The almost-red landscape, with its steep plateaus and extraordinary rock formations, seems at first to be the setting of a blockbuster science-fiction movie. There are steep cliffs and deep gorges throughout the area that only increase the extraterrestrial atmosphere of the landscape. Despite the rugged appearance, it’s not Mars you’re hiking through; it’s the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, one of the largest canyons in the world.
The Fish River Canyon is unparalleled in beauty. The ancient formations tell the story of the gradual changes our planet has constantly gone through over millions of years, and the hardy plants and animals of the area have developed the ability to thrive in the harsh environment. Any individual, from the most seasoned hiker to novices with nothing more than a desire to explore, can appreciate the breathtaking views with a visit to the canyon in Namibia.
Walk amongst millions of years of history
The Fish River Canyon, estimated to be 500 million years old, is the most vivid method of seeing firsthand the way Earth’s geography has changed over time. With a visit to the canyon in Namibia, you can experience textbooks coming to life before your very eyes as you step past dramatic rock formations that have been slowly molded by water and earth over millions of years.
Carefully guarded nature preserves allow you to walk through paths carved by the glaciers that once inhabited the area. There are occasional outcroppings of rock that make perfectly shady rest stops during the brisk hikes and even scattered pools of water that allow travelers to pause and cool down during the hottest parts of the day. Splashing around in the water for brief periods allows members of the party to relax during the strenuous hike.
Keep on the lookout for the area’s unique flora and fauna
Though astonishingly beautiful, at first glance the canyon in Namibia appears to be a stark, uninhabited land. However, on closer inspection, it’s easy to tell that this judgment is anything but true. While the wildlife is not so obvious as in other parts of Africa, if you take your time and keep your eyes peeled, you’ll notice that nature has allowed many species of plants and animals to evolve the ability to thrive in the harsh environment.
Vegetation is sparse but not absent. The quiver-tree, the national tree of Namibia, is some of the most obvious plant life in the canyon. The tree is perfectly adapted for life in the desert; its branches appear root-like as they grow upwards, occasionally breaking up the otherwise flat landscape. The tree flowers between May and July, the perfect time for hiking expeditions. Because of the arid climate, most other plant life is smaller and nearer the ground, but no less striking to behold.
Animals across the canyon are much the same, typically smaller because of the climate, but no less breathtaking to observe in their natural habitat. Keep an eye out for pairs of small Klipspringer antelope scurrying up the side of a cliff, or, if you’re lucky, spot the rare Hartmann’s mountain zebras which are unique to the area. Birds in the canyon can be difficult to identify, but if you can take on the site of a majestic black eagle, or any of the roughly 60 bird species, soaring through the sky above you, it’s well worth the effort.
The canyon in Namibia has something for every skill level
Some would-be travelers might be put off by the desert climate and the steep descent into the canyon, but no matter how much experience you have hiking, there is an option available if you dream of touring the canyon in Namibia.
The standard trail is 88 kilometers and takes roughly 5 days as you travel across the gorgeous desert scenery. For experienced hikers, the park allows self-guided tours of the land in which you set your own pace and navigate without assistance. If you have hiked before but don’t quite trust yourself to manage the trails on your own, a professional tour guide can help you cross the majestic terrain. If you’re worried that 5 days is simply too long, private nature preserves in the area offer less strenuous, though no less scenic, hikes in and around the canyon.
The canyon in Namibia is the perfect destination for anybody who wants to experience firsthand the natural beauty of our planet. Not just a simple safari, a hike through the canyon has so much more to offer. The area’s geography is the most captivating history lesson available in Africa and, arguably, the world. The plants and animals that have learned to survive in the area are just as enthralling as the landscapes themselves. Hiking across one of the world’s largest canyons is an adventure that everybody should have the opportunity experience.