Coming upon the Fish River Canyon for the first time provides one of those deeply satisfying jaw-dropping moments of sheer awe. Reluctant to employ the phrase “wow factorî this is one time, regrettably, when it probably does apply.
Great rugged folds of red rock and earth twist back on themselves across the landscape rather like a concertinaed python. The surrounding landscape is lunar and harsh and the canyon is pretty much in-keeping. Surprisingly, there are a number of species of birds and animals (including jackal, klipspringer, mountain zebra, black eagles) as well as some ingenious plants that somehow exist here.
The only way to “doî the canyon properly is on foot with the possible added convenience of some donkeys to porter gear. The full hike is almost 90km long which you do over 5 days. Don’t expect chair-lifts or piped water or corner-shops...if you are hiking the canyon, chances are you’ll be carrying everything you need (including water) with you and there are no plush hotels with big hot baths waiting for you. It is a serious adventure.
Of course, there is also the option to perch in elegant comfort at the top of the canyon in a lovely lodge from which you can enjoy the scenic but less arduous walks, drives and sundowners around the locale and down into the canyon itself.