Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 Fish River Canyon Hiking Tips

Having recently walked the challenging but incredibly beautiful five day hike along the Fish River Canyon in Namibia, there were a couple of things that we wished people had told us before we left. So here are a few tips that my friends and I learnt along the way, that you might find useful.
  • Book the shuttle from Ai Ais to the canyon entry point as early as possible. There is only one vehicle and it leaves Ai Ais at +/- 7am and 10:30am. This means that if you catch the later shuttle you will only start the hike at 12:00 – loosing a whole morning. The shuttle can be booked at Ai Ais.
  • Don’t forget to take cash with you on the shuttle as you will need to pay the park fees at Hobas before you can enter the canyon. This fee is NOT included in the cost that you would have paid when booking your hike months earlier.
  • Other than the emergency exit on day two, there is no signage in the canyon whatsoever. Although the map of the hike is not very accurate, it does help with estimating your whereabouts… well kind of.
  • Don’t stress if you haven’t made much progress after day 2, the terrain is tough going and you will make time up on day 4 and 5 when the canyon opens up. If you make camp an hours walk after Palm Springs on day 2, you are doing well.
  • Don’t camp near “Sand Against Slope” – the sand is there for a reason. The wind can pick up at night and deliver ½ a ton of sand into your sleeping bag.
  • I also wouldn’t suggest camping anywhere along “Dassie Ridge” and “Baboon Mountain”. Our fury primate friends get up to all kinds of mischief and keep you up all night with their loud partying.
  • Bring secure sandals for river crossings.
  • Please burn you toilet paper after use. Digging a hole and covering it with sand isn’t good enough. The wind simply blows the sand away.
  • Some food that we found worked well from a calories vs weight point of view were: rice, pasta, couscous, crackers, tuna sachets, peanut butter, dried fruit, sachet pasta sauces, nuts, energy bars, honey, cup-a-soup, oat sachets and a few onions and garlic for flavour. I would also suggest biltong, but that didn’t even last the car trip there.
  • Don’t forget to appreciate the five days of no emails, facebook updates, bbm, spam text messages, tweets, phone calls and general world events. It’s a beautiful thing.