I have blogged about Forever Fresh and their freeze dried meals for adventurers before, they are perfect for heading out, extremely light, super quick and easy to prepare, hearty meals. A couple of weeks back, Forever Fresh had an instagram competition: Anyone looking for an adventure and with their passport and travel papers in order?… Pick me, pick me.

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They were looking for a team of hikers to hike through the Fish River Canyon. I could not enter fast enough… just as I seek out adventures, so adventures seek me out and before I knew it I had a phone call saying, “We are leaving on Friday.”
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I thought I would put together a series of posts about my experience… and here it begins, the journey through my eyes… Day by Day… and I will finish up with a complete guide of tips and tricks to help you have your best hiking adventure ever.
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I have to start by saying a massive thank you to Forever Fresh for this amazing adventure, for all the thoughtful details that you organised to make it a most incredible outdoor experience.

Getting To The Start

We left a wet and wintry Cape Town at two o’clock in the morning. Packs and people into a minivan and off we went. It was freezing, raining and I was looking forward to an adventure in a sunny desert.

It is a long drive, I was extremely grateful that I wasn’t driving. Our first stop was Springbok, for a Wimpy Breakfast, and a dose of childhood nostalgia… haven’t had a Wimpy breakfast in years.
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On we drove until the border crossing at ——. The crossing took longer than we expected, let’s just say there is little communication, no directions and a number of things that have to be done. Helpful Hint: Have a black pen with you for filling in forms, they will most likely not have one available for you. Once we were over the border… we made straight for Hobas, which is the camp closest to the start of the hike.

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Upon arrival at Hobas there is a Namibian Wild Life Ranger Office, ask anyone for directions, everyone knows you are there to hike the canyon. You will not be able to start without your paperwork in order…

You will need to have at the ready:

  1. Your completed medical certificate.
  2. Your Conservation Declaration, from the Wild Life Rangers of Namibia.
  3. You will also be asked to sign the register and provide your medical insurance details.

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The facilities at Hobas include shade, a clean bathroom, the last one you will see for several days and a good place to change out of car/traveling clothes into hiking gear. There is a very small and pricy cafe, basically a fridge… we made use of the small fridge with icy cold cool drinks before sorting through our packs and discarding things one more time. Not to mention adjusting to the local wildlife…

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You can catch a shuttle from Hobas to the start of the canyon, its a rattling dirt road through the desert, it is also really pricy per person, and we chose to drive ourselves there and then shuttle the driver back from the start. While we waited for our driver to join the group we were able to gather ourselves at the start of the hike, above the canyon and gasp in awe. A lot of tourist buses came to and fro, to the viewpoint, while we waited. The tourists walked about 50m, had a glance at the canyon and a tick on their bucket list, before moving on. This only confirmed for me, what a privilege it would be to spend several days in the canyon, appreciating it.

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At this stage, it was late in the day, I was riding the wave of excitement and now that I had had my first real siting of the canyon, I was not just in awe but feeling a little overwhelmed.
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Day 0: The Descent…

I just want to mention that the Descent is not considered part of the Fish River Canyon route… it is simply a means to get to the canyon… from where the actual adventure begins.
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Do not be lulled by this. Everyone, and I mean everyone, warns about the descent. It is tricksy, it is gnarly and the last place on earth you want to twist an ankle or face any injury, because going back up is not an option that you want to consider, ever. That being said, it was not impossibly difficult, you can see where you are meant to be going and you follow the footprints in front of you. Once it got darker it was harder to follow, simply because there are many little paths nearer the canyon and deciding which one is the true path became a challenge.

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It was a balmy evening, we were heading down into the canyon… so was the sun. It was all good… depending which online article you read the descent could be one or two, at most three kilometres. How long could that take? Dark descended, the barking lizards were singing in full chorus, it was incredibly beautiful, the sounds were different, the plants smelled amazing – and different, it was a completely new and refreshing experience.

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Well, I very quickly realised that my fellow adventurers were all years younger than me, and I mean years. Not to mention, their idea of slow and mine were two very different languages. I was immediately designated, and rightly so, as THAT back-of-the-pack-hiker. I also knew they were going to be worried about their canyon experience with someone this slow in the group. In retrospect, the short descent is not that short when you consider the very long car ride, the less than optimum nutrition throughout the day and a pitiful amount of sleep in the previous two days… along with a pack that to be honest was not a little over-packed, it was in fact a recipe for “disaster.” If I had been at hiking from home I would have packed some supplies for this seemingly innocuous hike, and I would have had a team of encouragers alongside me (the real reason I love hiking with my kids!!!) and I would have given myself more time in daylight.

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But with encouragement from new friends, the promise of a Forever Fresh Feast and a mug of hot chocolate at camp… we made it, albeit, after several “Are we there yet?” moments in my head. I literally spilled out onto a sandy beach… a hearty Forever Fresh Meal and collapsed into bed and watched the canyon light up as the moon rose and I drifted off to sleep…

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I confess, amidst the excitement and overwhelm there was a shadow of doubt creeping in, I wasn’t surrounded by my gang (kids), who always ready to encourage me on… I had to figure things out myself. And there begins the actual challenge of the Fish River Canyon, it is not so much a physical challenge… I made it, I hiked it and survived it… but the forces in my head challenging my “I can do anything attitude” were wickedly strong. Massive life lesson, don’t believe a thing your head tells you, rather tell your head what to believe.

Day 0 done… follow along for more challenges and life lessons along the way…

Click on the Image Below to See Photographs from The Descent.

Fish River Canyon - Day 0 The Descent.

Previous Posts with Forever Fresh…

Eating Out in the Great Outdoors.

The Seeds of Adventure: My Robben Island Swim For The Beach Co-Op.

How to up your Snack Game With Forever Fresh.

4 Replies to “Introducing The Fish River Canyon… Day 0: The Descent…”

  1. What a journey reliving this experience!! Can’t wait for the rest.
    Missing you and our time together in the canyon.

  2. An amazing adventure. I did when I was at scouts, decades ago, and remember it being absolutely incredible. Kudos to you for doing it now. Love to Shaun and the family xx

  3. Hay Sid, So good to hear from you… what an incredible adventure… I think I left a piece of my heart there, I am kind of dying to go back and do it again… now that I know how it is done!!! All the best to you and yours!!!

  4. Hay Maxine, Just a look at the photos has me “remember this” and “remember that”… it was such an amazing adventure… honestly, I would jump in and go all over again. Happy happy memories…just the most amazing experience… wasn’t easy, but totally totally worth it!!!

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