Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Fish River Canyon

Pics of a trip to the Fish River Canyon two weekends ago - it's just up the road from my present location, about 200 kms:

The deepest part of the Fish River Canyon is situated within the Ai-Ais/Richterveld Transfrontier National Park and the northern Entrance Gate is at Hobas.

Hobas is like an oasis in the desolate landscape and also a convenient Camp site 10km from the Main Canyon Vantage Point.

The camp looks pleasant enough. It's neat and tidy, the sites are shady and there's a small swimming pool and kiosk.

The Main Vantage Point overlooking the Canyon - a new structure, it wasn't here at my last visit a few years ago.

Hell's Bend - The view from the Vantage Point.

The Fish River Canyon is reputedly the second largest in the World after the USA's Grand Canyon. It is one of Namibia's main tourist destinations.

Two kilometres north of the vantage point, a group of hikers prepares to set out on the tough, 5-Day Fish River Canyon Hike.

There are no facilities along the way; hikers sleep under the stars and must carry their own supplies. Water is normally available in the Fish River but must be boiled or cleaned with purification tablets.

The trail is 85 kilometres long and, once in the canyon, there is no way out except for one or two emergency exit points. Earlier this year, a group of hikers had to be evacuated when the Fish River came down in flood.

Hikers must present a medical certificate of fitness and complete an indemnity form prior to commencing the trail.

A group of hikers descends into the canyon.

Many people claim that this 2-3 hour descent is the toughest part of the whole trail.

I'd love to walk the Fish River Canyon but I fear that this jarring, steep decline would mess my knees up completely.

The view from another point a few kilometres south of the main vantage point.

In total, the Canyon is 160 km long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 metres deep.

Rain had fallen in this arid area and patches of tiny red succulents, combined with the natural colour of the rock, gave the ground a pinkish hue.

To commemorate their visit - in a 'Kilroy Was Here' kind of way - many people build little cairns. There are probably a few hundred on the edge of the canyon.

Above is one of the more creative examples.

A last look at the canyon from another vantage point - photographs can't really capture the magnificence of the scene - you'll have to come check it out yourselves - April to September are the best times if you're planning a trip ... :)



  1. It's beautiful. I was going to say it reminds of the Grand Canyon which I've only seen in photos. I hear you when you speak of your knees. I'm afraid I wouldn't be up to the descent either but the view would be worth it from the top!

  2. Hi Penny - yeah, it is a great view ... the hiking trail is only open during winter because in summer it gets too hot down there ...

  3. "Kilroy was here" hehe funny. and 200kms is up the road. The vastness of space you live in, a magnificent one too. The two signs are conflicting, do hikers need special permission and must be registered for the walk? But I think I prefer the view from the vantage point, sitting and enjoying it with someone else taking the pictures, good knees or not. I had been to the Grand Canyon but we were tourists, I would like to travel Namibia Lonely Planet style and leave Kilroy signs, hehe, but I should know better :)

    It is spectacular Graham, your country.

  4. Yes indeed ... it is a spectacular country Fazlisa ...

    People must register months in advance to do the hike (only thirty people per day are allowed to start the trail) ...

    I've been wanting to build a small rock cairn for ages now but I haven't found the 'right spot' yet ... :)

  5. Awesome. Even though I would find it far too arid for my sensibilities, I get a sense of the immense scale of that canyon. Beautiful but a tough land.

  6. I'm guessing that your preferred habitat is a tropical climate Calvin - but I think that if you were exposed to the desert for a while you'll find it exhilarating ...

  7. Great shots, looks like quite the hike, would be fun to give it a go one day.

  8. Oh Wow, Graham this is quite beautiful, how come I was so close but never got to see this :-( I would also only be able to view it from the top, knees, back and muscles would strongly object to anything else!! I love those little pink succulents as well, nature is amazing how it produces these from what looks like an arid, rocky piece of ground. Great photos. Diane

  9. Thanks Pat - I was thinking of paragliding to the bottom of the canyon but I don't like flying very much ...

  10. Thanks Diane - I hope you're feeling better today ...

    ... yeah, those desert plants are amazing - thy have what seems to be droplets of water on them which glisten in the morning sun ...

  11. Having been to the Grand Canyon I completely understand "photographs can't really capture the magnificence".
    Your photos are great though. I didn't even know Namibia had a large canyon. I only knew it was on the coast and had sand dunes.

  12. Thanks lisleman, Namibia is full of surprises ...

    I've just googled and looked at pics of your Grand Canyon - what a spectacle!

  13. Hi Judy - thanks for your visit and kind comment.

  14. Takes your breath away - the river looks as if there isn't much water in it, or is that an illusion because we're seeing it from far away? Would one ever see it 'in full spate'? My favourite activity would be to photograph it as you have, then sit there for a few hours and let my mind drift.

  15. Yes, it is breathtaking Caroline - the river at this time is low and greenish ... the hiking trail is closed during summer months because of the heat and risk of flash floods - I'd like to get some pics when it's in full flow ...

  16. Wow - it's just breathtaking! I think I could manage the decent way better than I would manage climbing out again. My dad has done this hike twice and raves about it. I think I would struggle with all the heat and direct sun during the day - I like my shade :)

  17. Hehe Jackie - I enjoy shade too ... the reason I say I probably couldn't handle the descent is because lately I've noticed that whenever I go down a steep slope my knees hurt badly ... it's a shame because I'd love to do the trail ...