In June 2007, the "Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape",
just to the south of the Richtersveld National Park and an area
of equivalent size and beauty, was named a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Unlike the National Park, the Richtersveld Community Conservancy,
which forms the core zone of the World Heritage Site, is not subject
to diamond mining and is as a result the more pristine of the two
The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape of dramatic mountainous
desert constitutes a cultural landscape communally owned and managed.
This heritage site sustains the semi-nomadic pastoral livelihood
of the Nama people, reflecting seasonal patterns that may have persisted
for as much as two millennia in southern Africa.
Located in northern Namaqualand, this arid area represents a harsh
landscape where water is a great scarcity and only the hardiest
of lifeforms survive. Despite this, the Richtersveld is regarded
as the only Arid Biodiversity Hotspot on Earth, with an astonishing
variety of plant, bird and animal life (much of which is endemic).
Characterised by extreme temperatures, the communally run landscape
affords a semi-nomadic pastoral livelihood for the Nama people,
descendants of the Khoisan people who once occupied lands across
southern Namibia and most of the present-day Western and Northern
Cape provinces of South Africa.
Khoisan is a term used to describe two separate groups, physically
similar in being light-skinned and small in stature. The Khoi, who
were called Hottentots by the Europeans, were pastoralists and were
effectively annihilated; the San, called Bushmen by the Europeans,
were hunter-gatherers. A small San population still lives in South
It is the only area where the Nama still construct portable rush-mat
houses (haru om) and includes seasonal migrations and grazing grounds,
together with stock posts. The pastoralists collect medicinal and
other plants and have a strong oral tradition associated with different
places and attributes of the landscape.
"The extensive communal grazed lands bear testimony to the
land management processes which have ensured the protection of the
succulent Karoo vegetation," the World Heritage Committee noted.
"This demonstrates a harmonious interaction between people
How to get there
S 28º 36'
E 17º 12' 14"