The awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon - Safaris to Namibia

The awe-inspiring Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon of its kind in Africa, plus the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia for most visitors on safaris into the interior. Enjoy a truly spectacular part of Namibia on your bespoke safari, also renowned as the second-largest canyon in the world. Voyage2Africa recommends top end safaris and accommodation packages to this rocky phenomenon when you are feeling fit!


Famous for its overnight hikes within the Ais-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, the 161 km long Fish River Canyon takes off near Seeheim and ends at Ais Ais. It is more than 500m deep and 27 km at its widest, second only to the Grand Canyon in the USA. To get there, take the path at Hells Bend from the campsite at Hobas. 

Take note of how 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. 

With the separation of the continent Gondwana about 120 million years ago and the uplifting of the African continent the gradient of the Fish River increased allowing it to erode even deeper into the rock. Today the deepest point of the canyon is 549 metres deep.

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.

Did you know?

The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia, cutting deep into the plateau, dry, stony and barely covered with a few hardy plants. The river flows on and off, usually flooding in late summer so has formed a chain of long narrow pools.


  • Stay at a campsite near Hobas, a public viewpoint 70 km north of ǀAi-ǀAis, part of the ǀAi-ǀAis/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park 
  • Look for 84 tree species and over 100 endemic plant species in one of the 25 recognized biological hotspots in the world – succulents and gnarled quiver trees 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.
  • Visit the sulphurous hot springs known as Ais Ais, in a well-equipped spa complex with heated pools, comfy accommodation, a restaurant, bar, and shops.

The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail

The Fish River Canyon hiking trail is one of the more popular hiking trails in Southern Africa thanks to its immense scale and rugged terrain which global adventure travellers regard as a huge challenge. 

The Canyon hike is not open during the summer months because of soaring temperatures that make it impossible to navigate. It is also not open to day visitors who can rather take in the astonishing views from the edges. As you set off on this challenging hike, open your mind to a long 88km route along the Fish River through to  ǀAi-ǀAis over a five-day adventure. It seems that the trail offers several footpaths so the hiker needs to decide which one and how long it will take!

Note the 3 impressive sections of the trail:

  • The steep slope down to Sulphur Springs (also known as Palm Springs) is the narrowest and trickiest section of the canyon – big boulders, rocks and deep sand 
  • Sulphur Springs to Three Sisters is a real river hike – plenty river stones and frequent river crossings
  • Three Sisters to ǀAi-ǀAis is a wider section of the canyon where 4×4 vehicles can drive.

Family Holidays to Fish River Canyon

Take your family on a challenging hike in the Fish River Canyon if the children are old enough and strong enough as it is tough and very hot. The other option is to drive to the dramatic view of the Hell’s Corner river bend section from the Main Viewpoint or try the half-hour hike from Main Viewpoint to Hikers’ Viewpoint. 

Take your children to the hot springs resort at Ais Ais for a treat or camp somewhere along the river route. There’s a road house, a few cabins and a luxury lodge or two where kids can run around and be free.  

A few days in the Fish River Canyon region are refreshing, educational and active too – quite a thrill for families and friends who want to be out in a stark and rocky landscape with a river flowing through it. It’s a photographer’s dream world and all the amazing drought-resistant plants worth learning about. 

We show you top-of-the-range safari lodges, roadside cabins and bush camps in this region where children will feel in awe of this rocky region and want to explore. Try an organised tour with a guide when you book a Voyage2Africa package to make life easier and we will ensure you see the River while enjoying the scenery and many activities along the way.

The Best Of The Best Safaris to Windhoek

Plan a Namibia tour and safari with Voyage2Africa, the African travel experts, and enjoy signature experiences to premier wildlife destinations south of the equator. We bring you thrilling adventures in the infinite spaces of the Fish River Canyon and the Ais Ais Hot Springs to ease those aching muscles. Choose a rustic river side bush camp or roadside cabins with comfy amenities and get ready to explore more of Namibia soon. We offer you some of the best accommodation and special packages in the Fish River Canyon Region to expand your holiday in true African style. 

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