The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is one of the largest canyons in the world.
The Fish River Canyon (Afrikaans: Visrivier Afgronde) in Namibia's South is one of the world's largest canyons and one of Namibias most recognised Natural Wonders. For more than 160 km the Fish River, Namibia's longest river, washed into the ground up to 550 meters deep and up to 27 km wide.
The Fish River has its source in the Eastern Naukluft Mountains and in Richtersfeld flows into the Orange River, after travelling for more 650 km through the desert of Southern Namibia. In its lower part (between Seeheim and Ai-Ais) it crosses a mountain range and thereby forms the Fish River Canyon. Today nearly all of the Canyon is preserved by Nature Reserves: In the South where the deepest part is located by the Ai-Ais / Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, in the North by private Nature Reserves such as the Canyon Nature Park or Vogelstrausskluft.
- Southern Part (National Park): (Hobas Viewpoint) From Karasburg and B1, take C12 to C37 to the main Fish River Canyon Viewpoint. From Keetmanshoop, take B4 to C12, then to C37. (Ai-Ais) To go directly to Ai-Ais Hot Springs from B1, take C10 to Ai-Ais. The hiking trail, begins near Hobas on D601 and ends at Ai-Ais Hot Springs at the C10.
- Northern Part (Private Nature Reserves): From Keetmanshoop or Lüderitz take B4 and turn on D463.
The Fish River Canyon Area supplies several airstips for private and charter flights:
- at Ai-Ais
- at Fish River Lodge and Vogelstrausskluft
- at Seeheim
- in the vicinity at Grunau, Keetmanshoop and Bethanie
- Fish River Canyon Trail: Though a very tough trail, the Fish River Canyon Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Southern Africa. It is an 85 km hike from Hobas to Ai-Ais. Beware that temperatures of 40C are not uncommon on the trail.
- Scenic flights from several vantage points
- Take a swim! Though be warned the water is very cold even on hot days and you'll be sharing the river with some very large fish.
- Most lodges offer hikes into the canyon and the nature park varying in length from one to five days.
A stick (or trekking pole) and hardy sandals. Both of these are invaluable during the many river crossings sometimes over slippery boulders - the stick to aid with balance and the shoes to save your boots from getting wet! Ziplock bags to keep your food and other goods dry and a larger plastic bag to keep your sleeping bag dry.
When doing the hiking trail, water is mostly available in large pools in the river, but in dry years the quality can deteriorate drastically. Always use water purification tablets and if possible boil the water before use. Larger pools generally have cleaner water than smaller stagnant pools. The turbidity of the water gives a rough indication of the quality. Always carry at least 2 liters of water with you at all times, especially when making use of shortcuts as no water is available there.
Camps in the Park:
Lodging outside the Park:
- Cañon Lodge.
- Cañon Roadhouse.
- Fish River Lodge - the only lodge on the rim of the canyon, (off D463), ☎ , fax: +264 (0) 63 683006, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Vogelstrausskluft Lodge, (on D463), ☎ +264 (0) 63. 68 30 86, fax: +264 (0) 63. 68 30 67, e-mail: email@example.com. Also offers a campground.