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Fish River Canyon Namibia is one of the
biggest river canyons in the world
, Fish River Canyon is
second largest canyon
in the world second to the Grand Canyon in Arizona USA, one of the most scenic features from southern Namibia on the border with South Africa. It the Fish river gorge is 161 kms long, 27 kms wide and the ravine reaches a maximum depth of 550 meters.
Namibia Fish River
Canyon was formed some million years a go as a result of fractures in the surrounding plateau and was further deepened by the constant erosion and glaciers. A road running for 25km along the eastern edge of the canyon leads to a series of viewing sites. In early times Fish River Canyon was a haven for the Namibian residents as the area is extremely arid with virtually no rainfall and the river provided food and water for humans and animals alike.
The fish river is actually the longest inland river in Namibia, floods for the late summers and then makes a chain of long shallow fools during the months of the year.
Sights and Fish River Canyon tours
November to April are extremely hot months for the summer with mid day temperatures up to 40º C , May to September are quite cool on the often good for hiking on the fish river canyon with chilly nights and light rains; the best time to go visiting.
Fish River hiking trail is one of the most famous hiking trails in South Africa stretching a distance of 54km. The hike starts from the main look-out point and ends at the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais normally done for period of 5days. The hiking trail is open from the beginning of May to September with moderate temperatures. The hiking trail has magnificent views of the canyon and a great sight for taking pictures; it actually ranks among the most visited Namibia Tourism destinations!
Not far west of Namibia Fish River Canyon is the
Ai-Ais hot springs
, one of Namibia’s famous hot springs resorts. Thermal water bubbles from the springs of Ai-Ais at a temperature of 60°C and is very rich in sulphates and fluorides. In the Nama’s language, ‘Ai-Ais’ means ‘burning water’. The thermal bath immediately next to the spring is a popular palm fringed resort, especially during the winter with spectacular swimming pools. The hot water springs are open from April to October with the rest of the year being too hot. Horse rides to the resort will give you sight over the dry rocky landscape normally explored for the early morning and late in the afternoon.
In the area you will also see a strange Namibian plant. The quiver tree or `Kokerboom’ is indigenous to the hot and dry southern part of Namibia. The plants are succulents and can reach a height of up to 9 meters. They have adapted to the extreme environmental conditions by storing water in their trunks. The tree blossoms for the first time after 20 to 30 years and can reach 300 years of age. As the trunk and branches can be easily hollowed out, they were used as quivers by the Bushmen (San people) who formerly roamed lived here.
Fish River National park
Fish river Canyon is a protected conservation area and with a small habitat for some mammals like rock-hopping Klipspringer,mountain zebra, kudu Leopards rock hyrax and Chacma baboons. The bush fringing the canyon attracts a rich birdlife with over 50 different colored species such as Herons, rock kestrals, lanner falcons. hammerkops, Egyptian Geese, Plovers and Wagtails. The area is worth visiting with a good camera to capture every moment of your trip.
Hiking along the Fish River canyon
The hike through the Fish River canyon takes about four days before it is completed and it is the most participated in activity around the canyon and although the canyon is closed off when the heat becomes unbearable, it is always opened between the months of April and September for hikers to take on the hard trails that are found in the area. During your hike around the Fish River canyon, you will be able to enjoy the wild, view a few animals that come around for a drink, do some birding and most importantly take some beautiful photos that will remind you of your hike around the second largest canyon in the whole world.
Before you head out for a hike along the Fish River canyon, you should note that there are a few things that you will need for your hike and these are a must if you want to enjoy your hike while here and some of the most important ones include:
, this involves the whole package of what to put on your body while hiking and it is recommended that you put on both long sleeved pants and shirts as a way of protecting yourself from the sun and carry some sun block with you as well. Do not forget to also carry some sleeping bags for the night and towels for use after a swim in the River.
Food and water
, you will need lots of water and food for your hike as it will be very hard for you to buy food along the way and if possible you should also carry your cooking equipment and cutlery so that you can prepare your own food while at the different camps that are set up for tourists along the hike routes. Some lodges also offer food to hikers as long as you are staying there but it is better to prepare your own food and get a full wilderness experience.
Some of the rules that govern hiking in the Fish River canyon and that should be followed by every tourist who intends to hike here are:
- You need to have a health certificate that shows that you are actually in good health in order for you to be allowed to gain access to the hiking routes.
- The only people who are allowed to hike are those that are sixteen years and above.
- You will not be allowed to access the hike routes if you do not have an experienced tour guide with you.
- In order for you to be allowed to access the hike routes around the Fish River canyon, you will need to book in advance and in most cases, they allow bookings of three people and above and not less.
Now after looking at what you need to carry and the rules and regulations that you need to follow in order for you to be able to hike along the canyon, below are the hike routes that you are likely to follow.
The palm Sulphur springs route
The palm Sulphur springs route is the first one and the beginning of the hike. It is not so hard since it is mostly filled with descending to the canyon but what it makes the trekking slow here is that it is filled with sand and rocks which makes it a bit hard to walk first. You can rest and camp at the banks of the River for as long as you find a soft spot where to put your tent. The hike will take you about an hour or more depending on your speed and since there are no sins on where you should go, it is good if you follow your tour guide before camping.
The three sisters route
This starts from the river side and the good thing about using this route is that you cannot get lost as the only thing you need to do is to follow the River. While on this route you will get to see the hot springs which can be seen flowing into the River and this is the best time for all those that love swimming to do so before heading out to the second camp to rest for the day. The hike is a bit difficult due the rocks and sands but it is worth it at the end pf the day.
From three sisters to Von Trotha’s grave
This hike route is considered to be one of the most difficult terrains on the hike and it takes about six to eight hours before it is completed. It is the third day of your hike and since it is always closer to the canyon, it tends to become extremely cold and hikers are advised to carry warm clothing at least for the third day of camping. If you do not want to spend a lot of time while on this route ask your tour guide to use the necessary short cuts so that you get to rest before completing your hike the next day.
The Von Trotha’s grave to Ai-Ais hot springs route
This is the last day of the hike and it starts from Trotha’s grave to the famous Ai-Ais hot springs. It is mostly a 4×4 hike trail although some parts are filled with sand and rocks and when you get to the Ai-Ais springs, the canyon here will not be as impressive but the hot springs will make up for the canyon and while here you get to rest your feet and enjoy some cool air as you wait for the van to pick you up.
Visit the wild horses of Garub
Located within the region of the Fish River, the wild horses of Garub are quite a sight to see for all those that head out for a safari to the Canyon. No one has clear information on how they came about but some people believe that they were left by the German colonialists after World War one and have seen been in this semi-Desert area since then. They are not breeding horses and have different characters as compared to the normal horses however their adaptation to survive under these harsh Desert conditions is what has made them a tourist attraction in the region. Drive by and experience the aura of these feral horses that keep on riding through Garub.
Fish River canyon
The Fish River region which is filled with the River canyon covers the part of Aus in the south western part of the country is one of the many regions that you should go out and explore while in Namibia. The River canyon located within this region is the longest River in Namibia running for more than 800 kilometers. The Fish River runs through the different parts of the country and it gets its water from the Naukluft Mountains before creating confluences which are always full during the wet season and drying up during the dry season although they create water pools where animals get water from during the drought days.
Known to be the second largest canyon in the whole world, the Fish River canyon is part of the Transfrontier Park locate in Ai-Ais and is famously known for its great hiking trails that are both challenging and exciting. Formed a thousand years ago due to continental drifting and separation of rocks and the earth, the Fish River canyon experiences two seasons that is the wet and dry season. The canyon is always closed during the dry summer months due to the high unbearable temperatures that are experienced and later opened up when the heat becomes bearable.
Fish River Canyon Accommodation
Namibia fish river canyon has a few options for overnight and accommodation that are located to the south. Some of these options include
, probably the most popular with fully furnished rooms and excellent service. Canyon Roadhouse is another luxury Fish River Canyon accommodation options with delightful service. Find other lodges like Fish River Lodge, Vogelstrausskluft lodge, Canyon Village and Ai-Ais Resort. Hobas Rest camp offers options fro camping on the main view point over the Fish River Canyon.
Explore the Gondwana canyon Park
The Gondwana canyon Park was formed in the year 1996 and a drive through the park is a good way to spend time while you are in the Fish River region. It was first set up as a farm for sheep but later on became a haven for many wild animals that can be seen when you get to the Park which include kudus, giraffes, ostriches, leopards, springboks, antelopes and all these have adapted to the harsh weather conditions experienced within the park.
There are several accommodation facilities that are located around the Fish River canyon where you can stay and these are scattered all over the Fish River region and they cater for all tourists depending on your budget but you can still camp around the canyon as you hike along and there are some lodges that were put up at the different stops made by hikers. The Fish River canyon trip is one that you should not forego when you get to Namibia because the activities that are carried out while here are exciting and these will keep you on your toes and you will not regret it. And even though you are not a fun of hiking, you can always engage in other activities around the canyon.