Camping in the Fish River Canyon

Nestled in to our tent for the night, our camping trip was getting off to a good start, and following our nice meal, wine, and hot showers (!) we drifted off to sleep quickly.

But I woke with a start in the middle of the night, animals were afoot. So afoot, that they were sniffing at our tent. My imagination went wild – are there lions in the desert?

Quaking, I woke snoring Tom up, much to his annoyance. What do we do? Nothing, he snarled, there were always going to be animals camping in the wilderness, go back to sleep. I lay awake listening, imagining, sweating.

And then I was awoken by the searing morning heat, making it unbearable to stay inside the tent. I had survived the night. The sun was up, it was 7.30am, and I needed to get out of the sweltering pit of hell our tent had turned into.

Deciding to put up our nifty Campmasters (camping chairs, purchased for the trip, which I’m very fond of) for a bit of lounging in the shade, I immediately managed to trap my leg in one of the chairs, causing a peach-sized bleeding mound on my thigh.

Hobbling to get the chairs up, together with my matted hair sticking to my sweat-streaming crab-coloured face, I can only imagine what a sight I was to behold.  Seasoned campers we are not yet. No doubt about it, camping is tough business.

First order of the day was to find out how we were going to visit the canyon properly. In the reception, the lady informed us it would cost 80 dollar each plus 10 for the car. We were dismayed and stumped. We couldn’t possibly spend that much money on visiting a viewing point. What else would we do with our 2 days?

Feeling miserable, we lounged around the now-empty camp, generally moping. Suddenly, Tom jumped up. Are we sure she meant US dollars? Isn’t the Namibian currency also called dollars?

We sprinted back to the lady, and rolling her eyes at our sheer idiocy, she confirmed, it was, in fact Namibian dollars she was talking about – 80 of them equating to roughly £4.

We dashed to the car, and were off on the 75 kilometre desert drive to the top of the canyon, and the most beautiful view I have ever seen in my life.

We spent a couple of hours milling around the various viewing points at the top of the canyon, which spread as far as the eye could see (it’s approximately 80 kilometres long).

We were feeling peckish, so thought why not, we unpacked our goodies from Beast’s fridge right at the top of the sheer drop down into the canyon, and had a lunch of crackers, cheese and olives, and an ice cold beer, just looking, in awe.

It was getting too hot, so we set off back for afternoon in the camp – we had plans regarding that sparkling pool we had discovered at the end of the campsite.

Car parked, swimkits on, we ran to the pool. Throwing off my sandals, I jumped down onto the first step into the pool – ankle deep. And felt sheer pain. The water was boiling hot, and was searingly painful on my skin. Screaming, I jumped out – onto the tiles. Also boiling. Hopping up and down, screaming, I got to the grass in shock. The soles of my beetroot red feet were blistering, and there was no cold water anywhere.

The sprinklers! Tom shouted, so over I hobbled to the lone sprinkler in the campsite watering the grass, and shoved my feet under the feeble sprinkle. Warm, but a little comforting.

By 4pm, we decided on a short walk into the canyon – but after 30 minutes it was unbearably hot, so there was nothing else to do but sit in the shade in our Campmasters, sipping cold beer, until the sun set, and the restaurant ladies bustled around with their new menu of the day touting for orders. 3 options again – beef, chicken, and eland.

Along with our second eland steak in two days, we slightly overindulged on the wine.

A tour group of gapyear kids had arrived a few hours earlier, and promptly gone to bed.

Our wine-fuelled minds felt mischievous.  So the 20 minutes before our own bedtime was spent sniffling, snuffling, cracking twigs, twitching tent strings, and generally putting the fear of god into the innocents inside the tents.  Having the joke of our lives.

Maybe that’s what had happened to us the night before.




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