Trip to Richtersveld desert in South Africa: geology and landscape photos

From 5 to 9 September 2012

The Richtersveld desert is known mainly for a lot of tiny and endemic succulents, attracting botanists and enthusiasts from all over the world. Anyway, this place is also interesting for the beautiful scenery and its geology. This series of pictures show the landscape where these succulent plants live in challenging conditions, where only very specialized forms of live can survive.

South Africa
Richtersveld desert is situated in the north western corner of South Africa, along the border with Namibia. A tour to Richtersveld in 4x4 is interesting for the geology of the area and for the presence of numerous endemic succulents, many of which are rare and endangered. The Richtersveld doesn't host large animals and is not suitable for a safari. A trip to the Richtersveld is particularly suited to geologists, botanists, or just succlents enthusiasts.


White daisies
Flowers in the desert Road with flowers
Blooming desert Desert in bloom
Pictures of desert in bloom. A trip to Richtersveld in late winter allows you to enjoy the flowering of many herbaceous plants and, although the quantity of flowers is not comparable to that present in central Namaqualand, during this time of the year and for a few weeks, the landscape changes dramatically thanks to millions of flowers.


Richtersveld flowers Flowers in the Richtersveld
Numerous yellow flowers on the sands of the Richtersveld desert.


Rocky garden
Many plants, especially succulents, are concentrated in areas of the desert where they can find a shelter among granite boulders or pebbles of quartz. Often, the areas with these geological features are transformed into real natural rock gardens that are home to a multitude of succulent plants ranging in size from that of a dime, up to a semi-arboreal appearance.


Shadow mountains
The 'shadow' mountains. The dark bands visible along the sides of the mountains are not given to passing clouds, but to rocks with different chemical compositions. The Richtersveld is a rocky desert and, as such, it's a paradise for geologists because the ground is not covered with soil, sand or grass, thus allowing to observe the bedrock without any obstacle.


Lunar landscape
Moon over the lunar landscape.


Sedimentary rocks Stratified rocks Sedimentary geology
Richtersveld pictures. Sedimentary rocks, recognizable as multiple layers that represent each period.


Deformed layers of rocks after millions of years earth's crust movement.


Orange river Orange river between South Africa and Namibia
Border line between Namibia and South Africa The Orange River marks the border line between South Africa and Namibia.


Spring in the desert
A source seems almost a miracle in the desert, but the water has a so high concentration of salts, that would cause further dehydration if drinked.


Colorful rocks
Photo of Richtersveld. The colors of the desert, given by complex geology and some flowers.


Concrete platforms and some waste left by "those of copper." The Richtersveld desert is rich in copper and other precious stones, as well as diamonds. Although the area is a national park hosting many endangered succulent plants, exploitation is still allowed.


Richtersveld South African desert
Richtersveld desert Desert in South Africa
South Africa desert Richtersveld photos. In the heart of the desert, the vegetation is almost completely absent and even the sturdy succulents plants are forced to surrender to an environment so barren, without any shelter. Only a few herbaceous annual plant can flourish during the rainy season, dying before the hot summer.


Richtersveld National park


South Africa and Namibia Richtersveld picture
Stony desert
Rocky desert Richtersveld pictures taken from various lookouts along the track crossing the desert.


Rocks in the desert


Chicken bone rocks Oddly shaped rocks
The "chicken bones" rocks, so called because of their particular shape.


4x4 in the desert
Expedition to Ritchersveld by 4x4


° ° °

° ° °

° ° °