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Hiking across Africa’s largest canyon

Written by: Kabo Letlhogela

Our 85-kilometre hike across the Fish River Canyon, Africa’s largest canyon, began with a torturous two-kilometre descent from the main viewpoint near Hobas. Most people consider this to be the most strenuous section of the trail, and three hours later our group had only reached the lowest point and still had a while to go before reaching the sandy riverbed.

Kabo Letlhogela standing at starting point

Due to the tiring descent, we only covered a further 1.8km before setting up camp near First Rest Pools, where we bathed and swam in the water of the Fish River and used it to cook our evening meal.

fish-river-canyon-hike fish-river-canyon-river

The following day, we proceeded across thick desert sand, passing gigantic boulders, magical mountain ridges and bushes. Just before lunch, we stopped at the Wild Fig bend where you can find a Vespa scooter from a 1968 expedition that didn’t quite go according to plan. Nearby, an old carcass of a zebra greeted us. We then camped at Palm Springs and enjoyed a hot bath in the thermal sulphur pools. Across the pools, Namibia’s famous wild horses emerged.

hike-fish-river-canyon hiking-fish-river-canyon

On day three, we covered our greatest distance of 31 kilometres. Towering above us were prominent attractions such as Monument Mountain and Table Mountain, which resembles the Table Mountain in Cape Town. At Baboon Mountain Pools, the boys went for a swim to cool down, while the ladies proceeded for an extra kilometre to set-up camp at Bushy Corner.

fish-river-canyon-black-and-white

On the fourth day, the Fish River split into three directions and our group disbanded, some of us getting lost before regrouping. Back on the trail we saw a pair of old rusty hiking boots left by a fellow hiker and, a few metres away, a colony of nearly 40 baboons marched in the opposite direction.

fish-river-canyon-hikers

The hike was starting to take its toll as many members of our group were suffering from various injuries. As we passed the German soldier’s grave and the Four Finger Rock, the unrelenting heat forced us to take a longer break than usual before continuing to our last campsite for the hike – Fool’s Gold Corner.

The prospect of clean water and a cold beer were the motivating forces for us to hike the remaining kilometres on our final day. We passed through the Fish Eagle Pools and a rock inscribed with the words ‘COLD BEER’ and pointing to the resort was our final sign of hope that the end was in sight. After five days of hiking in the heat, we arrived at the resort and had accomplished our goal of conquering Africa’s largest canyon during heritage month!

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