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Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park reviews

3 reviews

“The five day hike through the Fish River Canyon is an experience like no other.” - Morgan

Beautiful desert landscape

Views: 728 Visited: Jun 2010 Reviewed: Nov 11, 2014

The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is so called because it spans the borders of South African and Namibia. Transfrontier Parks are a relatively new development in southern Africa, formed in recognition that natural ecosystems and their management shouldn’t necessarily coincide with political boundaries. The Ai-Ais Richtersveld covers a huge area with different activities and experiences available depending where and when you visit. Despite the desolate mountainous desert landscape, the park is known for its diversity of life including many species that occur nowhere else. A visit to the park is not your typical big game safari experience, however.

On the South African side, SANParks runs several camp sites and hiking trails. Flower season is a popular time to visit. There are no shops in the park and fresh water can be scarce, so make sure you come prepared with all the provisions and equipment you will need.

I visited the Namibian side of the park, or what used to be known as the Ai Ais Hot Springs Game Park. The major draw cards on the Namibian side are a visit to the famous Ai Ais Hot Springs and the Fish River Canyon, where the adventurous can book a five day hiking trip following the river through the canyon.

The hiking trail is amazing and allows you to have a real wilderness experience with few signs of other humans. Most hikers don’t even bring tents, but just sleep under the stars. Wildlife along the trail is scarce, but present. Besides the wild horses, we saw baboons and the tracks of a leopard. You need to be in good shape and be adequately prepared with food and equipment for the hike because getting rescued from the canyon is a difficult and expensive prospect.

If you’re not up for hiking the canyon, a visit to the park is still worthwhile. There are drives to get to impressive lookouts over the canyon, and you might see some interesting wildlife, such as the Hartman’s mountain zebra. You can stay at the relaxing Ai Ais Hot Springs Resort, located at the end of the hiking trail. However, I guarantee you’ll appreciate the draft beers and hot springs more if you spend five days walking in sand and sleeping on the ground before you get there!

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