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Published: March 6th 2007
This is one of those places that give you an instant jaw-dropping effect. WeiL went: "I am not sure I can handle this" - the moment we arrived. Before us is a stupendous gorge with a 'river' snaking within it, all lit up in bright golden colour as the sun was slowly setting beyond the horizon. I thought I was staring at a gold field. It looked more like places you see in dreams. I bet I would forget about the whole experience (like I do all the time) by the time I wake up tomorrow unless I have pictures to remind myself that this is real. Thanks mom for lending me her camera!
The second largest canyon in the world (I believe the Grand Canyon is the largest by size) has its very own myth to go with it. The San
once believed that the Fish River Canyon was caused by the violent thrashing of a wounded giant serpent, Koutein Kooru
, as it was pursued into the desert by hunters. It is not clear what happened to Koutein Kooru or the hunters but the effect of that thrasing, is breathtaking.
The canyon, at around 160km in length,
almost 28km wide and up to 550m deep in certain sections, is huge. A combination of various geological and natural effects carved this beauty out of standstone and lava deposits. As with all natural wonders, the process took millions of years. Strangely, the Fish River was hardly a river as it was completely dry. There was no sign of any fish. I was told the Fish River is being dammed downstream, it only contains small amount of water and in winter (also the dry season), the river bed is usually completely dry or sometimes only contains occasional puddle. Apparently, after rainfalls in the summer, the river can become quite a torrent.
Although the Fish River and the Orange River are connected, they are hardly similar. The Orange River has water flowing through it all year round. It is rich in flora and fauna. It is inhabited. The Fish River runs through the desert steppe of Namibia. The Fish River at around the canyon is dry and desolate. Other than home to the desert snakes, scorpions and beetles, I doubt it is inhabited. Maybe a few crazy campers will stop by from time to time in this area.
and I arrived at the Fish River Canyon after a long day on the truck from the Orange River. We had just spent the morning paddling down the Orange River in our little two-seater inflatable canoe with one oar each. One of the weird questions from WeiL was: "With just one oar, how do we row?" I can always count on WeiL for the weirdest questions. But rowing was not all that easy initially. We were paddling round and round in the first few minutes. But after getting the hang of things, we were floating down the Orange River slowly with the help of the current. We had to get off and push, occasionally, as the canoe ran into river walls but it was a fun ride.
Once at the Hobas camping ground, we managed to put up our tent without too much hassle this time. We would like to think we were starting to get used to camping and being in the wilderness. We quickly boarded the truck, which took us 10km down a gravel road to the Hikers' Viewpoint of Fish River Canyon. Very slowly, with many stops, we made our way towards the Hell's Bend, which
features the sharp river bend as seen in the pictures here, then towards the Main Viewpoint. Along the path, there were some interesting semi-desert vegetation and these plants were cute!
Hobas camping ground was a highlight itself. At approximately 6am, I was woken up by odd clanging sound. WeiL was seen looking out of the tent - spying. I thought the 'bouncer' also known as BFG (big friendly giant) and his tent-mate were up to mischief again and went back to sleep. But the look at WeiL's face seemed rather serious. It took me a while to realise that the mischiveous ones were, in fact, at least half a dozen of baboons. I had a feeling their extended family was within the vicinity of the camping ground watching us as we slept. The baboons were running amok all around our camping ground, scavenging for leftovers, scattering rubbish, peeling off our heskies for food!
These baboons were fierce, menacing and big, unlike the friendly little monkeys you usually find in Asian botanical gardens which fed on banana, these baboons were probably looking for something more substantial. For a brief moment, we stopped breathing to avoid detection, then we started
Towards the Main Viewpoint
to worry about our laundry which were just hanging outside of our tents. Who knows, African baboons may be interested in food and some back-to-the-future underwears!
The heat got more and more intense as our truck moved into the heart of the Namib desert. Our next stop - Sossusvlei.
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