The recently re-furbished Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa & Resort, (re-opened in August 2009) is at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon and offers an excellent place to relax in and around the thermal baths & heated swimming pool, especially after a hot, dusty day's drive or when completing The Fish River Hiking Trail. It is the ideal destination when heading towards South Africa, or northen-route to Sossusvlei and Windhoek, for individual travellers and families alike.
The resort is set at a sulphurous hot spring, which makes perfect sense as the name 'ai-/ais' means 'burning water' in the local Nama language. It indicates the extreme heat of the hot springs, which date back to 1850, when they were discovered by a Nama herder, searching for his lost sheep.
Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa now forms part of the Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, and visitors can now cross from South Africa to Namibia, using the Sendelingsdrift border post from within the park. As this resort is a very popular holiday destination with families from both Namibia and South Africa, it is advisable to book well in advance.
As with all thermal springs, the water is supposed to have natural curative properties, and is especially beneficial for sufferers of rheumatism. For the more energetic, there are some enjoyable, but sometimes arduous walks into the canyon, especially pleasant in the late afternoon when the shadows are long, and the heat off the rocks contrast with the cool sand.
The improvements at Ai-Ais include a brand new restaurant and bar, serving buffet meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seating up to 100 visitors. Other facilities include a laundry and room service, secure parking and up-to-date disabled ramps into all buildings, including the rooms. Valuables can be locked up in the safe in the reception. Children of all ages are welcome, but parents must supervise their youngsters at all times, especially when in and around the thermal baths / swimming pools.
Accommodation is in either Rooms or Premier Chalets.
Rooms: 12 Double Rooms have river views and 24 mountain views, all situated in the Spa Complex, sitting over the indoor thermal pool. Walk downstairs for a swim or head to one of the treatment rooms for a body/head massage. The River View Rooms have an en-suite bathroom and bath, air-conditioning and a tea/coffee station and outside shower. The Mountain View Rooms are equipped with an en-suite bathroom and shower, air-conditioning and a tea/coffee station.
Premier Chalets: 7 Premier Chalets are ideal for families/groups and are equipped with an en-suite bathroom and air-conditioning. The 3 bedrooms, have either a ¾ size, 2 x queen, or 1 x king-size bed in each room. The self-catering kitchen is equipped with a refrigerator, 2 plate stove, microwave oven, kettle, pots/pans and plates/cutlery. Relax on 1 of 2 verandahs, with both river and mountain views.
The other main attraction at Ai-Ais (besides the indoor thermal pool) is the popular, but cooler outdoor pool. As the surrounding countryside is arid and rocky and in summertime temperatures soar, not only is a session in either pool beneficial to your health, it also helps you to keep cool. This is a perfect venue for chilling out and tables/chairs are provided.
Activities include walking trails up the ravine, the Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail and guided scenic excursions within the park.
An advantage when travelling in this part of the world, is the clear and open southern sky. It is great for star gazing, and the minimal reflections at night make it an ideal stopover for keen astronomers and enthusiasts alike.
The Ai-Ais area is also a geologists' dream - with rock formations dating back to millions of years. Visitors of all ages can enjoy some soul-searching walks in the surrounding areas of the camp, and they can also easily drive to the main Fish River Canyon look out point at Hobas for some fantastic views and photographic opportunities.
Fish River Canyon: As Ai-Ais is situated at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon; it is the ideal place from which to explore the canyon and visit the main viewpoint at Hobas .
Hiking: The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail starts from the main viewpoint near Hobas and ends at Ai-Ais, is a truly unique trail. It is approximately 80km long, and takes 4-5 days to complete. The park is open for these trails from May 1 to September 15 each year. A maximum of 30 persons per day are allowed into the canyon for hiking. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted. Demand is high, so reservations should be made well in advance. Hikers must present a recent medical certificate of fitness within the preceding 40 days and complete an indemnity form, prior to commencing the trail. They are also advised to stay over at Hobas the night before the hike commences, although there is a shuttle service to Hobas from Ai-Ais for hikers only.
Hot springs: Built around the thermal springs - days can be spent relaxing in the spa water.
Probably the most popular lodge in the area. Friendly staff, interesting rooms and an emphasis on growing all local produce make for a wonderful stay.
The smaller sibling to the Canon Lodge & Village, this fun establishment boasts loads of character.
Supposedly laid out like an African village - this tends to be second choice to the Lodge but still offers good value.
On the opposite edge of the canyon to all the other lodges, Fish River Lodge offers a unique perspective, excellent service and stunning views.
Campsite close to the main viewpoint over the Fish River Canyon
These are honest reviews, both good and bad, from our travellers who visited this property.
This was being renovated - Namibia tourism not at its best. Nevertheless a lovely place and very enjoyable
Needs some updating, e.g. our bungalow had a jacuzi but it did not work, trash cans had not been emptied, ...
We regretted not having more time here for a hike and the waters. The room was excellent, the food only so-so.
very beautifull place in nice enviroment. We had a room directly conected to the termal pool. It was wonderfull.
A great place. Smiling faces, good and reasonably priced food. Should be used as the standard for other NWR locations.
was too hot in summer, we canncelled one night there. also we thought that we could hike there which was not possible.
The resort was lovely [very hot weather, but that was to be expected] The food was excellent, and the service was great
Great place to stay, but the place is poorly maintained and the staff seem to lack motivation to be excellent. Pity really.
The room at Ai-Ais was more than we could have hoped for. The view from the patio was amazing and the bed was so comfortable.
We had a great time here, appreciated the pool and walkway. Unfortunately there was only a very limited offer for vegetarians.
The room was ok, the direct access to the Spa very comfortable! The restaurant and the menus are ok, but not very extraordinary.
The campground and amenities block well thought out and set up. The hot springs pools were an unexpected and welcome indulgence.
Poor management and staff service out of all the places we stayed at the staff were unfriendly very unhelpful, the pool was dirty.
would consider one of the Canon Lodges as a better location if the Fish River Canyon is the destination.A rather sad establishment.
Family chalet was neat but very big. Because it was quite cold, it wasn`t cosy. But we only stayed one night so not a problem at all.
Very lovely resort with friendly service, clean rooms and a convenient location near Fish River Canyon. The Hot Springs were a treat.
outside pool was very nice. Inside spa could have been cleaner (assume water stains the tiles, but there are products to remedy this)
Lovely setting and very comfortable. Loved the Hot Springs after a days travelling! Both rooms however had no hot water in the showers.
Place looks great, but here also bathroom trouble. Toilet is is standing half loose, bathroom door stands stuck halfway and door handle is broken
Very good facilities spoiled only by the poor upkeep and maintenance (blocked sink drain in Spa, broken window and door hinge in restaurant, etc.)
Most populated lodging (lots of people). We drive to the nearby overlooks of the Fish River Canyon, which I would highly recommend to future travelers.
Ai-Ais is a beautiful oasis in between the Nothing, we enjoyed our stay very much. Clean and tidy. Could perhaps do something about the shop, not so good.
Enjoyed Ai-Ais and glad we pre warned about the renovations. Very limited shower facilities which are in need of some serious attention. Otherwise enjoyable.
Very nice. Lovely room. Quiet. Dinner choice in the restaurant a little bit poor, especially the first night (4 choices of steak, no alternative), but food was ok.
Beautiful campsite, but beware of the babboons!!! Luckily, we had filled our tank before our arrival, because there is a petrol station... without diesel! So watch out!
We were quite disappointed in Ai-Ais. The facilities were good but the services were lacking. There was virtually no-one to advise on any tourist type of information etc.
Ai-Ais is still a beutifull place but needs some attention to the pools as they are starting to look delapidated with tiles lose and gone. Further there is no complaint at all.
A lot of the campsites don`t have trees or shelter, but we luckily managed to find one that was perfect for us. We enjoyed our short hike and the swim in the river was awesome :)
Excellent resort with friendly staff, but the maintenance of the resort should be improved, e.g. water not draining from shower, even after complaint and attempt to fix the problem still existed.
the room was enormous. it was bigger that our house in London! we felt that if/when we come again, we would try to stay at Hobas so that we could see more on the canyon. was a pleasant stay there.
Was not impressed with servicing of rooms. Two of the rooms were not serviced until we have complained. Will not recommend people to have dinner in restaurant. Very basic menu with limited options.
This was our first visit to Ai-Ais and I sincerely hope not our last. We were impressed by the friendly staff, the cleanliness of all amenities and the beautiful layout of the campsite and facilities.
The landscape is great, the surroundings are stunning! But that is it. The reception, the food and the service is really poor and disinterested. In fact, we saw a large rat walking the restaurant facilities.
coming back after some time, it was well noted that the change from so called government operated camps in the past, it did very well proceeded into modern tourist orientated lodge. Very helpfull and friendly staff.
Nice since the upgrade. Had a relaxing time. Facilities neat & clean. Restaurant could be better stocked, as quite a few dishes on the menu were unavailable. Ice was in short supply. Otherwise, very pleasant indeed.
Superb, but we got raided by baboons and they keep tipping the bins, suggest the campsite invests in baboon proof bins as I kept catching packets flying past out tent from rubbish bins the baboons had tipped up wind.
It was to big for us. Not personnoley and the food was less than on other places. We asked for mountain room We go at mountainroom, that maens the mountain was 15 meters from our balconey. So we looked at a wall of rocks.
An amazing adventure to camp here with the majestic mountains surrounding you. Very clean ablution blocks and cooking facilities.Indoor pool a must! The Fishriver Canyon left us speechless- one of God's amazing creations.
The resort was very accommodating and helped my son who managed to get out of the canyon to request help. 3 of them stayed at the chalets one night and they balanced the payment against the camping payment already received.
Friendly reception and gate control staff. Clean ablutions. Nice shady campsite. Lots of braai areas. Hot pool was a bit tepid. Shop a bit pricey and no 2 liter cooldrinks in stock. Newly baked bread rolls were delicious thanks.
beautiful luxury rooms but obviously still very brand new so there were a couple things not working like the TV and Jacuzzi and then missing kitchen utensils like kettle and pans. but very comfortable and very nice. we loved our stay
The only negative comment we have is that our apartment was right at the pool and you could hear every single word and sound coming from the indoor pool. Lots of wasted space in the chalet. Can put in more kitchen utensils to enable you to braai at the braai facilities.
Nice location but every was old, dusty or broken. The shop was almost empty, they didn't have any milk, bread, cheese, eggs! The chalet was not too clean, the lights didn't work, in the area around the house there were plastic bags and garbage. But the hot water pool was great!
Beautiful place. Maintenance is a little lacking -Front door first could not unlock and thereafter could not lock (in both units we rented) Shower first did not work, then shower head fell off. Kettle lid did not close well, potentially causing steam-burns. Meals extremely expensive.
The facility does not seem to be well kept, in some areas it is world class, but then when in other it seems a bit neglected, so the overall sense is a bit confusing. Then the baboons is an issue, running through the camp and stealing food etc. This is a major reason why I will not go back again.
The thermal hot springs of Ai-Ais lie in the southern part of the Fish River nature conservation area. It is best accessed via the B1. Near Grünau turn off on to the C10. Ai-Ais lies at the end of this gravel road (73 kilometers).Download Map
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