Fish River Canyon Hike
Namibia's famous Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail
The Fish River Canyon, in Namibia, is reputed to be the second largest canyon in the world, only being surpassed by the Grand Canyon. It is approximately 180kms long and stretches south from Seeheim down to the Orange river which forms the border between Namibia and South Africa. The Fish River Hiking Trail follows 85km of the canyon. This unguided, camping hike, starts from the main view point near Hobas, and ends at Ai-Ais Hot Springs Spa.
Hiking The Fish River Canyon is an amazing experience, however it should not be attempted by inexperienced hikers as the area is very rugged. Please note:
- Once you are in the canyon it is impossible to get out - and in the case of a serious emergency, hikers have to be airlifted out of the canyon. This is one of the reasons why hikers must present a recent medical certificate of fitness no older than 40 days and complete an indemnity form, prior to commencing the trail.
- Hikers are required to be entirely self-sufficient on this hike, and a medical kit is also recommended.
- Water is normally available in the canyon, but purification tablets are recommended.
- A minimum 3 people is required to book the Fish River Hike - if there are only 1 or 2 of you wanting to complete the hike, you should consider joining the guided Fish River Hiking Trail. (This guided hike is also an excellent option for less experienced hikers - as the equipment needed to complete the hike is included and the services of an experienced guide make the hike a more enjoyable experience.)
- The walk is approximately 85km long, and usually takes between 4-5 days to complete.
- A decent level of fitness is essential.
- You will have to carry your own equipment every day, including food and water (all together approximately 12–15 kg per person.)
- The park is open for these trails from May 1 to September 15 each year.
- A maximum of 30 persons per day are allowed into the canyon for hiking.
- Children under the age of 12 are not permitted.
- Demand is high, so reservations should be made well in advance.
- No facilities are available and hikers sleep outdoors for the entire trip.
- Foot care is important, before, during and after the hike
It is recommended to arrive at Hobas early enough to do the descent on the first afternoon of the trail, as the trail starts from the view point about 12kms from the campsite at Hobas. The steep descent into the Fish River Canyon takes between 1-2hrs and most consider this to be the most strenuous section of the trail. At the bottom of the descent, there is a large sandbank that makes an ideal campsite for the first night of the trail.
From Hobas to Palm Springs:
This section of the trail should take 2 days to complete, (that's if you are expecting to complete the Fish River Hike in 5 days.) The terrain is rugged, and marked by large boulders and rock pools, so allow for plenty of time to negotiate the obstacles. Palm Springs is the site of thermal sulphur pools, the perfect venue to rejuvenate those tired and aching muscles. Date palms grow around the spring, which give rise to the place name.
Palm Springs to the Causeway:
After breakfast there is a climb up a hill, with beautiful views of a rock formation consisting of four thick pinnacles, known as the 'Four Finger Rock,' from the top. Another highlight along the trail is the 'Von Trotha's Grave.' Second Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha, a nephew of the well-known Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha, died here in 1905 during a confrontation between German soldiers and native Nama's. As a reliable source of water, the Fish River has always been considered as an oasis of life, so watch out for the many mammals, reptiles, plants and insects along the way.
The Causeway to Ai-Ais
This last part of the trail takes about 4 / 5hrs. The canyon is much wider and the hiking is easier - the thought of a cold beer and a dip in the hot springs at Ai-Ais, should be all the motivation needed to see you home!