Africa’s Answer to The Grand Canyon – The Fish River Canyon
There seems to be an endless debate about whether the Fish River Canyon is the second largest in the world or not. But forget all that, this place is BIG, that’s all you need to know. Formed around half a billion years ago when the earth’s crust collapsed, the canyon is breathtaking in its beauty and size.
The eponymous Fish River which flows through the canyon is dry for most of the year but runs like a torrent through the wet season. This is hiking territory and you’ll need a good pair of boots and map if you want to do any exploration. The most well-known trail is the Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail, which is 86km (53 miles) in length and takes five days. It’s a wilderness trek, with no facilities en route except for what you bring with you, although there are lesser treks accompanied by a guide if that suits you better. Trekking unguided in the canyon is only for the seriously fit and experienced and only 30 people a day are allowed in.
Due to the dramatic way in which it was formed the canyon has incredibly steep wall and once you are in it is impossible to get out unless at one of the descent or ascent points. It’s hard to imagine a more unforgiving environment and only the hardiest of animals are able to live in the canyon, with kudu, baboons, leopard and mountain zebra being among them, as well as various small species of antelope. Possessing wings is a big advantage here and birdlife is more prolific, with herons, hammerkops and plovers all being present.
In short, the Fish River Canyon is a breathtaking location, but taking it on is not for the faint-hearted.