African Overland Trip 2011


Day 132 Wednesday 10th August (RS): Fish River Canyon

Posted by Peter Douet on August 15, 2011 at 5:05 PM

I woke to find that we were not as remote as we had though: a few hundred meters away was a house! There was no sign of anyone and nobody seemed interested in our presence so all good.

I headed off for a long run whilst the others snoozed. Whilst we were packing the Surf up we spotted that the perculiar noise of dripping that Jen had heard the night before was probably related to the fuel system: we had a leak. Unable to find the source of the leak and heartened by its slow rate, we decided to drive on and see if it diminished when the fuel level dropped. The poor Surf: she was now needing a push start too as the electrolyte levels in her one remaining battery was low and we could not find distilled water anywhere!

As we drove the few remaining km to Fish River Canyon, the Captain receives a text from Pete H who had also planned to be at the Canyon today: the Rangie had a cracked head and the Cruiser had to tow her back to the last campsite: rubbish news!

The Canyon is stunning: 2 levels of cliffs descending hundreds of feet and formed over billions of years. We drove from viewpoint to viewpoint gazing down the beautiful cliff faces to the water below.

Pete and I decide that, despite a sign strictly forbidding day hikes into the Canyon following an incident where a tourist died, we still wanted to hike down. It was still possible to do 5 day hikes down and through the Canyon without a guide but we found that the start of the walk had too many people and we did not want to draw attention to ourselves as we did not have the huge packs of the other hikers. We found an emergency exit path marked on the map and headed for that. So, camelbacks ready and fleet of foot for the first section so we could get out of sight swiftly, we headed down. The path was generally good but there were loose sections where a spot of scrambling was required. The way was generally marked with cairns although we did have one or two off piste moments requiring a spot of climbing!

It took an hour to get down to the bottom and our knees were grateful that we had ceased descending! After a 10min stop for photos and to appreciate the view, we started the ascent. We had left Jen at the top and so wanted to return asap although both of us thought that it was going to be really hard work getting back up.

As it turned out we climbed faster than we had descended: 54 mins to reach the top! Two hours of great exercise in the open air with absolutely stunning surroundings: this is what life is all about! Life just does not get better than this! (Well, perhaps a cold beer waiting at the top?..)

We drive further along the cliff top enjoying the vastness. Although this is smaller that the Grand Canyon, you have more access to it and there are fewer people: it truly is a great place to visit and perhaps next time we will have enough time to do the full 5 day hike.

As we head off to meet the Cloggies our thoughts turn to the Rangie and hope that they have managed to get somewhere towards a repair. James,. Robbie and Pete want to head home a week or so earlier and so we have a provisional container booking from Cape Town which means we have to off load the vehicles on the 17/18th and go into the offices on the 15th. However, given the Rangie’s state., whether they will make Cape Town for the 13th as planned is uncertain. Jen, Pete D and I plan to carry on and therefore only plan to stay in Cape Town for a couple of days: fingers are therefore firmly crossed that they will success in a swift repair!



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