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06 May 2020
The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park experienced a first when prefects from a primary school in Oranjemund in Namibia came to visit from 16 – 18 January.
The children were met in Alexander Bay, South Africa, by Mr Pieter van Wyk, the person in charge of the nursery, plant ecology and systematics on the South African side of the park. Along the way, they were informed about the ecology, animal and plant life, as well as the geomorphology of the Richtersveld, with visits to the ’Wondergat’ (Wonder Hole – a limestone sinkhole celebrated in the mythology of the local inhabitants) and the bastard quiver trees (Aloe pillansii). The children soon described Pieter as a ‘walking encyclopaedia’ and the ‘Guru of the Richtersveld’.
The first evening was spent at Potjiespram, on the banks of the Orange River, which forms the international border between Namibia and South Africa. Once the proper safety regulations were drummed in, Saturday was spent kyaking on the Orange River. This was a highlight to all and to the park staff it also proved that the coming Desert Kyak Trails are sure to be a major success. The afternoon was spent visiting the Halfmens Pass (Half Human – Pachypodium namaquanum) and the Hand of God – so named because of a huge hand-like imprint on rock. The day ended with a barbeque and stories around the campfire at Sendelingsdrift.
Following a visit to the nursery and herbarium on Sunday morning, it was back home across the river. Thanks to Ms Aletta Josephs, the People and Parks Officer, park staff and canoe guides, it was a weekend packed with new information and experiences and fun was had by all.
The transfrontier park’s management committee is keen on future visits, also from South African schools to the Namibian side of the park, thus making transfrontier park conservation real and enjoyable for future generations.