Fish River Canyon: Third time’s a charm

Our first stop once we had crossed the border into Namibia, was at a camp near the Fish River Canyon. The Fish River Canyon is the largest canyon in Africa, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Nambia. The canyon is “in total about 160 km (100 miles) long, up to 27 km (17 miles) wide and in places almost 550 meters (1805 feet) deep.” [Wikipedia]. To see a really cool satellite image of the Fish River Canyon click here.

Besides admiring the canyon from the top, one can also walk along The Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail which runs along the bottom of the canyon. Although this can only be done during the winter months due to the extremely high temperatures in summer. The hiking trail is also closed if there has been flooding down the Fish River. We were not going to try anything as ambitious as the hiking trail though. All we wanted to do was see the canyon, and take some nice photographs. Even this proved to be a challenge.

We arrived at the camp in the afternoon, booked in and then headed off to check out the Canyon. In all our trips, especially in environments which had very harsh light during the day, we had found that the best times for photography were early mornings or late afternoons. The so-called “golden hours”.

When we got to the edge of the canyon at the main viewing site, the sun was beginning to go down. Although the sun was still hitting the rim of the canyon, the bottom of the canyon and the lower walls and ledges were in shadow. At this point we realised that no amount of photo editing was going to help improve our photos.


With the sun setting behind a ridge on the other side of the canyon, the canyon itself is in deep shadow. The camera is only focussing properly on the foreground in front of us. ©WMB/


Photographing the canyon wall on our side of the canyon – which was still lit up by the sun – proved to be more successful. ©WMB/

Since the evening photo session had not been successful, we decided to try again early the next morning. We headed off before breakfast, and braved the cold and wind. Still no luck though. This time the other side of the canyon was lit up, and the rest of the canyon was in shadow.


Early morning attempt at photographing the canyon. ©WMB/


Zooming in to the bottom of the canyon proved a little more successful – especially after enhancing the photo afterwards. ©WMB/


As the sun rose, more of the far side of the canyon is lit up. But the stark contrast in light still makes it difficult to get a good photo. ©WMB/



I had by now given up trying to get anything useable, and was starting to take photos of the birds around the viewing point, the information posters . . .  and Willie still trying his best!


A very cold Willie tries his best to capture the beauty of the Fish River Canyon. ©LB/

Having got cold and despondent enough we returned to the camp, delighted that we hadn’t missed the breakfast session at the camp restaurant. We were moving on that day, but decided that we had enough time to swing past the canyon for a last look. And there it was in all its majesty . . . It was now around 11:00 a.m. and the sun had risen, but wasn’t yet at its full height, so cast enough shadow to allow us to get some decent photos. Third time’s a charm!







This post is part of a series I will be publishing about our travels through Namibia. It is also part of my daily posts for October 2016 – otherwise known as The October Dash


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Categories: Photography, Random


I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at and (my photoblog)


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8 Comments on “Fish River Canyon: Third time’s a charm”

  1. Eha
    October 25, 2016 at 1:24 am #

    Had heard of Fish River Canyon of course but never seen the most dramatic and beautiful scenery. Willie’s ‘enhanced’ photo of the curve of the river is absolutely magnificent both in its reality and how it has been presented! And if he was cold doing his morning photography, you must have been just as cold taking his photo 🙂 ! Thanks a million!!

    • October 25, 2016 at 6:31 am #

      I don’t think that any photos really do it justice. It’s just one of those places you have to visit to fully appreciate. Does Australia have any big canyons?

      Yes, it was chilly – although I do better in the cold than Willie does.

  2. October 25, 2016 at 4:05 am #

    Beautiful scenery – I can just imagine how grand it must be in real life!

    • October 25, 2016 at 6:28 am #

      It is absolutely awe-inspiring. What the photos don’t capture is the vastness of the canyon, and the sounds – wind, birds etc. There’s a good reason it’s such a popular site to visit.

  3. October 25, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Third time’s a charm indeed, Lisa! I know what you mean about the difficulty of capturing the full grandeur of the Fish River Canyon. It just takes one’s breath away. I’m so impressed that you went back several times until you captured these amazing images. Looking at all these posts about Namibia, makes me long to return…

    • October 26, 2016 at 8:51 am #

      We are very persistent when it comes to “getting the shot”! 😉 But I also enjoyed going back to the canyon just to be able to see it again. I can imagine you often feel homesick. It’s such a special place – and the locals all know it! 🙂

  4. Madoqua
    November 1, 2016 at 11:07 pm #

    I was surprised to see how rugged up you were and that it was so cold. I. Would have thought it would be quite warm there at this time of the year. What an incredibly stunning place though. I don’t think Australia has an canyons formed by erosion like this, but there are apprently canyons between big rock formations – although I have never seen them myself.

    • November 2, 2016 at 7:22 am #

      Our trip was in early August, so still winter here. Because there is usually no cloud cover in the desert, it gets really cold at night – below zero at times. It’s difficult to show the vastness of the canyon in photos.

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