Africa’s answer to America’s Grand Canyon, Fish River Canyon, is in the southern part of Namibia. This gargantuan ravine runs for 160 km and has been cut through the rock by the Fish River, which rises in the Naukluft Mountains. The canyon is not only exceptionally scenic, but it is also the hub for active tourism in Namibia, with long distance hiking trails, campsites, and opportunities for white water rafting and kayaking. Sunrises and sunsets here are also an enthusiastic landscape photographer’s dream.
You can hike in the canyon between May and September, when it is deemed cool enough and there is a lower risk of flooding. The long-distance hiking trail is rightly one of the most popular in Southern Africa, and you can complete the full 88 km comfortably in five days. Shorter routes are, of course, possible too. Highlights of the trail include the descent to Sulphur Springs, the German soldier’s grave near Vasbyt Nek, and the Bandage Pass between the Causeway and Fool's Gold Corner. There are small campsites along the way, all of which have basic facilities.
For something rather more comfortable, however, you can stay a few days at the hot spring resort at Ai Ais. Legend has it that the spring was discovered by a shepherd rounding up his sheep, and there’s now a complex of thermal pools and jacuzzis. The waters are said to have natural curative properties, but the majority of guests just come to relax. The resort serves as a convenient base for shorter walks in the Fish River Canyon, for guided nature walks, and for birding.