The crunch of the gravel road softened and with a pop and hiss the brakes on our overland safari vehicle signaled our arrival. Just three days into our 25-day adventure across southern Africa with Acacia Africa and we were gazing upon the largest canyon on the continent. The nearly 100-mile stretch of Fish River Canyon cuts across southern Namibia and for the next few hours it was ours to explore.
The hot desert sun was just a few hours from setting over the canyon’s rim. Layered rock walls and meandering pools in the canyon were becoming bathed in soft golden light. One-by-one our team of twenty stepped off our overland truck and into this beautiful environment. Our friendly Acacia driver, Masai, had dropped us off along the edge of Fish River Canyon to take in the immense grandeur before us with a leisurely hike along the rim.
As we gazed off the edge and peered nearly 550 meters to the floor of Fish River Canyon, we could witness the secrets of Namibia’s geologic past. Each layer of exposed sediment and rock in the canyon walls read like a geological storybook. Between the shifting of tectonic plates, carving of massive glaciers, and continental drift between South America and Africa, the Fish River Canyon was formed over 600 million years. Layers of rock were cut like a knife through a towering cake by the intermittent flow of the Fish River. Only a handful of places on Earth show an equally amazing geological narrative. In fact, Fish River Canyon is considered by some accounts as the second largest canyon on the planet next to the Grand Canyon of Arizona. That would also make it the third largest canyon in the solar system, with Valles Marineris on the planet Mars claiming the top spot.
Thankfully, Fish River Canyon is a little more accessible than Mars. At least for now. And Acacia took us to its doorstep on their 25-day Desert Tracker itinerary. This was our first day in Namibia and if the desolate beauty of the canyon before us was to be any indication, the journey ahead will be filled with amazing and beautiful destinations. The swirling winds carried the staccato sound of our cameras as we each left with incredible photos of the canyon’s splendor amid the setting sun. It was a savory view awash with rich colors.
As the sun slipped below the horizon our team convened upon one of the canyon’s shaded lookouts. Cold drinks from the truck’s coolers quenched our thirst as we pondered our introduction to the country of Namibia. In the days ahead there would be swirling sand dunes and star-studded night skies. We’d see herds of elephants and hear the roar of lions. And while embracing the wonders of Africa, we’d also grow to know each other and the meaning of teamwork. As we explored some of the most amazing places on this planet, we’d be adding experiences to our personal storybooks. Like the walls of Namibia’s Fish River Canyon, each experience would reveal a new layer of who we are and are to become.
Blog and images by: Simple Discoveries
Two former NASA rocket scientists are on an around-the-world journey, sharing discoveries of innovation and exploration as they travel. They recently partnered with Acacia Africa to compare the challenges and discoveries of overland travel to spaceflight while sharing examples of Africa’s natural beauty. You can read more and follow their social media streams at www.simplediscoveries.com.