Missing hikers found in Fish River Canyon

2011-07-22 10:11

Johannesburg - Three South African hikers were found in the Fish River Canyon in Namibia late on Thursday afternoon, three days after they went missing.

A search was launched to find air force official Rick Harmse, 45, his wife, Sandra, 42, and René Booysen after they failed to turn up at their destination on Monday afternoon,

The Harmses are from Theresa Park in northern Pretoria.

The missing hikers were part of a group of seven who had gone hiking in the canyon.


Group member Rina Vrey said a helicopter started looking for the missing hikers on Thursday afternoon after search parties found nothing in three days of searching on foot.

The three hikers were seen from the helicopter and picked up about three kilometres from Ai-Ais, right behind the camp. They had gotten lost, but were unhurt.

Vrey said that on Monday the hiking group had to climb over a huge boulder to get out of the ravine, about 15km from the last camp at Ai-Ais.

The Harmses and Booysen fell back because the two women were very tired and Booysen had blisters on her feet.

“He said they would meet us by the river,” said Vrey.

“We waited for them for an hour-and-a-half but they didn’t come out of the ravine.

“We went back to where we had left them, but couldn’t find them.”

The group made camp for the night.

On Tuesday morning, Vrey and Pieter Botes went to Ai-Ais to get help while Marius Rohlandt and his wife, Rentia, went back to where they had left the hikers.

The Rohlandts returned to Ai-Ais on Tuesday evening.

Children 'in a state'

On Wednesday, Rohlandt went with rangers to look for the missing three hikers but they didn’t find anything.

He fell during the search and hurt his arm.

In the three days that the hikers were missing, several hiking groups came out of the canyon, but no-one had seen them.

Catharine Teague, a friend of the Harmses, said she and the couple’s two daughters, Shana-Lee, 18, and Rolize, 17, only realised something had gone wrong on Tuesday evening when the couple didn’t come home.

They found out on Wednesday that the couple had not yet come out of the canyon. “The children were in a state,” said Teague.

  • cat8fish - 2011-07-22 10:25

    thank God that they are still alive

      Shaun - 2011-07-22 16:16

      How can someone click a thumbs down on this comment?

  • moderfontein - 2011-07-22 10:43

    God news for a change.

  • theratlady - 2011-07-22 10:55

    Thank Our Good Lord that he has delivered them safetly.

      DEVILS SON - 2011-07-22 11:22

      the helicopter delivered them safely - 2011-07-22 12:12

      Ag really, why do atheists get so uptight when thanking God. Really, get over it all guys are no better than the judging christians...and yes all the atheists can give me a thumbs down - i dont care

      Mork - 2011-07-22 12:13

      How about thanking the rescue party and the search efforts that went on for 3 days? nah... A wizard probably did it!

      Bloodbane - 2011-07-22 17:28 tell me if I said thank satan they alive, would you be offended?

      montecristo - 2011-07-23 07:30

      Then you wouldn't be an aetheist, bloodbane, would you? Actually, what do you want to be? Apart from an a-hole, that is, which you're doing quite well at.

      montecristo - 2011-07-23 07:33

      Very well said, oh wow. These aetheists seem to get so intimidated when the word God is used ... some subconscious fear, perhaps?

  • smart_guy - 2011-07-22 11:06

    Lucky for them it was winter. The fish river canyon is not a place you want to go missing in summer!

      erazor - 2011-07-22 11:51

      Fish River Canyon hiking trail is closed in summer for exactly that reason.

      Emsmum - 2011-07-22 14:52

      strictly speaking, the fish river trail is closed in summer because it tends to come down in flash floods.

  • peter the gr - 2011-07-22 11:08

    Just like I have said yesterday. . . stay calme, the will find them. . . and the did so!!!

  • Cat Woman - 2011-07-22 11:21

    Instinct shall always keep people alive as long as you want to live there is away.

      chirpee24 - 2011-07-22 11:47

      did you read that on a sugar wrapper?

      Mentat - 2011-07-22 12:16

      Maybe Cat Woman is an oportunistic canibal... I wonder what this bloke does in the air force as navigation is obviously not included in the skill set. But on a more serioys point we are getting so dependent on technology that when faced with the basics we struggle.

  • Johan - 2011-07-22 12:07

    Ons het laasjaar gestap en fluitjies by ons gehad vir ingeval iemand afdwaal....raad van ander stappers gevolg !! - 2011-07-22 12:15

      thats a really good idea, it should be a must-have for all hikers

      POLLENYS - 2011-07-22 14:16

      Ligfakkels is ook nie duur nie, is hulle?

      Oompie - 2011-07-22 22:16 No, don't make whistles compulsory. It takes out the genetically weaker links and so strenghtens the gene pool!

  • Curveball - 2011-07-22 12:08

    Reminds me of the gay chap who got lost in the Wilderness ........... they found him later in George.

      CB57 - 2011-07-22 12:45

      Ha, ha, haaaa!

  • Janette - 2011-07-22 12:33

    it is such a vast area and so easy to get lost-welldone to all the rescuers. I was there 2 years ago, really worth the trip

      Uno_Beche - 2011-07-22 17:29

      You gotta be real stupid to get lost in the canyon. Its just one direction and you follow the zig zag. Only decision needed is whether to cross over etc

      Howzitekse - 2011-07-22 18:12

      Done it 5 times. If you follow the flow of the river, you can't get lost. Maybe the river is dry, or they decided to take a break and let their blisters heal.

  • Balloy - 2011-07-22 15:19

    Situations like this u hope u remember ur bear grylls tips...

  • Kevin van Blerk - 2011-07-22 16:05

    I would love to know how they got lost, where exactly were they found, "right behind the camp"?? I did the walk a few years ago and didn't come across any place you could take a wrong turn and "get lost"? It's a canyon, it only goes one way?

  • Stephen - 2011-07-22 17:05

    I did the fish River Canyon hike last year this time. I must ask the question how on Earth is it possible to get lost in the canyon? You just follow the river for 4 days and you eventually reach Ai-Ais. If any trouble arises and you hang back on the trail, the next party will pass you and call for help. That was very poor thinking.

      Uno_Beche - 2011-07-22 17:30

      Agreed, You gotta be real stupid to get lost in the canyon. Its just one direction and you follow the zig zag. Only decision needed is whether to cross over etc

      RudiB - 2011-07-23 09:25

      Apparently they took a short cut and were found on their their way to Rosh Pinah. Even though the hike is simple, don't go without a map, and if you want to explore more, then make pretty damn sure you know where you are and where you're going to. Also, inform those with whom you're hiking as to what your plans are. I've spend an afternoon chasing after hikers who decided to do the route around "Lost Bend" and not informing me to what their plans are - only to catch up with them after the bend. It was a brilliant experience though!

  • Oompie - 2011-07-22 22:05

    Rule no. 1: Never split up. Rule no. 2: Stay together. Rule no. 3: Go at the pace of the slowest person. Have done the Visrivier canyon 3 times and towards the end, from before von Trotha's grave where the canyon widens out, it is quite possible to go wandering into the unknown wilderness and get lost if you are not an experienced hiker, especially if you are tired, because then you start making irrasional decisions. If the article is correct in saying one person had such bad blisters that she struggled to go on, and they were tired, I guess that they tried to take what they thought was a short-cut (rule/mistake no. 4). The fact that hundreds of people hike the Vis every year doesn't make it less hazardous for inexperienced people. I'm just glad that they were found alive. Let this be a lesson to all: most accidents where people get lost in wildernis areas (mountains, etc) start with one seemingly small wrong decision which then gets compounded by a second wrong decision.

  • John - 2011-07-27 14:10

    Glad to hear that they are safe. Groups always break up - the first guys must stop after an hour and wait for the second group to reach them and so on - concertina effect. If you feel that you are lost then go back to your last spot next to the river. If you are away from the river then you are in for a wilderness surprise adventure! If you stay with the river you can't get lost - it runs through Ai Ais. Do it again next yeat again but with proper footwear - at home you sleep on a comfortable mattress don't you? And by the way select a responsable leader!! Cheers, John Dougall

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