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Typical view of the Fish River Canyon

We left at 04H00 and it was rain­ing. Not one of us was feel­ing to perky and I think the most sleep that any one had for the night was about 4 hours. About an hour and a half hour later we stopped at Piket­berg for our first cup of coffee.

It was still rain­ing. Judg­ing by the land­scape it looked like this is the most rain this area ever had. Late morn­ing we got to Spring­bok and bought refresh­ments. The rain stopped shortly, just to con­tinue a few min­utes later. While dri­ving fur­ther we dis­cussed what we should have done and that is .… we should have left the day before, straight after work, and trav­eled till 20h00 and sleep over some­where. The next days trav­el­ing would be much less, and if if you get your plan­ning right, one can get into the Canyon on the same day. (When we got into the Canyon we saw that this idea has been thought of a long time ago.)

This has a huge advan­tage as you don’t have to take any more leave, and you can start walk­ing at sun­rise on your first day of the hike.

Finally 660 km and 7 and a half hours later we got to the bor­der. The bor­der cross­ing was a breeze. Just one tip, take a pen, as some­times this can cause a queue.

Namibia is breath­tak­ing coun­try. Straight after the bor­der you have the desire to stop all the time because the oppor­tu­nity to take a per­fect pic­ture just gets thrown at you all the time. Unfor­tu­nately one is often pressed for time, as it was in our case.

We took the first Ai Ais turn left, and imme­di­ately turned onto a dirt road that puts many of South Africa’s tarred roads to shame. Late that after­noon we dropped one of the vechiles at Ai Ais, and we then squeezed into the dou­ble cab and went on to Hob­bas. Along this road you have the first sight­ings of the Canyon.

At 15h30 we finally arrived at Hob­bas. Hob­bas is another spec­tac­u­lar camp­site, but there is no lawn as with many camp sites in Namibia. When I asked the recep­tion why this camp­site is specif­i­cally here, I was told that the gov­ern­ment bought this farm and are build­ing on the exist­ing infra­struc­ture. The camp site has lots of shade and has plenty of sites to choose from. Elec­tric­ity is avail­able on some of the sights and is sup­plied by a gen­er­a­tor that shuts down around 22h00. Note, in win­ter the Namibian’s work on day light sav­ing hours. This means that they are one hour behind us. For those hot days, there is a small enclosed pool to cool you down.

At first I thought this camp­site was mainly used for an overnight for the Canyon hik­ers, but it seems this camp­site is even more pop­u­lar with the over­seas tourists (that comes by the bus loads) and 4 x 4 enthu­si­asts. That night we slept under the stars, (no tents) and to our sur­prise we were vis­ited by two fairly tame jack­als. See­ing that I was not pre­pared for this sur­prise, I did not take any pho­tos, but make sure you keep your food packed away.

Sadly I must say the ablu­tion blocks was not nearly up to stan­dard. The taps were not drip­ping, but run­ning, and no mat­ter how hard you tried to close the tap, it just turned in cir­cles. I could almost live with the drip­ping taps, but the stench was hor­ren­dous.
I checked all the toi­lets to find the cause, but there was no obvi­ous rea­son for the stench.

On our return trip 5 days later to take pho­tographs of the canyon, the stench was sorted out, but the taps was still run­ning. One would think that in such an arid coun­try like south­ern Namibia with water scarcity, fix­ing the leak­ing taps would have been a pri­or­ity for Hob­bas man­age­ment.

Day 1

We awoke at 05h30, because we were for­tu­nate enough to get a lift from one of the rangers at 6h30 to the start of the hike. After a few pho­tographs we ascended while it was still quite dark. The decent is quite steep, but if you are of rea­son­able of fit­ness it should not take more than an hour and a half to get to the river.

It is about a 2 km descent and then the hike starts at 0 km. On the morn­ing of our sec­ond day we met a group of peo­ple that took so long with the 2 km descent, that they had to overnight on the descent. What were they thinking?

The first day we cov­ered 11.4 km, exclud­ing the 2 km descent. The ter­rain was very hec­tic for the first few kilo­me­tres. We reached our overnight spot (from when we walked the Fish 2 years ago) at 12h15. This was mostly due to us start­ing ear­lier and hav­ing a evenly fit group. We started walk­ing from the view point at 07h10 and stopped walk­ing at 16h30. Our aver­age walk­ing speed was 3.2 km an hour, and our mov­ing time was 3 hours and 6 min­utes. This is accord­ing to the GPS reading.

We were lucky enough to have a “scout” in our group that could walk ahead the last hour to find us a nice overnight spot. The spot was a bril­liant spot, with sandy beaches, plenty of wood and close to the water Wash­ing up and set­ting up was done at high speed, so that we could pour our first wine. A mis­con­cep­tion about the Fish is that the first 2 km down­hill is dif­fi­cult and the rest of the hike is easy – this is not true!!! Day one we found much harder than the 2 km down­hill.

Day 2
We started walk­ing at 7h40 and set up camp again at 16h45, and we cov­ered a dis­tance of 16.7 km. On day one we had no river cross­ings, and on day two we had four river cross­ings. Roughly one and a half hours after leav­ing camp we got to Palm Springs(S27 39.607 E17 37.095).

You could smell the sul­phur about a km away. We crossed the river for the first time at the first cor­ner after Palm springs, which was a unnec­es­sary cross­ing as we had to cross back 800 metres later. The whole day we were aim­ing to get to the same camp­site where we camped two years ago on day 3. This was a awe­some site. We even named the camp Hawaii, but sadly when we got there it did not nearly resem­ble what it looked like 2 years ago.

So don’t bar­gain on the river look­ing the same every year.

Day 3

We started walk­ing at 7h30 and we were hop­ing to cover 2025 km for the day. Unfor­tu­nately the river rose con­sid­er­ably dur­ing the night and this made all the river cross­ings much more dif­fi­cult, and so we could only man­age 14.8 km. Almost every time we crossed the river we had to put our ruck­sacks in sur­vival bags and float them across. If you do not have a sur­vival bag, it would be extremely dif­fi­cult to cross the river with­out get­ting your ruck­sack wet. The group ahead of us had no sur­vival bags and came up with an inge­nious plan to float their bags across the river on their inflat­able mattresses.

To float the bags across the river is very time con­sum­ing, and at one time one of our sur­vival bags got ripped up on the rocks beyond repair. This meant that the front guys had to cross the river with whole sur­vival bags, then take their ruck­sacks out of the sur­vival bags,then swim back with the empty sur­vival bags, put the other peo­ples ruck­sack into the sur­vival bags, and swim across again. That wasted a lot of time.

We found that duck tape does not work well on repair­ing the plas­tic sur­vival bags , box tape will be a much bet­ter option.

At one stage dur­ing the day, the river flow was calm enough, and we then decided to float down with the river on top of our sur­vival bags for about a kilo­me­ter. Relax­ing in not a good enough word to describe the feel­ing while float­ing effort­lessly. If we do this hike again we will try and do this float­ing thing again. At 15h50 we called it a day.

Day 4
We had a long day as we cov­ered 22.5 km and had 9 river cross­ings. We were on the path at 07h30 and our day ended 17h15. The river cross­ings, as always, took most of our time as we had to float our bags across the river at most of the cross­ings. To make mat­ters worse, we were down to 2 sur­vival bags only.

To give you an idea of how how high the water was, when we reached the low water bridge (usu­ally on day four),the water was flow­ing about 35 cm high over the “bridge”.Usually the water is way lower than the bridge.

The absolute high­light of our day was spot­ting four wild horses at close range. We savoured every moment of this rare oppor­tu­nity. and we must have taken a hun­dred photographs.

The day ended on another high­light, by us find­ing an amaz­ing camp­site, again with soft sand, a stun­ning view, and plenty of wood.

Day 5

The morn­ing we started walk­ing at 6h50 and fin­ished at 8h15. The last few kilo­me­tres is a slog in a fine pow­dery dust next to an unsightly pipe. When you reach the dam, you are 100 m from Ai-​Ais. We had plenty of time on our hands and we decided to have break­fast here. The whole hike we were still work­ing on South African time, and this meant that we were at Ai-​Ais at 07h15(Namibian time). Sur­pris­ingly, when we walked into the resort there was quite a bit of activity.

The first thing we did when we reached Ai-​Ais, was to have an ice cold beer, although it was still early in the morn­ing. We highly rec­om­mend that you keep your last day as short as pos­si­ble, and book in at Ai-​Ais. Need­less to say we were fed up with rough­ing it up, and we were pleased that we had booked a room with air con and all the lux­u­ries of mod­ern day life.

Before lunch we had to fetch the other vechile at Hob­bas. We then decided to go back to the view point to take more pho­tos of the canyon. This view point is a big tourist attrac­tion and there are bus loads of tourists all try­ing to get the per­fect photo.

After return­ing to Ai-​Ais we sat down to a decent meal at a rea­son­able price, but we found the alco­hol very expen­sive. After lunch we had to do the stan­dard tourist thing and “chill” in the hot springs with a few well deserved ice cold beers.

At the end of the hike we were left with mixed emo­tions. On the one hand we were relieved to be fin­ished, and in the other hand we didn’t want this absolutely amaz­ing adven­ture and expe­ri­ence to fin­ish. As the old say­ing goes, all good things comes to an end.

We all agreed that this must be one of the most beau­ti­ful hikes that we have ever done. If you are a keen hiker, this hike must go on to your “100 things to do before I die” list.

Co-​ordinates for our “camp­sites” along the route. (Also see the .KMZ file lower down the page)


S27 36.593 E17 35.118


S27 37.803 E17 36.566


S27 43.531 E17 34.719


S27 49.649 E17 34.366


S27 38.434 E17 35.408


S27 42.033 E17 34.768


S27 45.804 E17 35.079


S27 52.784 E17 30.429


S27 41.410 E17 36.184


S27 45.467 E17 35.343


S27 46.525 E17 35.548


S27 47.611 E17 35.293


S27 50.962 E17 32.677


S27 53.873 E17 30.512


S27 39.855 E17 37.212


S27 55.369 E17 29.405


S27 48.440 E17 35.147


S27 39.607 E17 37.095


S27 35.272 E17 35.887


S27 36.819 E17 35.910

Suit­able for hik­ers, this com­pre­hen­sive South African trail direc­tory describes more than 500 trails.
Click the icon to see the map that we walked. You must have GoogleEarth installed on you pc.

facebook_icon_sI hiked the Fish River Canyon

Click here for Namibia weather

Click here for Med­ical Certificate

Click here to see how the vespa scoot­ers got into the Canyon

Fish river Canyon, Hobas,Namibia
Con­tact Details
Tel no G.P.S. 27.577145,17.608681
Cell no Email This email address is being pro­tected from spam­bots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax +264 61 244558 Web­site Click here
Hike Details
Near­est Town Hobas Max Per­sons
Dis­tance from Town 12km, 13 mins Overnight Shel­ter None, sleep under the stars
Map to start of hike View Map Brochure
No of days 56, depend­ing on your pace Trail Type Lin­ear
Walk­ing distance 85km(+-68 km if you take the short cuts)
Some more read­ing, click here
Tips and things to do

These tips will prob­a­bly apply to many camp sites, but this is what we thought should not be forgotten

1. Def­i­nitely carry a flota­tion or sur­vival bag with you, as this will help to make any river cross­ings much eas­ier.
2. Use elas­tics to seal the bags, not cable ties, because one tends to dam­age the bag when try­ing to get the cable tie of.
3. A walk­ing stick will be of great assis­tance while try­ing to cross the river, this gives you a “third leg” that really helps
with your bal­ance, as the rocks under­foot are very slip­pery.
4. Although duct tape is the stan­dard fix it all tape on a hike, I will rec­om­mend box tape to fix or patch your sur­vival bag.
5. We often use two way radios, espe­cially when we are a big group. This also helps a lot if you have a scout up ahead look­ing for an overnight spot.
6. When cross­ing the river, try and make sure that it is absolutely nec­es­sary, often we wasted a lot of time cross­ing unnec­es­sar­ily.
7. Although blis­ter plas­ters are quite expen­sive it is money well spent.
8. Cut the cor­ners as close as pos­si­ble, make sure well ahead which way the river is turn­ing, and then plan your route, and usu­ally there is a well trod­den short cut.
9. Take a small towel with and keep it in one of your side pock­ets of your ruck­sack, close at hand to dry your feet with after every river crossing.

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