- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Hike the Fish River Canyon in Namibia
In the far south of Namibia, the Fish River rises in the centre of the country, before flowing south into the Orange River, on Namibia’s border with South Africa. In between, it has formed the great Fish River Canyon – the largest canyon in the southern hemisphere, and probably only second to Arizona’s Grand Canyon in terms of size. Approaching the Fish River Canyon from the north is like driving across Mars. The vast rocky landscape breaks up into a series of spectacular cliffs, formed by the Fish River as it meanders between boulders over half a kilometre below. Its size is impressive: 161km long, up to 27km wide and almost 550m at its deepest. Keep in mind that the river is seasonal and generally only flows in the rainy season from January to April.
Hiking in the Fish River Canyon
Keen hikers will know that the Fish River Canyon hike is one of Africa’s a toughest hikes. This five-day, self-guided hike is possible for groups of three or more people, but only when it’s cool (May – Sept). We can arrange for the permits and transport to get you to and from the hike – perhaps building it into a fly-drive itinerary. We can even arrange for a professional guide to accompany you, or a satellite phone to take. However, the responsibility for buying and carrying all your food and equipment remains strictly with you. Once you start the hike, there’s no easy way out!
For a slightly less demanding options, ask us about the shorter hikes, plus a full five day full supported hike, organised by Fish River Lodge in the Canyon Nature Park – slightly up-river from the national park, on the western side.
History of the Canyon
Situated in a very arid region of Namibia, the Fish River is the only river within the country that usually has pools of water in its middle reaches during the dry season. Because of this, it was known to the peoples of the area during the early, middle and late Stone Ages. Numerous early sites dating from as early as 50,000 years ago have been found within the canyon – mostly beside bends in the river.
Around the beginning of this century, the Ai-Ais area was used as a base by the Germans in their war against the Namas. It was finally declared a national monument in 1962. Ai-Ais Restcamp was opened in 1971.