To the bottom of Fish River Canyon

Per at the rim of Fish River Canyon
Per at the rim of Fish River Canyon

If it gets steeper now, I’m out of the car, I tell Per. We are sitting in an open safari vehicle on our way down to the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It is Africa’s largest and the world’s second largest canyon. It’s steep, so steep that I did not actually think it was possible to drive a car down. Now we’re in the back of the car and we’re heading down a plunge. The road is no road at all, but just a path full of rocks that our skilled driver and guide must move to the side here and there.

Our driver has to move some stones!
Our driver has to move some stones!

I’m not afraid of heights, fortunately, but still feel a little uneasy. Per takes my hand and smiles. “If something happens, we’re in it together A little wrong cut here, at least we’re dying instantaneously,” he says to cheer me up. We are both adventurous and at this moment, let fate prevail. Our driver has taken this trip many times a week; I trust he knows what he is doing.

I have never driven in such a steep terrain with a car, barely walked in it. The dry landscape is apparently deserted. But it turns out there is a rich wildlife here. On our way down the steepest hanger we see some antelopes and on the slope a little bit away, the zebras are grassing. What they can find here is impossible to understand. Many animal species in Namibia have over time adapted to the desert and survive on minimal resources. In The Namid Desert you can meet both the desert leopard and desert elephants.

On the way down in Fish River Canyon and antelopes watching us
On the way down in Fish River Canyon and antelopes watching us

The view is overwhelming and simply cannot be described. Namibia is a desert country located north of South Africa and with a long coast facing the Atlantic Ocean. The country is sparsely populated, actually the second least populated country in the world, after Mongolia. We are staying at Fish River Lodge, on the very rim of the canyon. Now we are going on a day trip to the bottom of Fish River Canyon. This canyon is 160 km long, 27 km wide and 550 m deep at the most. Fish River flows in the bottom and since it is winter and dry season, there is little water and the river is just a stream that sneaks in a meander pattern between the rocks. In Hardap there is a dam and that also contributes to little water flow.

Fish River Canyon is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Namibia and is considered a national treasure. The canyon was formed millions of years ago by tectonic movements. That is, movements in the earth plates. Later the water continued to shape the landscape. The canyon ends by the salt planes of Ai-ais.

At last I can enjoy a swim at the bottom of Fish River Canyon
At last I can enjoy a swim at the bottom of Fish River Canyon

After a few hours of adventurous driving we are at the bottom of the canyon and can enjoy a long-awaited bath in one of the many kelps that the river forms between strange rock formations. It’s unbearably hot and not many places to find shade. Right up to the rocks we find some shade and get our water bottles and unpack our picnic basket. It’s so hot I am nearly fainting. The only solution is to take a swim in the kelp. A shoal of fish gathers around me and is probably wondering what I am doing there. I stay in the water as long as I can, life is not bad!

It’s possible to hike through the Fish River Canyon as well. It takes from 4-6 days and is considered quite demanding, but still very popular. There are no facilities along the way and you have to carry all you need, sleep under the sky or bring along a tent. Authorization from the authority is also required and you must show a health certificate.

Evening sun gives the landscape surrounding Fish River a special flare
Evening sun gives the landscape surrounding Fish River a special flare
More from Bente Vold Klausen

Petroglyphs near Akka in Morocco

Looking for petroglyphs in the desert! We are exploring the area near...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.