Fishriver water levels 2019

Hey all, I have a booking for the Fish for early August that I have to confirm end of this week. But Namibia tourism has been a little unclear about the water situation, they keep implying it is a problem but telling me to speak to them latter.

Was wondering if anyone who has been recently has some insight? I realise Namibia is having one if its worst droughts in years, so expecting a flowing river this late in the year in probably unreasonable. But there has been talk of them putting in water drop off points along the route. Has anyone experienced that before? As I’m thinking I might just put off this year if that is the case, it feels like that could ruin the experience some.

There is an existing thread for this year’s water level on the Fish: Water filters for Fish River Canyon - #6 by Bren

1 Like

Ah thanks Arno, wasn’t sure if I should piggy back on that one as the title was speaking to water filters and the last one on levels was from 2018. Will keep an eye out there.

1 Like

I also have a booking for early August, if you hear anything, could you please keep us updated.

Will do :+1:. I’m going to give them another call tomorrow and see if they have any news.

I just completed the Fish River Canyon hike on the 24th of June. The water wasn’t as abundant as it was when I did it the first time round in late August 2010. I cannot recall that the river was “flowing” in either case.

The accounts of the water levels are very subjective. I encountered a group that finished the hike a day before us and they were recounting that they had gone very long stretches without water. I did not have the same experience.

We had pre-planned camping spots, but had to leave that idea behind because some of the sites did not have water. We however walked on/back to spots that had ample water.

As for water quality, the first time I did not bother with filtration or drops, but this time I had to support a couple of old folks and my wife, who did not appreciate water with texture. I used the Sawyer mini with a CNOC Vecto 2L bag (Amazon), but had to back flush every 2 liters to get back up to reasonable flow rates. This was my first experience filtering water, and I did not know how time consuming it can be with silty water sources. If I had to do it over, I would opt for a base camp gravity filtration setup, hand filtering 10 liters a night wasn’t enjoyable. If you are just looking after yourself, this is less of an issue. If you can tolerate the taste/texture, use drops, saves time which can be better used enjoying yourself.

If I were to do it in a month’s time, I would increase my water carry capacity to at least 3 liters (with the alerts of the low water levels, mine was already 4 liters) and fill up whenever I see a suitable water source. I would also not bargain on pre-planned camping spots having water and start looking for a camping spot a bit earlier at the end of the day.

I would however be on the lookout for other people’s accounts closer to your planned dates.

1 Like

Dear all, the latest from here in Windhoek (source not verified, posted by local hikers): Word is that as from 1 July water will be provided at 2 intervals, to be manned by marshals for the remainder of the season. These are 20km beyond Sulphur springs and also around the Kochas drift area (old kiosk).
Indeed this would be an indication of a not so pleasant hike late in the current season. Suggestion: I myself have a booking for the 2nd half of August, am thinking of doing a faster (3-day) hike this year in view of above…(don’t feel like missing out all together).

1 Like

And thanks Jean-Pierre, I find this very informative!

1 Like

Thanks so muc for all of the information, it is much appreciated. I just heard back from Namibia Tourism as well who had the same info.

The water levels are low but there is a contingency plan as from 1 July to have two designated water points : 20km from Sulphur Springs and the next one is 25km before /Ai/Ais. These points will be manned by water marshals for the rest of the season.

So I think on my part I’m going to cancel. The friends I have who have done it before with water points up say it is a very different experience, and as I have never had a chance to do it before it seems a weird one to start with. Will have to make a booking for next year! Feels like climate change coming very real, when you look at the rainfall charts over the last 30 years there are some hectic shifts.

Now I have 10 days of leave to find a good non hutted hike to do if anyone has suggestions :stuck_out_tongue:

Shame man, 10 days is a long time. In which province are you looking to hike?

Cederberg :wink::+1:


I’m out of Cape Town but not adverse to travelling for a good hike. I think you are right @Arno it is going to be the Cederberg :laughing:

I love it there, but worried it is becoming my default haha. I just can’t find much else that lets me do 4 or 5 days out and also get to spend some time free camping. Hutted, but thinking about the Klipspringer Hike in Augrabies if anyone has experience?

I’ve done the Klipspringer a few times and would definitely recommend it. The 2nd day in particular is similar to the terrain of the Fish River Canyon, but with more water! The only drawback – at 3 days it’s a short hike, especially considering the long drive from Cape Town. Have you considered Oorlogskloof near Nieuwoudtville as another alternative?

1 Like

Haven’t done Oorlogskloof myself yet, but have heard some good things about it from friends - should be a nice alternative if you’ve doen the Cederberg many times (not that I think you can get tired of the Cederberg :wink: )

Thanks. I hadn’t heard of Oorlogskloof before, that looks great. Going to have to give it a try, and Klipspringer if we can turn it into a bit of a road trip. And agreed :laughing: still have far too much of the Cederberg to see.