/Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park
Did you know?
There are more than 6 350 vascular plant species in the Richtersveld and nearly 2 440 of them are endemic.
The /Ai /Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a cross-border conservation initiative between South Africa and Namibia. It brings together the Richtersveld National Park, managed jointly by the local Nama people and the South African National Parks Board, with Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park, the Namibian side of this initiative.
Known sometimes as the Ai-Ais Transfrontier National Park or the Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park, the area is renowned as a biodiversity hotspot and boasts some of the richest succulent flora in the world.
The best-known endemic plants are the stem succulents, known as the "halfmens", and the giant tree aloe. These, and thousands of other species, live off the early morning fog - called ‘Ihuries' or ‘Malmokkies' by the local people - that rolls in off the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The wildlife found in the area is adapted to withstand the arid climate. Many species are concentrated in the denser vegetation around the Orange River, including over 50 species of mammals and almost 200 bird species.
Bones uncovered at Kokerboomkloof reveal that some of the animal species currently present in the region, such as springbok, zebra and klipspringer, were also present over 4 000 years ago. The area also boasts a large variety of lizards and snakes.
The Richtersveld Transfrontier Park also features the world's second largest canyon, the Fish River Canyon, which meanders between the spectacular cliffs characteristic of the desert landscape. The park geography features many distinct periods of geological history dating back 2 000 million years and the Orange River mouth is a Ramsar site, which means that it is a wetland of international importance.
But it is the uniquely adapted vegetation of this region that makes this the world's only arid area biodiversity hotspot.
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From Sendelingsdrif you can take the pontoon across the Orange River to the very popular Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort in Namibia.