Namibia Travel Guide | Hiking through Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon. Namibia. Leigh Kemp
Exploring one of Namibia's top tourist attractions; the Fish River Canyon, on foot is an exceptional experience and one that hikers around the world dream of doing.

The second largest canyon in the world, the Fish River Canyon is situated in the south of Namibia and stretches for 180 kilometres (105.6 miles) from Sesriem down to the Orange River.

Visitors to the canyon can embark on an unguided 4 -5 day hike through the canyon, sleeping overnight under the stars.

The trail is 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) long and interested hikers will need to pre-book their turn prior to arrival.Hiking through the Fish River Canyon is an incredible experience and avid hikers will relish in the ability to explore the canyon and be so close to nature. Bookings need to be made well in advance as there is a limit of 30 people per day allowed in the canyon.The trail is only open for hiking between the 1st May and the 15th September and minimum number of hikers in a group is 3.

The first day of the hike starts early. After over-nighting at either Hobas camp or Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort, hikers can enjoy a large breakfast before catching a shuttle to the starting point of the hike located at the main view point near Hobas.Camping at the bottom of Fish River CanyonBefore you can start down the hill on the trail you will need to be aware that once in the canyon there is no way of getting out of it and anyone that is injured or unable to continue will need to be airlifted out of the canyon by a helicopter.

All hikers will also need to present a recent medical certificate and will need to complete an indemnity form.There are no supplies along the hike and hikers will need to be completely self-sufficient while they are in the canyon. This means that they will each need to carry sufficient water, food and medical supplies to last for the entire adventure. A river runs through the gorge from which can be drunk after water purification tablets have been used.The first day of the hike covers mainly the steep descent into the canyon. Walking down from the view point into the canyon is considered the most strenuous part of the hike overall and can take up to 2 hours to complete.

Once at the bottom there is a beautiful soft sandbank that makes an ideal camping site for the first evening. Relaxing after some strenuous exercise and gazing up into the night sky is what this hike is all about and the sense of freedom, isolation and exultation is delicious.Fish River Canyon. Namibia. Chris DuplessisThe next 2 - 3 days of the hike are spent traversing between Hobas and the Palm Springs section of the canyon. The path is rugged with large boulders and rock pools and it can take some time to navigate over or around the obstacles. At the end of this section there are some thermal sulphur pools which are wonderful to relax in. The sulphurous waters also do wonders to ease tired, weary muscles.

While in the canyon you may be lucky enough to see a number of different animals as well as interesting reptiles and insects. The final two days traverse through beautiful scenery and past interesting rock formations before meandering through the wider section of the trail towards Ai-Ais and at the end of the journey.

by Katie Edge

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