The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world and famous for its overnight hikes within the Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The 161 km long Fish River Canyon commences near Seeheim and ends at Ais Ais. It is over 500m deep and 27 km at its widest, second only to the Grand Canyon in the USA. To access the canyon take the path at Hells Bend from the campsite at Hobas.
The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon of its kind in Africa, plus the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. Water erosion and shifts in the earth’s crust created the canyon around 500 million years ago. Go and see ancient Stone Age sites dating back as early as 50 000 years ago. This shows that people have always used the river as the only constant water source in Namibia.
The Canyon hike is not open during the summer months because of soaring temperatures that make it impossible to navigate. The 85km hike will take you four to five days to complete. Unfortunately, the Fish River Canyon is not open to day visitors but the views from the edges are incredible and breathtaking.
Surprisingly there’s a huge assortment of endemic plant life in this arid region. With 84 tree species and over 100 endemic plant species amateur botanists will not be disappointed. The Fish River Canyon is recognized as one of the 25 recognized biological hotspots in the world.The vetplante or succulents are particularly impressive and gnarled quiver trees ( Aloe Dichotoma ) dot the landscape. Look out for Rock Hyrax, Ground Squirrel, Jackal Buzzard, Kudu, baboons, ostrich, black backed jackal, bat eared fox and Hartmann’s Zebra.
At 800 km long the Fish River is the longest river in Namibia. Its source is the arid Naaukluft Mountains far in the east and after flowing into the Hardap dam the river flows into the Orange River 100km from the sea. The river is seasonal and does not flow all year.
At the southern end of the Fish River Canyon lies some sulphurous hot springs known as Ais Ais. There’s a well-equipped spa complex with heated pools and Namibia Wildlife Resorts accommodation. The resort accommodates a maximum of 100 visitors and is well equipped with a restaurant, bar, shops and room service.
The Ais Ais spring water is supposed to have therapeutic healing powers especially for rheumatism sufferers. It’s a great stop over on a southern circuit Namibia safari!