Fish River Canyon

24 Apr 2016 16:22 - 24 Apr 2016 16:25 #67962 by Zecrates
Zecrates created the topic: Fish River Canyon
Hi all,

I'm going to hike the Fish River Canyon in about a month's time and would like some advice from any of you who have completed this route before. I am quite accustomed to hiking in the Drakensberg, especially in the winter, but have a few uncertainties about the Fish River Canyon.
  1. As I understand water should be readily available especially this time of year and is mostly safe to drink though some recommend using water filters or drops. Can anyone confirm?
  2. Does anyone have a GPS trail of the route? I know there isn't a single path, but would like to get an idea of the location of the short cuts, hot springs, etc.
  3. I plan on taking my First Ascent Ice Breaker as I don't have any other sleeping bags that are in good condition. It will be overkill, but I believe down-filled sleeping bags have a wider comfortable temperature band, and as such it should be okay for the Fish River. Does anyone disagree?
  4. What is your opinion on tents? I plan on taking mine without the flysheet just to help protect against wind blowing sand into my face.
  5. Any other tips or information you'd like to share? Mostly I'm looking for things you'd do different from hiking in the Drakensberg.
Last Edit: 24 Apr 2016 16:25 by Zecrates.

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24 Apr 2016 18:39 #67963 by Smurfatefrog
Smurfatefrog replied to: Fish River Canyon

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25 Apr 2016 07:51 - 25 Apr 2016 08:45 #67965 by Coeta
Coeta replied to: Fish River Canyon
As I understand water should be readily available especially this time of year and is mostly safe to drink though some recommend using water filters or drops. Can anyone confirm?
Take a filtering device. Taking that drink and hoping for the best have ended a hike for many and not just at the Fish. Different at the berg where you know its up high and running.

Does anyone have a GPS trail of the route? I know there isn't a single path, but would like to get an idea of the location of the short cuts, hot springs, etc.
The getaway link above have a great map indicating shortcuts. Carrying a GPS is more in the nice to have category than an essential. The route, although winding, is very linear.

I plan on taking my First Ascent Ice Breaker as I don't have any other sleeping bags that are in good condition. It will be overkill, but I believe down-filled sleeping bags have a wider comfortable temperature band, and as such it should be okay for the Fish River. Does anyone disagree?
Definite overkill if you are not going in the dead of winter. Just don't get it wet, otherwise should be ok.

What is your opinion on tents? I plan on taking mine without the flysheet just to help protect against wind blowing sand into my face.
Mixed group of 2 tents and two stargazers, those in tents slept better. Those without had a lighter load. Do bring the flysheet. It does not rain often, but when it does... If you do go tent-less, take a sleeping bag that includes a hoodie and consider your options to manage that one unannounced shower.

Any other tips or information you'd like to share? Mostly I'm looking for things you'd do different from hiking in the Drakensberg.
The one main difference is terrain, lots of sand rock and boulder walking. I would definitely recommend gaiters that protect from sand.
Firewood is non-existent, we managed our braai the first night by each sharing a portion of charcoal. (Edit- this is only on the first night, the rest of the trail have enough firewood.) Do take a nightcap indulgence.
Have fun!
Last Edit: 25 Apr 2016 08:45 by Coeta.
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25 Apr 2016 08:29 #67967 by Stijn
Stijn replied to: Fish River Canyon
@Coeta - interesting that you say firewood is non-existent.. We did the trail in September 2014 and had an abundance of firewood. That would have been at the end of the season too, but it probably depends where you camp. Or perhaps the firewood has been depleted recently?

@Zecrates - the terrain gets significantly easier towards the last few days as there is more path walking and less boulder-hopping and sand-wading. If you take the shortcuts as well (recommended) you cover river distance even faster towards the end. Typically, you might find yourself in the region of the Sulphur Springs or just beyond by night 2 which is only 20km done of the full 90km. This pacing is perfect and the distance will melt away on the next 3 days.

And when the river bends get wider, it's definitely worth crossing to make sure you take them on the inside rather than the outside. Significantly shorter and there are often unmarked paths cutting through the inside of the bends.

Enjoy! Probably the truest wilderness I've ever had the pleasure of hiking in - feels properly out there.

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25 Apr 2016 08:44 #67969 by Coeta
Coeta replied to: Fish River Canyon

Stijn wrote: @Coeta - interesting that you say firewood is non-existent.. We did the trail in September 2014 and had an abundance of firewood. That would have been at the end of the season too, but it probably depends where you camp. Or perhaps the firewood has been depleted recently?


I meant making a fire the first night, the rest of the trail had more than enough.
You could mitigate this by having an early start to your first day and going in deeper. We didn't.
Also end of season 2013.

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25 Apr 2016 09:56 #67972 by Zecrates
Zecrates replied to: Fish River Canyon
Thanks for all the feedback.
I see that Tracks4Africa has a GPS trail with the shortcuts if anyone is interested.

Coming from a Berg background I didn't realize making fires is allowed. Should I leave the gas stove (or maybe just take it as backup) and plan on making a fire every night?

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28 Apr 2016 11:05 #68055 by Redshift3
Redshift3 replied to: Fish River Canyon
There are a few contributions on Wikiloc.com in and around the Fish River.

Wikiloc

“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
Sir Rannulph Fiennes

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08 Jun 2016 11:31 #68702 by ruthtbl
ruthtbl replied to: Fish River Canyon
I recently did the Fish River hike, and I can honestly say that it was one of the best hikes I have ever done! Here is my video about it if anyone is interested (just under 10 minutes long):


'Please accept the stimulation'
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08 Jun 2016 15:00 #68705 by PeterHowells
PeterHowells replied to: Fish River Canyon
Myself and friends did the hike - it was a great experience. Just some quick pointers:
Water may be scarce - taking a filtered bottle and purifying tablets are necessary.
We did not carry tents - beautiful to sleep out in the open. It did rain a bit for an hour on the 4th evening but we climbed into survival bags and waited it out.
Although we tried to make a fire everynight, firewood was scarce - we actually saw evidence of people who had tried to break small bushes to use as firewood - not cool. For the first night we carried a bundle of wood between the 4 of us.

For a write up have a look at pahowells.wordpress.com/hiking/fish-river-canyon/
It may give you some more info.
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08 Jun 2016 20:31 #68712 by AdrianT
AdrianT replied to: Fish River Canyon
I really need to go and do that hike! Thanks for the video, you have an exceptionally clear voice too. :laugh:

I also need to make one of those contraptions that Ralph was wearing to hold my camera. Brilliant piece of kit.
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