Fish River Canyon

  • Fish River Canyon - © SaraAndJoachim
  • Fish River Canyon - © GeooftheReef
  • Fish River Canyon - © SaraAndJoachim
  • Fish River Canyon - © Coda
  • Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © Julient Carnot
  • Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © Julient Carnot
  • Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © Julient Carnot
  • Fish River Canyon - © Sjorford
  • Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © Julient Carnot
  • Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © flickr user - julient carnot

Key information: Fish River Canyon

    • Hike along the bottom of the world's second largest canyon, a vast, dramatic complex of brightly coloured cliffs, towers and spires.
      • This is extreme country - searingly hot and bone dry - and true wilderness, although you will see a surprising variety of animals and plants eking out a living in the unforgiving landscape.
        • This is a tough walk, which you must take seriously, but very rewarding.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating87
  • Beauty34
  • Natural interest18
  • Human interest1
  • Charisma34
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating87

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 86km/5 days
  • Level of Difficulty: Difficult
Fish River Canyon - © GeooftheReef


In what is claimed to be the world's second largest canyon - up to 550m deep, 27 km wide and over 100 km long, it is you against a tough world. There is no way out until 86km have been completed (apart from an optional "escape route" on the second day). This is true wilderness. There are no trails, no phone signal, no signposts until near the end of the trek, and your only supply of water is from the river. Expect some wading.  Combining demanding walking with the intense heat, this walk is challenging at the least. However, some 3,000 people undertake it each year.

The canyon was formed over millions of years by the Fish River carving down into a fault in the high Namibian plateau. This is harsh, dry, but dramatic and beautiful scenery. Along the way, you will probably see a range of wildlife, from klipspringers and baboons, to rock kestrels and geckos.

The trail is usually walked from Hobas (a well known viewpoint) to Ai-Ais. The 500m descent down a cliff into the canyon is difficult (some say the hardest part of the walk), with some chained sections. At the bottom is a good campsite, so many start in the late afternoon.

The next few days are then spent clambering over boulders, clambering up and down hills, and trying to discover shortcuts. To Palm Springs is 1-2 days, and a relentless, tough clamber over large boulders for much of the first day. From Palm Springs to Ai-Ais, some 5 hours after the Causeway, takes 3 days or so. The canyon is wider and the going (relatively) easier, although involving sand trudging in places.

When you finally reach the end of the trek, apart from the deep sense of satisfaction awaiting you, the sulphurous Ais-Ais springs are also there to sooth aching muscles.


Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Fish River Canyon - © Coda

share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Sossusvlei Dunes and Fish River Canyon - © Julient Carnot...

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