Richterveld Ai-Ais Trans Frontier Park General Info

The Richtersveld is a unique mountain desert wilderness of great beauty, tucked in the far north-western corner of the Northern Cape in South Africa. Within this wilderness lies the incredible Richtersveld National Park.

Proclaimed in 1991 after 18 years of negotiation between the National Park Board and the local Nama people, Richtersveld National Park is now managed jointly by the local Nama people and the South African Parks. The Nama people, who lease the land to the board, continue to live and graze their livestock in the area.

This is a harsh and unpredictable land where water is scarce and life-sustaining moisture appears in the form of an early-morning fog. It rolls in from the Atlantic, sustaining a remarkable range of small reptiles, birdlife and South African wildlife.

The Richtersveld National Park is home to grey rhebok, Duiker, steenbok, klipspringer, kudu, Hartman’s mountain zebra, baboon, vervet monkey, caracal and leopard.

Birdlife is prolific, and 650 plant species have been recorded (the Nama community have specific uses for some 150 of these species, ranging from medicinal and cosmetic to nutritional). Also peculiar to the Richtersveld is the world’s largest diversity of succulents, including the unusual halfmens, a tall succulent plant that bears an uncanny resemblance to the human from when seen outlined against the sky.

The Gariep River which forms the northern border of the Richtersveld National Park is virtually the only standing water in this whole vast region and the rocks are stark and bare - in some places resembling a barren lunar landscape. The palate of colours that meets your eyes travels through the full range of gold and yellows to pinks and purples and then stuns you with streaks of pure white quartz which is sometimes scattered on the ground like snow.

The Richtersveld climate is harsh and dry, with temperatures of up to 53ยบ C having been recorded in mid-summer. Nights are cool and may become chilly in winter. Heavy night-time dew occurs in the park. 

The Richtersveld National Park is only accessible by means of a 4x4 vehicle, but vehicles with high clearances such as combi's and LDV's do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted. Driving in the park at night is also not permitted.