We left Cape Town early on Monday morning, driving northerly while the sun drifted over us, settling down in the west as we stopped for the night in Springbok. After an interview in the morning with municipality officials from the Richtersveld Municipality, we continued our driving to arrive in the afternoon in Kuboes where we met up with our community guide, Gerren. We soon discovered that time moves differently in the desert and we found ourselves adjusting to a new clock. This clock didn’t have numbers but rather activities. Sunlight dictated waking hours and insects directed when we could sleep. Our chalet was located right on the bank of the Orange River and the lush green that crowded the banks contrasted starkly with the expansive desert that surrounded us.
It proved pretty tough to track down some of the pastoralists as their lifestyles involve moving around the desert and grazing their stock. Stock posts showed where they’d settle own for the night but the day involved constant movement. We drove around bumpy, rocky roads just outside the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park searching for pastoralists, usually sticking near to the river as vegetation was densest here. We completed several interviews with Gerren, who organized the meet ups by gathering information on where the pastoralists might possibly be and by being our translator. For most of the interviews, we sat on chairs under the trees or scattered around a fire with a potjie in it. One interview took place in a house in Kuboes – a small town within the Richtersveld World Heritage Site. We were welcomed into homes and stock posts and the interviews were carried out without a hitch and before we knew it, our time in the Richtersveld was over.
We drove to Port Nolloth on Friday afternoon to stay the night after our interview in Kuboes. Mercifully, we arrived in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon and thus had time to readjust our internal clocks to cope with traffic, slog and being indoors.
This blog is the personal views of Lorna Born. Lorna successfully completed a two-month voluntary internship with the Climate Change Program at Natural Justice, she has a Bachelors degree in Marine Biology and Environmental and Geographical Sciences from the University of Cape Town.