Boksburg Hiking Club Web Site

Fish River Canyon






The entire route covers about 90 km, but most hikers opt to take the two short cuts which reduce the trail length to about 80 km. There are no set overnight stops and groups usually spend either four or five nights in the canyon.

The trail is not really demanding physically and can be attempted by unfit persons. You must be prepared to forfeit all normal conveniences, be able to cook your own food and be comfortable sleeping on the ground under the stars.


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On account of excessively high temperatures and the danger of flash floods during the summer, the trail is open only between 1 May and 31 August. Maximum of 40 persons are allowed into the canyon each day.

The popularity of the trail makes it essential to book well in advance. BHC has the trail booked for two hikes a year.


No facilities are provided on the trail. Accommodation at Ai-Ais includes standard and luxury flats There are similarly equipped huts with communal ablution facilities. Camping and caravan sites are also available.

Amenities at Ai-Ais include a licensed restaurant, a filling station and a shop stocking tinned food, meat, liquor, souvenirs and fire wood. In addition to an outdoor pool there is also an indoor spa complex.

There is a small camp (12 sites) with communal facilities, pool and small kiosk at Hobas, about 10 km from the main viewpoint overlooking the canyon.



Every trip is supervised by experienced Boksburg Hiking Club leader who did this hike before. We travel by car to Hobas. There we arrange for our cars to be taken to Ai-Ais and start hiking early afternoon. Once in the Canyon we walk whole day, starting at 09h00 and making our camp at 17h00. No long stops are made during the day.


South African citizens will require a valid passport when entering Namibia but do not need visas.

In addition to the usual hiking gear, backpackers should pack a ground sheet and ground pad. A sun hat with a wide rim or flap to protect the neck, and a long sleeved shirt or blouse with a collar that can be turned up, will be useful.

Well-worn boots or stout walking shoes are essential, while extra footwear will be useful for river crossings. Also remember sunscreen, lip salve and toilet paper.



Day temperatures fluctuate between 20C and 25C during the backpacking season.. Evenings are usually pleasant, but temperatures can drop to below 5C


Backpackers must submit a medical certificate of physical fitness, issued within 40 days of the trail date, before commencing the trail. Officer at Hobas will ask for it. He can also ask for Declaration. Relevant forms are available from BHC or you can print them from links above.

Be on your guard for scorpions and spiders when collecting fire wood, and shake out your boots before putting them on in the morning. It is also advisable not to spread your sleeping bag out before you are ready to retire.

Despite the muddy color of the river, the water is generally safe to drink. However, in dry years when there is little flow, it is best to purify or boil the water.


The canyon is most spectacular during the early mornings and late afternoons, when long distances can be covered in the coolness of the day. A walking staff is useful to help you keep your balance during river crossings. If you are not sure-footed and the river is flowing strongly, crossings are best made in pairs.



THE POPULARITY of this trail places the environment under severe stress. By adhering to the following principles you will contribute to the conservation of this unique area:

• Litter spoils the otherwise pristine environment. Only paper can be burnt, while other litter should be carried out with you. Broken glass and rusty tins can injure other backpackers and animals. Acquire the habit of taking a litter bag along on trails.

• Do not feed any animals. Baboons, especially, become aggressive scavengers once they associate humans with food, and become a nuisance.

• In this harsh environment some trees shed their leaves during the dry winters as a survival mechanism and appear dead at first glance. Do not break branches from seemingly dead trees— use only fallen branches and driftwood for fires.

• Avoid making fires under trees or on tree roots.

• Do not relieve yourself within 50 meters of the river. As there are no toilets on the trail, the disposal of human waste has become a problem, especially at popular overnight stops. This problem can be avoided using the ‘cat method’, which entails digging a shallow hole (no deeper than 25 centimeters) and covering it with loose sand which is then lightly compacted.

• Avoid using soap or shampoo in the river. If biodegradable soap is unobtainable, a good swim should suffice.



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Last modified: October 08, 1999