Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Things to do - general

With a length of 650 kilometres the Fish River is the longest river in Namibia. Its source lies in the eastern Naukluft Mountains. South-west of Ai-Ais it flows into the Oranje.

The Fish River canyon, situated along the lower reaches of the Fish River, is one of the most impressive natural beauties in the southern part of Namibia. With a depth of up to 550 metres, the Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world. The enormous gorge meanders along a distance of approx. 160 kilometres through the fissured Koubis massif all the way down to Ai-Ais. The canyon starts near Seeheim. It is 161 kilometres long and ends at Ai-Ais.

The Fish River Canyon probably formed about 500 million years ago during the pluvial times – a rainy climatic epoch – many millions of years ago. However, the gorge was not only created by water erosion, but also through the collapse of the valley bottom due to movements in the earth’s crust.

Because the Fish River is being dammed in Hardap near Mariental, it only contains a small amount of running water. In winter, during the dry season, the river bed is often completely dry or reduced to just some puddles here and there. However, after rainfalls in summer the river can become a raging torrent.

The canyon is part of a national nature conservation park. The gate is situated at the restcamp Hobas. From there, you have to drive another 10 kilometres to the actual canyon which offers a stunning view of the famous “Hell’s Bend”.

The Fish River Canyon has become a popular hiking destination. However, hikes require good physical health and can only be undertaken during the cooler winter months (between May and September). A permit from Namibia Wildlife Resorts in Windhoek must be obtained. The hike is 86 km in length and takes about 5 days.

Much easier hikes, no less beautiful, are offered in the bordering private “Canyon Nature Park”. The adjacent “Gondwana Canyon Park”, also private, offers scenic hikes as well. They also have excellent accommodation.

Country Namibia

Culture and history info

The Fish River Canyon (Afrikaans: Visrivier Canyon or Visrivier Afgronde, German: Fischfluss Canyon), is located in the south of Namibia. It is the largest canyon in Africa, as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep. The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais is situated. Public view points are near Hobas, a camp site 70 km north of Ai-Ais. This part of the canyon is part of the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park. The other 90 km of this canyon are privately owned.The Fish River Canyon hiking trail is one of the more popular hiking trails in Southern Africa. The immense scale and rugged terrain has drawn many visitors from all over the world to experience what hiking or trail running the canyon can offer. Apart from the 2 kilometre descent west of Hobas and some optional short cuts, the trail generally follows 88 kilometres of the Fish River through to Ai Ais and is usually completed within 5 days. Although there are a number of footpaths through the canyon, the trail is not fixed leaving the hiker to decide where and how long to hike. There are no amenities on the trail and hikers have to carry all their needs with them. Open fires are not allowed on the trail. In times of inclement weather, some shelter in a run-down building can be found at the Causeway (27.829°S 17.571°E) but otherwise sleeping is outdoors. The weather is usually mild and typical temperatures vary between 5°C and 30°C with little humidity. Extreme weather, such as flash floods, stormy winds and rain occasionally play havoc during the hiking season.Culture and history image
Canyon Lodge

Canyon Lodge

, Fish River Canyon
Price per night from N$ 2,285
Anticipation builds up as you turn off the main gravel road toward Canyon Lodge. The soft colours of More info

Unfortunately there are no self-catering offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no tour offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no cruise offers at this location at the moment.

Unfortunately there are no car rental offers at this location at the moment.