Wildrun® Africa: Richtersveld

Reasons for embarking on this life-changing running experience are endless. The journey traverses 110km over three days, through the ancient arid mountainous landscape of the Richtersveld National Park, South Africa; a World Heritage site, and one of only 25 biodiversity hotspots in the World.

 

From Helskloof pass to the infamous giant boulders of Tatasberg this journey of discovery takes runners along the Orange River, down ‘Halfmens’ ridge and through the mighty crystal fields back to finish at Sendelingsdrif. This year, Richtersveld runs from 15 to 19 June and entries are currently open at www.wildrun.com/experiences/richtersveld.

 

One of the most memorable wilderness experiences in Africa, and one of the most compelling reasons to enter Richtersveld Wildrun® is undoubtedly a visit to the Tatasberg. We asked Pieter Van Wyk of the Richtersveld National Park for his insight in to why the Tatasberg has the power to shift your soul.

 

“Tatasberg is a prominent granitic inselberg massif, situated north of the Springbokvlakte in the north-eastern Richtersveld.  The altitude ranges from 560 to 1026m at the summit.  This young granite massif intruded the Orange River Group (1996 ma Granites) in about 550 – 500 ma. 

 

Due to the mountain’s isolation, young granitic formation, altitude and being within the winter – summer rainfall transition-line, it is home to a very unique vegetation type that were described for the first time in 2006 as the Tatasberg Mountain Succulent Shrubland SKr9 (Strelitzia 19).  There are more than 200 species of plants found on these unique mountains of which several are regional endemics and rare.  During a field survey in winter 2012 two new species of Oxalis (sorrel, clover) were discovered, namely:  Oxalis nivea and O. rosettifolia, both endemic to Tatasberg.  Around the summit is also a bizarre population of Anacampseros karasmontana (rabid foot), a minute isolated populations of this dwarf succulent which are only again found on the Great Karas Mountains about 200km to the north.  Other species of interest are the newly described Platysaurus attenbouroughi (Attenborough flat lizard) and several species of gecko.  In 2016, the search for a possible new subspecies Telescopus semiannulatus (tiger snake) began, which was collected many years ago, but unfortunately there has been no luck rediscovering it. 

 

Female leopards inhabit the mountain while males only visit. The mountain has also been used by the local Nama people for many years, with two sites excavated around Die Toon and on the eastern side of Tatasberg, one dated to 1400 B.C. and the other 1100 B.C. Until today the valleys surrounding this unique mountain are used by the semi nomadic Nama pastoralist.”

 

It is estimated that the annual rainfall varies from 120-50mm each year.  Due to the higher altitude, the Tatasberg catches more rainfall and experiences less water evaporation, in strong contrast to the surrounding desert areas.  Rainfall seasonality has transitional features between winter and summer rainfall, and is poorly predictable.  High temperatures in summer are common and cool to very cold during nights in winter.”

 

Participants will experience Tatasberg on day 2 of the Richtersveld Wildrun®.  A truly iconic day as they run the massive plains of the Springbokvlakte, climb the slabs and boulders of the infamous Tatasberg and see the mighty green swathe of the Orange River for the first time. Camp that night is at De Hoop, on the banks of the Orange River with deep pools to soak those weary legs and stars above to hear the war stories