Overview – |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP
|Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park spans both South Africa and Namibia and has to some of the most spectacular desert mountain scenery in Africa. The park is mainly a scenic wilderness destination, and wildlife viewing isn't the main focus since it has a low density of large animals, although it's the world's only area classified as an arid biodiversity hotspot. In Namibia, it features the extraordinary Fish River Canyon, the world's second largest canyon and one of southern Africa’s premier hiking destinations.
Pros & Cons
- Stunning desert scenery and great photographic opportunities
- The world's richest area for succulent plants
- Off-the-beaten-track destination with great wilderness appeal
- Adventurous destination for 4WD and hiking enthusiasts
- Self-catering accommodation on the South Africa side and a selection of options on the Namibian side
- Little variety and low density of large animals
- Far away from major South African and Namibian tourist attractions
- Very hot conditions and harsh environment
- Accessible by 4WD and high clearance vehicles only (2WD SUV or pick-up truck)
The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is not really a wildlife destination. Wildlife is very sparse and most big safari animals aren't present. The rare, localized Hartmann's mountain zebra can sometimes be spotted. Small creatures to look out for are suricate, rock hyrax and ground squirrel. Caracal thrives in the rocky habitat but is seldom seen.
The mountain desert landscape is rugged and spectacular. The Fish River Canyon is the most dramatic feature in the park and meanders between spectacular steep cliffs that bisect the flat Namib plateau. The |Ai-|Ais Hot Springs are found in the south of the canyon. The Richtersveld National Park lies in one of the most diverse parts of the species-rich Succulent Karoo biome (large community of flora and fauna), renowned for its massive display of flowers in spring.
Weather & Climate
Summer in |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, which lasts from October through April, can be a brutal affair. The average daytime temperature tends to stick around 28°C/82°F in the hottest of these months, but it occasionally shoots up to 45°C/113°F – sometimes higher. And unlike most other South African parks in the summer, there’s barely any rainfall to counter the heat. Winter (May to September) is much milder during the day, though it can be freezing at night.
Best Time to Visit
Avoid the hottest months of the year (October to April), when the park gets overcooked. The cooler period (May to September) is a much better time to visit. This is also when wildflowers color in the landscape. There’s little wildlife watching in |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld, so this isn’t really a factor in the timing of your visit. Unless you’re a birder, in which case a visit in the heat is unavoidable.
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Ai-Ais Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Magnificent desert flora in the Richtersveld
The Richtersveld has the richest desert flora in the world, but you need to be here at a very specific time after the rains to be able to see any of it. I’ve visited at the best time of the year. This is August-September when Namaqualand...
Latest User Review
Again the very natural beauty abounds. Man has not destroyed what nature has created.