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Fish River Canyon

Sometimes in life, there is a synchronistic coming together of people, places, and shared moments that, like a beautiful symphony, create the most exquisite music that leaves your soul feeling nourished, connected, ecstatic, and grateful.

Such was my experience, and of course it is a subjective one, of the nine unforgettable days I spent with Bev, George, Riaad, Michelle, Lara, Rod, Mrs French, Puddles, Chris, Denise, and Roger hiking the approximately 85km five-day Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

It’s only been  a few days since my return, and  I feel like so much of me is still there, in that magical canyon, amongst the rocky mountains, ice-blue sky, sandy wind-swept planes, and olive-green river that was our lifeblood.

Thank you Bev and George for bringing us all together, and to Chris who shared himself with us and led us on a  journey that he  has undertaken many, many times. The river level changes from year to year, so that each time, as Bev and Chris told us, it is a new experience. “This place will  keep you coming back”’ they said, and now I know why.

We started early each day, before the sun  flooded the canyon walls and painted the rocks in shades of orange, rose, red and ochre. After about two hours of walking, we would stop for breakfast and walk some more and then rest for about an hour in the heat of the day. Our days were punctuated by breath-taking (literally, due to the ice-cold water) swims in the river which were invigorating and refreshing.

We spent nights huddled around a fire, sometimes fuelled by candle wax, and sometimes  by driftwood we collected, but always with the unannounced  guest of magic in our circle and the river as our constant companion. We also got to know Shackleton and Von Trotha quite well as Chris brought the stories  of their lives to life under diamond-studded skies.

Around the fire, we shared songs, our voices, much laughter, casual conversations, and deep, meaningful discussions that opened our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. Each night we shared  a lowlight and a highlight of the day that was.

Each day, the canyon unfolded before us revealing more of her beauty and splendour. It was such a privilege  to walk  inside her  boulder-rich belly and then to scale the heights of four-finger mountain and look out over the moon landscape stretching mile after mile after mile. As the days passed, the choppy waters in the lake of my mind came to rest and there  was more clarity, insight and joy in just being.

Each person who walked the canyon with me brought with them  a thread of their essence and with that and  our shared experiences, we wove together  a wondrous tapestry, unique and different for each one of us , but one that I think we all treasure and  look back on with a smile. And each time we do that, something stirs inside us and it is there, reflected in that canyon of still and stark beauty.

Giulia Criscuolo.

Photos by Beverly Brockman