At the far eastern end the maybe most spectacular part of Vogelstrausskluft is situated:
The Fish River Canyon. Over a distance of 50km the river runs along the farmborder,
hidden deep in a narrow valley.
With a length of 660km the Fishriver is the longest river inside Namibia. It has
its source is a few kilometers north of Maltahöhe in the eastern part of the Naukluft
and meets the Orange river on the South African border south of Ai-Ais. Like most
Namibian rivers the Fishriver carries only little water, not least because of the
Hardap Dam close to Mariental that banks up the river and supplies the capital
Windhoek with water. Beginning near Seeheim the river broke through the range of
the Koubis Mountains and thereby formed the worlds second largest canyon with an
overall length of more than 200km and a depth of up to 550m.
Because the size of the canyon cannot be explained by erosion alone, it's assumed
that 500 million years ago movements in the earths crust opened a crack in a north-south
direction. The Fishriver then moved its bed into this valley and, during the last
50 million years when it still carried more water, dug deeper into the ground. That
would explain the age of some washed out rock layers at the bottom of the canyon:
They are estimated to be 1.8 billion years old.
The most spectacular southern part around the hotsprings of Ai-Ais already in
1965 was transformed into a nature reserve. It contains the deepest parts, which
can be explored on a famous but very strenuous hiking trail. The Vogelstrausskluft
section is nearly bordering on the nature reserve - it's only about 30km to its
northern edge - and covers the upper part of the Canyon. It contains several views
and some accesspoints, of which one is passable with a 4x4 vehicle. Guided hikes as
well as small trips are possible. Due to the protection against wind and the strong
solar radiation, the temperatures in all parts of the canyon rise to over 60°C in
the summer (November-March). Therefore accessing during this time is not possible.
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