The Fish River Canyon in southern Namibia, is the second largest canyon in the world and largest in Africa.

Satellite view of the Fish River Canyon

Satelite view of the Fish River Canyon: Second largest canyon in the world.

The Fish River Canyon is located in the southern section of the Fish River, about 150 km from the South African / Namibian border. Only the American Grand Canyon is bigger.

The enormous ravine is 161 km in length and on its widest 27 km. It is 550 metres deep and the canyon is about 650 million years old.

The Fish River itself is the longest river in Namibia, and has its origins in the highlands near the town of Mariental. Various smaller rivers flow into it, and this boosts the water-flow in summer raining season.

Approximately 650 million years ago, there was earth plate movement and this created a crack in the main plateau, with the river slices through the main plateau, to create the canyon.

The plateau surrounding the canyon is a stony, dry and mostly semi-desert environment that supports little vegetation. Yet, various desert dwelling animals has made this region their home. Animals ranging from mountain zebra, springbok, Oryx and ostrich.

The river is most of the time just a trickle of water, flowing from one pool to the next. When the late summer raining season starts, the river start to flood, and become very dangerous.


The famous Fish River Hiking Trail, starts at the National Park camp at Hobas and ends 85 kilometres, further south at the Ai-Ais Camp.

There are no facilities available on the trail, and hikers need to bring all outdoor camping and food with them. The trail is not easy, and takes 3 to 5 days, depending on fitness levels.

The trail is only open in winter, due to very high summer temperatures and flash floods. Temperatures frequently exceed 45°C.

The hiking season starts in the winter time in the Southern Hemisphere, from 1 May and ends 15 September.

A medical certificate is required to do the trail, and strictly enforced. Hikers must be older the 12, and minimum groups size of 3 hikers are enforced.

PLEASE NOTE: It is strictly forbidden to climb down into the canyon without a permit. There is no real trail down, and it is extremely dangerous and slippery.