RICHTERSVELD NATIONAL PARK - FACILITIES:  
     
 

No shops in the park, but fuel and cold drinks can be purchased at a small general store at Sendelingsdrift. The shop is open on weekdays only.

Pontoon at Sendelingsdrif

The old pont, that was last in service in 1988, when South West Africa (now Namibia) was still governed by South Africa, has been restored and offers an unusual and convenient way of crossing the Garib (Orange) River that separates the two countries. Before the opening of this border a very inconvenient 485km detour and about 4 hours drive had to be undertaken to cross from one side of the Park to the other.

Pont Regulations:
Maximum carrying capacity is 6 Metric Tones or:
2 standard 4x4 vehicles without trailers
1 standard 4x4 vehicle with trailer
2 standard light motor vehicles with trailers
1 bus with a seating capacity of less than 20

HISTORY OF THE PONTOON AT SENDLINGSDRIF:

The 43 year long pontoon use at Sendelingsdrif is characterized by many a tantalizing account of reckless characters. Infinitely resourceful smugglers took Namib oryx over the border, to ensure weekly fresh bread for Rosh Pinah, or to transport school children there and back. Many an elusive visionary with a strong frontier spirit, so typical for this canyon country knew the crossing well.

Pont building was initiated by the Rosh Pinah mine around 1974. The first pont used a boat-like angle iron frame, kept afloat by six steeldrums, and kept online by a ‘preventer’ cable anchored to both sides of the river and fed through eyebolts welded to the pont at either extremity. The operation of the rigging was by winch from the Octha side. A vehicle needed to be parked in reverse on the pont because the craft turned around on route. Many a car found a watery grave and the pont itself was washed away twice in the eighties.

Fred van der Colff, mine manager at Rosh Pinah, then took lead in the construction of the next pont. A skillfully designed box like structure was designed to carry two vehicles or a 34 seater bus. Well constructed of 4.0 and 6.0 mm steel plate on a good system of centerline and transverse bulkheads and stiffeners, the new pont was sturdier than its predecessor. Longitudinal stiffeners are in place to support the main deck / roadway. Access to pontoon was by hinged landing ramps. Powered by a 40 HP 4-stroke outboard motor with a 180 º swirling action is ideal the trips back and forth.

Pont operation was without any major hiccups until the 1998 flood anchored it in the riverine bush near the historical Sendelingsdrif. From 1994 – 1998 Sendelingsdrif served as a non-official border post. When the Transfrontier Park negotiations started in March 2001, a pontoon operation at the present Sendelingsdrif was targeted as the transfrontier icon.

The then head of the now operating Skorpion Zinc mine project team, Norman Green, promised to salvage, refurbish and to put the pontoon into operation at no cost to the Joint Management Board of the Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The then chief engineer Owen Williams and colleagues provided the necessary skill for this project, aided by Kumba Resources, NAMDEB, SANParks, and Allied Cranes. The thickness and damage to the hull was tested with ultrasound, painted with epoxy layers for low maintenance, and longitudinal stiffeners added for further support to the shallow draft vessel.

Gate Hours:

Summer and winter: 8:00 – 16:15 (weather permitting)
For further information please phone the the park on 027 831 1506

Fuel hours

  • Monday – Friday: 07:30 – 18:00
  • Saturday : 08:00 – 16:00
  • Sunday: 08:30 – 13:00