Slightly off the beaten track in the southern half of Namibia in the Karas Region, the canyon was formed by the erosion of the Fish River, the country’s longest interior river, which started 500 millions years ago. If the canyon itself wasn’t impressive enough, visitors are also treated to a variety of animals that roam the nearby plains in modest supply, such as antelope, zebra, kudu and baboons. It is also a deserted region with little vegetation except for some drought-resistant flora, adding to the atmospheric feel, which makes it appear far removed from any threat of tourist hordes.
One of the highlights of the canyon is the hike into its basin, which is a five day adventure covering a total distance of 86 kilometres, so mainly for keen hikers only. Facilities here are non-existent, and you carry all belongings with you, collecting water from natural pools as you go, making it only recommended for those who are confident they can complete it! It is one of Africa’s most intense hikes, but it culminates in the Ai Ai Hot Springs where you can bathe weary limbs in its naturally heated waters. The hike is only possible from April to September and requires proof of fitness beforehand to secure your space.
Many visitors to the canyon will decide to combine with a visit to the Ai-Ais hot springs or as part of a self-drive itinerary to Windhoek or Sossusvlei, and flights to the area can be costly, making the self-drive option more feasible.