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Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

About Fish River Canyon

Nestled in the heart of southern Namibia, Africa lies a natural wonder that will take your breath away: the Fish River Canyon. This majestic canyon boasts the title of the largest in Africa, stretching over 160 km long, up to 27 km wide, and up to 550 meters deep. The canyon's rugged terrain, carved by the Fish River over millions of years, offers panoramic views that will leave you speechless. And if you're looking for adventure in Namibia Safaris, the canyon also features challenging hiking trails and opportunities to spot unique wildlife. Don't miss the chance to experience this incredible natural wonder!

Prepare for an unforgettable Fish River Canyon Tours with essential planning insights. Let the grandeur of this geological wonder ignite your sense of wonder and leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Best time to visit

The Best Time To Visit Fish River Canyon is during the cooler months, from May to September. The weather is dry and mild, perfect for hiking and exploring. Temperatures range from 10 to 25°C (50 to 77°F), but evenings and early mornings can be chilly. Summer months (October to April) are hot and humid, with temperatures up to 40°C (104°F), making outdoor activities challenging and potentially dangerous. Know more from Best Time To Visit Namibia.

Wildlife

Fish River Canyon is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including several species of antelope, such as kudu, gemsbok, and springbok. Other mammals found in the area include baboons, rock hyrax, and bat-eared foxes. Reptiles, such as the Namaqua chameleon and the black-spitting cobra, also inhabit the region. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of bird species, including raptors, eagles, and ostriches. Know more from Namibia Wildlife.

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Fish River Canyon Travel Guide

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Quick Facts On Fish River Canyon

  • Fish River Canyon is located in southern Namibia, Africa.
  • It is the largest canyon in Africa, stretching over 160 km long, up to 27 km wide, and up to 550 meters deep.
  • The canyon was formed by the Fish River, which still runs through it.
  • The best time to visit is from May to September when the weather is dry and mild.
  • The canyon is home to a variety of wildlife, including antelope, baboons, rock hyrax, and reptiles.
  • Activities include hiking, wildlife watching, photography, and stargazing.

 

Location Of Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is situated in the southern part of Namibia, close to the border with South Africa. It is about 160 km west of the town of Keetmanshoop and can be reached via the C12 and D463 roads. The canyon is located in the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park, which spans across Namibia and South Africa. The nearest major city to Fish River Canyon is Windhoek, which is approximately 500 km away.

The Formation Of Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon was formed over millions of years by the Fish River, which still runs through it. The canyon was created through a combination of tectonic activity, erosion, and weathering. The Fish River, which begins in the Naukluft Mountains, slowly eroded the rock and sediment in the region, carving out the canyon's distinctive features over time. The canyon's formation was also influenced by the shifting of tectonic plates, which caused the rocks to uplift and fold, exposing different layers of sedimentary rock. Today, Fish River Canyon is a breathtaking natural wonder, showcasing the power of erosion and the beauty of geological history.

Geology Of Fish River Canyon

The geology of Fish River Canyon is complex and diverse, with the canyon exposing layers of sedimentary rocks that span over 1.5 billion years of Earth's history. The oldest rocks in the region are the Nama Group, which were formed over 1.5 billion years ago. The canyon also features volcanic rocks from the Karoo Supergroup, which were formed around 180 million years ago. The rocks of the canyon showcase the complex geological processes that have shaped the region over millions of years.

Best Time Of The Year To Visit Fish River Canyon

The Best Time Of The Year To Visit Fish River Canyon is during the cooler months of April to September. This is the winter season in Namibia, and temperatures are more moderate and comfortable for outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife spotting. The days are sunny with clear skies, and there is minimal rainfall during this time.

However, visitors should be aware that nights can be cold, especially in the desert climate of southern Namibia, so warm clothing is recommended. The hotter summer months from October to March can be challenging in Fish River Canyon Tours for outdoor activities due to the high temperatures, and there is a greater chance of thunderstorms and flash floods in the canyon during this time.

How To Get There

if you’re planning a Fish River Canyon Tour, you can come to this place by air or by renting a car.

By car:

 The most common way to get to the canyon is by car. Visitors can drive from the capital city of Windhoek, which takes approximately 6-7 hours. The route is well-signposted and includes both paved and gravel roads. The most direct route is via the B1 and C12 roads, which are in good condition. It is recommended to rent a 4x4 vehicle for better handling on gravel roads.

By bus

 There are daily bus services from Windhoek to Keetmanshoop, which is the nearest town to Fish River Canyon. From Keetmanshoop, visitors can take a taxi or hire a car to get to the canyon. The bus journey takes approximately 8-9 hours.

By plane

The nearest airport to Fish River Canyon is Keetmanshoop Airport, which has daily flights from Windhoek. From the airport, visitors can take a taxi or hire a car to get to the canyon.

By guided tour

 There are several tour operators that offer guided tours to Fish River Canyon from Windhoek or Keetmanshoop. The tours usually include transportation, accommodation, and meals, as well as guided hikes and other activities. It is recommended to book in advance to ensure availability.

Wildlife In Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is heaven for a diverse range of wildlife, here are some of them you can spot during your Tours in Fish River Canyon.

  • Klipspringer: These small antelopes are well adapted to living in rocky terrain and can often be seen perched on boulders or cliff faces.
  • Baboons: Several species of baboons can be found in the canyon, including the chacma baboon and the yellow baboon.
  • Rock hyrax: Also known as dassies, these small mammals are related to elephants and can be seen sunning themselves on rocks.
  • Cape fox: These small, nocturnal foxes are common in the canyon and can often be seen hunting for small prey.
  • Reptiles: Several species of lizards and snakes are found in the region, including the black spitting cobra, the puff adder, and the Namibian rock agama.
  • Birds: The canyon is home to over 60 species of birds, including eagles, vultures, ostriches, and several species of raptors.

Adventure Activities In Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon offers a range of adventurous activities for visitors seeking an adrenaline rush. Here are some of the top adventure activities to try out in Fish River Canyon Tours.

Hiking: The Fish River Canyon hiking trail is one of the most popular and challenging hikes in Africa, stretching for 85 kilometres along the canyon rim. The hike takes around 4-5 days to complete and offers stunning views of the canyon.

Mountain biking: The rugged terrain around the canyon makes it an ideal destination for mountain biking. Visitors can hire a bike and explore the canyon on their own or join a guided mountain biking tour.

Scenic flights: For a bird's eye view of the canyon, visitors can take a scenic flight over the area. Several tour operators offer helicopter and small aircraft tours of the canyon.

Canyoning: Canyoning involves descending into the canyon and exploring its rocky terrain and water features. This activity requires specialized equipment and should only be attempted with a qualified guide.

Horse riding: For a more leisurely way to explore the canyon, visitors can take a horseback ride through the surrounding hills and valleys.

Stargazing: The remote location of Fish River Canyon makes it an ideal destination for stargazing. Visitors can camp out under the stars or take a guided stargazing tour.

Overall, Fish River Canyon offers a wide range of adventurous Things To Do In Namibia for visitors looking to explore the canyon's stunning scenery and natural beauty.

Hiking The Fish River Canyon Trail

Hiking the Fish River Canyon Trail is the best way to experience the natural wonders of, this Africa’s biggest canyon. The hiking trail in fish river canyon is 88 km long and it takes 4 to 5 days to complete. Despite being the toughest hiking trails in Africa, it draws many visitors across the world who come to experience the rugged terrain.

This hiking can be done in months between May and September, where temperature remains low compared to other months in which you have to face the scorching sun.

Permits

All hikers need to obtain a permit from Namibia Government, before they start hiking. Only 30 hikers per day is allowed. And, you can not apply individually or just as a couple, you need to have a minimum group pf three people.

One more important aspect of hiking Fish River Canyon is, all hikers must have a good level of fitness and must produce a medical certificate at Hobas, the beginning point of hiking.

What Our Experts Suggests

Hiking the Fish River Canyon is popular, so we recommend you obtain your permits in advance.

The Hiking Trail

The hiking trail is beautiful, at the same time it is also though. The hiking trails begins at Hobas, and its descent to the base of the Fish River Canyon. As you start hiking you will see that this steepest, rockiest and generally hardest gong part of the hike.

On average most hikers walks around 20 kilometers. And, there are incredible spots to stop. You can stop at hot springs and admire the views of wildlife and the endless canyon.

This 85 kilometers hiking trails ends at Ais- Ais Hot Springs Resort, where you can rest.

Equipment you need for hiking

For a successful hiking, you need to have the right gear, sturdy boats, walking gear, sufficient water, and food. Camping can be done anywhere along the trail.

Some Guidelines to follow

For cooking carry your own gas, as open fires are not allowed. Carrying water is essential, as there’re no water stops. But you drink water from the river after boiling it. The Trail route easy to navigate but we suggest you carry a detailed map.

Night are cold in Fish River Canyon, pack correctly and must keep a multilayered sleeping bag with you.

Health and Safety

Hiking the Fish River Canyon Trail is a tough task, it requires a lot of physical endurance. For this reason, make sure, you’re physically fit enough. Your biggest challenge during this hike is sun and dehydration, which can cause intense fatigue. It’s tough, but hiking the Fish River Canyon is always rewarding, and its experience that will stay with you for a really long time.

Attractions In Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is a popular tourist destination located in Namibia, known for its breathtaking views and unique geological formations. Here are some of the Top Attractions In Fish River Canyon:

Ai-Ais Hot Springs: This natural hot spring is located at the southern end of Fish River Canyon and is known for its healing properties. It is a popular spot for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Hobas: Hobas is the gateway to Fish River Canyon and is a popular starting point for hiking trails. It offers stunning views of the canyon and is a great spot for photography.

Fossil Trail: The Fossil Trail is a 5km long trail that leads visitors through the ancient marine fossil beds that date back to 500 million years. It is a fascinating experience for visitors interested in geology and paleontology.

Sulphur Springs: The Sulphur Springs are a natural phenomenon that emits a strong sulfuric odor due to the high sulfur content in the water. It is a popular spot for photography and a unique experience.

Gondwana Canyon Park: Gondwana Canyon Park is a private reserve located near Fish River Canyon. It offers a range of accommodation options and activities, including game drives, horse riding, and hiking trails.

Canon Roadhouse: The Canon Roadhouse is a quirky hotel and restaurant located near Fish River Canyon. It is known for its unique decor and classic car collection, making it a popular stopover for tourists.

Duwisib Castle: Duwisib Castle is a historic castle located near Fish River Canyon. It was built in 1909 and offers a glimpse into Namibia's colonial past. It is a popular attraction for history buffs.

Namib Desert: The Namib Desert is one of the oldest deserts in the world and is located near Fish River Canyon. It offers a unique landscape and is a popular spot for desert safaris and adventure activities.

Insider Tips on Fish River Canyon

  • If you’re planning a full hike on the during your Fish River Canyon Tour, make sure to the opt for sleeping under the stars, instead of sleeping under a stand.
  • Make sure to watch the sunrise, seeing the sunset on the top of fish river canyon is always spectacular.

While travelling on the gravel road, make sure the tyres of your cars are new. Because diving on road can make your tyres puncture

Accommodation Options In Fish River Canyon

There are a few Namibia Accommodations options available in and around Fish River Canyon, ranging from basic camping sites to luxury lodges. Here are some options to you can consider on Fish River Canyon Holidays.

Hobas Campsite: This is the only camping option within the Fish River Canyon National Park. The campsite is basic, with no electricity or running water, but it offers stunning views of the canyon. There are also some basic facilities, including communal ablution blocks with showers and toilets.

Canyon Roadhouse: This is a popular lodge located about 20km from the canyon. The lodge offers a range of accommodation options, including camping sites, chalets, and family rooms. The lodge is known for its quirky decor and is a good option for those who want a bit more comfort and luxury.

Canon Lodge: This lodge is located on the outskirts of the park, about 20km from the canyon. It offers a range of accommodation options, including luxury chalets and a campsite. The lodge is known for its stunning views and excellent restaurant.

Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort: This resort is located about 75km from the canyon and offers a range of accommodation options, including camping sites, chalets, and a hotel. The resort is known for its hot springs, which are said to have therapeutic properties.

Gondwana Canyon Lodge: This lodge is located about 20km from the canyon and offers luxury chalets and a campsite. The lodge is known for its excellent restaurant and stunning views of the canyon.

For your quick understanding take a look at the following table-

Accommodation

Location

Accommodation Types

Facilities

Hobas Campsite

Within the Fish River Canyon National Park

Camping sites

Communal ablution blocks with showers and toilets

Canyon Roadhouse

About 20km from the canyon

Camping sites, chalets, and family rooms

Quirky decor, restaurant

Canon Lodge

About 20km from the canyon

Luxury chalets and a campsite

Stunning views, excellent restaurant

Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort

About 75km from the canyon

Camping sites, chalets, and a hotel

Hot springs, restaurant

Gondwana Canyon Lodge

About 20km from the canyon

Luxury chalets and a campsite

Excellent restaurant, stunning views

Highlights Of Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon is an awe-inspiring natural wonder and one of Namibia's top tourist destinations. These are some of the highlights, that you need to know before embarking on a Fish River Canyon Tours.

Scenic Views:

Fish River Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural sights in Namibia Safaris, with its deep gorges, towering cliffs, and stunning vistas. There are numerous viewpoints along the canyon's rim that offer breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

Hiking Trails:

For those who love hiking adventure, the Fish River Canyon is a popular hiking destination, with a 90-kilometer trail that winds through the canyon. The hike takes between four and five days and offers an incredible wilderness experience.

Wildlife:

All though Fish River Canyon is a looks like barren, it still boasts wide variety of wildlife. On a Fish River Canyon Safaris, you can spot animals such as klipspringers, kudus, and mountain zebras. With over 60 species of birds, Fish River Canyon is a safe heaven for bird-watcher.

Geology:

The Fish River Canyon is a geologist's dream, with rocks that date back over 2 billion years. The canyon's unique geology is the result of millions of years of erosion and tectonic activity.

Stargazing:

The Fish River Canyon is located in a remote part of Namibia, far away from any light pollution. This makes it an excellent spot for stargazing, with clear views of the Milky Way and other celestial sights.

Hot Springs:

The nearby Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort is a popular destination for those looking to soak in the naturally heated pools. The hot springs are said to have therapeutic properties and are a great way to relax after a long hike.

Life In Fish River Canyon

When you see it from far, it Fish River Canyon looks like completely isolated. But on your Fish River Canyon Tours, you will be amazed to see, this place is home to a small group of indigenous people, called Nama Tribe. The Nama people have a traditional pastoral way of life, herding livestock, particularly goats and sheep, and engaging in small-scale agriculture.

Apart from human settlement, Fish River Canyon is home to varied animals and bird species.

Final Words

What can be a better way to escape from the daily hustle of bustle and spend some in a pristine and solitude environment? The answer is Fish River Canyon. Being the World’s second-largest canyon, this place is a true marvel of nature. Whether you want to take part in extreme adventure or want to see a spectacular sunset with your loved one, Fish River Canyon Tours has all to taste. So, why wait, book your Namibia Safaris, and experience Namibia’s greatest natural wonder!

best month to Visit Fish River Canyon

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Peak

Low

Mixed

Fish River Canyon in January

January is the height of Zambia’s summer rainy season and most guide books will tell you it’s the worst time to visit. By January, heavy downpours have turned Zambia’s dirt and gravel roads to an impassable mush, rivers break their banks, and many camps and lodges close completely, only reopening once the waters have subsided. Daytime temperatures average about 30°C, with nights around 20°C across most of the country.

Fish River Canyon in February

February in Zambia is much the same as January, with short, fierce afternoon thunderstorms, swollen rivers and washed-out roads. It can be a difficult time to visit in Zambia, unless you’re flying into a specialist lodge that operates throughout the season. These usually offer their best safari deals from January to April and will sometimes have discounts for families and children. Expect day-time temperatures around 30°C and nights falling below 20°C by the end of the month.

Fish River Canyon in March

Zambia’s wet season is nearing its end in March, but there’s still plenty of rain, especially in the north. Up north, the season lasts longer, but gradually the rains retreat from the south, first from Livingstone and then Lusaka. Hot days remain around 30°C, but the nights get slowly cooler – down to around 15°C by the end of March.

Fish River Canyon in April

Although not considered prime game-viewing season, April is an excellent time to Safari In Zambia . Rates tend to be lower, the weather drier and slightly cooler, and the atmosphere clear and crisp and scattered with fluffy clouds. It’s an ideal month for photography enthusiasts and for those who want to see the greener side of Southern Africa without the afternoon downpours. Hot days will still touch 30°C, with colder nights falling to between 10°C and 15°C. By mid-April the rains have almost completely left the south, but may linger in the north into the first few weeks of May.

Fish River Canyon in May

May is arguably Zambia’s most beautiful month, with the vegetation at its lush best and Victoria Falls in full flow. By May, all of Zambia’s southern camps and lodges have reopened after the rains and across the south the dirt roads are drying, allowing self-drivers back into the parks. May is not yet prime time for wildlife viewing – the thick vegetation makes animals harder to spot. That said, Zambia’s guides are experts and guided game drives can still produce great sightings.

Fish River Canyon in June

June marks the start of Zambia’s prime safari season, but many lodges still offer reduced ‘shoulder season’ rates so it’s one of the best months to visit. Later in the season conditions can get very hot, but June is cool and pleasant, with daytime highs not much over 25°C and nightly lows around 10°C. Pack thick socks and a warm jacket for early morning walks and game drives. And prepare yourself for one of Zambia’s best months for a walking safari.

Fish River Canyon in July

July to October is peak season in Zambia, when game-viewing is at its finest, but lodges and camps also charge their highest rates. This is this the best time to go on Zambia Safari, with the thinning vegetation making wildlife easier to spot. It’s also the coldest month to visit Zambia, with daytime temperatures around 25°C in the south. Hot days can still reach 30°C, especially in the north, but expect some chilly nights and take a fleece, or better yet a windproof jacket, for early morning walks and game drives.

Fish River Canyon in August

Zambia’s peak season extends into August and the combination of cool, dry weather and increasingly thinning vegetation makes it one of the best months to go on Zambia Safari. Across the country, surface water is rapidly drying and by the end of the month the animals begin to mass along the rivers, congregating near permanent water in ever increasing numbers. As pools dry, fish are trapped, and a variety of birds, including the supremely ugly marabou stork, descend for an easy meal.

Fish River Canyon in September

By September things are hotting up in Zambia, as temperatures rise and the increasingly water-stressed animals compete for resources. As more pools dry, fish are exposed – an easy meal for hungry eagles, storks and scavengers. Both predators and prey stay close to the rivers and lion sightings are more common as their range decreases and their movements become more predictable. By the end of September hot days can easily reach 35°C, with nightly lows of between 15°C and 20°C.

Fish River Canyon in October

October is peak safari season in Zambia – but it’s hot! Known locally as ‘suicide month’ the relentless heat hits the low-lying regions hardest, especially the Luangwa and Zambezi valleys where temperatures in the shade can reach well above 40°C. This includes Livingstone and Victoria Falls where white-water rafting is no longer just about the world-class rapids, for many it’s simply a great way to cool down. A stint on Lake Kariba is ideal at this time of year. It’s arguably the best month to catch giant tigerfish and in the deeper waters it’s also safe to swim.

Fish River Canyon in November

November is the spring ‘shoulder’ season in Zambia when many lodges offer reduced rates or close completely, mostly on account of the unpredictable weather. Nobody knows exactly when the rains will begin, but they usually start in the north of Zambia first, then slowly move south over the course of the month. Lodges with fly-in access are more likely to stay open, but even some of these shut down for the wet season. As soon as the rains set in most dirt roads become impassable and lodges replying on road transfers generally close by mid-November at the latest.

Fish River Canyon in December

December is the start of Zambia’s rainy season – generally cooler than the previous few months, but nevertheless still hot and humid. Expect daytime averages of roughly 30°C and nights down to only around 20°C. Rainstorms can be fierce, with heavy downpours rapidly turning the dirt roads to mud. Camps and lodges without fly-in access close completely and many close anyway due to flooding. Few safari operators continue through the wet season, but those that do stay open usually offer lower rates. It can still be a rewarding time to visit, especially for bird lovers, as the migrant species return in full force and the breeding season begins in earnest across the dambos and swamps.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The canyon is approximately 160 kilometres long, up to 27 kilometres wide, and up to 550 meters deep.

Yes, the Fish River Canyon is a popular hiking destination, with a 90-kilometre trail through the canyon. A permit is required, and the hike takes around five days to complete.

The hike through the canyon can be challenging and requires a good level of fitness. Visitors are advised to take precautions, such as carrying enough water, wearing appropriate footwear, and avoiding the hike during the hottest months of the year.

The canyon is home to a variety of Namibia Wildlife, including baboons, klipspringers, kudus, and mountain zebras.

The Best Time To Visit The Canyon is during the cooler months of April to September when temperatures are more moderate. However, be aware that nights can be cold during this time.

Yes, there are several lodges and campsites in the area, as well as the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort.

The canyon was formed over millions of years by the Fish River, and the exposed rock formations date back over 2 billion years.

Yes, it is possible to visit the canyon as a day trip from the nearby town of Keetmanshoop, but be aware that it is a long drive.

Permits can be obtained from the Namibia Wildlife Resorts office in Windhoek, or from the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Resort near the canyon.

Yes, there is a visitor center located at Hobas, the main entrance to the canyon.

Yes, scenic flights over the canyon are available from the nearby town of Aus, providing a unique perspective of the stunning landscape.

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