The route via Alexander Bay to Sendelingsdrif gate is certainly the quickest way to get to the South African side of the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, but it’s not very attractive (thanks to diamond mining operations that have scarred the landscape). Luckily, there’s a more scenic alternative. And you can stay over too.
I think the road via Eksteenfontein to Kuboes is the more scenic route, but it’s quite rough beyond Eksteenfontein so it’s best for 4x4s or at least vehicles with high clearance. The more westerly turnoff via Lekkersing to Kuboes is suitable for normal sedans (though of course a sedan isn’t going to get you beyond Sendelingsdrif inside the park itself, so you probably won’t be visiting this remote outpost in one anyway).
At Kuboes, which has a pretty 19th-century church, you can try the Mountain Valley Guesthouse (previously called the Plantasie) which comprises four self-catering chalets on the edge of town. Remember to ask them to turn on the geyser or you’ll be showering in cold water.
For info and bookings at Eksteenfontein, Lekkersing and Kuboes, tel 027-7128036, email email@example.com.
Sendelingsdrif has 10 chalets in the style of an old mining camp and makes a good kick-off point into the park. The campsite here (6 sites) used to be soulless, so I preferred to stay in the chalets or do the extra 9km to the beautiful Potjiespram campsite (18 sites). But a return visit in July 2016 showed the Sendelingsdrift campsite had been cleaned and tidied up - a vast improvement. There’s also now a nature garden and herbarium next to the campsite, serving the triple purpose of being pretty, teaching visitors the names of some plants they might find in the park, and creating an important gene-pool of the Richtersveld’s important plants.
Potjiespram campsite used to be along the river until the 2011 flood changed the course of the river. A return visit in June 2018 showed that the sites have been cleared of debris and overgrowth, creating lovely shady enclaves in the bush that are still a pleasure to camp at although the river isn't as close as it used to be.
Sendelingsdrif chalets are well-appointed (aircon, kitchen with microwave, fridge and double hotplate, etc) and a braai patio overlooks the Orange River. On our visit in 2013 we were lucky it was a weekend so there was little noise from the mining camp nearby. If you visited during the week when the mining village next door swung into life, you used to hear truck engines and the irritating beep-beep of them backing up. But the mine closed in 2015 and has not been reopened, so this is no longer a problem for visitors.
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