The mighty Fish River Canyon
The second largest canyon in the world
Location: Southern Namibia
The Fish River Canyon is majestic. There are few other hikes like it and it is absolutely worth it. What makes it so special is the feeling of remoteness. Once you descend into the Canyon, your only option is to carry on down the snaking river. The high canyon walls initially make it ominous and scary. Almost like going down a tunnel. Not to scare anyone but there is only one (emergency) exit out of the Canyon during the route, about halfway. My two excursions down the Canyon has luckily not led me down (or up) that route but I have heard it is an absolute last resort. So, 5-6 days of following the flow of the Fish River. Absolute magic.
There are a few things that we have experienced and which will make your experience much more rewarding:
Make sure you have a good backpack that is properly fitted for your dimensions. Of course it is advisable to have used it before on previous hikes in preparation of this one, but that is not always possible. We have a range of great Osprey packs and can assist you to find the most suitable one based on your requirements. That said, the key is "lighter is better", always.
One can braai (barbeque) in the Canyon, so take meat and a small grid for the first 2 nights. It is worth it. Use the heavy items first and leave the dried food for later.
Nights can be cold and if you are not sure if your sleeping bag is up to it, throw a sleeping bag liner in your pack for extra warmth. It creates another layer of insulation in between your sleeping bag and you. It is small and light with a big benefit.
Take a lightweight mattress like our First Ascent Aero 5.5 mattress. It only weighs around 600 grams and punches way above its weight when it comes to size, weight and comfort. No restless nights touching the ground as the air pockets keep you well off the ground. Take a thick plastic sheet to protect against thorns and to provide another layer against the cold. (Click link to read a review by Hiking South Africa)
There is no signal in the Canyon, so the only form of communication are fellow hikers. Alternatively you could take a Spot satellite messaging device with you. It offers emergency communication in the event of an injury. (Click text for more info)
Camping at Ai-Ais the night before you start is a great idea. Another, even better idea, is to book into the hotel at Ai-Ais after the hike (pre-book). A soft bed with fresh linen together with the warm springs is just what the doctor ordered after 5 days in the Canyon.