Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsAkkedis Pass
Where? Richtersveld National Park, Northern Cape
How? Call +27 (0)27 831-1506
The Richtersveld is usually described by the adjectives 'rugged', 'desolate' and 'forbidding'. It's a dry, unforgiving landscape that is at once mesmerising and overwhelmingly beautiful; a photographer's nirvana.
It is also intensely hot in summer (45 degrees in the shade) with one of the world's most abundant examples of desert flora in the shape of tiny succulents tenaciously gripping the face of cliffs, perfect mini rock gardens sandwiched between rocks, strange halfmens plants (also called Noordekykers) and quiver trees, their baked bark a testament to the unrelenting heat.
The mountains provide dramatic backdrops whilst the kloofs sweep your breath away. The Akkedis Pass and its rocky climbs and downhills, short and sharp turns and incredible scenery is one of the highlights of this part of the world.
It serves as the passage to De Hoop base camp in the |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park; the World Heritage Site that straddles the border between the Northern Cape and Namibia.
The pass is called Akkedis (Afrikaans for lizard) after the steep route and many turns. On the pass you can begin to feel a little like a lizard, given the heat.
The sight of the Gariep River oasis and thorn trees at De Hoop camp, on the other side of the pass, come as a relief.
Akkedis Pass takes about 45 minutes to drive, but you will need a good, solid high-clearance vehicle. Consider increasing the tyre pressure before driving the pass. You can even manage its twists and turns with a trailer (depending on how much of a 4x4 expert you are), although you need to watch a couple of narrow spots for tyre side-wall damage, and the road on either side of the pass is described as corrugated.
The Hand of God, an imprint low on a rock next to the side of the road that looks like a very large hand, lies on the Alexander Bay side of the Akkedis Pass. It is well signposted on the other side of the road.
Pass through Maer Poort, just before De Hoop.