Ai-Ais hot springs are located near the Fish river canyon in the southern part and they cover a portion of the /Ai-Ais Richtersweld Transfrontier National Park. The word /Ai-Ais means burning water and it was given by the locals due to the heat that is given off by the springs and the way they burn out like as though they have been set on fire. The Ai-Ais springs are located in the Ai- Ais National Park which is located at the border of Namibia and South Africa. They are located at the end of the Fish River canyon and often visited by tourists who want to see the burning water that the springs hold.
The Ai-Ais hot springs are located at the end of the trail through the Fish River canyon and it is the treasure that awaits you at the end of your trek. Geologically these are thermal hot springs which got their burning and smoking nature from the Sulphurous nature of the area where they are located. They are surrounded by different attraction sites and after relaxing at the hot springs, you can spread out and enjoy the other tourist attractions that are located around the hot springs.
We are first of all going to look at the Ai-Ais Richtersveld National park where the Ai-Ais springs are found in detail so that you get to know a little bit of what you will find when you visit the hot springs and other tourist attractions that are located within the Park and not forgetting the activities that you will be able to engage in while in the National Park.
The Ai-Ais Richtersveld National Park
The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Park is located at the border of Namibia and South Africa and it can be visited from both countries. It is located along the Orange River and is a home to the Ai-Ais hot springs and the second largest canyon in the whole world which is found in Namibia known as the Fish River Canyon. Getting inside the Park is a bit easy as there are three entrances to the Park two of which are found in Namibia that is one is at the Ai-Ais hot springs and the other is located at the Hoba while the third one is located in South Africa.
The Park is filled with different tourist attraction sites that is the hot springs, the rock formations, the san Bushmen who live around, birds and animals that live within the Transfrontier National park and many more others. Exploring the Park is an adventure of its own and it is a to go place for all the photographers because of the untouched beauty that is found within the Park from the springs to the locals who will take you on a cultural journey that you will never forget.
- Game viewing in the Park
The Ai-Ais Park is a home to various wild animals that are located within the different parts of the park and these are best seen during the dry season when the animals move around in search of food and water. Some of the most common animals that you will get to see on your drive through the national park include the sable antelopes, steenboks, monkeys, baboons, duikers, Hartman zebras, hyenas although they are a bit rare and this also applies to the leopards, klipspringers and many more other species.
- Birding in Ai-Ais
The Ai-Ais Richtersveld Park has a recorded number of bird species which amounts to about 200 bird species and these include both the endemic bird species, near endemic and the migratory birds that fly into the country. Some of the bird species that can be found in the Ai-Ais Transfrontier reserve include the cape francolin, the fairy flycatcher, the African fish eagle, the cinnamon breasted warbler, the Karoo Eremomela, the capped Weaver, the Karoo lark, the Namaqua warbler, the cape bunting, the cape weaver, ground woodpecker, cape long billed lark, Layard’s tit-babbler, rosy faced lovebird and many more other species. Birding in the park is done between the months of November to April and this is because this is the time when the migratory birds come into the country due to the rainy season that is experienced during this time.
- Take a photo safari through the park
A photo safari is a much needed trip for all those that have a great love for photography. There are several beautiful scenery that is found within the Park, the different attractions like the birds, animals, the local San Bushmen, the hot springs and most importantly the quiver trees that is found within the Park. These are believed to be more than 500 years old and are extremely high with a height of nine meters.
- Explore the Fish River canyon
Exploring the Fish River canyon that is located within the Park is a good exercise for all who visit it and it is known to have some of the best trek routes in Namibia. There are about three main trek routes that are found in the Fish River canyon and these are the palm Sulphur springs route, the three sisters route and the von Trotha’s route to the Ai-Ais springs. All these routes put together take about four days to complete but you will have a nice experience while exploring the canyon. You will however need a lot of water while you head out for the hike and you will also make sure that you carry appropriate clothing because it might get cold during some nights.
- Explore the Rock painting
The rock painting that is located within the Park is referred to as the hand of God by the locals as it is believed that the rock painting that is found on the Mountain is believed to have been put on the rock by God who left his print on the rock. It is clearly seen and while walking towards the Richtersveld you will find it just right next to the road.
- Visit the local San Bushmen
The local San Bushmen who live around the Park are some of the locals that you can visit when you get to the Ai-Ais National park. These are believed to be the first inhabitants of Namibia and all the rock paintings that are located within the different parts of the country are attributed to these san Bushmen. They are known hunters and when you get to visit them you will get to learn more skills about hunting and how to track down animals, get a taste of their good food, get to know how to harvest water from the ground during the dry season and also find out the many different uses of the trees that are used as herbs by them.
- Take a picnic along the Orange River
The Orange River can be accessed from both Namibia and South Africa and flows along the edges of the Ai-Ais Transfrontier Park. After a long trek through the park, you can pack your picnic box and head out to the River banks to rest and get a feel of the cool breeze. You will also enjoy birding and get to see some animals that come to the river for water. A picnic here is best done during the dry season.
- Camping around the hot springs
Camping around the hot springs and within the National Park is an activity that all should engage in especially during the trek. There are camps that were set up along the trek routes where you can rest before getting to the hot springs where you can also camp if you want before you are picked up by the van. Camping comes with several rules and these are, you should keep all your cooking equipment inside the tent, make sure that all your body parts are in the tent and also be sure not to feed the animals while you are there. You will only be allowed to go camping if you have a tour guide with you and permission to access the Park and the hot springs.
Best time to visit the Ai-Ais springs
The hot springs can be visited all throughout the year although the wet season is a bit of trouble due to the slippery roads that are experienced in the Park while trekking. The best time for you to go for game viewing is between the months of August to September during the dry season but the weather is bit cooler during this season. Between the months of October to April, there will be a time when the heat will become unbearable and the cooler months are experienced between the months of May to September. The months and weather are a bit confusing since they change sometimes and that is why it is advisable to first inquire from your tour operator the right time for you to go for a safari to the Ai-Ais hot Springs and Park.