Back in 2013, Wynand and I did a multi-day river rafting trip on the Orange River and we were amazed by the beauty and tranquility of the Richtersveld. So when we planned this trip to Namibia and saw there is a road running through the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, we knew we had to drive it. And boy, we were not disappointed!
The Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park consists of the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park on the Namibian side and the Richtersveld National Park on the South African side with the Orange River as the border between the two countries. This area is called a mountain desert and the harsh landscape changes between open, sandy plains and dramatic rocky mountains with the green belt that follows the river standing out against the arid surroundings.
It was easy to imagine we’re explorers on a different planet. The landscape was just so dramatic and different from what we’re used to and you encounter very little other traffic.
Our first night we spent at Amanzi River Camp, which is situated 16km downstream from the Noordoewer border post. It is one of several river rafting tour operators on the banks of the Orange River. The campsites have lots of shade and grass with stunning views over the river and cliffs on the opposite bank. At sunrise and sunset these cliffs turn into the most beautiful colours that make for stunning photographs with their reflections in the water.
Just before you enter the Transfrontier Park section, you travel through Aussenkehr. Don’t expect to find a town since Aussenkehr is merely an informal settlement that houses the workers that are employed by the grape producing farms along the river. It is difficult to imagine that anything can grow in this barren environment but thanks to irrigation from the river it is indeed possible. There is however, a supermarket and fuel station where you can find basic supplies.
Our second stopover was at Namuskluft farm, approximately 16km outside the mining town of Rosh Pinah. The campsites are very neat with basic ablutions and hot water supplied by a “donkey” system. The “donkey” is a primitive wood fired boiler. It is extremely peaceful with nothing but mountains surrounding you. And if you want to stretch your legs a bit, there is a short hiking trail up the mountain.
- In the smaller towns all shops are closed on a public holiday, so plan accordingly.
- It is easy and cheap to obtain a cellphone sim card of a Namibian service provider. We bought one at the fuel station just after the border post and they even had a cutting tool to cut the sim card to micro sim size. If you buy airtime you can also convert it to data.