Fish River Canyon, Namibia

The Fish River is, at 650 kilometres, the longest river in Namibia. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains and flows south-west of Ai-Ais into the Oranje.

The Fish River canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. It developed predominantly during the pluvial times - a rainy climatic epoch - many millions of years ago. With a depth of up to 550 metres, the Fish River Canyon is perhaps, the second deepest canyon in the Africa. The enormous gorge meanders along a distance of approx. 160 kilometres through the fissured Koubis massif all the way down to Ai-Ais. The canyon starts near Seeheim, is 161 kilometres long and ends at Ai-Ais.

The Fish River Canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago. However, the gorge was not only created by water erosion, but also through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth's crust.

Because the Fish River is being dammed in Hardap near water. In winter, during the dry season, the river bed is often completely dry or reduced to only the occassional puddle. However, after rainfalls in summer the river can become a raging torrent. The canyon is part of a Nature Conservation Park. The gate is situated at the restcamp Hobas. From there, you have to drive another 10 kilometres to the actual Canyon which offers a stunning view of "Hell's Bend".

The Fish River Canyon has become a popular hiking destination. However, hikes require good physical health and should only be undertaken during the cooler winter months (between May and September). A permit from Namibia Wildlife Resorts in Windhoek must be obtained. The hike is 86 km in length and takes about 5 days.

Much easier hikes, no less beautiful, are offered in the bordering private "Canyon Nature Park". The adjacent and also private "Gondwana Canyon Park" offers scenic hikes. They also have excellent accommodation.

In southern Namibia is second only in grandeur to the USA’s Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is absolutely magnificent and breathtaking in its immensity. Rock strata of purples, pinks and grays stretch along a 100- mile (161km) course. Yet it comes as something of a shock when you arrive at the canyon, as you have no idea it is there. It drops vertically by 1,800ft (550m) out of a flat arid plateau without any warning, even though at some points it is 17 miles (27km) wide! According to the San Bushmen the twists and curves were carved by the serpent, Kouteign Kooru, in an attempt to escape capture. However, geologists say it was initially created by a fracture in the earth's crust 500 million years ago. Erosion and the action of glaciers then further deepened the canyon.

In the base of the canyon only remnants of the great Fish River remain and all you can see from the viewpoints are distant emerald pools. After rains the energetic stream tries to muster up enough energy to be called a river. It is down here in the canyon floor here that hikers pit themselves against the elements on one Southern Africa’s most famous and popular hiking trails. The hike covers a distance of 54 miles (86km) over 5 days in the base of the canyon, with absolutely no facilities whatsoever. You have only what you carry on your back and whatever water you can find in semi- permanent pools. Because of its arduous nature, the National Park's office insists on a certificate of fitness before you are allowed to commence the walk. The reason for never turning back, is that your hike ends at Ai-Ais Hot Springs, where you can dip your sore feet and weary body in therapeutic hot water

Opportunities for game watching is limited but springbok and steenbok are sometimes seen on the plains at Hobas. Klipspringer and troops of Chacma baboons are happy on rocky slopes and mountain zebra favour the rugged ravines but are rarely seen. Some kudu inhabit the densely vegetated lower reaches of the canyon. The riverine bush of the canyon attracts an interesting variety of colourful birds and raptors such as rock kestrals and lanner falcons ride the thermals.

Summer: November to April are the hottest months with average mid-summer temperatures ranging between 97°F and 100°F (36°C-38°C) and reaching in excess of 104°F (40°C) by midday in the canyon.
Winter: May to September are cooler but you can still expect daytime sunshine and pleasantly warm to hot temperatures. At night it can get very col d with a mid-winter July minimum of 44.5°F (7°C) or less, especially in the canyon.
Rainy Season: The annual rainfall is highly variable and erratic and varies between 2 inches (50mm) and 4 inches (10mm) per year.


Your host Louis & Riette Fourie
At the Fish River Canyon
Website :

Grande View Lodge
Ph (++264) 63 683005
Fax (++264) 63 683006
Email :

Fish River Guest Farm
Ph (++264) 63 693007
Fax (++264) 63 693006
Standby Landline (++264) 63 266018
Email :

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