About the Fish River Canyon
Namibia Tours

The Fish River Canyon is not on every Namibia tour list but it is certainly one place worth visiting.

The Fish River Canyon has some of the oldest rocks in Namibia.  It is estimated that about 650 million years ago a mountain range eroded into a plain that was flooded by the ocean.  The Fish River Canyon is a result of a graben that formed along old tectonic faults about 350 million years ago.  In places, the edges are more than 20km apart at the upper edges.  Back then the riverbed was about 300 metres higher than it is today.  It deepened with what is known as the Gondwana-Glaciation Glaciers.  Today the Fish River Canyon is 550 metres deep at its deepest point.

The Fish River is the longest river in Namibia at around 800 kilometres with its source in the Naukluft Mountains.  Two hundred kilometres down the river it flows into the Hardap Dam, the largest water reservoir of Namibia.  The Fish River does not have water continuously and during the dry season it consists of sporadic pools, but during the rainy season, it turns into a torrent of water.  The Fish River Canyon ends at Ai-Ais where it then flows in the Orange River.

The best way to experience this magnificent Canyon is by hiking it.  This can be done from May to September as the rest of the year is simply just too hot.  The hike is about 86 km long and is done over 4 or 5 days.  Although the days are still hot it is advisable to take warm clothing for the night that can plummet to about 5 degrees C at night.

To hike this trail you will need to be fit and you will need a medical certificate.  It’s not an easy hike as you will be hiking over rocks and sand and even a river crossing.  Also, be sure to be plenty of sun-screen as there are not many shady spots along the way.  There is river water to drink along the way but be sure to take purifying tablets or another way to purify the water.

After a day’s walk, you can set up camp anywhere on the sandy banks of the river.  By the second day, you should reach the Hot Springs.  The hot spring has very hot water but just where it flows into the river is a great place to take a swim and relax for an hour or so.  The trail gets difficult after this and by the end of the second day, you will welcome your sleeping bag.

There are shortcuts along the hike, some clearly marked and some not so clear.  Look out for them as the terrain gets more difficult and has more river crossings by the third day.

The hike has many interesting attractions apart from the sheer beauty of the environment.  At the southern end of the hike, you will find a grave of Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha, who was killed in 1905 in a confrontation between the Germans and the Nama.  Several animals, insects and reptiles can also be seen along the way as well as interesting rock formations.