The Canyon Nature Park
Covering an area of 45 000 ha, the Park is a vast and rugged landscape of flat-topped rocky mountains and dry plains. A myriad of washes and side ravines have carved deep furrows down to the main canyon.
To preserve this amazing part of Namibia, Canyon Nature Park has joined the partnership of the Greater Fish River Canyon Complex transboundary collaboration between parks, conservation agencies and private landowners in the south. It includes the /Ai /Ais Game Park in Namibia and the Richtersveld in South Africa. The collaboration focuses on a broad-based approach to conservation, sustainable natural resource management and socio-economic development.
Previously, this arid region was a marginalised farming area and the biodiversity was threatened by agricultural activities. Canyon Nature Park has turned the fortunes of the fauna and flora around by embracing a return to wildlife conservation and low-impact tourism as a means to socio-economic development in these southern parts of the country.
Two farms – Soutkuil (where the lodge and canyon are located) and Vergeleë (northwest of it) were joined to form the Canyon Nature Park.
Fish River Lodge and Canyon Nature Park are constantly assessing practices that ensure the lightest footprints on our surroundings. We are participants in the Namibia Eco Awards programme, an initiative that ensures minimum impact of tourism on our sensitive, arid environment. Sustainability is a key consideration for all future developments on the property.
Guidelines ensure that water usage is optimized and power is generated by solar energy.
For more information visit www.ecoawards-namibia.org
Local Flora and Fauna
This corner of Namibia’s south is largely undeveloped and the spectacular landscape evokes a true sense of undiscovered wilderness. Remoteness and silence are a rare privilege in our overcrowded world.
Some interesting facts:
- Rainfall in Canyon Nature Park is variable and may occur in both summer and winter.
- Over 100 endemic succulents are found in the park. Among them is the largest, Aloe dichotoma, popularly known as the Kokerboom or Quiver Tree (some as old as 300 years). And there are more than 1600 other plant species.
- Sightings of Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok, gemsbok (oryx), kudu, steenbok, klipspringer, Chacma baboon, leopard, caracal and honey badger have been noted, and even a Cape clawless otter at the rock pools.
- Though the river flows only seasonally in the summer, permanent rock pools are home to smallmouth and largemouth yellow fish, sharptooth catfish and water monitors. Among the variety of birds seen in the canyon are black eagle, olive thrush, Cape robin-chat, white pelican, fish eagle, grey heron and African black duck.
Few environments in the world reveal the earth’s layers as dramatically as the Fish River Canyon. Over 500 million years ago, tectonic plate movement caused a north-south fault. Erosion started the scouring process which eventually resulted in the Fish River, the longest river in Namibia, chiselling its way through layers and layers of sedimentary rock. Today towering rock faces of dolomite and granite stand sentinel while the river meanders in sweeping curves in the deep ravines below.
Our qualified guides will share this amazing phenomenon with you as you descend 500 m into the canyon which is 160 km long and 27 km wide. The process of erosion continues eternally. After heavy summer rains, washes turn into turbulent rivulets and rock faces become gushing waterfalls within minutes.
San hunter-gatherers roamed the territory for centuries when the large plains animals, including elephant, rhino and giraffe, occurred there in large numbers. Petroglyphs (rock engravings), stone tools, hunting blinds and grave sites from prehistoric times, as well as comparatively much more recent abandoned stone ‘lammerhuisjes’ (lamb enclosures), cattle kraals and farm houses tell the story of human occupation in the area of Canyon Nature Park from the late Holocene Epoch between 5,100 Before Present (BP) and 2,300 BP to the twentieth century. In fact, Southern Africa’s oldest rock painting, found on a farm just south of Canyon Nature Park, dates from between 27 000 and 23 000 B.C. These historical treasures are only accessible to guests in the company of guides in order to protect them.
Canyon Nature Park collaborates with local and international research institutions. Students from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Windhoek have conducted academic research on the Aloe dichotoma (Quiver Tree) as well as water consumption at the lodge. Animal sightings at various locations in the park are recorded in an event book and will be added to a national database. There are further research opportunities in archaeology and the natural sciences.
Flying to Fish River Lodge in approximately two hours from Windhoek is an exciting alternative to the long drive of some 700 km.
An excellent airstrip is located only three kilometres from the Lodge. Fly-in guests will enjoy a bird’s eye view of the canyon, its maze of side canyons and of course the glistening Fish River as it meanders through the desert en route to the Orange River. Please enquire with Journeys Namibia for flight options.
Namibia’s south has one of the lowest population densities in the country, leaving large tracts of arid deserted farmland, parks and protected areas empty of human habitation. The southwest is bordered by the Namib Desert in the west and the Kalahari Desert in the east and it is rich in history and culture.