Situated remotely in the deep-south, close to the border with South Africa and adrift of the classic Namibian self-drive route, Fish River Canyon is well worth the considerable effort it takes to get there. Although far from the only claimant to the ambiguous title of the world’s second largest canyon (behind Arizona’s Grand version), Fish River is a stunning, unspoiled natural wonder. The somewhat disputed dimensions are unarguably impressive: depths of over 500 metres, 100km long and nearly 30km wide, the canyon is an absolute monster! The colourful rocks, shapely formations and sparse flora and fauna, clinging on to a tough life in conditions unchanged for thousands of years, are all fairly reminiscent of the Naukluft Mountains further north. But the Fish River Canyon is genuinely isolated, a frontier land that few have visited but an increasing number are attempting to open up.
Most visitors arrive via an arduous but rewarding three day drive, with long distances and intriguing outposts to spend the night en route from Windhoek or Sossusvlei. For those with a little extra money and less time, it is also possible to fly in by light aircraft, or even enjoy a scenic day trip, landing at the airstrip, visiting the canyon and then moving on to your next destination. For those keen to make the effort to come here though, we would recommend at least a one night stay, preferably a little longer. Hikes within the canyon are superb, including overnight expeditions with mules, and there are isolated pools in the valleys where you can stop for a unique swim. There are now varied accommodation options, with superb locations overlooking the rim of the canyon or on private reserves. Sitting with a drink in hand and your legs dangling into one of the planet’s largest chasms, with none of the Arizona hordes, makes the drudgery to get here all seem worthwhile.