Beyond Aukoerebis 2019 – The Richtersveld Rewind

When I think back on our recent @Beyond Expeditions #BeyondAukoerebisjourney, what I remember most are the people. Adventures like these are all about the experiences you share, the relationships you shape, the bizarre bakkie talk and slightly surreal camp fire stories, and all those take-away memories that make you smile many months down the line

There were many ‘moments’: the ‘bounty hunter’ that nearly got Densen one night on a spooky desert track to nowhere; Luigi, the Port Nolloth fish-bag of note, who became @kimvankets’s most treasured possession; the honey badger that morphed into an aardvark; the low-level night-time thunder emanating from Oom Dudley’s tent; mutinous threats from the teenagers as the #WiFI blackout became very real; a few senior moments from #DieOomhimself …

And with the #Richtersveld as our first off-the-grid camping destination, many of these stories unfolded right here, within the wild heart of this exhilarating mountain desert wilderness. One thing is for sure, this is about as far away as anyone can get away from ‘civilization’, and it is one of those remote corners of the country I keep going back to ????????

The #BeyondAukoerebis crew – on a mission in our kickass #IsuzuSA#Xriders, went moer-and-gone about half a kay north of #Richtersberg, losing ourselves within this beautifully stark and incredibly dusty #paradise, ensconced on the reed-lined banks of the languid and lazy Orange River. Big mountain hikes, flickering fireside dreaming, psychedelic night skies, endless aqua play, and headspace for a hundred days … what an experience to share this with our ‘tribe’. Thank you, Van Kets family, Oom Duddles, Densen, and most of all of course @Karyn Marais, Beth, Robster and Grace (yup, she undoubtedly was the ‘Queen of the Stone Game’).

One of the incredible characters we met along the way was Pieter Van Wyk, the Nursery Manager at #RichtersveldNationalPark, and in my opinion one of the most astute amateur botanists anywhere in Africa. Seriously scary to hear from him that more than 85% of the botanical biomass of this unique Mountain Desert has disappeared over the past three decades, and that this is directly linked to on-going global warming. This is not just scientific talk, and I could clearly see how areas have been decimated by drought over my past two decades of visiting the park.

Yet the Richtersveld remains one of the most visceral landscapes imaginable, and once you manage to focus beyond the stark minimalism, the rich diversity becomes evident. Miniscule conophytums, lichens and succulents, statuesque aloe pearsonii and dichotoma, rock fields as ancient as the planet itself … a magical natural experience awaits.

And because you are free to move about thanks to the lack of dangerous big game (there are a few leopards, but they are shy and retiring), the park absolutely begs exploring … SUPing and paddling the river with Grace and the older kids allowed us to experience an adventurous flipside, as did the night #mtb missions and peak ascents, or hunting scorpions with a UV Light.

This selection of retrospective photographs focus more on those incredible people who shared this 3-week trip with us … how fortunate we are to have experienced this arid wilderness space. Huge thanks once again to Brett Whittington, Genevieive Maasdorp and everyone at @sanparks_aridregion and the #ARTP – this certainly rates as an unparalleled outdoor destination for the utterly #moerandgone crowd.

Click here to view the images