Ai-Ais National Park

Bordering the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa, and part of a transfrontier park, this wilderness area at the southern end of the Namib desert is as harsh and large as it is beautiful and dramatic. Here rainfall can be less than 50 mm every year, but the rocky plains and mountains offer stupendous scenery, including the Fish River Canyon, one of the largest in the world. The name of the park means “burning water”, alluding to the warm springs at the end of the canyon, where a beautiful campsite awaits hikers who survive the infamous 90km, five-day hike through the gorge. And this desert is far from lifeless. As part of the Succulent Karoo, it hosts some of the most diverse arid flora in the world (around 1 600 species – more than the entire British Isles), including the quirky quiver tree. I’ll be exploring |Ai-|Ais summer, so wish me luck as I try to stay cool.

Blog posts

YITW 2013-14 – Mandela’s Frontiers – “A truly wonderful land”

Happy New Year everyone! May it be full of wild adventures. Thank you for all your support so far.

In the next year I'm travelling to Kgalagadi, Tuli Block, Gorongosa, Gonarezhou, Kruger and Imfolozi, among many others. I look forward to sharing some of these places with you!

With Mandela's passing last month, I was inspired to write this piece about his contribution to conservation in Africa. It's a good reminder of how each of us can make a difference to the lives of people around us, but also to the wild animals and places with which we share this lonely planet. We are privileged to be living in a region which is the last bastion of large wildlife on Earth. With this privilege comes responsibility. We must keep fighting the good fight, helping those on the frontlines of Read more »

YITW 2013-14 – Namibia – Gondwana Canyon Park

The story of private conservation in Namibia is a successful one. The national parks make up only some of all the protected areas in the country. Community conservancies make up a huge percentage of total land under protection, while private parks contribute in a big way too. In total, more than 40% of Namibia's land is under conservation of some sort, one of the highest figures in the world for such a big country. (South Africa, by contrast, is only at 10%).

Gondwana Canyon Park in the south, adjacent to Ai-Ais National Park, is one of the more established private parks in the country - started in 1995 - and at almost 1300 square kilometres, one of the biggest too. As can be Read more »

YITW 2013-14 – Namibia – The extreme beauty of Ai-Ais National Park

From the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa, I crossed the Orange (or Gariep) River to Ai-Ais National Park in Namibia. Together, these two national parks form the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. One of several transfrontier parks across Southern Africa, this one was officially signed into legislation in 2003.

For visitors, the pont at Sendelingsdrif makes travel between the two parks - and countries - very easy. Before the pont service was created, visitors would have to drive a detour of 500 kilometres through the main border Read more »