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Home > Trail tales > 2005 > Fish River

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Fish River Canyon - Namibia

Fish River Canyon-June 2005


Check out the gallery and route description.


Hikers: Tom, Ann, Jack, Kate, Nick, Sarah, Allen, Ida, Angelo, Monika


The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, the Grand Canyon in Colorado being the largest.  The Canyon itself is 180kms but the hiking trail is 90kms. Starting about 10kms from Hobas campsite and finishing 5 days later at the hot water spa resort of Ais Ais.


The daytime temperature is 25C.


We had arranged transport from Ais Ais to Hobas with some of the local guys.  We had arranged to leave at 8am but we left at African time.  Some of us left at about 8:30am and the rest at about 9am.


We traveled in the back of a bakkie to the start of the hike at Hobas.  The descent into the Canyon is very steep and there are chains to assist hikers at some of the steeper sections.  By the time we arrived at the bottom our knees were feeling pretty weak and wobbly.    We continued following the river down the Canyon for a few more hours.  There is lots of boulder hopping and plenty of opportunity to twist ankles if you are not careful.  We set up camp at about 5pm.


The second day we proceeded to “ Palm Springs” where we stopped for lunch.  This is a sulphur spring that gushes hot water constantly and has date palms growing around it.  The temperature of the springs is 57C.We donned our bathing attire and wallowed in the hot but smelly water. After “Palm Springs” the walking became a little easier with less boulder hopping.  Instead there was thick sand to walk on which made it quite hard on the calf muscles.  There are lots of river crossings to contemplate.  We became quite adept at crossing the rivers.  We were constantly taking on and off hiking boots.  We passed by  “Table Mountain”, a familiar landmark about 30km into the hike.


Just before Three Sisters there is a short cut  on the right bank of the river.  After a short descent Four Finger Rock comes into view, only recognizable as four fingers from the other side.


About 2km beyond Four Finger rock lays the grave of Lieutenant Thilo von Trotha, a German officer killed in a skirmish betweens the Germans and the Nama in 1905. Passing hikers have put various flowers on the grave, including plastic ones.  


Onwards we walked, crossing over the Causeway to our last over night stop. 


The following day we arrived at Ais Ais at about 1pm. After walking for 5 long days we enjoyed a hot shower,followed by a soak in the Spa waters.  We then sat outside enjoying cold beers and watching the other weary hikers arrive at the end of their journey.


Kate Vermeulen