Today’s guest post is by Leigh Marcos
Mainly an arid country, Namibia offers some of the most impressive sceneries I have ever seen in my life. Living in Botswana in the past 3 years made it easy for us to visit neighboring countries such as Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Of all the trips we made, nothing compared to the gorgeous vista that is Namibia, from the haunting Namib desert to the wild beaches of Skeleton Coast. What impressed me the most was the Fish River Canyon, the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon in the US.
I can only remember one thing about getting to the Fish River Canyon – it is very far. After driving a total of 2,625 km in 10 days from Gaborone (Botswana’s capital) to Ghanzi, Windhoek, Okhandja, Kalkfeld and Khorixas (with a side trip to Twyfelfontein), we were ready to take a break in Sesriem.
One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to the Sossusvlei Dunes, considered some of the highest in the world. We were only supposed to stay 2 nights in Sesriem, but got ourselves into another adventure – we fried the clutch of the Discovery while visiting the dunes and had to wait for the mechanic at the lodge where we were staying to fix it. My husband ordered a new clutch from Windhoek, which is around 330 km away. The short end to the story is we had to go back to the capital for a competent mechanic to fit in the new clutch.
Now we were ready to continue to Fish River Canyon, driving it in one go (672 + km). Hats off to the driver! I was certainly not going to drive in the dark and the best I could do was provide directions using the map. Remember, the GPS does not always work in remote areas, and there were often dead zones.
The last stretch of the journey was quite difficult, as it was already dark. Driving nearly 7 hours got to everyone in the car, as we just wanted to eat and sleep. Fortunately, we were able to find the Ai-Ais Spring Resort with little trouble.
Visiting the Fish River Canyon
I really believe that a good night’s sleep is a cure-all. Feeling much refreshed and invigorated, we set out to visit the Fish River Canyon the next day. It was, as I imagined, very impressive. It covers a distance of 156 km and has a depth of 549 m. The Fish River Canyon is a canyon within a canyon. Along the edge of it are several viewpoints where visitors can enjoy the beautiful panorama of rock formations, dried river beds and sculpted cliffs.
Hiking in the Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is a challenging adventure for hikers and backpackers and the 85-km hike is a rigorous activity. It is usually completed in 4-5 days. Unfortunately, I could not do this hike but those who book it (in advance) are in for a tough yet rewarding journey.
The starting point is the northernmost viewpoint which is roughly 12 km from the Hobas campsite. For 1-2 hours, you will descend into the canyon. At the bottom is a sandbank where you can set up camp for the first night.
You will need 2 days to complete the Hobas to Palm Springs trail. The terrain is difficult with plenty of large boulders and rock pools. Palm Springs is where you will find sulphur pools dotted by date palms. On your way from Palm Springs to Causeway, you will climb a hill affording spectacular views of the “Four Finger Rock.” On day 4 or 5, the trail becomes wider and easier to navigate. It’ll end in Ai-Ais, where hikers can get cool drinks and a soak in the hot springs. Note that you need a medical clearance signed by a doctor and a completed conservation declaration form before doing the hike.
Have you ever been to Namibia? Share a story or impressions in the comments!