Today we have a new contributor, William Terre Blanche from Pretoria, South Africa. William’s narrative of a hiking trip is indented, and you can enlarge his photos by clicking on them.
The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia is, according to most sources, the second largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon, and I recently undertook the 75km hike through a part of the canyon. Because of the extreme temperatures in this part of Namibia the hike is only possible during our winter months, from May to September. [JAC: it’s also at 160 km long, the longest canyon in Africa.]
The hike is unique in that there are no demarcated overnight spots, and no facilities whatsoever, so you simply hike as far as you can every day, and then set up camp under the stars. It can be done in 4, 5 or 6 days, depending on your level of fitness.
The view over the canyon from the starting point of the hike. This was quite a challenging day since we had to first descend the approximately 500m to the bottom of the canyon before starting the actual hike:
Another view from the top. The bird is a female Mountain Wheatear (Myrmecocichla monticola):
]Hiking through the canyon. The river rarely flows in winter, and the few remaining pools are quite green, so the water has to be purified before it can be used.
Part of our group. The scenery is absolutely fantastic but can also be quite intimidating when making your way on foot.
We were lucky to see a number of the famous wild horses of the canyon. There are several theories as to the origins of these horse, but they are most likely the descendants of horses deserted by German Schutztruppe during World War 1. Irrespective of how they got there, it is amazing to see how these once domesticated animals have adapted to the harsh conditions, and survive without any human intervention:
After the first 50km or so the canyon starts to open up, and a lot of walking is through very soft sand, which proved to be even more tiring than clambering over rocks!
As mentioned there are no facilities, so camping is wherever you find a suitable spot, and you literally sleep under the stars:
Towards the end of the hike we walked past the appropriately named “Four Finger Rock”:
A Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris). At almost every stop along the hike one or more of these friendly little birds would appear to keep us company (and beg for scraps).
JAC: I’ve added a map showing where the canyon is (my arrow) and a satellite image (turquoise line shows the canyon):