The Fish River Canyon
With a depth of 550 meters and a length of roughly 160 kilometers, the Fish Canyon in Namibia, Africa, is one of the longest and deepest canyons in the world. Its striking natural beauty originated some 500 million years ago due to shifting movements of the earth’s crust, which re-routed the Fish River and correspondingly lead to water erosion. In recent times, the damning of the Fish River in Hardap has created an unusually dry river bed for most of the winter months, making it an accessible playground for intrepid hikers in excellent health. However, the summer months often bring heavy rains, which transforms the dry bed into a rushing river.
The canyon begins at Seeheim, and eventually makes its way to Ai-Ais. Along the way, the canyon features the gorgeously wrought Koubis massif which rises above the river bed, providing shade and spectacular visuals. Although the canyon bears some similarities to the Grand Canyon in the U.S., including the fact that it is part of a nature conservation park, it has its own distinct beauty and awe inspiring seasonal temperatures. During the summer months, temperatures can climb to 40 degrees centigrade. For this reason, the canyon is not recommended for beginning climbers or individuals in poor health. The Fish River Canyon trail is 86 kilometers in length and takes approximately 5 days to complete. The trail consistently ranks among the most desirable hikes in Southern Africa, not only for its scenery, but for its intrinsic ruggedness.
Interested hikers need to first secure a permit from the Namibia Wildlife Resorts, which is based in the capital city of Windhoek, along with a doctor’s certificate. Hikers should not attempt the trail in summer months due to the astonishing heat. Hikers who wish to experience the beauty without the danger or the length of the hike may consider the adjoining Canyon Nature Park or Gondwana Canyon Park, although both of these parks are ‘private.’ However, they do provide accommodations, and are far more accessible for beginning hikers. The canyon is also host to wildlife, including the occasional ostrich, orynx, grasshopper, and bird.