The Fish River Canyon is situated in the south-west of Namibia, in the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park.
Canyon Nature Park
Tel : +264 61 246 788
A couple of years ago I flew to New York, onwards to Las Vegas , and then onwards again to see the splendour of the Grand Canyon.? At that stage I did not know that a fraction of the distance from me, in Namibia, I could stay at the?Fish River Lodge?which overlooks the equally magnificent Fish River Canyon, has chalets far closer to the verge than anything the Grand Canyon has to offer, and is less commercialised.
The Fish River Canyon was a prehistoric oasis, formed 500 million years ago by tectonic activity in the Earth?s crust.? According to San legends, the canyon was created when the great serpent Koutein Kooru tried to escape hunters, cutting a great fissure into the desert with his scaly body.
There is indeed a supernatural silence when people ?meet? the canyon for the first time.? At 161 kilometres long (stretching south from Seeheim to the Orange River), 550 meters deep and 27 kilometres wide in some places, it is one of the most awe-inspiring scenes in Africa.? It drops away unexpectedly to reveal a slice of Planet Earth?s restless history.? The visitor is greeted by a multitude of colours, glowing sandstone, splintering shale and tar-like lava deposits.
For a ?face to face? experience with the canyon, the 85 kilometre hiking trail is recommended only for the fit adventurer willing to rough it for 4-5 days.? There are also 4?4 drives, horse riding trials and shorter walks to be enjoyed.? Do not miss ?Hell?s Bend?, the most photographed portion of the canyon.? Along the hike you?ll pass the lonely grave of German second lieutenant Thilo von Trotha (a nephew of Lieutenant General Lothar von Trotha, who was responsible for genocide against the Herero and Nama people),? who was killed in a skirmish with the Nama people in 1905.
The area is malaria free and home to small mammals and 60 different bird species, belying the apparent lifelessness of the region.
Quiver trees etched blackly against a luminous sunset and the stillness of the ancient canyon is a testament to Namibia?s haunting beauty.
A highlight is the hot water spa resort at Ai-Ais (means ?burning water? in Nama), where you can take a dip in the springs.