By: Justicia Shipena
Environment and Tourism executive director Teofilus Nghitila says the reportedly missing tourists were never missing.
This comes as Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) spokesperson Nelson Ashipala had said four elderly people went missing in the Fish River Canyon on Saturday, while six people that were reported missing in the same canyon have made it out.
“There is no one missing there. None of the tourists is lost or stranded,” said Nghitila.
According to Nghitila, the four tourists simply did not arrive back on time.
“They did not arrive on time. No one went missing there. Yes, they are found.”
He also dismissed reports that the ministry had sent any aircraft to the canyon for a search.
“People are saying that the ministry is sending helicopters. We are not at that stage. There is nothing like that. We don’t even need to mobilise emergency resources,” he said.
When asked about the details of the tourist, he added that it is not an emergency case.
“It is just normal. I don’t know who is pressing the alarm button. It was just a delay,” he stressed.
Nghitila said there was no reason to panic.
“I spoke to the regional head, who informed me that there is no reason to panic at this stage. Everything is okay, and no cause for alarm.”
He further said the ministry’s team is giving support to those that need the help.
Moreover, he said hiking is not an easy exercise. He added that some of the tourists were hurt; hence they needed assistance.
“Yes, they were hurt from the hiking, and hiking is not an easy exercise, especially when you are in the advanced stage, so if you get hurt, then obviously your process slows down, and you arrive there a little bit late. You may be required to be delayed for a day or a few hours,” Nghitila told The Villager.
Asphipala, in an interview with Eagle FM, said they are still searching for the four tourists who embarked on their journey on Saturday.
He said the tourist had sent out a distress call after reaching the first campsite.
In a statement, NWR had said after the distress call, it sent out a team to the area in the canyon, but the tourist was not found at the campsite.
“Namibia Wildlife Resorts is aware of the four tourists that have been reported missing in the Fish River Canyon. Together with the ministry of environment, tourism and forestry, our rescue team is working around the clock to find these tourists,” the statement read.
NWR had urged tourists that take on the Fish River Canyon to log out at Ai-Ais Hotsprings resort before continuing their journey.
NWR worry comes as the six tourists who had been reported missing did not log out before continuing their journey.
“We urge all tourists that are tackling the Fish River Canyon hike to please ensure safety by sticking to the routes and, if possible, use a guide for this undertaking.”
In 2001 a French tourist died of heat exhaustion and thirst in the Fish River Canyon after he went missing while touring the canyon.
At that time, the police reported that the tourist disappeared after parting with his friend while hiking through the canyon.
In 2016, police had said two German women who went missing after going for a hike in Namibia were found dead.
While in 2020, a British tourist who was reported missing while camping in the Brukkaros Mountain near Berseba in the //Kharas region was found dead.
A 54-year-old tourist who went missing after going hiking in the Sossusvlei area last year was also found dead.
Police chief inspector Elifas Kuwinga at that time, said the French national went hiking with a group of other tourists and was last seen on a Thursday at around 09h00 in the Deadvlei area.
He had been identified as Nicolas Remondiere.