When we arrived at the hotel in Port Nolloth, Eunice had spotted a leaflet advertising guided tours into the Richtersveld. Curious as to what might be covered, she asked hotel reception to contact the guide for a chat, so last night, impressed with what was on offer, we arranged to be driven around for a change.
It was an early start, compared to our usual work-day-like 9 a.m. start and it was quite cozy in the Toyota Hilux with our guide Conrad behind the steering wheel, Cliff riding shotgun, David and Eunice in the back seat, with me squeezed in the middle and Conrad’s assistant, Flooris lying on top of the luggage for the day, in the back.
The weather was typically for the northern South African coast – low clouds / coastal fog, a stiff breeze and at times a light drizzle so it was with some reluctance that I got out of the car at our first stop (S2664, the Western Cape Lichen Field near Alexander Bay. We had driven past this two days earlier, but at the end of the day, with day light fading and the uncertainty about the availability of a bed for the night. Conrad took us through a few gates that would have kept us out if we had been on our own. I was unaware that lichen could grow so large and be so colourful, amazing, but what a shame that the light was too poor to realise its full potential. Once again I was glad to be wearing my ski jacket with a jumper underneath. The camera spent most of the time inside the jacket, to protect it from the drizzle. Despite this, we saw some wonderful plants such as Lithops herrei, the nearest Cole number, C237, is the type locality of Lithops herrei ‘translucens’ and, thanks to Conrad’s persistence, Fenestraria rhopalophylla, again not in flower, so I can only assume that it is subsp. aurantiaca due to its coastal location. For me, these were the stars of this stop, mainly because I was already familiar with them in cultivation and had never expected to see them growing in such harsh conditions. There was also a Euphorbia (the names E. ramiglans and E. stapelioides have been suggested), some Mesemb clumps – Cheiridopsis brownie is reported from the area, as well as a number of Crassulas. My challenge now is to select just one image to show here.
Unlike my observations earlier for Conophytum, we had timed it spot on for the Pachypodium, finding it in leaf and in flower everywhere we saw it.
And on to S2669, south of the Akkedispas. Although Afrikaans and Dutch are quite similar, it sometimes takes a bit of imagination to work out its origin. The pass here is the Lizard Pass. The Afrikaans Akkedis derives from the Dutch Hagedis. A lot can change over four centuries, including the modern Dutch that I’m comparing with the Afrikaans. The image I’ve selected here is of a Conophytum that has not yet shrivelled away. Any suggestions for a name?
The next stop, S2670, was for lunch and as I’m trying to be economic with my limited free space allowance on this blog, I’ll skip lunch pictures and include two from S2671:
Unlike the Boterboom seen early on in the trip, where their magnificent stems were hidden by dense vegetation, due to generous rains before our arrival, here they were nicely exposed.
The hairy flowered Asclepiad contrasts nicely with the brightly coloured flower seen at the next stop S2672
Notice the huge seed horn that almost obscures the bright flower. We were now in the Hellskloofpass, Hell’s Canyon Pass, and we were very glad to be in the 4×4 Toyota rather than in our Nissan XTrail. I wouldn’t have taken the Nissan over this track.
S2673 was for the amazing valley full of Aloe pearsonii – I believe that this is the only place where it occurs in nature.
We arrived back at Port Nolloth in the dark. Thanks to Conrad and Flooris we saw many more interesting plants than we could have seen on our own and the 4×4 took us where our car would have struggled. Many thanks – we had a great day!