The 2016 Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun® became a reality today… runners from all over the world have assembled in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
Race website HERE
A 200km, five-day foot race from South Africa to Namibia through the ancient arid landscape of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg deep in the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; this unparalleled journey then crosses the Orange River into Namibia and the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon. This is the running experience of a lifetime; this is the Richtersveld Transfrontier Wildrun®.
Day 1 starts tomorrow, Monday June 13th at 0800. Before the race gets underway, we feel it’s important you get to see the faces of those taking part.
||Sendelingsdrif to ‘De Koei’
||‘De Koei’ to Hakkiesdoring
||Hakkiesdoring to De Hoop
||De Hoop to Wilderness Hot Springs
||Wilderness Hot Springs to Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort
About the race:
Early archaeological evidence tells us that the San inhabited the Richtersveld area thousands of years ago. They hunted game (mountain zebra and klipspringer) and gathered berries and herbs. The first Khoekhoen or pastoral people moved to these regions from Botswana some 2000 years ago. Like the San, they were hunter-gatherers, and only slaughtered animals on rare ceremonial occasions.
In tune with the harsh environment, many of the Richtersvelders today are transhumant pastoralists, moving their livestock between stock posts with the changing of seasons. The rotation of pastures has helped to preserve the land from overuse. This is the last place in South Africa where pastoral people live on communal lands and one of the last remaining examples of the transhumant Nama way of living.
The harsh environment of the Richtersveld has through the years witnessed a story of determined peoples with a strong attachment to the land. Early last century declared a “Coloured Rural Reserve”, the land’s ownership moved in 2002 to the peoples of the Richtersveld. In this pristine land, devoid of mining scars and in harmony with transhumant pastoralists, an area of more than 160 000 ha has been put aside – first to create a Community Conservancy, now proclaimed a World Heritage Site.
From a distance you can see rugged mountains, sweeping deserts, a giant blue sky and glimpses of the might Orange River creeping along to the sea. On closer investigation you realise that you are standing in one of Africa’s most diverse and rich ecosystems.
The Richtersveld World Heritage Site sits in the heart of what is called the Succulent Karoo Biodiversity Hotspot – an ecosystem with an astounding 4 849 succulent plants, 40% of which are found nowhere else.
To be declared a hotspot, an area must have incredibly high species diversity and a high percentage of endemism. It is quite a unique distinction, as there are only 25 hotspots in the world. Even more unusual is that the Succulent Karoo is a desert and is the only arid biodiversity hotspot on Earth.
Conjure up a desolate and forbidding landscape, seemingly devoid of life, except for some people dotting along the horizon. Make a startling discovery upon closer inspection when the mirage dissolves into the human-like half-mens (half person) and the harsh environment prove 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.
Rugged kloofs, high mountains and dramatic landscapes that sweep away inland from the Orange River divulge the fact that you are now in the vast mountain desert that is the /Ai-/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, an area managed jointly by the local Nama people, SANParks and Namibia Parks and Wildlife. 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, sustaining a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. A staggering assortment of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else, is to be found here, with gnarled quiver trees, tall aloes and quaint ‘half-mens’ keeping vigil over this inscrutable landscape.The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere, and second only to Arizona’s Grand Canyon in terms of size. 161km long, up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest, the southern part of this canyon is largely untouched by tourists and remains one of the wildest and most remote corners of the world.
The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is only accessible by means of a 4×4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi’s and LDV’s do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted.
June temperatures are likely to be cool at night and comfortable during the day. However, it can get as low as 4-5 degrees Celcius during the night and as high as 35 degrees Celcius during the day.
Each day of this 200km, five-day journey will take you on a rollercoaster ride of geological splendour. From the crystal fields of Sendelingsdrif in South Africa, to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg, across the green swathe of the Orange River, and into the wild lands of the Fish River Canyon in Namibia – every kilometer is an experience within itself and will leave you stumped for words to describe your journey.