Arid Region Tour of South Africa and Namibia

The Arid Region Flower Tour is different to any other Temba tour. While all other tours are tailormade, this particular tour has a relatively fixed itinerary. Accommodation in this region is normally booked at least 11 months in advance during the Namaqauland flower season and accommodation is therefore not flexible. However nothing else on this tour will be cast in stone. The day to day agenda will be based on requests by the tour members, alternatively your guide will strive to make each and every day a memorable experience.

This tour combines the very best of the Namaqualand flowers, the Richtersveld National Park, Fish River Canyon, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and the Augrabies National Park.

Transport on this tour will be with a luxury Volkswagen minibus 4×4 vehicle. We are going to travel far distances over very bad roads and you will appreciate the comfort and luxury of the very best vehicle. This vehicle seats 6 passengers in great comfort and accordingly there will only be 6 people on this tour.

Your guide is extremely knowledgeable with a great appreciation of the region. Your guide will only be doing one of these particular tours per year due to his passion and interest for this particular type of tour.

You will visit some of the most remote parts of South Africa and Namibia. Accommodation is good but there are no restaurants available in some of this places. This is not cause for concern. Your guide is a good chef and will prepare excellent meals which enhances this tour to make it your most enjoyable and memorable African safari.

The first highlight of this tour will certainly be the flowers of Namaqauland. During the dry and hot summer months it is difficult to imagine the beautiful phenomenon of the annual wild flowers which appear from August to early September.

Namaqualand is a desert with sparse winter rainfall but after the rains, Namaqualand dons her coat of many colours, and for a brief moment, the wildflowers in all their splendour unashamdely take over the countryside. This is certainly one of nature’s most amazing phenomenons and the magnitude thereof is often compared to the Wildebeest migration of East Africa. Countless poems, novels, paintings and prose have been dedicated to this annual shower of God’s colour. It is hard imagine better photo opportunities elsewhere.

Sun 21 Aug: Cape Town – Vanrhynsdorp – Dorpseind Guesthouse. We will depart at 09h00 from Cape Town International Airport. Should you already be in Cape Town, we will collect you at any hotel in and around Cape Town before departure on this tour.

We will drive through the main wheat producing area of South Africa, namely the Swartland. The wheat is green during this tour which together with the beautiful mountains makes the first few hours drive a very pleasant experience.

We will have lunch in Clanwilliam in the Elephant River Valley. This valley is famous for its high quality citrus fruit.

Near Clanwilliam is the Ramskop Nature Reserve and here is where we will see the first of Namaqualand’s beautiful flowers. This Nature Reserve hosts more than 350 species of wild flowers. The walks on the laid-out paths through the garden also offer a beautiful view over the Clanwilliam Dam and the Cederberg Mountains.

Next stop will be at the annual Wild Flower Show which is presented by the Clanwilliam Wild Flower Association in the Old Dutch Reformed Church. The Church itself is a beautiful National Monument. Volunteers create a manmade landscape and a kaleidoscope from nature, inside the church. About 360 species are exhibited which is a fitting complement to the dignified architecture of the church. This flower fête includes concerts, art and food stalls, and a street carnival.

We will continue our Arid Region Tour past Klawer and deeper into Namaqauland. From Klawer onwards you can expect to see flowers which form a never ending kaleidoscope of colours.

After we have checked into our rooms we will visit the Gifberg Nature Reserve. The rainfall on top of the mountains is higher than in the low lying areas. The mountain offers breathtakingly beautiful views and very interesting nature walks.

The evening dinner will be at the guesthouse.

Mon 22 Aug: Vanrhynsdorp – Nieuwoudville – Loeriesfontein – Kamieskroon – Masonic Hotel Springbok. The Vanrhyns mountain pass will take us up to the escarpment into the beautiful area around Nieuwoudville. We will stop at Loeriesfontein for a light lunch. This is a remote area but the wind pumps in the museum and the flowers around Loeriesfontein just wait to be photographed.

From Loeriesfontein we will drive through the very remote Platbakkies (flat face) and Leliefontein (lily fountain) to Kamieskroon. The communities which live in this area are totally isolated, yet colourful. Donkey carts are often the only means of transport.

The entire route will be an ever changing kaleidoscope of colour. The beautiful rock formations in the mountains promise to complement the beauty of the wildflowers.

For 11 months of the year, Kamieskroon is a very quiet place, but as with the surrounding areas, it suddenly changes in August. Photographers from around the world came to enjoy the annual spectacle and the locals live up to the occasion. Namauqualand will certainly remind you of what you would expect in isolated places such as the outback of Australia or the desert of America.

Namaqauland is not only known for its flowers, the friendly people will linger on in your memories for ever. The meals will be on par with the friendliness of the people.

The Masonic Hotel in Springbok is a good quality hotel and we will have dinner in the hotel. on both nights.

Tues 23 August: Springbok – Namaqua National Park – Springbok Masonic Hotel. Today will be a rather relaxing day. The Masonic Hotel in Springbok is only 68 km from Kamieskroon and the Skilpad Nature Reserve.

We will start late and visit the Namaqua National Park where we will have a light lunch. We will certainly be in no rush and we will have ample time to make use of the great photo opportunities. Most of the wild flowers follow the sun. This gives ever changing photo opportunities.

We will visit the Goegap Nature Reserve near Springbok where we will enjoy the beauty of this area. When you drive trough the area, you only see the big picture. But when you are relaxed and on foot you see the real wonders of Namaqualand. The bio-diversity in the form of numerous small succulents and other species come to life in August.

Wed 24 and Thurs 25 August: Springbok – Richtersveld – Sendelingsdrift. We have spent too many single nights travelling from one destination to the next and I plan to alter this in the Richtersveld National Park. This is a desolate and foreboding landscape, seemingly devoid of life, except for a few people in some areas. In the Richtersveld you will make a startling discovery upon closer inspection when the mirage dissolves into the human-like half-mens (half person) and the harsh environment proves to be a treasure-chest containing the world’s richest desert flora. Miniature rock gardens, perfectly designed by nature, cling precariously to cliff faces. Tiny succulents, mere pinpoints against a backdrop of surreal rock formations, revel in the moisture brought by the early morning fog rolling in from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The Richtersveld is full of rugged kloofs, high mountains and dramatic landscapes that sweep inland from the Orange River. This massive park spreads over both South Africa and Namibia, and is jointly owned by the local Nama people, the South African National Parks and Namibia National Parks.

This is a harsh and unpredictable land where water is scarce and life-sustaining moisture comes in the form of early morning fog – called ‘Ihuries’ or ‘Malmokkies’ by the local people – which rolls in from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean to sustain a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. A staggering assortment of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else on earth, is to be found here, with gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and quaint ‘half-mens’ keeping vigil over this inscrutable landscape.

Here you will hear silence, do star gazing and enjoy lovely meals prepared by your tour guide. The accommodation is basic with en-suite facilities. There is no electricity other than solar power and the only pollution will be from our vehicle which claims to be eco-friendly. Here you will truly be at one with nature.

Friday 26 Aug: Richtersveld – Fish River Canyon Lodge. We will cross the Orange River at Sendelingsdrift and will drive through the park to the Fish River Canyon. The Fish River Canyon is next to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the world’s second deepest, longest and widest canyon. The views are really spectacular with the added advantage that you will have this for yourselves.

This lodge is an exclusive small lodge with a location unmatched in the Fish River Canyon area. It is situated on the western rim and each en-suite chalet has a private view into the canyon. There are only 6 chalets, each with en-suite facilities.

The chalets at Fish River Canyon Lodge have natural rock walls and were built by local experts. The furniture is the handiwork of local craftsmen. The thatched roofs that provide a unique flair complement this Arid Region.

The dining and living areas have a veranda on the rim where sundowners can be enjoyed while watching the sun set. The sunsets from this location are stunning, and the east-facing view minimizes lens-glare when taking photographs.

Sat 27 Aug: Fish River Canyon – Keetmanshoop – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Kalahari Tented Camp.We will drive through the only big town in the south of Namibia, namely Keetmanshoop. This is mainly a sheep farming area but we will have a light lunch at the Quiver Tree Forest just outside Keetmanshoop. Once again you will have some excellent photo opportunities.

From Keetmanshoop it will be dirt road all the way to the South African border at Mata-Mata.

At Mata-Mata we will cross into the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and we will stay one night at the Mata-Mata rest camp. Accommodation will be of a relatively high standard but you will be dependant on the culinary skills of your guide for excellent meals while in the park.

The Kalahari is a place where red dunes and scrub fade into infinity. Here herds of gemsbok, springbok, eland and blue wildebeest follow the seasons, beautiful camel thorn trees provide shade for lions and vantage points for leopard and many raptors.

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park was established through the amalgamation of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. The park comprises an area of over 3,6 million hectares and is certainly one of the world’s largest conservation areas.

Red sand dunes, sparse vegetation and the dry riverbeds of the Nossob and Auob show antelope and predator species off to spectacular advantage and provide excellent photographic opportunities. Kgalagadi is also a haven for birders, especially those interested in birds of prey.

Sun 28 Aug 2011: Kalahari Tented Camp – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Without moving from your camp or lodge you may be privileged to witness herds of springbok, wildebeest, giraffe, lion or even cheetah. Surrounded by Camelthorn trees, this lofted camp overlooks a very active waterhole in the riverbed.

The trees attract thousands of birds – sandgrouse, finches, doves and falcons, to name a few.

Kalahari Tented Camp is situated on the banks of Auob River from Mata Mata camp.

The Kgalagadi is not a tamed world and the Kalahari Tented Wilderness Camp is without a doubt one of the best places to stay.

From Kalahari Tented Camp we will drive up and down the river beds in search of the big “ones” or simply relax with a cold beverage.

Sunday 29 Aug: Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – Molopo Lodge. We will leave the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and visit Dawid Kuiper and his people. They are known as the Khumani San or Bushmen and they still live the traditional life of hunting and gathering in the Kalahari.

Their leader, the rather elderly Mr Dawid Kuiper, is a life long friend of your tour leader and you will certainly meet this colourful person who still prefers to live without any modern appliances. His sons still hunt with a bow and arrow in order for the survival of the family.

We will spend time with these humble people and we will experience how they live before we return to the luxury of our hotel rooms.

Monday 30 Aug: Augrabies Falls National Park. We will have breakfast at the Molopo Lodge before we continue our tour through the Arid Region towards the Orange River, Upington and then on towards Augrabies National Park.

The Orange River is South Africa’s most important and longest river. It carries water from the Drakensberg Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean and as such runs through the desert.

The water is mainly used for irrigation. The result is a 2 km wide green oasis for almost a thousand km through the driest part of South Africa.

Upington will by far be the biggest town that you will see since having left Cape Town. We will certainly spend some time in Upington before we continue our tour to Augrabies National Park.

Augrabies National Park got its name from the Augrabies Falls – South Africa’s largest waterfall. In Augrabies you will say farewell to the new friends that you have met on the tour and we will enjoy our last dinner together. Meals will be enjoyed in the restaurant at the lodge.

Wednesday 31 August: We will return to Upington after breakfast and our tour will officially end at the Upington Airport. You can book daily flights from Upington to Johannesburg or Cape Town on South African Airways.