Best of Tikal National Park, Guatemala Tourism
The Namibian landscapes are jaw-droppingly beautiful from the second you cross the border. Our first day spent driving from Cape Town wasn’t the most exciting in the world, but it allowed Dan to get used to the car on comfortable roads. We crossed the border at Vioolsdrift, which took about an hour (African time) but was relatively simple. By the time we had been stamped into Namibia it was already getting dark, so we headed straight to our first stop, Amanzi Trails River Camp on the banks of the Orange River.
We had never used a rooftop tent before, and it had been years since I had been camping, so cooking dinner and preparing our tent took quite a while – especially since we were doing it in the dark!
The canyon is mostly dry, with the Fish River flowing seasonally and shrinking to a few pools along the canyon floor for most of the year. However, during the rainy season (January to April) the Fish River usually floods, turning into a turbulent fast-flowing waterway. Although the canyon is largely dry, there are pockets of green where more leafy plants, palms and trees grow in oasis-like patches. Generally, you will come across drought-resistant plants, like euphorbias, aloes and the occasional quiver tree.
Although it's not a game-viewing destination, you may be lucky enough to spot small klipspringer antelope and dassies (rock hyrax) darting over the rocks. Bigger mammals commonly sighted include baboons and in the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Park surrounding the canyon, kudu and Hartmann’s mountain zebra. Leopards are found here, but are very rarely seen. You are more likely to come across an assortment of reptiles in this harsh, arid habitat.
If you keep a keen eye out you may spot several bird species including kestrel, heron, pigeon, hamerkop, kingfisher, plover and wagtail, as well as soaring black eagles. Near Ai-Ais, you may spot the Karoo eremomela and on the plateau ostriches and bustards may be spotted, among other species.
As for humans, traces of inhabitance in the canyon date back to around 50 000 years ago. The days of the Fish River Canyon serving as an oasis for our Stone Age ancestors are, however, long gone. Today, tourists and hikers come and go with a scattering of people living near, but not in, the canyon.
The stage was set for the Fish River Canyon about 1.8 billion years ago with the formation of a shallow sea that covered huge parts of southern Namibia. Over millennia, major changes began taking place in the landscape and tectonic shifts created an enormous valley stretching from north to south. After about 200 million years of steady erosion by the elements, the Dwyka Ice Age saw large glaciers that carved deeper into the earth, reshaping the valley. Hot springs, such as Ai-Ais, welled-up from the fault lines in the Earth's crust, within the deep valley. About 50 million years ago, the Fish River began the task of shaping the inner walls and carving striking rock formations into the sides and floor of the canyon.
The Fish River travels some 650km from the Eastern Naukluft Mountains down into the Ai-Ais National Park, which was established in 1969. In 2003, the larger Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park was established, joining the Ai-Ais Hot Springs Game Park with the Richtersveld National Park in South Africa. The Fish River Canyon now falls within this 5 920 square metre peace park, a surprisingly rich and biodiverse area, recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The visitor’s area of the main viewpoint has recently been renewed. It used to have a cozy thatched roof with some benches to sit and enjoy the sunset. The new visitors area is slightly bigger, with more spaces to sit and a little information area about the canyon and its surroundings. To the right of the main visitors area is a small path that leads to the Hiker’s viewpoint. This 2 km hike along the rim provides spectacular views out of different angles over the canyon.
The extensive cave systems under the Yucatan Peninsula have also been a guardian of hidden and invaluable treasures to learn from our history. Remains of Pleistocene animals and humans that date from a time long before the occupation by the Maya civilization have been found within submerged passages and galleries. Being underwater, these caves provide a unique environment for the preservation of human and animal remains.
This is one of the most wonderful places I have ever been. I'm not religious, but this place is almost magical and I can understand why people consider it to be mystical.
The experience at the top of the temple 2/4 and other buildings is just incredible and I applaud the use of wooden stairs, what makes it much easier and helps preserve the original rock stairs. I was able to use the directory as a trip guide/planner to find popular tourist attractions near me.
Here is a cool video of how to effectively use the travel directory: https://youtu.be/pfejm8TzNCw