Magical Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Despite the numerous comparisons with the Grand Canyon in the United States, there is really nothing on earth that truly compares to the Fish River Canyon. Carved by the Fish River over thousands of years, the canyon is 100 miles long close to 16.7 miles at its widest and more than 1800 feet at its deepest.
Whereas these numbers may paint a picture of just how dominating this natural feature is, you have to see it to appreciate its grandeur. Today, the canyon is protected territory and forms part of the Fish River Canyon Park. That being said, most sections of the canyon are privately owned. The only viewpoints open to the public are close to Hobas.
If you love a challenging hike, the 52-mile long Fish River Canyon Trail is one of Southern Africa’s most popular trails. However, you not only have to be physically fit before you tackle this trail, you have to take into consideration the searing daytime temperatures that sometimes touch 45 degrees Celsius. Usually lasting 5 days, the hike starts at Hobas and terminates at Ai-Ai. The risk of flash floods during the summer though means the trail is only open from May to September.
But not everyone will have the time or energy to walk 50+ miles in the sun. A more comfortable and spectacular way to see the canyon is through flights on small planes that fly through some of the most dramatic sections of the canyon. Another popular recreational activity here is swimming in Fish River. Word of caution though – the water is biting cold despite the heat. It is also renowned for some giant fish species.
Towards the south end of the canyon are the hot springs at Ai-Ai. The springs’ waters are channelled to a series of Jacuzzis, baths and an open air swimming pool. Rich in sulphur, fluoride and chloride, the waters are therapeutic with claims of substantial relief for persons with nervous disorders or rheumatism.