Fish River Canyon Namibia by Tricia Hayne The world’s second-largest canyon is a must-see on a trip to Namibia © Tricia Hayne

With hot springs, challenging hiking trails and world-class views, the world’s second-largest canyon is a must-visit on any trip to Namibia.

At 161km long, up to 27km wide, and almost 550m at its deepest, the Fish River Canyon is arguably second in size only to Arizona’s Grand Canyon – and is certainly one of Africa’s least-visited wonders. This means that, as you sit dangling your legs over the edge, drinking in the spectacle, you’re unlikely to have your visit spoiled by a coachload of tourists – at least, as long as you walk away from the main viewpoint. In fact, away from the busier seasons you may not see anyone around here at all!

Situated in a very arid region of Namibia, the Fish River is the only river within the country that usually has pools of water in its middle reaches during the dry season. Because of this, it was known to the peoples of the area during the early, middle and late Stone Ages. Numerous sites dating from as early as 50,000 years ago have been found within the canyon – mostly beside bends in the river. Around the beginning of this century, the Ai-Ais area was used as a base by the Germans in their war against the Namas. It was finally declared a national monument in 1962. Ai-Ais Restcamp was opened in 1971, though it has been fully rebuilt since then.

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