Hiking the Fish river canyon: Know before you go

It is officially in the air – less than 3 weeks before the start of another season and anticipation is running high, especially for those who get to go early. Many first timers are becoming aware of gnawing uncertainties: Am I really fit enough? What if we get lost? Do I need to pack more food?

Since our first visit during 2010, we have grown fond of this very popular trail but we have also come to know the challenges it present. No list will ever be conclusive but we would like to put forward just a few factors you might want to consider in preparing for your Fish river hiking adventure:

Shape ∼ Likely the thought most entertained by someone about to do a first trail here: Am I fit enough? We reckon it’s a case of different strokes for different folks – as a broad guideline you need to be okay with 15 kilogram on your back on a practice hike lasting at least 3 hours. In diverse terrain – hills, riverbeds, stones and sandy stretches. Do a minimum of 3 before you go. It also helps a lot in getting comfortable in and with your gear.

Shoes ∼ You want to take good care of your feet so make sure you are good friends with your hiking boots by the time you go. And you might want to take some Vaseline or similar along – apply regularly and you are in with a good chance of a blister-free hike.

Start ∼ Each day early as pace and timing are crucial elements to an overall pleasant hiking experience. Probably our best piece of advice with credit to Chris from Cape Town who shared this on our maiden hike (he was doing his 38th at the time). On the other hand, do not fret due to your apparent lack of progress over the first 2 days – the canyon opens up as from day 3. Take time to appreciate the higher walls, bigger rocks and better swimming spots early on.

Space ∼ For others. Get to know the members of your group and be sure about cohesion. One difficult character among you and 5 days in the canyon can become a very long time.

Stars ∼ Namibia remains a prime destination for stargazing enthusiasts, the Fish river hike presenting a great opportunity for viewing some magnificent night skies. We try to be out on the trail around new moon.

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