The Fish River Canyon isn’t, as tourism marketers would have you believe, the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon in Arizona. There are many in the Himalayas alone that are longer, wider, deeper than both of these. But the Fish River Canyon in southwestern Namibia is still one of the country’s most visited attractions – and rightly so.
We entered the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park at the Hobas campsite, where you have to pay for a permit. Along the 10km drive to the viewpoints out over the canyon we saw springbok, gemsbok, ground squirrel and ostrich. Other creatures that live here include that amazing rock jumper, the klipspringer, as well as mountain zebra, steenbok, blackbacked jackal, bat-eared fox and the endemic Nama padloper tortoise.
- If you’re seriously fit and not afraid of a challenge, you can do the 85km, 4-5 day hiking trail through the canyon. It starts at the main viewpoint, 10km from Hobas campsite, and ends at Ai-Ais resort to the south. Because of extreme summer temperatures and the danger of flash floods, the trail is only open between 1 May and 30 September. Bookings through Namibian Wildlife Resorts in Cape Town tel 021-4223761, or Windhoek tel +264 (0)61-2857000.
- If you’d prefer to enjoy the scenery without lugging heavy gear, go canyon mule trekking for 2-3 days north of the main viewpoint. Mules carry all your luggage and equipment. An added bonus is that your tour guide will explain the area’s plants, animals and geology to you and tell stories around the campfire at night. Bookings through the Gondwana Collection, tel +264 (0)61-427200, email firstname.lastname@example.org.