Close to the border of SA stands the Fish River Canyon and is home of the second largest canyon in the world. Unsurprisingly it sits in yet another park but this one boasts the grand title of Ai – Ais – Richtersveld Transfontier Park. The main attraction in the park (apart from the canyon) are the views from Hell’s corner, bubbling fresh water and sulphur springs, some of the best camping sites in Namibia and the bed of the canyon encompasses a 5 day hiking trail. We were on our way to Hobas for one night and then onto the Hot Springs before High tailing it to Cape Town in time for the World Cup to start in 3 Days time. There was a lot of driving ahead so it was all about rest and recuperation over the next day or so. And rest we found in abundance.
Hobas campsite was a lovely shady campsite about 2 km from the canyon and after paying our park fees and camping fees, reading a lot of warnings about monkeys we headed off to find a spot. After setting up we headed out to the canyon to view the spectacle we had come to see. We reached Hells Point (which is the main view point) late afternoon and we were immediately greeted to some stunning views, It is hard to imagine the forces that involved in creating such beauty so long ago but we were glad it happened as the surrounding area has hardly changed over the last million or so years.
The Fish River is the longest interior river (650km) in Namibia. It cuts deep (550m) into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants. The river flows intermittently, usually flooding in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais is situated. Upstream the river runs through horizontal dolomite strata. These strata formed part of the canyon about 650 million years ago when plate movement cracked the earth, the first process in the formation of the Fish River Canyon. Lower down, a granite complex system is exposed to form a characteristic river bed that results in forms like Fingerspitze. In this area, a fault runs north-south, which accounts for the gorge-like channel and the presence of hot sulphurous springs.
We watched the sun set over the canyon before driving back to the campsite for some dinner. During our dinner we forgot all about the warning of monkeys and were soon raided by a couple of cheeky and daring little rascals. Luckily all they stole was some biscuits but our neighbours lost a loaf of bread and almost lost a handbag! The next day we headed further south to Ai Ais Springs and our last stop over before heading back to SA. We had a very leisurely day, exploring the gorge, swimming in the pool, sunbathing, reading and generally lounging about. We were about to experience a month of heavy driving around SA for the World Cup. I had some friends coming over who would share in the driving, drinking and footie watching! Unluckily we were unable to do the hike here (as it took 5 days and you need a minimum of 6 people) but it looked a great but strenuous hike! Namibia had been amazing, so beautiful and so barren but all in all a great country to explore in a 4×4. The highlights had been Etosha, Sossuvlei and Fish River Canyon but Namibia is certainly a secret jewel on the east African coast and well worth a visit.