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Easter Part 2: De Hoop, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Closest (significant) Town: Alexander Bay? (roughly 120km)
Facilities: Riverbank with basic ablution facilities, cold water showers, no drinking water
Water: On the Orange (or !ariep) River
Surroundings: Rugged and dry Richtersveld Mountain Desert
Turf: Sandy, find-a-spot-on-the-river-bank-and –camp, First come first served trees for shade
Distance from CT: About 842km
Privacy: The river bank and apparent camping area is quite large, so if everyone honours their bookings, you should have no more than 11 other campsites in your vicinity. You can’t really hide though
Highlight: Uninterrupted mountain and river views, a fish sucking my bum, the river
Cost: R155 per campsite per night (includes 6 people), R45 per day conservation fee (2011)
GPS Coordinates: -28.175533,17.177811
Road to De Hoop
De Hoop Camp










View from above De Hoop
This is what I was looking for. A campsite that evoked all fond memories of my 2007 Orange River trip: disorganised, rustic camping, an extensive and open river bank, a semi-flooding river, pink landscapes at sunset, and the ability to eradicate all coherent thoughts in one’s head.
Admittedly, on arrival, I immediately felt distraught that we hadn’t pushed on through on the Thursday night at the start of Easter to camp in Springbok rather than settling down at Bulshoek Dam at 7pm. I regretted thinking our ‘shortcut’ through Eksteenfontein was a shortcut, and I was remorseful that we didn’t disobey the rules and drive the 3 hours to De Hoop at dusk the previous evening.
It’s one of those places where you try and get as far away from neighbours as possible. Because you can. Because you want to.
Our campsite on the Orange River
We found one of the few available trees, set up camp in a record time of like 15 minutes and sat. And stared. When we wanted a break from sitting and staring at the extravagant view, we sat and stared at all the late newcomers sending out a male contingent to scout for campsites, while the ladies fanned themselves and sat pondering the distance of their camp-to-be to the single rustic ablution block.
Good times 🙂

Orange River, Richtersveld
View from our campsite

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Augrabies Falls, Augrabies National Park, Northern Cape

Place: Augrabies Falls, Northern Cape

Closest Town: Pofadder (152km)
Facilities: Excellent- SANParks at their best (suspect wine in the shop though)
Water: Orange River and Augrabies Falls, but not the swimmable kind
Surroundings: Northern Cape Camelman
Turf: Shady, not ideal for blow-up mattresses, gravelly, well-organised
Distance from CT: Roughly 800km
Privacy: Great job at trying to keep campsites separate or with ample space in between
Highlight: The Falls, the area
Cost: March 2011- (see www.SANParks.org for updated fees)
GPS Coordinates: -28.536275,20.319214

 Augrabies National Park
Orange River, Augrabies 


The infamous Pofadder

On our way up north……

Northern Cape Landscape

Overlooking the Orange River

Augrabies Falls
SANParks has a formula that works. You accept that their parks/reserves are more frequented that your neighbourhood farmer’s rustic river campsite, but then you also appreciate the efficiency of how they work because you’re usually there on holiday after a long drive through and past meaninglessness. That’s partly a lie. That comment is in particular reference to the Northern Cape and its tendency to be quite repetitive when it comes to the scenery outside the vicinity of the Orange River. It was also mildly influenced by Pofadder, which was the last town we drove through and stupidly relied on for some supplies before arriving at Augrabies.
You go to Augrabies to see the falls. They are everything they are meant to be, but hours of contemplation seems like overkill, so you opt for a game drive instead. If you are as lucky as we were, you’ll spot one lone giraffe in the blurred distance and will settle for a couple of hours contemplating an illegal swim at a viewpoint overlooking the river. The view is spectacular, despite the lack of swim.
The actual campsites are great. Pretty private and spread out, but not ideal for blow-up mattress die-hards who choose to ignore the logistics of camping under Fever or Camel Thorn trees. I didn’t have that problem, so was quite content until I stocked up with the regions finest, Oranjerivier Cellars, for sundowners…and almost choked.

Twee Rivieren, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Place: Twee Rivieren Camp, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Closest Town: Upington (339km)
Facilities: Excellent- SANParks at their best (suspect wine in the shop though)
Water: None, just the stuff that comes out the tap
Surroundings: Northern Cape Bushveld. The park fence
Turf: Scattered shade, thorny, gravelly, not always flat
Distance from CT: Roughly 1100km
Privacy: Not much, but the camp is fairly small
Highlight: The Park, The Pool
Cost: March 2011- (see www.SANParks.org for updated fees)

Twee Rivieren Campsite
Driving north through Kgalagadi
Kgalagadi
On the SA-Botswana border








SANParks just works. You expect what you get and what you get is pretty decent. Their shops have that nostalgic Kruger smell, are super well stocked (including patch kits for those who insist on taking their blow-up mattresses to thorny bushveld), everything works and is clean and decent.
In my opinion, this camp in particular is at a slight disadvantage. It’s just outside the park, so you feel a little excluded and on the fringe of what you really travel there for. Shade is a commodity and the ground is pretty rough. However, you don’t travel to the north of South Africa and expect green pastures, willow trees and trickling brooks. If you do, I suspect you’ll be sorely disappointed.
The actual park experience was also slightly compromised by the closure of one of the two roads that takes you up north through the park, so every game drive started off with the same 20- 30 minute meander that’s isn’t exactly ideal for game viewing.
Nevertheless, I’d go back, but would book well in advance so a spot at one of the other campsites (Nossob or Mata Mata) is guaranteed.