Overview – |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

The |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park spans over South Africa and Namibia and is home to some of the most spectacular arid and 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. It lies in a biodiversity hotspot and the world's only area classified as an arid hotspot. In Namibia, it features the Fish River Canyon, the world's second largest canyon.

Best Time to Go August to September (Spring flowers)
High Season July to November (The park is rarely crowded)
Size 6,045km² / 2,334mi²
Altitude 24-1,652m / 79-5,420ft

Pros and 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 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)

Ai-Ais Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

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.

Scenery

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.

Want to Visit |Ai-|Ais Richtersveld TP?

Ai-Ais Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Magnificent desert flora in the Richtersveld
4/5

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
5/5

Again the very natural beauty abounds. Man has not destroyed what nature has created.