Fish River Canyon



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The Fish River Canyon in Namibia is thought to be the 2nd largest canyon in the world after the Grand Canyon. The immensity of this magnificent landscape is truly breathtaking. The towering rock faces and deep ravines were formed by water erosion and the collapse of the valley due to movements in the earth's crust over 500 million years ago. Today the canyon measures 160 km long up to 27 km wide and almost 550 m at its deepest.


Today, the canyon is part of the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park sought after by self-drive safari goers, hikers and photographers, all drawn to the long thin river and magnificent surroundings. Depending on the time of year, the view may offer a dry river bed or in rainy season, a raging torrent.


The environment of this spectacular scenery embraces a number of habitats bringing together several species of mammals, an abundance of reptiles, insects and fish that live in natural pools and the Fish River itself. wp-content/uploads/2016/06/fish-river-canyon-2.jpg The hot springs which occur on the canyon floor, the most well-known being at Ai-Ais, form pools of water which in turn attract many type of waterbirds, making Fish River a rewarding birding safari destination as well. Some of the bird species found throughout the canyon are Egyptian geese, olive thrush, black-headed, grey and goliath heron, African black duck, flocks of Abdim's stork, black stork, Cape robin chat, reed and white-breasted cormorant and dab-chick.


The klipspringer antelope is one of Fish River Canyon's most unique creatures. The hoof structure enables this 'rock jumper' to walk on the tip of its hoof. It leaves an unmistakable double-rounded spoor (footprint and, allows for extra grip with the ability to bound smooth rock surfaces and leap from boulder to boulder to escape predators. Other canyon residents include mountain zebra, kudu, steenbok, gemsbok and springbok, attracting predators such as leopard, jackal, brown hyena and bat-eared fox. Rare sightings of a small population of grey rhebok have been recorded.

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Sharp-toothed catfish and yellow fish are found in the natural pools of Fish River. The former can adapt to almost any habitat. In some of these environment, they are preyed upon by leopard and African fish eagle. Largemouth yellow fish swim upstream from the Orange River and into the Fish River continuing on for many miles. The frog population includes the marbled rubber frog, common platanna and Boettger's caco. Beetz's tiger snake and black-necked spitting cobras seek shelter in the dry rocky regions while Nile monitor lizards and the Karoo girdled lizard perch on boulders soaking up the sun.


Apart from its outstanding natural beauty and diverse and unique flora and fauna, the Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail is well-worth a mention. It is one of the most famous hikes in southern Africa, covering a distance of 86 km in the base of the canyon, starting from Hobas and ending at Ai-Ais. The duration is either 4 or 5 days depending on fitness and hikers.




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