The Richtersveld World Heritage Site
A quick overview of the Richtersveld World Heritage Site - previously called the Community Conservancy - also a good visual…
Building a Matjieshuis
See how a traditional reed house, known as a "Matjieshuis", is built.
The Nama Stap
The famous Nama stap, danced by a group of "Grootmense" at Kuboes.
The Big Snake
Around the campfire, Oom Willem tells the story of his encounter with the big snake of Nama legend
The stories and people of the Richtersveld
Matjieshuis, a true Nama art
Ideal for the nomadic Nama life of the past, the matjieshuis is still part of the Richtersvelders' lives today. In fact, this is the last place where we can still find them in significant numbers - a testimony to their suitability to the harsh climate, as well as to the strength of cultural traditions in this remote mountain desert. In today's villages in the Richtersveld, matjieshuise are used for storage, cooking, as an additional place to sleep, or even to provide accommodation for the more curious tourists.
A people’s land
The harsh environment of the Richtersveld has through the years witnessed a story of determined peoples with a strong attachment to the land. Initially belonging to a 'Coloured Rural Reserve', the land's ownership has moved in 2002 to the peoples of the Richtersveld.
The early San inhabitants
Early archaeological evidence tells us that the San inhabited the Richtersveld area thousands of years ago. They hunted game (mountain zebra and klipspringer) and gathered berries and herbs. Arrowheads made of stone and plant resin have been found around Eksteenfontein.
The Bosluis Basters
The Basters were a group of people descended from the Khoi-Khoi and Cape Dutch farmers and were partly assimilated by either group, but generally kept to themselves and intermarried. These people were prohibited from worship in churches at the start of the 1900s, but the good Reverend Eksteen changed all that, set up a church in the 1940s, and the group eventually settled peaceably in the Richtersveld towns of Lekkersing and Eksteenfontein.
Mysterious home of the big snake
Near Cornellskop, you will find the Wondergat (Mystery Hole), known by the Nama as Heitsi Eibib, meaning 'spirit' or 'emptiness'. It is a limestone sinkhole (pothole) celebrated in the mythology of the local inhabitants. A deep shaft leading straight down into the earth, some 4.5m in diameter, and almost perfectly circular.
The nomadic Nama pastoralists
Moving home, stock and family in search of better grazing, the Namas were traditionally a nomadic people. In tune with the harsh environment, the Richtersvelders today are transhumant pastoralists, moving their livestock between stock posts with the changing of seasons. The rotation of pastures has helped to preserve the land from overuse.
Half human trees
The Nama people tell the legend of the 'halfmens' tree. It is said that the ancient Nama people that fled from Namibia southward to this region were transformed into these half human trees. The 'head' of these trees always faces the north and is a reminder of those people looking longingly towards the beloved land they left behind.
Petroglyphs - ancient engravings of the San
San rock engravings, known as petroglyphs, can be found in several places in the Richtersveld. It is thought that the ancestors of the San chipped these engravings on the black dolomite rocks and that the majority date back at least 2 000 years.