Day 270: World’s Second Canyon

Fri. 10th May 2013

River and canyonToday we are heading to the Fish River Canyon which, we are told, is the second biggest canyon in the world. It is this thought that tears us away from the idyllic cabañas we stayed in last night. The swimming pool at the lodge here in Felix Unite looks very inviting and there was talk of canoeing on the river but these will have to remain on our “to do” list should we return to Namibia.

Helping putting oil in JanisFirst things first, Janis needed oil so a helping hand was needed to lift the cab and add the oil. This was not an easy task as the cab is (apparently) heavy. I did my piece by volunteering to take the photo. The front grill was also fiddly to fix back on, but soon enough we are on our way. This is quite a hands on trip but everyone is happy to muck in.

A Quiver Tree (Aloe family)The canyon is further along the river so we head on down the dusty roads. The landscape is quite grey with few trees. There is a lone tree where we stop and learn about this “quiver tree” which is part of the aloe family. The bark is so soft and silky to touch and was used to make cases to carry poisonous arrows. Previously hunters had been accidently poisoned by their own arrow when carrying them in quivers made from animal skin– not clever.

Shall I hike? No!We arrived at the canyon late morning and stopped at the far viewpoint overlooking the vast canyon, which is in fact two canyons formed at different times, one inside the other. The river can be seen right at the bottom and the sides stretched as far as we could see in both directions. The canyon is 160km long and 550m deep, the widest point is 24km.

The river is way down thereThere are obviously various options to explore the canyon from the 5 day hike, a trip to the bottom and back, but our option was a hike along the rim. I am not sure we would have liked the full five day hike option as we have mainly avoided camping so far, and are not keen on carrying tents. The start of the hiking trail was a path heading almost vertically down, like a goat track. We were expecting about an hour and kitted out in hiking boots were ready. The actual walk of less than a kilometre was a stroll in the park for us after our previous activities on this adventure of ours.

Big canyonWe could see our destination of a covered viewing area back along the rim, much closer than expected. Still the views were stunning along the way and it did take some time to cover the short distance due to all the photo stops. We were able to see the river wend its way along the foot of the canyon. Ancient myths say it was formed by a snake slithering away from its hunters, and you can see why they thought this.

Picturesque lunch stopHaving arrived at the viewpoint we find a long table laid for lunch and Tambi busy preparing hot dogs. You could not ask for a better setting for a picnic lunch overlooking the canyon. It is certainly a lot, lot less commercialised and less crowded than the Grand Canyon. The views may be considered just as spectacular here and can be viewed much closer up, however with the landscape of rocks is more colourful in the Grand Canyon.

Fish River CanyonBefore this trip I had never heard of Fish River Canyon and will be Googling, oops Binging it when I next have internet access. One of the joys of this trip has been coming across such spectacular sights which we have not anticipated or expected. Reflecting on what we have seen, we return to Janis and head to our accommodation for the night at Ai-Ais Resort with promised hot springs.

Ah more hot springsWhen we get to Ai-Ais (pronounced ice-ice, and meaning “burning water”), the rooms are pleasant enough with a balcony (which only provides views of the nearby rockface) but we do not stay long before it is off to check out the place and make sure our photo collection is complete! There is an outside pool which is only a little warmer than a normal pool but just outside our rooms are the indoor pools full of water from the springs. The first thing we notice is that there is no sulphur smell which we have come to associate with hot springs. The water was at a very pleasant temperature and we lazed around chatting and also enjoying the therapeutic jets of warm water massaging the (not very) weary muscles.

Our rooms and JanisYet again as soon as we arrived Tambi begins removing her pots and pans from Janis to start cooking a tasty supper. This is served in an outside kitchen/dining area in the cooling autumn evening. Once we have helped with the washing and clearing up we are briefed on tomorrow’s activity/ies which is basically getting up and sitting in Janis on one of the longer drives of 490km to the Namib Naukluft National Park where we will be seeing the famous orange coloured sand dunes.

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2 Responses to Day 270: World’s Second Canyon

  1. Sara Mayes (Churchman) says:

    Another canyon for your ‘to do’ list is Hells Canyon in Idaho, deeper I think, than the Grand. At Twin Falls in Idaho there is a golf course on the canyon floor, which made for a very interesting round.

    • Dave says:

      I like your thinking. We’re clearly going to have to swap notes when we get back.

      Thanks for the suggestions


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