The Fish River Canyon is located in Namibia iIt is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa. The Fish River Hiking trail is one of the most famous hikes in Southern Africa. The 86 km hike through the Fish River Canyon takes 5 days. The Fish River is the longest river in Namibia. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains and flows south-west of Ai-Ais into the Orange River.

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Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon is located in Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 metres deep.
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 Orange River.
The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; and when it ceases to flow it becomes a chain of long narrow pools on the sandy rock-strewn floor of the chasm. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais provides an oasis in the desolate rocky wastes

The Fish River canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. It developed predominantly during the pluvial times - a rainy climatic epoch - 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.

Fish River is absolutely magnificent and breathtaking in its immensity. The Fish River Canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago. However was not only created by water erosion, but through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth's crust.
The canyon is part of a nature conservation park. The gate to this park is at Hobas campsite and from here it is a further 10 kilometres to the main viewpoint for the canyon which offers a stunning views. When you arrive at the canyon, as you have no idea it is there. It drops vertically by half a kilometre, out of a flat arid plateau without any warning. As with most rivers in Namibia the Fish River is generally dry however in the raining season (January to April) the river can become a raging torrent

The canyon is part of a Nature Conservation Park. The gate is situated at the restcamp Hobas. From there, you have to drive another 10 kilometres to the actual Canyon which offers a stunning view of "Hell's Bend".

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 must be obtained. The hike is 86 km in length and takes about 5 days.

Other shorter day and half day hikes, are offered by several surrounding lodges to various parts of the canyon, please note though the hike down into the canyon into Hells bend from Hobas is only available as part of the 5 day hike

The Fish River Hiking trail is one of the most famous hikes in Southern Africa. The 86 km hike through the Fish River Canyon takes 5 days and can only be untertaken by physically fit people, it takes 5 days with absolutely no facilities, hikers are required to carry everything and find whatever water you can in semi-permanent pools.
You have to book well in advance and be able to produce a doctor's certificate. It is always a group hike.
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. In the past, many accidents and even fatalities have occurred, mainly due to heat stroke and heart failure. The rescue facilities are limited; no helicopters are stationed nearby and there is no cell phone reception in the Canyon.

The descent starts at Hiker's View, about 3 km north of the Main Viewpoint and takes almost an hour. Only one "emergency exit" leads out of the gorge near "Palm Springs", to which one usually arrives at on the third day. It is a very steep path and once you get to the top, you literally stand in the desert. The trail ends in Ai-Ais.

The Fish River Canyon area has a typical semi-desert climate. During the hot summer months (October - March) temperatures can rise to 48°C during the day and cool to about 30°C at night. Relief from the heat comes in short spells with occasional thunderstorms. The average annual rainfall in the canyon area is 100mm. During the short winters, temperatures can go below zero at night, but quickly pick up during the day to a moderate 20 to 28°C.

In the canyon you may encounter several species of mammals, such as wild horses, Mountain Zebra (Hartman zebra), Kudu, Klipspringer, Leopard, Steenbok, Baboon and Springbok. The most common rodents include mice, rats, dassies, and dassie rats. Bird life includes surprises like Pelicans, Black Eagles, Fish Eagles, Kingfishers, Lovebirds, Wild Ostrich and various species of waterfowl and wading birds, such as Herons.
Reptiles and insects are in abundance and you may come across huge Leguan lizards; snakes (such as Cape Cobra, Black Spitting Cobra, Puff adder and Horned adder) as well as Geckos. Various locusts, butterflies and moths are also present. In the natural pools of the Fish River are found an abundance of fish, such as Barbled catfish and Yellow fish.

Namibia's national tree, the Aloe dichotoma or Quiver Tree is mostly found in the south of the country. There are beautiful examples of these in the Fish River Canyon. The trees can reach an age of about 300 years, and flowering occurs during wintertime from May to July.
Other plants include various species of succulents, such as the very poisonous Melkbos. All plants are well adapted to the semi-desert environment and can survive severe droughts of up to 5 years.

Accommodation for Fish River Canyon

Fish River Hotels, lodges and Camps

Around Fish River Canyon
fish river canyon hotel


Canyon Lodge
Canyon Village
Ai Ais
Canyon Mountain Camp
Hobas Camp
Canyon Roadhouse
Vogelstrausskluft Country Lodge

Fish River
Photo Gallery


South Namibia Fish River Canyon sesreim places to stay Helmeringhausen hotels Bethanien hotel Keetmanshoop hotels Seeheim Luderitz Accommodation Karasburg Accommodation Aus Accommodation Desert horse Inn Eagles nest self catering Vogelstrausskluft country lodge Canyon Roadhouse Savanna guestfarm Goibib mountain lodge Whitehouse farm Vastrap Guesthouse Grunau accommodation Hobas camp Canyon Village Canyon Lodge Canyon Mountain Camp Canyon Mountain Camp Ai Ais resort