namakwa Toerisme ontvang dui blyplek by die Eksteensfontein Gastehuis (027 851 8772), Lekkersing Gastehuis (027 851 8580) en Kuboes Tradisionele Akkommodasie (027 831 1185) langs Roete 2 aan.
Aanbevole blyplek aan die einde van Roete 2: Brandkaros kamp en chalets (027 831 1390).
Besoek www.northerncape.org.za vir meer inligting oor blyplekke in daardie streek.

Pofadder is sowat 700 km vanaf Kaapstad. Die volle roete tussen Pofadder en Alexanderbaai is 612 km lank, met ‘n ekstra 120 km sirkel na Amam se duineroete. Siende dat feitlik die hele roete naby openbare paaie loop, kan jy eintlik op enige punt van die veldrydele uitsny indien jy haastig raak. Die eerste deel tot by Vioolsdrif is 328 km en di van Vioolsdrif tot by Alexanderbaai 284 km.

Die grootste deel van Roete 1 loop parallel met die Garieprivier en gaan by gemeenskappies soos Pella, Witbank, Goodhouse en Henkries verby. Daar is feitlik geen voorrade by enige van hierdie plekkies te kry nie. Pofadder is die beginpunt en Vioolsdrif die eindpunt. Amam l naby Goodhouse.
Roete 2 begin by Vioolsdrif en gaan by Kotzeshoop, Eksteensfontein en Kuboes verby tot by Alexanderbaai aan die Weskus. Daar is winkels by al drie hierdie plekke.

Die roete begin by Pofadder op die N14 hoofroete. Roetekaarte en gedetaileerde aanduidings is beskibaar nadat die roetefooi by Namakwa Toerisme betaal is.

Kontak Braham van Zyl by 082 457 0019 of braham@explore-sa.com om vir die 2003 wintertoer te bespreek.
Alle ander besprekings moet by Namakwa Toerisme by 027 718 2985 / 6 of tourismsbk@namakwa-dm.co.za gemaak word.
Kontak 012 428 9111 of www.parks-sa.co.za vir besprekings in die Richtersveld Nasionale Park.
Sien fasiliteite hierbo vir inligting oor blyplekke langs die roete.

Namaqua 4x4, Package 1 (Pofadder to Vioolsdrift), Amam 4x4 Dune trail and greater Richtersveld  - 28 June 2003 to 6 July 2003

Written by Eddie Lambrechts

Having grown up in the Northern Cape (I was born and bred in a town called Nababeep) and spent many a fantastic trip with my folks there (in my father’s 1963 1300cc Combi and later a 1968 1600cc), I have a particular fondness of and love for Namaqualand, Bushmanland and the Richtersveld regions.

These areas have their own unique beauty and I would hardly miss an opportunity to go there. Previous years I undertook trips to Namaqualand and the Richtersveld on my own. This year I joined friends to do a section of our trip with a bigger group and then a couple of days on our own to explore and tackle some less well known tracks.

On Saturday, 28 June, six of us in 2 vehicles, Braham van Zyl’s 2.4 Toyota HiLux and my Terrano, left for Klein Pella, just outside Pofadder from where we started on the first section of the Namaqua 4x4 trail. Braham is quite involved in tourism and adventure and a walking encyclopedia who I can recommend. I was one of the first members to join Braham on 4x2 trails, before I “upgraded” to 4x4.

On Sunday, we set off on the first leg of the Namaqua 4x4 trail, about 50 km’s. A word of warning: we were provided with a 7-page document with directions and distances (km’s) similar to those used for rallies. Whether the compilers used different vehicles or what, I do not know, but in some instances distances were so far out, that one often had to go by intuition.

The first lap was fairly easy going, accessible for 4x2’s and ‘soft-roader’ 4x4s (those one buys to visit the Big Five, i.e. Cavendish Square, Waterfront, Canal Walk, N1 City and Tygervalley Centre). This section took us to the Orange (Gariep) River and then back to Klein Pella. On Sunday five other vehicles joined us at Klein Pella for the remainder of the Namaqua 4x4 route to Vioolsdrift and also the Amam 4x4 Dune trail.

Monday morning we tackled the second leg of the Namaqua trail, from Klein Pella to the Groot Melkboom (big Milk tree) from where we diverted to the Amam 4x4 trail. En route we visited the date plantations at Klein Pella.

This section of the Namaqua route was also fairly easy-going, however I would caution some of the soft-roaders and 4x2’s to be careful at the Groot Melkboom; it will not take much to get stuck in the sand there.

On the way to the Groot Melkboom we passed the old Abassas homestead which I visited often in my younger days. We also camped at the Groot Melkboom in those years. For many years this tree was reckoned to be the second largest tree in South Africa. Where the main branches split from the trunk, it formed a sort of platform where we used to sleep. It was a disgrace to see how both Abassas and the Groot Melkboom have deteriorated.

It was with great sadness that I wondered how it is that we have managed to either let such beauty go bad or willfully damage it.

On Monday evening we arrived at Amam (correctly pronounced by the bushmen as Xam Xam with a proper click or two with the tongue), named after a wild grass bush growing in the Bushmanland region.

Amam is north of Aggeneys and can be reached via the Springbok to Pofadder road, turning off at Varsputs/Beenbreek. Here we were entertained by Gerrie and Karen Compion, who really made us feel welcome.

The camping setup is quite interesting, with a lapa and ablution facilities (and a lekker hot shower after a day in the dunes with Gerrie).

There are two trails. On Tuesday we did the 30km trail with Gerrie, with an interesting introductory talk about the vegetation and geology of the area. It was clear that the area and its sensitivity is something that he really cares about. In my book he has earned a couple of points.

The trail itself was a sheer pleasure and challenge. Just watch out for Gerrie’s ‘diesel’ Landcruiser with some super-duper 7 liter Chevy engine.

The saying goes that every picture tells a story, a video even more. I was fortunate to be the first vehicle behind Gerrie and had a camera-assistant on the back of his Landcruiser recording most of the trail.

There were more than enough challenges up and down the dunes, sometimes sliding downhill without a wheel turning! Also lots of uneven, irregular deep holes resulting in some interesting body-roles and twisting.

Then there was the BIG challenge, THAT dune, to get from the bottom to the top. Some of us had to take a long sprint to build up speed and MOMENTUM (my diesel turbo sounded like a jet on the video). In some instances it seemed as if some of us were looking for a runway to take off from.

And then there was the debate about low range vs high range. In my opinion, for diesels and ‘weaker’ petrol vehicles, low range was better, whilst for the six cylinder petrol engines (3 liter and higher) high range worked well. I was more than happy with my Terrano’s performance.

The vehicle that surprised most of us was one of the new Suzuki Vitara’s. A powerful 3 liter 6-cylinder engine with a light body, really performed excellent. However, its ground clearance is a bit too low for my liking It would have really suffered a couple of nasty knocks if it stayed with us on the latter part of our trip.

Stan, the owner of the Suzuki won the laurel for the day, but be warned, that laurel presented by Gerrie and Karen brings one right down to earth!

For bookings Gerrie and Karen can be contacted at 027 752 5733.

I also had my first flat tyre ever, halfway through the trail. I always have at least two spare tubes as part of my emergency repair kit, as well as tyre levers, tyre repair kit and a heavy hammer. Some will recomend the petrol trick to get a tubeless tyre back onto the rim, but I am not too fond of it. Thus I prefer putting in a tube.

Wednesday we left Amam to continue with the Namaqua 4x4 trail. It was a trickier section than the earlier parts, specifically the 13km section down the Oernoep river (dry riverbed with some interesting rock obstacles). We camped at the Kamgab site on the Orange river bank. In our party were two 4x2 bakkies. With a bit of help and coaching they were able to come through unscathed. I would be a little cautious to do this section with a 4x2 without a 4x4 to assist, or without the necessary equipment to get one out of trouble in case one does get stuck.

Thursday we tackled the section back up the Oernoep river and then completed the section to Vioolsdrift. Except for one steep climb after we completed the Oernoep river section, it was a fairly easy section to do.

At Vioolsdrift we camped at Fiddler’s Creek, quite nice and comfortable, except we had to compete with five Overlander trucks full of tourists.Only the owner of Fiddlers Creek will know why the patch of lawn where we had to camp that evening was flooded before we got there. The dampness together with a cool night stiffened the joints a bit.

On Friday, most of the other vehicles left for home or another holiday destination. Braham, Jaco van Vuuren and I then tackled the greater Richtersveld area. The intent of these couple of days was to do some ‘exploration’ and do trails that are marked on some maps as old ‘jeep tracks’ (we have learned from reliable sources that these areas are to be closed off for public access in the near future and that this was most likely a last opportunity to visit these areas). One then requires somebody like Braham that can really read and understand a map to know where the heck one is going (he was also mad enough to hike in this area about 13 years ago).

Well, to say the least, I know now what Alfie Cox must feel like after a couple of sections of the Dakar rally.

The first route we tackled was an old route through the Rooiberg Mountain range, through to Eksteensfontein. No, it was not the Helskloof road. That would have been liked a tarred road, corrugation and all.

On this section we measured our speed in meters/hour since we had a choice: either get through a terrible section of rocky outcrops and sand, approximately 200 meters plus, or return and take the Helskloof road. We had to “build’ the road as we went along. My lower vehicle was in the lead and I had a number of assistants running around dragging and placing large rocks as I inched forward, slowly, often balancing on a couple of rocks, waiting for the next section of the”road’ to be completed.

After a grueling 9 hours, we reached Tierhoek, north of Eksteensfontein, where we camped that evening. That day we did 53 km in more than 9 hours. It took us about one hour to cover the 200 meters plus of ‘road building’. Well, that was why we there for - to do these trails, so I should not complain.

At Tierhoek I had my second puncture, same wheel, different place.

On Saturday morning, Jaco left us as his wife was not well, and the remaining two vehicles continued in a northerly direction into the mountains. ‘Poepstof’, twisting and turning, body-rolls, riverbeds, steep climbs and descents; well we had it all - 35 km of it, taking us over 3 hours, only to get to a gate in the middle of nowhere, locked with a heck of a cable and a NO ENTRY sign.

The only choice was to turn back and tackle the 35 km like a Giniel de Villiers. This was terrible. The dust was so bad that it often completely surrounded the vehicle (this was at a speed of approximately 10 to 15 km/h). We were forced to stop and wait for it to settle as we had no idea where we were going or where the road was leading to. Needless to say what the inside of the vehicles and the air filters looked like with all the dust and sand.

As we planned to stay over at MacDougall’s Bay near Port Nolloth that evening, once we eventually reached the gravel highway via Lekkersing to Port Nolloth, it was like driving on a cloud!

It was a group of very weary and tired men that eventually reached MacDougall’s Bay camp site. We planned another day’s travel down the coast, but with aching backs and kidneys, (and another excuse, the Namaqualand easterly wind started blowing that night), a bit of motion sickness (sitting in my camping chair it still felt as if I was moving up and down and swinging sideways), we decided to call it a day. We achieved what we wanted to, and headed back home on Sunday.

Watching the video of the trip, it was a most memorable trip in the company of very good friends. Yes, the 4x4 driving was a challenge, but at the same time being able to appreciate nature with a group of friends who also appreciated it, made it so much more enjoyable.