Walking out in the Richtersveld

Tell us where your Pajero has taken you.
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Kamanya
Vehicle: Pajero SWB 3.2
Country: South Africa
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:07 pm

Walking out in the Richtersveld

Thu Aug 07, 2014 12:26 pm

Life generally has an ebb and flow to it, currently mine has a bit of flooding.

However, I have a bike and now a brand new, to me, Diesel SWB Pajero and I had a few days to spare. My excuse was that I have a whole lot of study work to work on and going someplace remote and quiet would be perfect to make a big dent in it. Also, this flooding in my life could benefit from the space too.

I’ve had a long history with the Richtersveld; first being a river guide there for many years, then meeting my wife there, and, lately I partook in a multistage Dakar style motorcycle rally last year through some of the more remote places. In my will, my ashes are to be scattered in the river. So the Richtersveld is has a strong spiritual pull.

The plan was to get into the Richtersveld, basically turning left at Garies for a suitable amount of time and then heading north parallel to the N7 to finally follow the stage 3 rally route. Then once I hit the river, right to the border and do some work for a few days at the Felix Unite camp. What could possibly go wrong?

Friday 4pm, I find out that the fan belts need changing. That put a dent in the early Saturday leaving. I finally got away at noon. It was cold and wet. Winter is definitely here.

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Just past Vanrynsdorp, things were looking up.

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40 litres of extra fuel in Garies, a few steaks and chops and a tin or two, some ice and a 6 pack and off I went to find a bed.

About 80k’s in after the sun had set, an old wind pump and broken kraal was perfect for free camping and just far enough off the road not to be bothered by passers-by.

Steak and vegetables in foil washed down with some of Namaqua’s finest.

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Then, because this was a study trip, I made an effort to finish the book I had chosen to review. I usually prefer Astrix and Oblix, but there you go.

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Bed for the night

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Was up at 4. I’ve never needed coffee or tea to get me going in the morning, so a breakfast of champions that took but a minute to break out, Prof Noakes would be proud.

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Then into the Namaqua National park for some sight-seeing. I only really have eyes for my new truck, sorry.

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Then for most of the rest of the day was just brilliant. Mostly easy trails with stunning views, brilliant weather and a few tough climbs or down hills. I followed mostly the Buffels rivier 4x4 trail with a few excursions to see interesting stuff.

Homemade Garmin holder. My motorcycle mount didn’t work, so a few minutes with some wire and hey presto, a self-levelling, spring suspension and braced GPS holder, patent pending.

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The pipe trail was a bit of a scramble. I had to break out the winch. I am sure I could have backed up a bit and tried a second time, but a new toy does need to be played with and, and, er what other excuse was needed?

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The Nigramoep mine must have been quite big in its day;

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As time was a bit few, I skirted the first bit of the rally section and went up the knersvlakte then came into the mountains from the West. I had seen a route on tracks4Africa

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In the valley that I chose to go up, there was a spring perched on the side of the mountain. Amazing and quite out of place.

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I considered camping there but still had light and wanted to be on the route. I also thought that, this being a desert, there must be quite a bit of traffic to the spring – small and possibly big toothy ones too, so carried on.

The climb up the side of the valley was pretty steep, a crawl. I was really loving this SWB. If I’d been on my bike, I might have been far faster but certainly a lot more sweaty too.

It was noticeable that there was only one set of tracks in front of me. It looked a few days old, and then prior to that was some tracks but they had been before the rains that had fallen a few weeks before. This was Sunday, the week after the huge bunch of public holidays so the chance that anyone else would be up here was very remote. Even less chance was that anyone would be coming along either.

As soon as I hit the Rally trail, I had promised myself a beer. I am used to riding these kinds of trails and having a beer is hard with a helmet on, so it was a huge novelty to crack open a frostily cold one and enjoy the late afternoon views whilst putting along. Yes driving and drinking….

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Aha! I had in my mind’s eye the place I wanted to camp and it was down there

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Perfect timing.

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It’s really rugged country, I am deeply attracted to it.

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Then, as I was pulling my head torch on, the retractable string broke. I tried fixing it in the headlights for about 20 minutes, then turned them off and tried again with the light of my cell phone.

I was engrossed in this when I heard a rapid tick tick tick from the truck? Hmmm, that sounds like a starter relay? <censored>!!!!

I jumped up and tried the ignition. It wouldn’t even turn over.

Oops!

I was mostly angry with myself. There was nothing for it but to start supper and have another cup of wine neither of which tasted half as good as they should have. Being in the <censored> had put a damper on things.

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So, on with the thinking cap;

Can’t push start the truck – it’s automatic and I’m on my own
I had nearly 20 litres of water.
Food for 2 days maybe.
Tomorrow being a Monday, the chance of anyone coming along in the next week is very remote.
A few knew where I was, sort of. I have an online tracking app that I had sent out, But the alarm would take a few days to go off.
It’s full moon.

It was clear I had two choices;

Get up a hill and check to see if I can get signal.
If none, then walk to the river 30.6km’s away.

The weather was cool for the desert so walking in the day was not going to be an issue. I didn’t want to go climbing up a hill at night even if there was a full moon. I’d had 2 beers and 2 cups of wine, so for at least till dawn I was going nowhere.

I pulled my computer out and called up Mapsource and traced the route onto some paper and left instructions about which way I was going to be going and to bring the car along if they found it.

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I then pulled out the jumper cables, left the note in the jaws and left them on the radiator with the bonnet open.

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Going to sleep I tried to think if I hadn’t missed anything. I even thought of trying to use the computers batter to jump to the cars! Yes my mind was like a till on pay day.

It was still nearly dark when I got up and packed everything.

Nope that didn’t work…

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I nearly sprained my ankle on the way down. I gave myself a good talking to about that.

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There was no use being sentimental, I packed my bag; I only had my material briefcase to hold all my stuff


3 litres of water
Sun cream
Camera
GPS
Spare batteries for GPS
Passport
Wallet
Beanie
Long sleeved top
A tie down
Leatherman
Umbrella
Cheese
Ham Roll
Two handfuls of pecan nuts

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A took a long drink form the water can and, Cheers for now

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It really was quite pleasant…

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Until I did the mental arithmetic as to how long this was going to take

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Lunch

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Basically it was walk for an hour and rest for 10 minutes.

I was pretty certain that I could do 30k’s. I just hadn’t walked further than 5k’s since my time in the army. I was reasonably mtb fit so I thought I’d be ok. It was a pity I didn’t bring my MTB along it was an awesome track to have ridden…

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After sometime of trying to sling the briefcase and then use the strap across my head, I used the tie-down to fashion a neat backpack. I should have done that from the start.

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I had a lot to think about. I have a panel that will be testing me in a month and for a few hours I was having a word with them. I had ample time to sort out some of the things that have been on my mind. I also got a chronic case of helmet song. It’s the disease of the same songs going round and round in your head, only this time, no matter what song it was it was playing to a marching beat.

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Towards the afternoon it started to warm up. I was using about a litre per 10k’s. At the 20k mark, I could see the Eksteenfontein road in the distance. Getting to it would increase the chance of getting a lift.

The umbrella had proved its worth.

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Aha! The river and a house

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There was a caretaker who took me to Oewerbos

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From there, as I have some friends in that part of the world they organised that I meet up with Adam Bleach of Bushwackers. The nicest guy who when we started the negotiation on how much my rescue would set me back, he only wanted diesel money. I soon set him straight about that. The drive back with him was in the dark. It was a great chat and I didn’t remember it being so rough. Once back, after a few minutes, the truck started with no issues. I said my goodbyes at the river, got over the border post and into bed by 12:30am.

The rescue Bunny, Adam Bleach

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The next day I was super stiff, but happy I didn’t have to do the rescue. I managed to get some of my work done before I headed back the following day.

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My buddy, organiser and long time ago business partner, Carlos

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Some thoughts.

I’m no expert in a 4x4. I’ve owned this vehicle for a month and it’s the first one that I can call my own. I have some 4x4 experience and a vast amount of off-road motorcycle experience for whatever that counts. I think my battery is just serviceable and I’ve subsequently found out it is 4 years old and not in peak condition. The vehicle has no issues other than that and ran like a top the whole trip.

There is always a debate about solo trips. I had a lot of time to ponder this on my stroll. There is a line beyond where a solo trip can become not so much fun, expensive and/or lethal. That shouldn’t mean that one shouldn’t do them though. I was reasonably prepared and confident. That part of the world is serious and remote, this adds a level to the place. My slight back up should things have gone really wrong was the tracking app for my iphone. It uses the internal gps to track almost real time and then when in cell range uploads the data to a website that others can then follow. The last entry was turning off the knersvlakte. At the least, they knew I was heading for the Rallye route and had headed up that valley. But the alarm would’ve taken a few days to have been raised

However, I really enjoyed the experience, (not that I would want to do it again anytime soon), it was soul cleansing and it was good to have to be on my own, not rely on anyone and have some edge to the game.

There were a lot of “if’s”, but I like to think, what if I hadn’t gone?
Andrew to most
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RoelfleRoux
Vehicle: 2008 3.8V6 LWB Pajero
Country: SA
Location: Barberton, Lowveld
Posts: 1665
Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:42 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Thu Aug 07, 2014 2:26 pm

Great story, nice to read a real adventure unfolding. But yes, by far the weakest link in a solo trip with our auto Pajeros, is the battery. I had one fail on me one day before heading into the bush. I have a holy respect for its importance and you will not find me "sucking" off it in the evening. My wife gets angry when I inspect the car everytime the did something inside. But a light or device pulling power while I'm blissfully unaware can be catastrophic
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CATS
Contact:
Vehicle: 2001(Gen3) Pajero 3.2 Did, 2008(Gen4) Pajero Did
Location: Centurion
Posts: 2064
Joined: Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:11 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Thu Aug 07, 2014 4:46 pm

Eish

Excelent story and truly a resourceful one from a Spirited Person with a Spirited vehicle with no "spirits" left in the battery.

Glad you got to share the story with us and not got the ashes strewn earlier than planned. Looking forward to many more trips and of course reports. Bet that psychology handbook came in handy in the first moments of panic heh? :shock:

CATS
2009 Pajero 3.2 DiDc Lwb GLS (Gen4) - Casper (Starting to grow on me)
2001 Pajero 3.2 DiD Lwb GLS Manual (Gen3) - Snoopy (SOLD but not forgotten)
2008 Pajero 3.2 DiDc Lwb GLS Auto (Gen4) - Silvester (SOLD)
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andrew.ashton
Vehicle: Pajero DID3.2 LWB Auto (2002)
Country: South Africa
Location: Randburg, South Africa
Posts: 658
Joined: Mon May 30, 2011 12:57 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:00 pm

@Kamanya,

A trip report of the finest kind.
Some great pics there too.
Thanks for sharing and may you enjoy many more with your shortie.
Andrew Ashton
2002 Pajero 3.2 Di-D LWB A/T
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View my photos on flickr
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MThompson
Vehicle: 2002 Pajero 3.2Di-D GLS Auto 5dr
Country: South Africa
Posts: 217
Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 8:36 am

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Thu Aug 07, 2014 9:28 pm

Great report and excellent story. I bet this will be told for years to come......and next time....take a sat phone. [WHITE SMILING FACE]
Gryskoos
Vehicle: 2000 Blister 3.5 V6
Country: South Africa
Location: Postmasburg
Posts: 37
Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:59 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Fri Aug 08, 2014 5:25 pm

Hi Kam

Thanks for the lekker RR. Hehe. Ur still the same old same old. Funny bumping into you here after so many years.

Do you still have your 950?

Soet wees
Ama ride ride
2000 Pajero 3.5 V6 (sold) Will miss her for always
2010 GLX 3.2 (Big shoes to full)
User avatar
Kamanya
Vehicle: Pajero SWB 3.2
Country: South Africa
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:07 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:21 pm

Hey Kobus,

Fancy meeting you here!
Andrew to most
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Keithk
Vehicle: Gen 2 Pajero SWB 2.8 GLS tdi
Country: Cape Town South Afri
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 7:27 am

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:30 am

Hi Kamanya

Thanks for the super trip report, they are always a pleasure to read whether its on this forum or the others. Glad you are enjoying your Pajero (in hindsight) maybe it is a good idea to install a dual battery system with an automatic vehicle. If you would like a second vehicle on your next trip I am available in my SWB ;)
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Lock
Vehicle: Pajero 3.2 2002
Country: South Africa
Location: Horison Park, Roodepoort
Posts: 271
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2011 3:53 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:02 am

When the sh%^& hits the fan a trip becomes an adventure! Really amazing trip report. Thanks for sharing.
If you can feel the grass between your toe's, your flying too low!
3.5 GLS F/LIF 1998 Lost to the x wife
3200 Tdi GSL 2001 Written off
3200 Di-D 5Dr A/T 2002 338 000 Sold
3500i A/T 5Dr 2001 Sold
3.2 Di-Dc GLS A/T 2008
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LowRange
Vehicle: Gen 4 GLX LWB
Country: South-Africa
Posts: 307
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:09 pm

Re: Walking out in the Richtersveld

Wed Aug 13, 2014 8:33 am

Great report - Thanks for sharing! Definitely a trip to remember!

We (as family) did a solo trip to the Richtersveld some years ago and during my planning I thought that I had an eventuality like this well covered with my second 75AHr deep cycle battery installed under the hood.

This particular trip went without incident, but 2 years later while at Mabua in Botswana, my main battery packed up. (After testing fine prior to the trip at the local battery place :o)

OK, so I thought no problem - just hook up the auxiliary battery and be on our way. No luck - the (fairly new) 75Ahr deep cycle would not even turn the motor over once! :shock:

Fortunately we were with some friends who had an extra deep cycle - Two 75Ahr DC batteries in parallel managed to start the Pajie just fine and we continued the trip like that.

Unfortunately both DC's died shortly after the trip.:cry: I now use a normal cranking battery as auxiliary under the hood.

Johan
Johan
Gen 4 GLX 30th Anniversary Edition (Gravel :mrgreen: )
VW Tiguan 2.0TDi (Tar ;))

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