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Fish River Canyon and Canyon Lodge
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I arrived at Canyon Lodge in the late afternoon after a long drive from Naries/Springbok (South Africa), through very scenic landscape (see here for the details). The lodge is hidden when coming from the C37, since it is nestled against big boulder hills. Finally getting closer, I first had a problem: There were just two free parking lots, and both were occupied by horses. Well, I finally managed and got to the reception - in a little out-of-place castle-like building surrounded by very colorful and well-maintained gardens with old corrugated farm utensils for décor.

Read more about Canyon Lodge below.

Suddenly, while unpacking my booze, I heard very familiar sounds: Swiss German! So I met Roland and Franziska, from Bern. We spent two dinners together, and also met for a sundowner above the Canyon. Was great to spend time with them!

During my stay in Canyon Lodge, I of course visited the Fish River Canyon at Hobas, I made a 3 hr hike to a hole-in-the-wall, and made a trip to Keetmanshoop and Quiver Tree Forest.

 


Fish River Canyon
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The Canyon is 12 km from the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park gate at Hobas (park fee of 80 N$, and a kiosk selling drinks), and 24 km from the main viewpoint. The road to the main viewpoint is corrugated, but was easily manageable with my Corolla. I went there around 3 pm; only during the return at dusk I saw many springbok and zebra on the plains.

The main viewpoint allows the first view to Fish River Canyon, in a place where you can see the river do a full S bend. Looking South, there is a maze of plateaus and slopes, each in a lighter shade of brown than the one in front. Not having been to Grand Canyon, this view really impressed me, even if the light was still too hard around 3 pm. 

From the main viewpoint, I drove to all other viewpoints accessible to sedan cars: Rockies Point (5.4 km from the main viewpoint), The Edge (plus ca. 1 km), Sulphur Spring (+2.7 km), and Desert Rim (+2.1 km) to the South, and Hiker's Point (2.5 km) to the North. All of them offer a different view, and it is really hard to say which one I liked most. Sulphur Springs and Hiker's Point are the locations where hikers doing the 86 km Canyon walk can get out of the canyon. But this is NOT a place to go into the canyon: Two days after my visit, a tourist got down and got lost. His body was not found. Well, the warning signs are big enough to not be overlooked, really.

 

The roads between the viewpoints are really awful - some of the worst roads I had experienced on all of my trip except of maybe Khowarib Schlucht and Doros-Ugab. But there, we had a 4x4, and here I had to urge my poor Corolla onwards... I wonder why they don't improve these roads - hey, this is one of Namibia's top tourist spots! Ahh, maybe this is intentional, because tourist hotspot Sossusvlei must be even worse!

Roland, Franziska and myself had agreed to meet for a sundowner at Sunset Point, the last of the viewpoints. It is only 0.6 km from the main point, but you can walk a bit further to the rim. Sundowner there was magnificent, to watch the play of light with shadows on the eroded rocks. However, it is actually not the best time to take pictures, as you're east of the Canyon, leaving the Canyon in the dark.

Getting back to the lodge, I enjoyed a spectacular astronomical attraction: this being the rare time of Venus and Jupiter coming unusually close to each other, the couple was met by the smallest sickle of a waning moon...

 


Keetmanshoop and Quiver Tree Forest
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Finding I was a bit short on cash, and ice to cool my booze, and eager to send a few SMS home, I decided to do a day trip to Keetmanshoop and Quiver Tree Forest. 357 km, but it was an easy and scenic drive - and funny, to see a railway in this solitude. To go, I took the road via Seeheim (a nice little hotel and station near the North end of Fish River Canyon, in the middle of nowhere), and got back on the shortcut via Naute Dam.

Keetmanshoop is the biggest town in the South, and the 4th biggest in Namibia. But "big" doesn't mean really big, there are just 18.000 inhabitants... However, it has got the infrastructure of a central town: banks, ATMs (withdrawal of only 1000 N$ at a time), several shops, post office, mobile connectivity, and a big hospital. There are several old buildings and churches of colonial German origin; it is a very lively town, but not very attractive otherwise.

 

After having done my shopping, I drove onwards to Quiver Tree Forest, some 17 km Northeast of Keetmanshoop (not on B1). Even though all guide books tell you to come here for sunset, the quiver trees were also impressive at noon. The special thing here are not the quiver trees themselves, but their quantity. In the fenced area of ca. 200*400 m, there are maybe 200 trees (or better: aloes) of all sizes. So it is really a naturally grown forest, and this can only be seen in few other places! The oldest quiver trees here are 200-300 years old. Some of them bore fruit now early September; they bloom in June/July. The entrance fee (70 N$, I believe) also allows you to visit Giant Playground (big boulders lying around) and a couple of cheetahs in a fence, but I didn't feel like seeing either.

On my way back to Canyon Lodge, I passed by Naute Dam. The sight is a bit odd: very arid landscape dominated by yellow grass and black rocks - and a lovely blue lake in the midst of it. Naute dam holds 87 million cbm of Löwe Rivier's water (a tributary of Fish River). It provides water for Keetmanshoop, and to irrigate date palms, grapes and other export crops. There is a viewpoint (entry 10 N$), with kiosk (buy the extremely sweet fresh dates!), campsite, braai areas and toilets; fishing and boating is allowed on part of the lake (call 063-2250533 for information). Friendly Denyse Handley and her husband manage the facilities, and also cared for two orphan baby kitten - I loved them! The strangest sight however was that of a dassie. Because it was a dassie sitting at the water's edge. Dassies and water just don't match...

 


Hikes around Canyon Lodge
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I didn't join the guided sunset walk; it leads to the top of the granite hill closest to the lodge, an awesome viewpoint. However, I did this walk on my own twice, for sunrise. Sunset must be great from there, but it is much more quiet at sunrise, when rabbits and dassies are just waking up. The cliff offers a 360° view of the lodge and Canyon Village, Fish River Canyon, and an arena formed by mountains some km in the distance.

When the sun rose, I discovered something intriguing: There seemed to be a hole in the wall of these "arena mountains"! It intrigued me so much that I decided to, after breakfast, walk a bit closer, just to see. I went straight towards the hole - there was no path, but not much vegetation either. I walked for ca. 2 km and then I was at the foot of the hill - this had seemed much farther! I even noticed a path climbing to the hole, so I followed it.

Coming close to the hole, I noticed several things:

  • The hole is so big you can walk trough - with a beautiful little valley behind it, and the view to the lodge and on to Fish River Canyon to the other side.
  • There is kind of a bar counter on the Western side - ideal for sundowners.
  • There is a farm road leading to the Eastern side of the hole - ideal for sundowners.
  • There is a foot path leading to the hole following the Western foot of the mountain range.


Anyway, it was a beautiful hike, and I was proud of myself that I had found this place all on my own...

 


Canyon Lodge
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Canyon Lodge and the associated Canyon Village are located in a private concession, Gondwanapark, adjacent to the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier National Park. They are the accommodation option closest to the Northern Fish River Canyon public viewpoints, except for the campsite at Hobas (the park gate). I stayed at Canyon Lodge for 3 nights, to have enough time to also explore the surroundings other than Fish River Canyon. Most guests seem to stay for 1-2 nights. I didn't visit Canyon Village, just saw it from the distance. Canyon Lodge seems very much nicer, though.

Canyon Lodge was the biggest and most touristy accommodation of my trip, but this was no problem, as I didn't meet many other guests. The lodge has 30 bungalows, all of them built from stone, wood and reed, leaning against the boulders and rocks. However, many of them are well apart from each other - which, on the other way, also means that you might have to walk for several minutes from the reception to your bungalow.

I stayed in Bungalow 24, in the Southwestern part of the area. My (double) room was partly occupied by a big granite boulder protruding into the bedroom, and also the bathroom had walls which had been there before. The bungalow was not overdecorated; furniture consisted mainly of the bed, a stone alcove to store baggage and things, and a coat rack. Outside there was a stone table and two chairs. There is electricity in the room, and all infrastructure was working properly. I even had a guest: SuperMouse, who was able to climb this rather smooth boulder as if she was a gecko - and who was very interested in my rusks until I hang them away. Wildlife!

The view from my bungalow was marvelous, as it was not obstructed by any other building. In this area of the lodge, I considered No. 25 to have the best view, as it is in the very front, but its interior seemed not so spectacular. If traveling alone, No. 28 might be a bit special: it is higher to the hill to command a great view, has separate shower and WC huts, in addition to a WC and bathtub with a view in the open-plan bungalow - and there is an outdoor bathtub sunk into the rocks, but I doubt it works...

 

The restaurant was the place where I really felt the size of the property -  in all other places, we had dined on one big table, but this here was a normal restaurant. The food was good, with starter and pudding being served and the main course a selection from a buffet. The staff was very attentive and friendly, they really looked well after me especially on my third evening, when I was dining alone. There is also a well-stocked curio shop in the main house. The pool is a bit removed from the main lodge area, ca. 5 minutes to walk.

Activities in Canyon Lodge, other than what I did, include guided sundowner drives, sunset walks, horse rides and excursions to the Fish River Canyon, as well as unguided walks - it is very easy to find your way around.


Please read here about my stay at Norotshama in Aussenkehr, and the trip down there.



Last update:  22:55 12/07 2007
Kalahari Meerkats
Upington
Augrabies NP
Namaqualand
Naries - more flowers
Kleinzee diamond mine
Namibia's South, Orange
Fish River Canyon
Aus
Koichab Dunes
Lüderitz
D707 scenic route
Büllsport & Naukluft
Windhoek & Waterberg
Outjo & Khowarib Gorge
Hoanib & Amspoort
Desert Elephants
Purros, Hoarusib & Khumib
Huab, Doros, Ugab
Erongo, Boshua, WDH
Travel facts
Gallery of this trip


Desert rim viewpoint




Canyon Lodge seen through hole




Naute dam




Quiver tree forest


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