Saturday, 3 October 2015

Roadtripping in the Northern Cape (part 1)

Two weeks ago I had the repeat pleasure of travelling to the Northern Cape to write for the Green Kalahari Canoe Marathon again (they have an active Facebook page with content from other events too). The race is organised by Gawie Nieuwoudt and this was my second time at the event. This year the race was over two days (Fri and Sat) and so we took a drive to Upington on the Thursday to get there in time.

Sneak peek at the Orange River on arrival in Keimos.
Ah... I do love the Northern Cape and my two days with the race following the paddlers from Upington to Kakamas were fabulous.

There's nothing quite like the starkness of the surrounding landscape contrasted with the lush green of the vineyards and then this surprising river flowing West.

Even more adventures were to be had after the race.

Gawie suggested to me and Celliers that we take the Blouputs road from Augrabies, through Blouputs to Riemvasmaak.

What a road!

This section of road descended into Blouputs, which is really just a farm, not a town.
The road gave way to this... a view of Blouputs.

We crossed the river - lovely bridge (used to be a pontoon thing) and then began the most incredible section of dirt road I've ever been on. This is a 'dumper truck' land - it looks like giants have been making mounds of rock. Rocks. Lots and lots and lots of rocks.

Just the beginning...
And then it went something like this
And this gem of a tree

And this large stone kraal
Nearing Riemvasmaak we saw some cars that had pulled over and two guys walking to our right, where we could see big stone cliffs. We asked the women what was there and they said the guys were walking to the gorge. We parked too and went walking.

Oh wow! I've run up the dry Molopo River bed during the Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon and I've been to the Riemvasmaak hot springs on a few occasions. I'd never been above the gorge.

Looking 'upstream'
Looking downriver.
We did look down on the hot springs but ended up not actually going down to them. Instead we drove through the Riemvasmaak town and made for Kakamas and then Upington.

I have never been upstream of Upington and so I was surprise (but shouldn't really have been) to see dozens of kilometres of vineyards. Not as fancy as those between Upington and Augrabies, but acres of them anyway. I've also never been on the N10 to Groblershoop, which is where we were headed. Most striking were hundreds of communal weaver nests - mostly using telephone poles as their base structure. Sometimes we saw trees with small to massive communities.

From here we headed East on district roads and towards the Witsand Nature Reserve.

We helped two little tortoises across the road.

We got through to Witsand in the early evening with just enough time for a quick walk.

The highlight of our night here was seeing the two genet that came to our sliding glass door a few times. Totally unhurried, they were sniffing around and gave us a wonderful opportunity to get a good look at them. They really are beautiful. And those tails!

Not my picture. But our looked just like this. Common genet. 
And that was Day 1 of roadtripping -  a meandering route home.

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