|Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park safari | Travel guide 

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The ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a peace park straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia. It was formed in 2003 by combining the Namibian ǀAi-ǀAis Hot Springs Game Park and the South African Richtersveld National Park.

/Ai/Ais meaning ‘burning water’ brings to mind the park’s hot springs and offers a hint to the soul of this park. It was formed in 2003 by combining the Namibian ǀAi-ǀAis Hot Springs Game Park and the South African Richtersveld National Park. 

Most of the South African part of the park forms part of the buffer zone of the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape World Heritage Site, which measures 5,920 square kilometres. The Fish River Canyon is located in the park, the largest canyon in Africa.

Why visit |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park?

|Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park safari

A true desert wonderland, this stark desert landscape hides a number of natural gems including the blistering sun, boiling springs, larval rock formations, and scorching sweeps of desert expanse 

|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a wilderness destination home to a big variety of species, but very few large mammals. Several antelope species can be spotted, including klipspringer, grey rhebok, steenbok and common duiker.

A safari at |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP is unique as it is regarded as the only arid biodiversity hotspot on earth and the majority of the area is inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List due to its cultural values, making for fascinating wildlife viewings in incredible landscapes. 

Animals

|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a wilderness destination home to a big variety of species, but very few large mammals. Several antelope species can be spotted, including klipspringer, grey rhebok, steenbok and common duiker. 

Vervet monkeys and chacma baboons are present as well. Leopards are rare to see, but their tracks are proof of their presence.

Hartmann’s mountain zebra is the star species that can be encountered in the park. They live in small groups of seven to 12 individuals, and they are agile climbers. 

Suricate are also well-adapted to the arid environment and groups of them can be seen scanning the environment while standing on their hind legs, before scurrying off into their burrows. The elusive caracal is quite common but rarely seen. 

Birds

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld has over 200 bird species recorded with 23 species restricted to southern Africa. The only breeding pair of augur buzzards in the region occurs here, and the high cliffs are very good viewing sites for other birds of prey, such as jackal buzzard and African fish eagle. 

Migratory birds are present from November to April.

Trees

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld includes two floristic kingdoms. A magnificent variety of dwarf shrubs with water-storing leaves, belongs to the succulent Karoo region of the Greater Cape Flora, while its western portion forms part of the East Gariep Centre, the most important centre of the Nama Karoo Region. 

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld is divided into two portions belonging to two major climatic systems, the temperate winter rainfall region with its high air humidity, and the inland region with higher temperatures and important summer rains and low humidity, respectively. 

Both units are closely placed against each other, separated by a narrow transition zone of about 10 to 20 km.

One outstanding example of such unique life forms is the psammophyte plants, i.e. plant species that are fixing a layer of sand to their surface in order to build a protective shelter against the force of sand storms and the related sand blasting.

Other activities at |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park 

Here are some other Namibian safari activities that visitors to |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park can look forward to on their trip: 

  • 4×4 trails: The dramatically desolate park can only be reached in 4×4 vehicles, which will come in handy for exploring the rugged terrain. 
    • Tiny succulents and other greenery litter the mountain faces in a colourful spectacle – thriving alongside quiver trees, tall aloes and ‘half-mens’ in this harsh and water-scarce environment. 
    • In between the rocks and natural terrariums, see rock hyraxes scrounge for food among ground squirrels, jackal buzzards and Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra.
  • Camping along the Orange River: Most visitors are content to simply lap up the atmosphere at De Hoop, watching the river flow past, admiring the mountains and enjoying the complete sense of utter relaxation.
  • Sleep under the stars: This extraordinary, experiential sleep out, under the stars is a truly amazing encounter in such a remote environment with prolific views of the twinkling night sky.

How to get to |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park?

By Plane 

Generally, visitors to |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld in Namibia fly into Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, where you can rent a car. 

The park is located approximately 650km/403mi away. You can visit the canyon as a day trip, or you can go deeper into the park to Ais-Ais Hot Springs. Trips to Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP are often combined with tours of Etosha National Park and Kaokoland.

By Road

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park spans two countries: South Africa and Namibia. The Sendelingsdrift pontoon takes cars across the border, crossing the Gariep (Orange) River from the Richtersveld in South Africa to the Fish River Canyon and Ai-Ais hot springs on the Namibia side. 

It acts as a proper border crossing, so you’ll get your passport stamped. The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld is primarily a self-drive destination (especially on the South African side) although organized tours are available. 

The park is not accessible with an ordinary 2WD car. A 4WD vehicle is preferred, but high clearance pick-ups or 2WD SUVs can also enter the park. Driving in convoy is recommended. 

On the Namibia side, fly-around-tours with chartered planes are common, and the Fish River Canyon can be part of the itinerary.

Carrying a small amount of local Namibian currency, the Namibian Dollar (NAD) is advised for smaller purchases. 

Regulations 

If you keep to park rules, you can stay with the animals as long as they are not disturbed by your presence. 

Accommodation at |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

Tourists at |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park can choose from a number of different options when deciding where to sleep.

Chalets

Ai-Ais Hotsprings Chalets offers an outdoor heated pool and basic accommodation options with nearby hiking options up the canyon.

Reed Cabins (RC2) is another option offering sights of the Orange River in a beautifully constructed lodge of natural materials that blend into the surrounds. 

The uniquely designed chalets have their own design, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom and are fully equipped with cooking utensils, cutlery, linen and fridge/freezer. Solar panels provide light and gas geysers provide hot water. 

Camping

|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld National Park has three wilderness camps, five serviced campsites and an overnight camp for hikers. Each of the four nearby community settlements has a small rest camp with 8 – 12 beds. 

On the Namibian side the |Ai-|Ais Hot Springs and Hobas offer more extensive tourist accommodation and camping facilities. Well-known state and privately run 5-day hiking trails are on offer in the cooler season.

Campervan 

Guests on a self-drive safari with a campervan can make significant savings by sleeping in their vehicle. 

Bars/restaurants/amenities

Lodges will typically have all meals and drinks included in the lodge package. 

Useful information  

Geography

ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a peace park straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia. 

Weather 

|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park has summer and winter at opposite times compared to the seasons in Europe and North America. 

The climate is harsh and dry, and although the average daytime temperatures are pretty mild, it often gets extremely hot. Temperatures of up to 53°C/127°F have been recorded in mid-summer.

Best time to go

Understanding the best time to visit Namibia is important as this will impact accommodation, flight prices, availability and the weather that visitors can expect on their safari vacation. 

|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld is not a prime wildlife destination. Since it can get extremely hot during the summer months of October to April, the milder winter months of May to September are a much more preferable time to visit. 

If there is enough rain, the spring flowers will be in bloom from August to September.

Health 

There isn’t a need for antimalarial medication if you are visiting |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld. However, if you are traveling to the eastern part of South Africa or the far north of Namibia, you will need to protect yourself against malaria. Your trip to South Africa or Namibia requires you to be vaccinated accordingly (consult your local travel clinic for advice).

It is recommended to visit a travel clinic before coming to Namibia. Several Namibia vaccinations are recommended and usually administered before your departure. 

FAQs 

Where is |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park located?

ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a peace park straddling the border between South Africa and Namibia. Visitors fly into Hosea Kutako International Airport (WDH) located 40km/25mi east of Windhoek, where you can rent a car. 

What animals will visitors see at |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park?

Visitors to |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park will see antelope including klipspringer, grey rhebok, steenbok and common duiker as well as vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, leopards and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.