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The /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park’s first Desert Knights mountain bike tour for 2017 took place from 7-13 April, with 46 participants from from Namibia and South Africa.
The registration took place at Hobas Camp on 7 April and coincided with the official opening of the new Quiver Taste Restaurant and chalets at Hobas. Participants were invited to join in the celebrations over lunch, and the Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) Board Chairman, Ambassador Leonard lipumbu, led the countdown at 16:30 for the cyclists’ departure from Hobas Camp to enjoy the sun setting over the Fish River Canyon. Digu //Naobeb, CEO of the Namibia Tourism Board, Zelna Hengari, MD of NWR and Ernest Mokganedi, TFCAs Director in the South African Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) were on hand to give the cyclists a proper send-off.
Hobas Camp is situated at the northern end of the second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon, making it one of the main tourist attractions in the transfrontier park. Hobas now features six rooms and 16 camping sites and offers picnic sites, a kiosk, a swimming pool and restaurant.
Day 2 proved very popular, with some participants taking on the steep climb to the summit of the mountain overlooking the /Ai-/Ais Hotsprings Spa and quite a few joining the ‘tok tokkie’ hike from the De Hoop Camp.
The support crew were made up of officials from SANParks, NWR, the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and South Africa’s DEA, as well as 14 temporary staff drawn from Karasburg in Namibia and Kuboes in South Africa who assisted with setting up camps and with catering. A further 16 SANParks Honorary Rangers provided additional support.
A number of local cyclists participated this year – Morne Farmer from SANParks, now trained up as a Desert Knights cycle guide, Johanna Ashimbanga and Ndeshi Mukohwa, NWR staff based at /Ai-/Ais Hotspring, Benny Markers from Klein Karas, a recently trained cycle guide, and Dorthy Katjiuaende, an MET staff member based in Oranjemund.
The weather conditions were ideal, except for an unusually thick cloud bank, locally known as a mal mokkie, covering the mountains at the top of the Helskloof Pass on Day 6 and giving participants a very different view of the Richtersveld.
The tour route covers rocky jeep tracks, district roads, fairly sandy tracks and an increasing number of single track links that make for a very diverse and rewarding cycling experience. Most cyclists had sufficient endurance cycling preparation and were able to complete the 280 km cycling over the five days.
The 24 km paddle on the Orange River on Day 4 once again proved to be a favourite of participants, with the lunch station at the Richtersberg Campsite providing a welcome break.
If you’d like to experience the unique spectacular arid and desert mountain scenery of the transfrontier park, the next events are:
Story: Roland Vorwerk
Boundless Southern Africa