Our group of 8 people started the Fish River Canyon hike on the 4th of July 2016 and finished on the 8th of July 2016.
We covered a distance of about 74 kilometers over just over 4 days, slept 4 nights under the stars, carried way too much food, drank river water and survived despite aches, pains and blisters.
Will I do it again? Yes!
Notes on the admin around the trip:
- I booked the permits in May 2015, R300 per person from NWR Cape Town.
- We stayed in Ai-Ais the Sunday evening before we started, as well as the Friday evening after the hike (Camping fees per person – R169 per night)
- We found 2 willing gentlemen who drove with us to the start, and brought our vehicles back to Ai-Ais. We decided not to make use of the shuttle service, which was a bit expensive at R260 per person.
- At Hobas, we had to pay an additional R60 per person conservation/park entry fees. The whole fee structure is still a bit unclear to me.
- I did not know what to expect of the condition of the Ai-Ais Resort. There were various reports of issues at the resort. I found that service was friendly, all was in working order, the restaurant food was excellent and the kiosk was well stocked.
- Important… there was cold beer and they were willing to serve plates of chips on request.
3 July 2016 – On the road
Notes on our trip to Ai-Ais:
- We left Cape Town at about 6:30 am
- Distance to Ai-Ais, about 800km.
- The gravel roads in Namibia are mostly in an excellent condition. But ensure you have a spare wheel and a jack!
- The border crossing at Vioolsdrif and Noordoewer went without issues. Take a pen to fill out forms in Namibia. Also ensure you have all your vehicle docs with you, as well as money for RAF in Namibia.
- Arrived at Ai-Ais late afternoon (17:00 +-)
- Informal camping arrangement. Just pitch your tent – anywhere!
- Braaied enough boerewors to eat for dinner of day 1. Well, we had enough for day 2 to 4 as well. Had to discard the leftovers.
4 July 2016 – Towards Hobas and down into the Canyon
Notes on Day 1:
- We left Ai-Ais at 8am. Only started the descent at 10am. Could have started earlier.
- We saved a lot of time not having to bring the vehicles back to Ai-Ais.
- Had to do admin at Hobas and pay fees. They don’t take cards. Take cash.
- The descent is tough on the legs. Take your time!
- Had a good rest once we reached the river. Maybe too long, but we enjoyed it.
- Did not have the GPS tracker on for the day. Should’ve done that.
- Used the offline Google map and GPS on my cellphone to pinpoint our location on the printed maps.
- Slept on a high sand bank. Good thing / bad thing. Had to climb back up every time you went down to the river to get water.
5 July 2016 – Day 2
Notes on Day 2:
- We started a bit late, so we reached Palm Springs a bit late to really enjoy the warm water. It was already near sunset, which is early in the canyon.
- Sleeping at Palm Springs – choose carefully, because everybody stop there, there’s a toilet behind every bush.
- There were driftwood, so we could make a fire for the evening.
6 July 2016 – Day 3
Notes on Day 3:
- Slept under the stars again. Nice!
- A sandy spot that feels soft and looks level, does not feel the same when you’re in your sleeping bag.
- Started hiking at about 8am.
- Followed the river and other footprints, with a few shortcuts at river bends.
- Overnight spot was a bit far from the water. But on day 3, I must admit swimming / bathing wasn’t my top priority. Cleanup, eat, sleep!
- We could once again make a fire. Didn’t see any spider, scorpions or snakes.
7 July 2016 – Day 4 (the day of the shortcuts)
Notes on Day 4:
- Started at 8am
- The day of the shortcuts. That means cutting km’s, but a bit of up and down.
- It was a long day – 20km.
- Slept at the point just before we had to cross the river at the ‘skaapkraal’ shortcut.
8 July 2016 – Day 5
Notes on Day 5:
- Started at 8am
- Followed the river for most of the time.
- Reached Ai-Ais at about lunchtime.
- Had some chips and beer
- Set up camp and had a soak in the warm swimming pool
- Had supper at the restaurant – Springbok ‘lion’ with ‘randy pudding’. Very nice!
- The ground at Ai-Ais is not softer than in the canyon.
9 July 2016 – Back to civilization
Notes on our trip back:
- Left early – probably 7am
- Had coffee and rusks in the car (and other leftovers from the trip to Nam)
- No issues at the borders
- Lunch at Wimpy Springbok
- Reached Cape Town at about 18:30