Elands Bay – Verlorenvlei Wetlands
I must have been beguiled by the dry warm autumn here in the Cape when I organised my trip to the Richtersveld.
My plan was to spend two nights at Elands Bay photographing the large dune field – two twilight and two sunrise encounters then head north exploring the sand tracks on the West Coast from Elands Bay to Port Nollorth. All I managed of my first two days was a few shots of the raging sea and misty wetlands whilst dodging the persistent rain.
As I was packing up my camp on the second morning a watery sun split the grey sky, my spirits rose even though the forecast showed another front due from the north west, by lunchtime I reached Doring Bay. Although my morning had been rain free the sky was in no mood for the sun as an ominous grey canopy crept in from the west.
I reached the west coast 4×4 route about 3:00pm as the temperature dropped to about 10 degrees. The sky was now full of cobalt grey, the westerly horizon was almost black. Most of the shallow beach coves were awash with sea and pulp from the five-meter swell, I still did not have a campsite – it was now 5:00pm. I had visions of spending the night in my vehicle when a track led me down to a deep sandy inlet free of the tide.
I quickly set up camp and went to explore the shoreline. Dodging the swirling tentacles of the sea, rain was almost upon me as the light faded. Although quite dull, the colours created by the iridescent green spume, rocks and sand made for some interesting compositions, too late the rain arrived. I got a couple of shots then hurried back for a cold supper then a long night in the howling wind and rain.
As dawn broke the rain and wind eased, I packed up and headed north. I got to the Groenriver and the entrance of the Namaqualand National Park where I intended to spend another night – all around me was grey and wet. I checked the weather forecast hoping for light, all in vain so I ditched the west coast and headed for Port Nollorth via Springbok.
As I came down through the Anenous Pass towards Port Nollorth I could see the belt of shimmering sunlight on the coastline 60 km west. I was a day early as met Christo at the camp gate; he showed me his lodge and my bed for the next two nights. As I unpacked I could see the golden glow building over the sea – I was five minutes away. Not knowing the area and no time to explore I had about 20 mins to catch the setting sun and try for some images.
On my last evening I shared my thoughts about the possibly of my return home on Facebook. During the night in the howling wind and hammering rain I almost made up my mind, my spirits were quite low having spent 5 days and nights in the rain. The thought of the extreme driving and camping alone in the mountains of the Richtersveld in these conditions did not appeal. I checked in the next morning to find no sympathy for my plan to return, just great encouragement from my friends and fellow photographers. So with the weather forecast showing more positive than the previous week, I resolved to head into the mountains.
Although still raining intermittently the sun was determined, after a long wait I got this shot on the salt pan on my way to the Richtersveld.