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The Fish River Canyon

A unique tourist attraction in the south of Namibia – the Fish River Canyon



In the south of Namibia there is a unique natural wonder, the Fish River Canyon. The canyon is the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon in the USA and is 160 km long, 27 km wide and about 500 meters deep. It is by far one of the most visited attractions in Namibia with over 1 million visitors a year. It is therefore high on the list of our safaris and is visited by us on almost all of our trips to the south. The Fish River Canyon is a huge gorge created from a combination of natural events. Partly from the water erosion of the fish river and on the other hand from the collapse of the valley floor in a period between 500 and 650 million years due to violent movements of the earth’s crust.

The canyon is located in the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park one of many nature reserves in Namibia. The winding path of the canyon is in the bottom of a flat and dry plateau. If you approach the canyon by land, you cannot see it until you reach the edge. This is a unique experience and visitors will be amazed by its beauty and size.

The fish river begins in the Naukluft Mountains and flows to the south to the Orange River. This river initially flows quietly along the path and then falls into two waterfalls before it reaches the Lion River and then plunges into the canyon in a serpentine path to the end of the Ai-Ais Gorge. The fish river is usually calm and only roars through the walls of the canyon when it has rained heavily in the south of the country. The river is dry most of the year and has some semi-permanent pools that guarantee the survival of flora and fauna.

The Fish River Canyon has been known to humans since time immemorial, and the Bushmen (San) and the Nama, two indigenous populations of the Namibian desert, believe that the canyon was created by a giant snake. From the lookout point near Hobas you can admire the deep canyon in all its majesty and you can see how the river forms a horseshoe curve known as “Hell’s Bend”.

Not far from the lookout point at Hobas you can also visit the hot springs of “Ai-Ais” after a short drive, another natural wonder in the otherwise very dry south of the country. “Ai-Ais”, which means “burning water” in the Nama people’s language, refers to the sulphurous hot springs that can be found in this area. There is also a resort here that we usually visit for a lunch break.