Seeing the world's second largest canyon in southern Namibia with your own eyes is an impressive experience. If you look into the Fish River Canyon at the Hobas Viewpoint and enjoy the panoramic view over the rugged landscape, you cannot help to be amazed.
In endless loops, the Fish River carves its way 160 kilometres through the bizarre canyon world, sometimes at a depth of almost 550 metres. Many visitors would gladly give in to the fascination that the yawning canyon exudes. But descending into the canyon is not permitted here because of safety concerns.
However, those who would like to get a much deeper insight into the canyon can experience this natural spectacle from a completely different perspective. In the cooler months of the year, from April to September, various hikes are offered through the Fish River Canyon.
These include the Klipspringer Trail by Gondwana Collection Namibia in the northern part of the Fish River Canyon, which is not too demanding on physical fitness. 17 kilometres in three days, three nights in self-catering camps. Our luggage is transported from camp to camp, while we travel with a light backpack on our backs.
Not quite as agile as a klipspringer
Descending into the silence and majesty of the Fish River Canyon in the early morning hours, we leave hustle, stress and worry behind.
And we really do see them, the elegant klipspringers after whom our hike is named. They watch our descent. They jump light-footedly from rock to rock on rough cliff faces and wonder why we are sliding down difficult sections on our backsides.
When we reach the bottom of the canyon, there is nothing but fascinating rock formations and the crunch of our footsteps in the firm sand of the dry riverbed. Everyone is lost in thought. It is almost as if time stands still in this geological wonder of millions of years. You can't help but to relax.
Again and again we stop to admire impressive rock formations and discover animal tracks; they remind us that we are not alone in this inhospitable landscape. Suddenly, a green oasis appears between the muted brown and grey tones of the rocky gorge. In the Namibian winter months the Fish River, which only flows in the rainy season if at all, shows itself in the form of cool pools where only the most hardy among us bathe. And yes - the water is f... cold!
At a relaxed pace, we reach our Canyon Klipspringer Camps in the afternoon. Our luggage and supplies are already waiting for us, and we can take a leisurely approach to food preparation. A warm shower and a cosy get-together at the campfire under the twinkling stars round off the perfect day.
Pausing before going back to real life
Finally, we have no choice but to leave the canyon and, after a few hours of hiking, start the ascent. It's a bit strenuous, but there's a reward waiting at the end. The Horseshoe Camp is located directly at the edge of the canyon and offers a breathtaking view.
In the evening we sit on the canyon rim and watch the world turn to rich gold and orange hues. We enjoy the majesty of the canyon landscape once more and let our souls wander for the last time. We have literally explored the Fish River Canyon in depth, a unique experience that cannot be compared to the rather superficial impression you get at Hobas Viewpoint. We realise how special this hike is.
Tomorrow we go back to real life. But we still have a little time left until then. We put our heads back to admire the millions and millions of stars in the clear night sky and count shooting stars. I have a wish free. You can probably guess what it is...
Author: Inke Stoldt
Photos: Inke Stoldt and Gondwana Collection