The river itself may be dry or in full flow dependent on the season, and the area supports a wide range of wildlife including water birds attracted by the natural hot springs that occur along the canyon floor. You can expect to see several species of heron, geese, storks and cormorants, and where the water forms more permanent pools, reed beds attract a wide range of water and marsh loving birds.
The cliffs are home to black eagles, African fish eagles and martial eagles as well as the jackal buzzard. If you are in search of a fine array of bird life then this makes a superb destination. Mammals are in abundance, ranging from zebra through to springbok. Predator species include leopards and jackals as well as hyena. After rainfall you can expect to see the 'thunderstorm tortoise', appearing to graze on the greens that appear after the rainfall. Butterflies, dragonflies and other insect species also make the canyon their home.
From the main viewpoint in the canyon you can see the Nama Karoo east of the river, and the Succulent Karoo to the west, which extends into the Sperrgebeit National Park. Aptly named, it contains the world's richest flora of succulent plants, with one-third of the 10,000 succulent species represented.
For the experienced hiker, the Fish River Canyon Hiking Trail is one of the most famous journeys in southern Africa. It takes between 4-5 days to hike, unsupported, along the base of the canyon for a total of 86km. Everything has to be carried with you, with water coming from pools at the base of the canyon. For the less adventurous there are of course numerous shorter trails that can be tackled.