Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
There is a legend among the Nama people of Southern Africa that says when the ancient Nama fled south from Namibia, those who turned and looked back were turned to trees, forever facing north in longing for the homeland they left behind.
These trees are rare succulents with long trunks and tiny ‘heads’, endemic to the Richtersveld of the Northern Cape and southern Namibia, that can look a bit like a person in silhoutte. These trees are called ‘half-men’, so when you are told to look out for half-men in the Richtersveld, don’t take fright.
The Richtersveld National Park is the South African side of the greater Ai-Ais Richtersveld Tranfrontier Park, bisected by the border with Namibia at the Fish River Canyon. Other than along the path of the Orange River, it is a bone dry desert mountain system, often the only moisture an early morning fog, called the ‘Ihuries’ or ‘Malmokkies’, that comes in from the cold Atlantic sea and sustains life. Yet the Richtersveld is one of Africa’s most unique biomes, and it has recently gained World Heritage Site status due to the unique and fragile endemic biodivesity found here.
You won’t see herds of game, elephants and prides of lion here – but you will marvel at life, how it clings and thrives and just how weird it can get in the process. If you take the time to learn more about the Richtersveld before going there, you will also enter with a whole new perspective on what you see, from the many tiny plants and flowers, to the unique and fascinating geology; from the Nama people who live there, to their legends and beliefs.
There are camps and self-catering chalets – low on amenities, high on peace and the feel of being ‘in another world’ entirely. A soul-seeker’s, stargazer’s, camper’s, botanist’s, geologist’s and 4×4 enthusiast’s ‘dream world’, baking under the sun in the day, worshiping of a trillion stars at night, with ancient legends and spirits, and sharp little animal eyes that watch your every move…
For more on the Richtersveld (the ‘mega-ecosystem’ that incorporates the Richtersveld National Park, the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, The Richtersveld World Heritage Site and the Richtersveld Community Conservancy).
For more on the Richtersveld Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park:
Note: You must have a 4×4. Sedans are not permitted entry into the Park.
Getting there: Take the N7 north from Springbok. Due to a variety of important factors related to travelling there (in your 4×4), we’d rather give you a another SanParks link than straight directions.
|More info on the quaint town of Richtersveld||More info on the Namaqualand area|