We enter Richtersveld Transfrontier Park with our intentions set on finding a tranquil riverside camping spot.
The gravel roads throughout feel a tad slippy. We’d heard a lot about keeping safe on these. The border agents were saying lots of tourists flip their vehicles taking the hills too fast. The hills are strange, steep up and equally steep down. You could easily send it off the top of one of these. Wonder why they’re built this way. It does make for some fun “Uhhhh-ohhhhhhhhh!” moments though.
We swing in and away from Orange River as we cruise through the park. For the most part it is a desolate landscape strewn with crumbly rocks and small peaks. We only come into view of a rare vehicle or two and no animals to speak of except for some interesting birds down by the river. The occasional vulture looking thing and some cormorants out fishing.
Driving along the backside of some of the peaks the sun disappears and there is a dramatic and welcome drop in temperature.
There doesn’t appear to be any legit camping grounds around. At least none that we can find although it looks like there’s one on the map. We’re almost through the park at this point though and I think the next place on the map is a mining town. We’d definitely much rather stay in the park if we can find a spot. Time to start looking for inroads to the water and hope for a nice clearing.
We come up another steep hill and when we crest there’s a place up ahead. “Is this the camp ground?”, “Ahhh… no that looks like a border gate”, “Oh shit, it’s back to South Africa?”, “Fuck are we turned around?” Jamie stops on the hill and slowly backs down away from the border 200 yards ahead. Haha, that must have looked suspicious.
We backtrack through Ricthersveld to a little nook we spotted not too far behind. It’s just a small road that leads to a little clearing by the river. This could work. When we pull in we find there’s a family w 3 kids hanging out here already. They’re packing up fishing gear and a net. We get out and say hello. The dad says he’s from South Africa. There are no mining jobs there so he moved here. He works at the zinc mine in the next city. Its owned by Canadians. Ah this explains the Beaver Canoe shop we spotted. Kind of.
They get the truck packed and wish us well as their kids curiously steal glances. We take a look to see if this place will suit our needs. It’s nice by the river. Peter gives Jamie a token.
Nah this spot is a bit claustrophobic and the dirty diapers on the ground by the overflowing, fly infested garbage can aren’t too appealing. Actually it stinks super bad. How were they standing that? Damn. Nope we’re out. We guide Jamie through a 9 point u-turn to get outta there.
Back track a bit and find another side road that heads towards Orange River. Ooohh lots of space, this looks promising. Also a great place to dump your industrial tractor tires apparently. We pull passed them and it opens up onto a small shelf of rocks by the water. Yep, it’s perfect.
Break open the truck montage!
I grab the shovel and dig out a fire pit to line with rocks. This is a peaceful spot. Absolutely nothing and nobody around, just the running of the river. When we first opened up it was inundated with tiny flies. They didn’t bite but the swarming was annoying. Now that the sun is going down they’ve petered out. Time to chill.
“We’re just a rock away from South Africa”, “Yeah we could probably just walk across. Easy immigration”, “If this is a dammed river we could be pulling emergency maneuvers”, “Highly unlikely it’d just open up. That would suck pretty bad though, can you imagine?”, “Hopefully the river stays down and the wind stays up.”
There are a number of grouse running here and there in the bushes and small sparrows in the hill beside us. On the ground there are animal tracks about the size of a big dog, maybe a little larger. Wonder what those are. Coming to the river to hunt. Maybe we’ll find out tonight.
As the sun sets and a plethora of stars appear, Peter sets up a long exposure shot on his tripod. The results are…
Time to get our feed on! We’ve gotten some fresh meat passed the two borders and can’t wait to make a feast of ostrich stew.
We start prepping some root vegetables on the truck’s stove.
And just when we thought the truck couldn’t get any more rad, you can hold the power button down to cycle through a handful of color options for the LED strips. Red light district. Wow, way nicer on the eyes
While the cooking gets going we break out the metal glasses and peruse our liquor supply. We could do some boulevardiers. They’re delicious.
“Alright, we need some labels for these cups so we can tell them apart”, “How do you do porn star names again?”, “Name of your first pet and the street you grew up on thing?”, “That’s it.”
These handles turn out as amazing as one can expect:
Peter – Sammy Demby Dale
Jamie – BJ Carnation
Mark – Mittens Siskiyou
Jonathan – Fritz Macdonald
Jamie’s porn star name of BJ Carnation is a little too ‘easy’ so he opts for the naming convention of alt first pet and mother’s maiden name. This leads to another beauty in ‘Ginger Crowe’.
We get the scotch tape and a sharpie to doctor up our glasses so we know who’s is whose.
Over at the fire pit, it’s time to add the veggies and seasoning to the ostrich stew. This is coming together beautifully
Peter gets a bowl and seasons up some mushrooms and smashed potatoes as a side
Throw it all together in a bowl with a splash of that zingy green salsa stuff from Fairview.. it’s fucking dynamite!
Pair that with the Pinotage and Tempranillo we picked up at Fairview as well. Perfecto.
We’re cooking better meals in camp than we’ve been getting at restaurants. This is the bomb. The pinotage is super good on its own. The temp goes great with the stew. The meal is unreal.
“We are truly living”, “That’s for sure!” Our porn star cups go up for a cheers. Four dudes lost somewhere by the Orange River on the border of South Africa and Namibia eating a baller feast.
After dinner we settle into clean up mode and tidy shit up so we can relax. Jamie finds the executioner racket Mark picked up and takes it to the bugs by the lantern. Unbeknownst to him I was filming this nonsense from behind.
We get things cleaned up and go into comfy mode with some new drinks. Time to switch from that heavy food and red wine to something easy. “What’s left in the cabinet?”, “Could do a white wine.. maybe some campari?”, “There’s a few orange rinds here.” We combine this together in a porn cup and.. maybe we’re drunk.. but it’s fantastic.
“White wine, campari, and an orange twist”, “The new bush drink”, “Not the manliest”, “What do we call this white girl wasted masterpiece?” A couple of near misses go around until, “Brosé?”, “Holy shit! The Richtersveld Brosé!” And we are doubled over howling now, “Brosé.. fuck, that’s brilliant”, “Strong enough for a man but ph balanced for a woman!”, “Richtersveld Brosé. Incredible.”
We kick back with our Brosé by the fire and giggle about our clever bullshit. The stars are insane. The temp has dropped and it’s beautiful.
Peter and Jamie hit the hay first and just go right back to the bottom bunk. Suits me fine, I’m liking the loft. This leaves Mark and I to discuss roadtrip plans, “So where to tomorrow?”, “We could probably get to Sossusvlei, check out the dunes”, “What’s that, 7-8 hours?”, “Yeah something like that”, “Start early and get there by sunset?”, “Yep”
With that settled we put back another Richtersveld Brosé by the fire and then get situated in our truck treehouse. The red dunes tomorrow. Should be cool. Wonder if any animals will show up tonight?