Ask most people what the largest canyon in the world is and they can easily tell you it’s the Grand Canyon.
We’ve been subjected to enough American TV and films to know a little bit about the US.
Now ask the same people what the second largest one is? Chances are you will get them stumped. Even an online search can be misleading because there is no definitive canyon list. Some people argue for size along the lines of length. Others look at depth.
It may come as a surprise then that most lists say the second largest one is the Fish River Canyon. Never heard of it? Well it’s the largest in Africa and actually part of our neighbouring country Namibia.
Namibia is South Africa’s neighbour that you never hear anything about. If Zimbabwe is the loud, brash nosy neighbour then Namibia is definitely the shy, quiet one.
With such a huge natural asset you’d think you would hear more about Namibia in travel circles? Apart from the canyon, Namibia has interesting scenery and striking natural beauty. Still it’s a rare occurrence to meet someone who has actually gone there on holiday.
I had the privilege of visiting Namibia a long while back to hike the Fish River Canyon. The trip would require a week of hiking 90km.
The hike took me through valleys with craggy rocks, pebbles and rivers to long stretches of desert and rolling mini-hills.
I was part of a large group that was undertaking the hiking excursion. In previous columns I have mentioned how much I love hiking.
Even though I do I’ve never been a fan of having to do my business outside by simply squatting behind a rock somewhere. I need a toilet. That’s closed off.
The more you travel the more this rule becomes a bit more fluid. At the time, I was so determined to not use the bathroom until I could actually find one that I forced constipation upon myself for the duration of the hike. For the first and last time.
Apart from the constant and drastically changing scenery it would be a trip of many firsts for me. While hiking, I got to witness something else that Namibia can claim.
Deep in the canyon we came across a large herd of wild horses. There was something majestic in seeing horses free to roam and live like any other wild animal. The backdrop of the canyon made it even more special.
Most days were spent hiking and whenever tiredness kicked in we would set up camp and sleep outside under the stars. The challenge with this style of hiking is that you must carry everything with you.
Including your food and the way you intend on preparing it. It was fun as a youngster to be able to cook for oneself like all adult things are.
The same things you learn to loathe when you get older. The river that runs through the canyon that served as our bath and shower also ended up being the tap that we drank from.
After several attempts to try and drink water purified with tablets I joined the rest of the group in cautiously drinking the water