|Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Early morning Atlantic fog rolls over the desert mountain range of the Richtersveld, bringing life-sustaining moisture to a myriad of succulent species in this inhospitable environment. This, the largest mountain desert park in southern Africa, consists of rugged mountains, rolling hills, undulating plains and the adjacent floodplains of the Orange River.
Formed in August 2003 by the signing of an international treaty between Africa and Namibia, the |Ai-|Ais/RichtersveldTransfrontier Park straddles the Orange River border between these two nations. From South visitors are able to cross the Orange, with their vehicles, via a pont at Senglesdrift into the Namibian side of the park. Likewise, visitors have access the South African side of the park from Namibia.
Though surrealistically harsh (this is the driest area in Northern Cape), the Richtersveld nurtures some 30% of all South Africa’s succulent plant. Despite receiving less than 50mm of rain each year, it is also home to a variety of mammals that have adapted to this harsh climate. These include: the black backed jackal, leopard, Hartmann’s zebra, duiker, klipspringer and rock hyrax (dassies) – which are a favourite prey of Verreaux’s eagle that can be seen hovering against the backdrop of the vast blue African sky. There are many other birds, including raptors that make this arid wilderness their home.
Dramatic and beautiful, the Richterveld is no pampered paradise, but rather a wilderness retreat for the self-sufficient explorer. Roam the park in your 4×4, by foot or paddle down the river taking in the awe-inspiring, seldom-seen purity of this unspoilt wilderness.
The park has five camping sites that all have full ablution facilities. The wilderness camps of Tatasberg and Gannakouriebare fully equipped, self-catering camps (although you need to bring your own drinking water at Gannakourib) and at Sendelingsdrift there are 10 self-catering units and a swimming pool. The four surrounding Richtersveld community towns also offer unique new accommodation establishments.
The park is only accessible by means of a 4×4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi’s and LDV’s are able to travel within the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted. Entrance and overnight permits must be obtained at Sendelingsdrift before entering the park.