Rugged kloofs, high mountains and dramatic landscapes sweep away inland from the Orange River to reveal the vast mountain desert of Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park. The land at this Northern Cape nature reserve in South Africa is harsh and unpredictable. Water is scarce and life-sustaining moisture comes in the form of early morning fog Ė called 'Ihuries' or 'Malmokkies' by the local people.
The fog rolls in from the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean and sustains a remarkable range of small reptiles, birds and mammals. An incredible assortment of plant life, some species occurring nowhere else, can be found here. Gnarled Quiver Trees, tall Aloes and quaint 'halfmens' (half human) keep vigil over this inscrutable landscape.
The Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a very good example of one of the most interesting mega-ecosystems of the world, the succulent Karoo. There is no other desert flora on the planet, possessing similar richness and individuality as can be found at this Northern Cape nature reserve in South Africa. On a surface area of one square kilometre more than 360 species of flowering plants (angiosperms) are found at a site with an average rainfall of only 68mm per year.
Incredibly creatures that have adapted to the intense climate and arid conditions of this region are the Rock Hyrax (Dassie), Ground Squirrel, Jackal Buzzard, Klipspringer, Hartmannís Mountain Zebra, Black-Backed Jackal and Bat-Eared Fox. Some of its rarer inhabitants include Brown Hyena and Leopard.
The Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape, South Africa, is only accessible by means of a 4x4 vehicle, but guests with high clearance vehicles such as combiís and LDVís do travel in the park. Sedan vehicles are not permitted. Driving in the park after dark is not permitted. Demarcated Mining areas within the park are strictly off-limits.
Diesel, 97 and Lead Replacement petrol are all available at Sendelingsdrif. Note that Lead Free Petrol is not available. The nearest supply of Unleaded Petrol is at Alexander Bay - 80km (49 miles) away.