Flight over the Fish River Canyon
Written by Tricia Hayne
The peace of the canyon is disturbed for just a few moments by the sound of a light aircraft as it sweeps across the apparently endless plateau to the east and suddenly soars over the edge of the canyon. Just five passengers share the tiny cockpit of the Cessna 210 with the pilot. Since this is a top-wing aircraft, everyone on board has unimpeded views over the landscape unfolding below and plenty of opportunity for photography.
This may be the Fish River, but from the air the word 'snake' comes more readily to mind as it winds down the canyon in a series of tortuous switchbacks. Even in the dry season, pools of green water reflect back the shadow of the plane as it follows the river on its course through towering canyon walls whose turreted edges have been eroded over countless millennia. Among the broad bands of browns and dull reds, the occasional bright flower clings to bare rock, but it is the sheer scale of the spectacle that makes a flight worthwhile. For all too brief a time, passengers have the chance to share the perspective of the magnificent black eagle that occasionally circles overhead.
As the plane weaves down the canyon, the edges soften and the landscape takes on the more familiar pattern of a mountainous environment. Towards Ai-Ais, the riverbed widens and the aircraft veers away, following parallel to the canyon before returning to Cañon Lodge.
Weather permitting, flights are run daily from Cañon Lodge. Prices in 2002 were N$480 per person for the half-hour flight, but rates are tied to the US dollar and thus fluctuate regularly. For details, and current prices, contact the lodge direct.