8-day Fish River Canyon Hike

Fish River Canyon Hike
Fish River Canyon Hike

The Fish River Canyon is one of the world's great canyons. Over 500 million years old its abstract striations tell a tale of Earth's long history and lays bare our insignificance on this planet. Hiking the Fish is a humbling and ofttimes back-breaking experience - what hiking is all about.

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8 days
Namibia, Fish River Canyon, Windhoek
transfers, accommodation, guide, cooking equipment, general hiking equipment, meals while on the hike
Excludes: backpacks, mattresses, water bottles and personal hiking equipment, mandatory insurance, tips, alcoholic beverages
Hiking Duration: 5 days
Hiking Distance: 85km
Difficulty level: Extreme

Tour Brief

The Fish is a five-night, 85km trek starting at the Main Viewpoint, dropping 500m to the canyon floor and ending at Ai-Ais hot springs. The terrain begins with a steep descent and then it levels out with sand banks, boulders and rock pools crossing your path.

Apparently desolate and lifeless the Fish River Canyon is inside the rocky Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park and upon closer inspection you will find extraordinary plants and animals including mountain zebras, kudus, klipspringers, rock hyrax, fish eagles, kingfishers, quiver trees, succulents and so much more.

The Fish River Canyon is an extreme hike and you need to be walking fit with well-tested boots; you need to be strong enough to carry your own supplies and happy to live rough for five nights. Daytime temperatures in the canyon soar, nighttime temperatures plummet; the soft sand, pools and rocky terrain make the going hard and once in the canyon there is no way out other than airlift. Teamwork is often called upon to help other hikers and medical certificates, evacuation insurance and serious indemnity forms are mandatory. Water in the canyon is potable and in reliable supply so you only need carry your day's rations.

The canyon is only open for hiking between 1 May to 15 September and places are limited with max groups of 8. We recommend you book long in advance to avoid disappointment. This hike can be added to any itinerary or taken as a stand-alone 8-day tour that starts and ends in Windhoek.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Windhoek

Arrive in Windhoek and transfer to your hotel or guesthouse. Explore Windhoek's galleries, museums, township and buy your last-minute supplies in the well-stocked outdoor and camping shops of Namibia's capital city.

Accommodation: TBC

Day 2: Hobas, Fish River Canyon

Your guide will collect you at 8am from your hotel or guesthouse for the long drive south. About eight hours, your drive takes from the Khomas Hochland mountains of central Namibia through the vast flat Kalahari and into the Nama-Karoo of southern Namibia.

Spend the night at a comfortable lodge and prepare for tomorrow's hike.

Accommodation: TBC

Day 3: Fish River Canyon

After an early breakfast you will transfer to the canyon hike starting point a short distance away. The view is sensational and worth the long drive alone. From here you will descend on foot into the canyon, a walk of about two hours over loose scree and steep gradients that will take their toll on your knees, back and legs.

Walk another 13km along the canyon floor fording rock pools and sometimes flowing water hopping across boulders and sinking into soft sand. Is this sounding hard enough for you? Palm Springs is so named because of the hot springs (beware the sulphurous pong) that feed a grove of palms and the site of your first night under the stars.

Accommodation options: wild camping with no facilities

Day 4: Fish River Canyon

The boulders become pebbles and the sand become soft making for slow going on your second day's hiking. Rock pools along the way relieve the heat and you will cover about 15km to camp at the Three Sisters rock towers.

Accommodation: wild camping with no facilities

Day 5: Fish River Canyon

With yet more scenic rock formations including our very own Table Mountain the the Four Fingers, day three becomes easier as the sand firms up and the water and rock obstacles thin out.

Accommodation: wild camping with no facilities

Day 6: Fish River Canyon

As the terrain becomes less challenging you will be able to enjoy the spectacular scenery, rock formations and wildlife. Your total day's walking time is about eight hours so it's still no Sunday ramble.

Accommodation: wild camping with no facilities

Day 7: Ai-Ais, Fish River Canyon

After the past four days' heavy going, day five, the last of your hike will seem a bit on the tame side. But the hot water springs at Ai-Ais will more than make up for your skewed perception. Soak those bones, those feet and wash away five days of sweat and dust. You have earned it.

From Ai-Ais you will transfer to your accommodation and a well-deserved shower, cold drink, cooked meal and a bed with cotton sheets and a thick mattress. So easily does luxury become a relative concept.

Accommodation: TBC

Day 8: Windhoek

It's back on the road to Windhoek - and in a somewhat transformed state - you will go today. Arrive late afternoon to catch your flight home or if you can spare an extra day, overnight in Windhoek to recover before you fly out the next day after what has surely been one of the most memorable hikes of your life.

If you have a few extra days to spare, why not explore more of Namibia while you are here? An express three-day safari to Etosha or Sossusvlei excursion from Windhoek will add so much more to your experience of this wonderful country. Talk to your Travel Expert now to arrange your Fish River Canyon hike and Namibia Tour.

Just Booked!

Customers who enquire about this tour end up making many changes to the standard itinerary. Below are the most recent variations of this base tour booked by us for our clients. Have a look at their itineraries, see what changes they requested, what the final cost was and read what they have to say about their holidays.

Recent Reviews of This Tour

We don't have any reviews of this exact tour but here's what people have said about their holidays. If you want to read more reviews, visit our client comments section. If you would like to submit your own review please use the contact form on this page.

“Thanks for all your work putting together a holiday we truly loved”

We would like to commend the high service received from Namibian Tours and Safaris especially taking into account the short length of time you had to arrange this holiday for us. The recommendations and itinerary were ideal with the majority of our stay in each location being the right duration. The whole process of booking this holiday was hassle free and we would not hesitate in recommending your services to others.

We would specifically like to thank you, Alison, for all of your hard work which resulted in a truly fabulous holiday for us. Also, it was great to meet up with you in Solitaire where you expressed so much love for your country and this was clearly mirrored in the schedule and service you presented to us allowing us to experience this fantastic country. It will not be the case of 'if' we return to Namibia, it is more the case of 'when' we will return as we enjoyed it so much.

Nik Stevenson, UK

“Edward did a super job”

A special mention for Edward he did a super job – vouchers and maps were with our car hire agency at the airport – book presentation of whole trip was clear, easy to follow and complete. He even gave us his mobile No in case we encounter some problems. Really to recommend as Tour Operator and will use them again next time.

Road – all went well and thanks to have recommended a 4Wheel Drive Car – due to rough road conditions we appreciated – you could do it with a normal car and met tourists with B type cars but they took much longer for the journeys – had more issues with flat tyres and most admitted next time they will take a 4Wheel Drive Car.

Would like to thank you for all your time spent and hard work to find best places, difficult tasks due to budget restrictions. I will recommend you and your agency whenever I can – actually already did in Joburg – hope brings you some new customers - and of course will come to you for my next trip this time to South Africa hopefully in 2012.

Germaine Comin, Switzerland

“Thank you again for planning a perfect vacation for us”

Dear Wilmari,
Back home and I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for planning a perfect vacation for us. I was especially pleased that for the accommodation with dinner all knew about my allergies and cooked accordingly. The Cheetah experience made my daughter very happy and they were so kind to not even charge me for taking pictures.

Highlight of our trip was the stay in Onguma The Fort and we are determined to return one day.

As pointed out before, the Namib Desert Lodge I cannot recommend to anybody (fined for driving on their property and below average dinner buffet) and also the Olivia Guesthouse was a letdown when it came to the food (lunch and breakfast).

I have posted some pictures on Flickr, maybe you want to have a look and I'm always happy to read comments.

Last but not least: Could you please send us the itinerary you prepared for us and we received at arrival electronically? Some of my friends are interested to book the same trip with you.

Dr Andreas Koester, USA
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