Travel Guide

Fish River Canyon hike – all it is advisable to know

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Climbing Fish River Canyon, the second largest canyon on this planet is sort of thrilling, isn’t it? This hike was on our bucket checklist for a few years and eventually, we did it! Some information books say that is the hardest hike in Africa. I’m undecided about it we haven’t executed many hikes in Africa a few routes in South Africa together with the well-known Otter Path and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. When you like mountaineering Fish River Canyon is unquestionably the hike so as to add to your bucket checklist. Even when you’re not planning to hike it the canyon remains to be value visiting; it’s some of the stunning locations n Namibia.

The whole distance of the path is 86 km, the river itself is longer however as a consequence of many shortcuts, your strolling distance is about 14 km much less. This submit is a step-by-step mountaineering information; Fish River Canyon route map, funds, reserving particulars, lodging choices, shuttle, packing checklist, and extra.

Fish River Canyon from the lookout point at the start of the hike
Fish Rive canyon from the perspective subsequent to the place to begin of the hike

Fish River Canyon hike route overview

  • Distance – 86 km
  • Variety of days – 4-5
  • Greatest time – Might to mid-September
  • Place to begin – Hobas
  • Ending level – Ai-Ais Sizzling Springs

The most effective time for mountaineering Fish River Canyon

The canyon is open for mountaineering between the first of Might and the 15th of September. Outdoors this era hikers should not allowed within the canyon as a consequence of excessive temperatures. We walked Fish River Canyon originally of Might and it nonetheless was very popular throughout the day. If you wish to get extra comfy temperatures it’s higher to do the hike in June – July. The nights within the canyon are fairly chilly even in the summertime. In June – July night time temperatures go down to five°C and even under. It’s extremely really helpful to carry heat garments for sleeping and an excellent sleeping bag.

The price of the hike

  • The hike itself prices NAD500/US$35 per individual.
  • Park entrance charge – NAD160/US$11 per individual.
  • Shuttle Ai-Ais – Hobas NAD300/US$20 pp.

Complete: NAD960/US$67 pp.

The Namibian Greenback (NAD$) is the same as the South African Rand (ZAR). The present change price with USD you could find right here.

guide the Fish River Canyon hike?

Reserving is obligatory. First, you telephone one of many numbers offered to inquire about availability. In Windhoek, Namibia (+264 61) 285 7333 [email protected]. In Cape City (+27 21) 422 3761 [email protected]. If any appropriate in your dates can be found you guide them over the telephone. After that, you’ve gotten 48 hours to pay a deposit (10%) to substantiate your reserving. Then you definately ship an electronic mail with a affirmation of the cost. The whole quantity should be paid 30 days previous to the hike.

Consideration! In accordance with the principles it’s a must to be a minimal of three individuals to make a reservation. You possibly can all the time guide for 3 and present up solely two with some excuses that your mountaineering buddy received sick and attempt to hook up with different hikers in the beginning after you’ll be able to stroll by yourself.  

The sign at the beginning of the Fish River Canyon hike
The place to begin of the Fish River Canyon hike at Hobas

How lengthy beforehand do it’s a must to guide the path?

We booked originally of April for the second week in Might, after we phoned there have been nonetheless Four or 5 days with 5 or so spots in Might open so it’s potential to guide only a month earlier than. However in case you have particular dates we’d recommend reserving the hike two or three months beforehand. Solely 30 individuals per day are allowed to start out the hike. A French couple we met mountaineering booked it simply 5 days earlier than and so they nonetheless may get a spot.

You can begin coaching for the hike a few months prematurely to ensure it received’t be too powerful. When you reside in Cape City or close by there are numerous superb mountaineering trails within the metropolis that you are able to do over weekends. Begin with strolling with a day pack and after a few routes add extra weight and attempt to stroll with a heavier backpack just like the one that you simply’re planning to tackle the Fish River Canyon hike. The hardest a part of the route is a steep and lengthy ascent to the underside of the canyon on the primary day. You possibly can stroll down one of many Desk Mountain mountaineering trails (Platteklip Gorge, Kasteelspootr, or Skeleton Gorge) to see the way you’re doing strolling down with a backpack.

Medical certificates for the trek

Crucial to carry a medical certificates proving you don’t have any well being issues. The certificates should not be older than 40 days. A kind might be despatched to you after you make a cost for the hike or you’ll be able to obtain it HERE. This type should be crammed in by a health care provider. We don’t know what can occur when you arrive with out it very doubtless you received’t be allowed to stroll. At Hobas the very first thing they requested us was our certificates however they didn’t actually look by means of simply took them and put them in a folder. We thought it was ridiculous however truly yearly there are individuals rescued by helicopter or park rangers (from emergency exit) as a result of they’ll’t proceed the hike. We met a person who spent 2 days ready for the rangers to get to him he received a warmth stroke and couldn’t stroll anymore.

Campsite at Ai Ais Hot Springs near Fish River Canyon
Good grassy and shadowed campsite at Ai Ais, a fantastic place to remain earlier than and after the hike

get to Fish River Canyon?

The canyon is located close to the border between Namibia and South Africa, about 200 km north of Noordoewer border management. We drove from Cape City to Ai-Ais, 800 km, in sooner or later with a few quick stops for lunch and snacks. It took us about 9 hours. In case you have extra time on the best way from Cape City to Namibia you’ll be able to spend a few days on the West Coast particularly when you do the journey in August – September when you’ll be able to see wildflowers in Namaqualand. One other vacation choice is to mix the hike with a Cape City to Namibia highway journey.

When you’re coming from Windhoek, Ai-Ais is 700 km south of the capital, an 8-hours drive.

Border crossing course of

The border management Vioolsdrift/Noordoewer is open 24 hours although we’ve heard they won’t can help you undergo after the sundown so be sure that to reach earlier than the darkish. The border crossing course of is fast, it takes about 20-30 minutes. In spite of everything formal procedures and passport stamps, they search your automobile and allow you to by means of.

To enter Namibia together with your automobile you’ll need:

  • legitimate passports for all passengers
  • Legitimate driver’s license
  • automobile registration papers
  • In case your automobile remains to be being financed, carry a letter of authority from the financial institution (should embody dates of journey) with the car license papers. They may not ask for it but it surely’s higher to have it with you.
  • ZA sticker in your automobile, you should purchase it at any out of doors retailer or some petrol stations
  • a crammed kind that you simply get on the border, carry a black pen with you to fill it
  • N$320/US$21 charge that you simply pay to enter Namibia together with your automobile.

After the border management there are two petrol stations, each settle for playing cards, a small store and Wimpy. You possibly can fill your cat at Ai-Ais however they settle for solely money.

The Moos in Fish River Canyon at night
The Moon could be very vivid within the canyon at nights

Locations to remain earlier than the hike

Principally, you’ve gotten two choices; staying at Hobas Campsite (NAD400/US$28 per campsite as much as Eight individuals) or Ai-Ais Sizzling Springs (NAD400/US$28 per website as much as Four individuals). Most individuals together with ourselves keep at Ai-Ais for an excellent reason the campsite there’s nicer; a inexperienced grassy space with bushes for shadow, many bathrooms and showers, electrical stoves for cooking, and naturally the spotlight the new springs. You possibly can’t think about how good it’s after the hike to loosen up in sizzling springs!

Ai-Ais campsite services

  • Sizzling bathe – Sure
  • Flushing bathrooms – Sure
  • Electrical energy – Sure
  • Shops – Sure
  • Working water – Sure
  • Wi-fi – No
  • Braai place – Sure
  • Consuming water – Sure
  • Different – electrical stoves, coated space for cooking, indoor swimming pools.

When you’re planning a Namibia highway journey and like tenting take a look at our submit on the very best campsites in Namibia. We visited many campsites throughout our 2-months journey throughout the nation.

The place to depart your automobile?

You possibly can park your automobile without spending a dime both at Ai-Ais (sizzling springs) or at Hobas (place to begin). Each locations look equally secure which one to decide on is as much as you. We left our automobile at Ai-Ais and took a shuttle to Hobas within the morning earlier than the hike. That labored out very well. Once we lastly arrived at Ai-Ais on the final day our automobile with all of the stuff was right here. Consider me, you’ll be drained after 4-5 days of strolling and received’t really feel like driving for an hour to Hobas to get your automobile. Our French associates parked their automobile at Hobas and needed to watch for the shuttle until 5pm.

get from Ai-Ais to Hobas?

The path begins at Hobas, you’ve gotten two choices; to take a shuttle earlier than the hike or after the hike relying on the place you permit your automobile. There’s all the time a shuttle going to Hobas within the morning at any time after 6am. You don’t must guide it beforehand we organized it when arrived at Ai-Ais. The shuttle can take 11 passengers without delay.

A shuttle jeep from Ai Ais to the start of the Fish River Canyon hike
A shuttle jeep from Ai Ais to the place to begin of the Fish River Canyon hike

What to anticipate from the Fish River Canyon hike?

The hike could be very totally different from a lot of the hikes we’ve executed. The path isn’t very straightforward to stroll; sand, rocks, river crossing and so on.

The climate; it will get very popular throughout the day and really chilly at night time so that you want each solar safety and heat clothes/sleeping bag.

Solar, you stroll within the solar all day you get a little bit of shade right here and there early within the morning and late night however essentially the most a part of the day there’s nowhere to cover.

Consuming water on the path

Water is all the time obtainable because you stroll alongside the river but it surely’s really helpful to take some purifying tablets or water filters. You don’t wish to get sick or have abdomen issues within the canyon. We all the time use our LifeStraw Water Bottles when mountaineering. Their membrane microfilter system removes 99,9% of micro organism and parasites. One filter can be utilized to scrub 4000l of water. It’s very straightforward to make use of you’ll be able to drink from a bottle or straight from a water supply. You should purchase LifeStraw by means of Take A Lot or at Cape Union Mart.

Another choice is to make use of chlorine tablets however it’s a must to watch for about 30 minutes earlier than it’s able to drink and it tastes like swimming pool water, not the best choice contemplating you drink loads on the hike.

A map of the Fish River Canyon hike
A map of the mountaineering route in Fish River Canyon

The Fish River Canyon hike – our full 4-day itinerary

Day 1. The place to begin – Palm Sulphur Springs, 5 hours

We began the trek at 10am. The descent to the underside of the canyon took us a bit lower than 1 hour. It was fairly steep however not as powerful as we thought. As soon as on the backside in 2km you attain the river and for the subsequent 4-5 days, you’ll simply observe it. We walked about 20km on the primary day it took kind of 7 hours together with a lunch break. If you wish to take it straightforward you’ll be able to camp proper after the descent, on the river, there’s a good sandy seashore.

Today we didn’t see any indicators displaying the gap or instructions but it surely’s inconceivable to get misplaced you simply observe the river. There are not any ups and downs on the route however you stroll on sand and rocks on a regular basis so it’s not very quick strolling. You possibly can camp anyplace you need, simply discover a good sandy spot subsequent to the river. We camped someplace between the primary emergency exit and Palm sulfur springs.

Fish River Canyon at the sunset
Surroundings on the finish of the primary mountaineering day in Fish River Canyon

Day 2. Palm Sulphur Springs – Three Sisters, 6 hours

We began at 8.30 and walked for about an hour earlier than we reached the Sizzling springs. Truly, in case you are an excellent walker and begin your first mountaineering day early sufficient you can also make all of it the best way and camp right here the primary night time. The new spring is, actually, is a stream that goes into the river and water in there’s very popular it’s a must to combine it with chilly river water. We spent about 40min. swimming and chilling right here it was very nice.

On the second day the path goes by means of tough terrain; sand and rocks so that you make sluggish progress plus we made two lengthy swimming/resting stops. By 4pm we fairly drained and my ft had been destroyed so we determined to camp on a small seashore subsequent to the river. We had a implausible night time sky and the total moon didn’t even want our headlamps. In my view, the canyon at night time time is the very best! Today once more we didn’t see any indicators or distance marks.

Sulphur Springs on the Fish River Canyon hike
Palm Sulphur springs originally of the second day of the Fish River hike

Day 3. Three Sisters – Von Trotha’s Grave, 6 hours

An early begin at 7.30 or so and possibly the longest mountaineering day for us, we walked for Eight hours however in a approach, it was our personal fault we missed one shortcut. The third day is the principle shortcut day on the hike. There are three important shortcuts; we missed the primary one the place you climb over the mountain, the second at 50km was straightforward to identify from far there’s a large phrase “Brief reduce” written on the rocks, the third one comes proper after that while you attain the river. For the terrain the third day was in all probability essentially the most tough as nicely some river crossing, rock leaping and sand strolling.

By 4pm all of us had been fairly drained and my ft had been fairly destroyed. We discovered a pleasant spot on the seashore not removed from the emergency exit and camped there. This night time was the coldest of three we spent within the canyon, it was freezing! All of us wakened a few instances throughout the night time to placed on increasingly garments. By the subsequent morning, I and Campbell had been sporting every little thing we had in our backpacks. However the sleeping baggage that we took with us had been very skinny for 11C min. So in case you have hotter sleeping baggage at the very least for 5C or decrease you’ll be okay.

Scenery on the Fish River Canyon hike
A typical surroundings on the third and fourth day of the hike

Day 4. Von Trotha’s Grave – Ai-Ais, 5 hours

The surroundings on the final day was the least spectacular, the canyon reduces considerably it reminds a rocky valley greater than a canyon. On account of a really chilly night time, all of us wakened fairly early at 5am packing didn’t take lengthy and in 30min. we had been able to roll. It was the best and the shortest day for us; within the first half you stroll on a 4×Four path, then some sand and rocks, and eventually a pleasant straightforward path all the best way to Ai-Ais. We arrived there at 1pm and had been completely completely happy to take off our footwear and to get a chilly Ginger beer for me and a few beers for guys.

After Four days in mud, warmth and chilly drained and with blisters we had been completely completely happy to loosen up within the sizzling springs and to eat some steaks! Our mission was accomplished! We walked it in Four days with none specific reason however I’d advocate do it in 5 days you’ll have extra time to get pleasure from, relaxation, take pictures, swim, and so on.

A Cold Beer sign at the end of the Fish River canyon hike
Chilly Beer signal a few kilometers earlier than Ai-Ais Sizzling Springs

What to pack for the Fish River Canyon hike?

Don’t pack an excessive amount of the extra you pack the extra you carry!


Our essential challenge on the hike had been footwear, each I and Campbell had been sporting mountaineering boots and each had horrible blisters throughout our ft and we had hiked in them rather a lot earlier than. In reality, I couldn’t stroll in my boots on the second day and placed on sneakers. Our French associates that we met had precisely the identical downside and a lady ended up strolling in her flip-flops with thick socks. Our third hiker was sporting path trainers and had no points in any respect, they had been very comfy for strolling on sand and leaping over rocks. We are likely to blame the warmth it was very popular within the boots and so they had been stuffed with sand on a regular basis.


We’d advocate sporting lengthy pants and a protracted sleeve shirt it’s the very best safety from the solar and also you’ll be sizzling and sweating anyway even when you stroll bare. 

A hat, sun shades, sunscreen – all must-haves, Namibian solar is extraordinarily sturdy. 

Snug garments (e.g. fleece, pants, flip flops) to alter, all the time good to sleep in clear garments.

A towel, there might be a chance for “showering” within the river day-after-day, sooner or later you even get sizzling sulfur springs.

Underwear, socks, what number of pairs to take as much as you.

Campbell and Alya with an old scooter on the Fish River Canyon hike
Campbell & Alya with an outdated scooter of the underside of Fish River Canyon

Climbing gear

Most individuals don’t carry a tent neither did we. It provides 2-4kg to your baggage which is loads, it’s undoubtedly hotter to sleep in a tent however a correct sleeping bag solves this downside. Furthermore, the night time sky within the canyon is implausible it’s good to go to sleep beneath it.

A mattress, we had self-inflatable small mattresses and had been very proud of them however when you take foam rolled up one you’ll be okay you camp on sand so it’s already gentle sufficient.

A sleeping bag, take an excellent one, we had our summer time bag for 11C min and one night time had been freezing in them we needed to placed on all our garments to final until morning. And we hiked in Might when you do in In June/July it’ll be even colder. We’d say take a sleeping bag that may go to 0C.

Climbing poles, we by no means use them however many individuals do for me they take advantage of sense for steep downs and river crossings, right here you’ll have each so it’s as much as you to take them or not, they aren’t actually heavy.

A water bottle with a filter or purification tablets

A headlamp/torch.

A route map, you should purchase it at Ai-Ais or Hobas. When you hike Fish River Canyon for the primary time it’s a must have.

Cooking gear

Range, we’ve a small transportable gasoline range that we all the time take mountaineering, it’s ok to boil water, cook dinner pasta or oats. Gasoline relies on what number of you’re and the way a lot cooking you wish to do however we’d say take 500ml it’ll final for 4-5 days for positive.

Pots, we had a set of two; one for meals one for boiling water when you can handle with one solely a bit extra uncomfortable. Swiss knife, we love this factor many useful; opens cans, cuts, slices and so on.

Cutlery, take plastic or bamboo forks and spoons. Cups, we had two very mild plastic cups. Lighter/matches in your range, no fireplace allowed within the canyon.


It’s as much as you what and the way a lot meals to tackle the hike relying in your weight loss plan, preferences, and so on. Right here is our meals checklist;

  • Breakfast – on the spot flavored oat sachets (Three for 2 individuals), espresso.
  • Snack – vitality bar/nut combine.
  • Lunch – biltong/droewors (we all the time take it when mountaineering), crackers. Don’t reduce biltong it would get moldy within the warmth moderately carry a giant piece and reduce it as you eat.
  • Dinner – a can of tuna, 250g of pasta, one tomato sauce sachet (for 2 individuals).

First-aid equipment

You may make your individual first-aid equipment or purchase a preassembled one at any out of doors outlets.

  • Platers
  • Bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning soap
  • Capsules: Ibuprofen and an antidiarrheal
  • Scissors
  • Antiseptic wipes

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Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

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