For lovers of the unspoilt wilderness, the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape [nominated as a Cultural World Heritage Site] offer a new and exciting experience. It lies in the remote north-western region of South Africa and covers 160 000 hectares, adjoining the southern boundary of the Ai/Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.It is one of only 34 biodiversity hotspots worldwide as recognised by Conservation International, and one of only two in a desert. The dominating landscapes consist of mountains, valleys and quartz fields, which contain the highest botanical diversity and rates of endemism of any arid region on earth. It also supports more succulent flora than anywhere else.
The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape [nominated as a Cultural World Heritage Site] incorporate the spectacular Helskloof, a rugged gorge, in the Nababiep Nature Reserve within the southeastern boundary. The majority of the community is made up of the Nama, who are ancestors of the earliest inhabitants of Southern Africa and who have maintained a strong cultural and traditional way of life.
The World Heritage Site is the last refuge of the Nama, who still embrace the 2000-year-old transhumance (semi-nomadic pastoralism) livelihood, whereby they move with their livestock (mainly sheep and goats) between summer and winter pastures according to a set pattern. Through this practice they ensure the sustainable use of their natural habitat. These hardy and friendly folk may be encountered during a journey along the bumpy tracks of the region.
Eksteenfontein is the south-eastern gateway to the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape [nominated as a Cultural World Heritage Site] and Kuboes the northern gateway other small settlement include Lekkersing and Sanddrift. All offer basic self-catering accommodation. In the remote reaches of the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape [nominated as a Cultural World Heritage Site], there are a number of bush camps, they are 1. TIERHOEK Camp site, 2. GLYBANK Camp site, 3. FLUOR SPAR VALLEY Camp site, 4. SUN VALLEY Camp site, 5. BASTERFONTEIN WOODENHUT Camp. These are all very basic and visitors must be totally self-sufficient.
Near Cornellskop, you will find the Wondergat (Wonder hole) home of the mythical supernatural Hero Heitsi Eibib. It is a limestone sinkhole (pothole) celebrated in the mythology of the local inhabitants. A deep shaft leading straight down into the earth, some 15 feet in diameter, and almost perfectly circular. One informant said that long ago men went down the hole and came out on the banks of the Orange River many miles away. It is claimed to be 65 feet deep. Many connect it to the dragon like monster snake with sparkling mesmerizing eyes.
The Namas tell a story of the reptile emerging from the hole at night to ravage the land: other myths say that it sits quietly protecting the diamonds, which abound at the bottom of the pit. Others believe the hole to be work of man: The Wondergat was explored for the second time in 1947, when a diamond detective from Namaqualand was following every clue in an effort to round up diamond smugglers. The intrepid constable went down with a torch to see what he could find. There were bats but no diamonds to be seen. It is doubtful that he reach the bottom, since, when two gung-ho Port Nolloth divers went down in the 1980’s. They claimed that they did not reach the bottom after 40 ft. Stories? One wonder.
We have done safeguarding developments on the hole, as this is now part of our world heritage site and thus our responsibility. Due to this fact the hole is not easy accessible and should you like to explore the hole from above please make use of our reservations for more information regarding this.