Africa Tours and Safaris
Fish River Canyon Namibia

Fish River Canyon Namibia

The Fish River Canyon situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is located in the south of Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in the world (the largest being the Grand Canyon in America) and the largest in Africa. It is the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It was probably formed about 500 million years ago through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth's crust. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and almost 550 metres deep. The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into the plateau which is dry, stony and sparsely covered with hard drought-resistant plants. The river flows sporadically, usually flooding in late summer, (rainy season) the rest of the year becoming a chain of long narrow pools.

How to get there

The canyon is part of a Nature Conservation Park turned into a conservation area in 1969. The gate is situated at Hobas where you drive another 10 kilometres to the actual Canyon which offers a stunning view of "Hell's Bend". The Fish River Canyon can be reached driving down south on B1 from Windhoek, turning to B4 towards Luderitz, and turning left on C12 and follow signs.

What to see

The fish river

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. It is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. It developed predominantly during the pluvial times (a rainy climatic era) many millions of years ago. With a depth of up to 550 metres, the Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, before the Grand Canyon in America. 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 canyon

The canyon, which is 161 kilometres long and up to 550 meters deep, forms part of the conservation area proclaimed a reserve in 1969. 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.

Ai- Ais hot springs and spa

It is one of the most famous hot springs and spa located at the Ai Ais resort in the country. The name is a Khoekhoen word which can be translated as ''fire water''. The area was discovered in 1850 by local Nama shepherd. During Nama uprising of 1903-07 the spring was used by German military forces as a base camp. They were also using this area in 1915 as a base to recover from wounds during invasion of South African troops. Later the spring was leased to local entrepreneur and proclaimed a national monument in 1962. In 1969 it became a conservation area. The rest camp was opened in 1971. Severe floods in 1972, 1974 and 1988 caused camp to close down for some time. The Fish River Canyon Conservation area was enlarged in 1987 by addition of state land west of canyon. Renovations to the Ai-Ais Camp were carried out in 1987-88 and again in 2009.

Activities

Hiking
The main attraction of the park is Fish River Canyon Hike which is one of the most famous hikes in Southern Africa. The hike covers a distance of 86km in the base of the canyon, over 5 days with absolutely no facilities, hikers are required to carry everything and find whatever water you can in semi-permanent pools. The canyon starts near Seeheim, is 161 kilometres long and ends at Ai-Ais.
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. The Fish River Hiking Trail starts at Hobas and ends 85 kilometres (53 miles) further south at Ai Ais. No facilities are available and hikers sleep outdoors for the entire trip which usually takes 3 to 5 days to complete. A medical certificate is required to attempt the hike, and groups must consist of at least 3 participants.

Public view points are near Hobas, a camp site 70 km north of Ai-Ais. This part of the canyon is part of the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The other 90km of this canyon are privately owned. A hike through the Canyon can and may only be done in winter, between April 15 and September 15. In summer, the temperatures in the gorge are extreme, even in winter conditions get quite hot.
 
Nature and game drives
Guided game drives are offered over the Plateau to the top of the Canyon Rim daily in the morning and evening hours. Kudu, Oryx, Springboks, Ostriches and various other animals and plants can be spotted most of the times with luck even Shakals or Rooikat (Caracals). Arriving at the view point you experience a spectacular 360° view. On most days you will see more than 250km in a duration of 2 hours. Over the breathtaking Fish River Canyon to the Klein Karasberge on one side to the Plateau up the mountain range that marks the border to the Namib Desert on the other.

Helicopter flights
View Africa's largest Canyon from a breathtaking perspective with helicopter flights over the rarely known upper part, or even the whole course of the canyon down to its deepest point in the nature reserve. The helicopter-flight directly starts and ends at the Vogelstrausskluft helipad. Flights take 30 to 45 minutes tours.

Fish River Canyon Adventure
This is a unique two day excursion with a 4x4-vehicle that takes you down to the Canyon Plains, into the Fish River Canyon, in one of its most beautiful side canyons, to a dried out waterfall and several other impressing destinations.

Fish-River-Canyon Limits
Experience the Fish River Canyon by foot and by 4x4. This extraordinary three day tour takes you on a hike from one of the highest points of Vogelstrausskluft over the Canyon Plains down into the Fish River Canyon and into one of its most beautiful side gorges. Additional 4x4-tours show you historic places and impressing views.

Where to stay
Cañon Lodge: is located in the Gondwana Cañon Park, only 20 km from the Fish River Canyon. The 25 en-suite chalets are built from natural stone and have thatched roofs and are nestled against massive granite boulders.
- Fish River Canyon
Canon roadhouse: Located just 14 km from the main entrance to the Fish River National Park, the Cañon Roadhouse offers 9 en-suite rooms, an à la carte restaurant, private campsites, swimming pool, fuel-station and a helpful information-centre.
The Cañon Village: fits snugly into the mountainous surroundings of the Gondwana Cañon Park and affords easy access to the Fish River Canyon, which is only 20 km away.

Cape Dutch cottages: each with en-suite facilities, are combined with a fully equipped restaurant, swimming pool and generous lapa to provide much relief to sun-drenched visitors.

Canon mountain camp: 26 km away from the Fish River Canyon, and situated amongst dolorite hills, this mountain Camp provides ready made beds, en-suite bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, dining room and an outside lapa and braai area.
Ai-Ais Resort: Accommodation and hot-springs at the southern end of the Fish River Canyon. It is one of the most famous hot-spring resorts in the country.
Fish River Lodge: At Fish River Lodge you have space to explore, time to relax and friendly staff to make you feel at home. Being only eight metres from the rim of the canyon, the Lodge is on the edge of the canyon with stunning views.

Hobas: Campsite close to the main viewpoint over the Fish River Canyon.

Vogelstrausskluft Lodge: Easier to enjoy than pronounce, this is one of the newest lodges in the area.

Kalkfontein Hotel Karasburg: Karasburg is situated on the southern slopes of the giant Karas Mountains enfolded by vast, grassy plains. Offers 14 luxurious rooms with telephones and air-conditioning, lock-up garages, parking area in front of rooms, freezing facilities, traditional dishes, ladies’ bar and conference facilities.
Kleinbegin Game Lodge: The lodge is situated in the southern part of Namibia, 150 km from the great Fish River Canyon. Hosts offer luxury accommodation and the silence and beauty of nature plus bed and breakfast and holiday accommodation. All rooms en-suite and with mini bar
White House Guest Farm Grunau: The White House was built in the early 1900, between 1912-1915. This beautiful house is situated on a 15,000ha farm in the far south of Namibia, 11km north of Grünau on the B1, the main road to Windhoek. It is 125km from Ai-Ais Hot-Springs and 115Km from the Fish River Canyons.

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