Namibia: A quirky ‘pit stop’ and the Fish River Canyon

With dust bellowing out from behind us, we raced down the D324 road through the Gondwana Park towards the Fish River Canyon. The danger of stopping on a popular route like this is that guaranteed, 6 other vehicles will be right behind you. If you stop, you’re going to be caked in dust! That’s the trouble with travelling during the school holidays, everyone else is on the the same road trip as you.

We’re heading to the Fish River Canyon, and despite July being the busiest month for tourists, it’s an absolute must if you are in the South of Namibia. On any busy road in Namibia, it’s tempting to speed off and leave the vehicles in a cloud of dust but racing along from one point to another defeats the purpose of a road trip in Namibia. Stopping and getting out of your vehicle must be done. We stopped here at the Canyon Roadhouse, because it looked interesting and because we thought we’d escape the 6 cars behind us and their dust. We were wrong. They all followed us. The Canyon Roadhouse is obviously popular!

Canon Roadhouse

Entrance to the Canon Roadhouse

The Canyon Roadhouse used to be a filling station. Now it’s pit stop with a difference! It’s a retro-looking ‘Roadhouse’ museum/restaurant,  full up of rusting vintage cars, number plates, posters and sirens, including the greasy mechanics workshop and tools! They serve good coffee and food here. There is accommodation and camping here too. You should stop here, if to be entertained if anything!

Canon Roadhouse

Canon Roadhouse

Canon Roadhouse

Canon Roadhouse

We set off after a couple cappuccino’s and a few good laughs, eager to see more of this barren rocky landscape. The Fish River Canyon is only 25 km’s from the Canyon Roadhouse making it a good place to stop overnight if you’d like to see the Fish River Canyon in the early morning or late afternoon.

Gondwana Canyon Park

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Some interesting facts about the Fish River Canyon

  1. It’s the second largest canyon in the world, after the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
  2. The canyon is 56km’s long and up to 549 metres deep. The widest point measures 27 kilometres.
  3. The formation of the canyon started around 350 million years ago but it cuts into rock formed during the oldest geological period of over 1000 million years old. In its time it’s been flooded by the ocean and was also filled with a glacier during the commencement of glaciation. The final major phase of the formation of the Fish River Canyon as we know it today happened during the break-up of Gondwana 120 million years ago when the escarpment was lifted up. The ‘lifting’ created a steeper gradient, which in turn intensified the erosive power of the water, thus cutting even deeper into the canyon.

Horse Shoe bend

Fish River Canyon (4)

From here, we continued South on the D324 road, heading to Ai-Ais hotsprings resort. Our plan was to camp 2 nights here and to explore the Orange River area before taking the C12 towards Aus. I’d love to say I’d recommend the Ai-Ais Resort campsite but it was packed bumper to bumper with tents and tourists. In hindsight, we should have expected this as it is after all a resort and that alone should tell a story. The camping experience here simply did not fit into our picture of Namibia, of wide spread landscapes with not a soul in site. Of feeling that we are the only people in the world. No, not here. Though on a good note, it is well positioned if you are planning to travel to Aus. And the kids certainly loved the heated pool. Listening to my neighbours snoring, however, was a little too close for comfort! One night here was enough.

Next stop: Taking the C12 along the Orange River, through moonscape and up to Aus – Home of wild horses and diamonds.

Abandoned vintage truck

Riding shot gun to Ai/Ais Hot springs

5 replies »

  1. Amazing. I read a lot about Namibia, about its natural beauty: I thought I’d seen it all (at least in photo) and then out pops this beautiful, unbelievably pretty canyon. Incredible!