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Posted on March 14, 2022
In this ‘Spotlight On’ series, we focus on single riding destinations in turn. In each blog we’ll give you the inside scoop on why we think this particular adventure has simply got to be on your riding holiday wish list.
Today’s destination is the Namib Desert, Namibia.
The Namib Desert extends for 1,200 miles along Africa’s Atlantic Coast, from Namibe in Angola, south across Namibia. It reaches up to 100 miles inland and is considered the oldest desert in the world.
The Namib Desert is a unique and spectacular landscape – a place of infinite space and solitude under endless open skies. Riding here means exploring the most remote parts of the country, inaccessible to other forms of transport.
After a visit to the red dunes of Sossusvlei, your adventure begins near the oasis town of Solitaire. From here you ride 300km over mountain paths, open plains and rocky canyons, all the way to Swakopmund on the wild Atlantic Coast.
At the end of the day it’s time to feed and brush off your horse, then gather around the fire for dinner. You spend each night camping on stretcher beds under an inky-blue African sky sparkling with stars.
Your horse is more than your mode of transport as you traverse this magical place – his speed will make you grin so much your face hurts, his stamina will astound you and by the time you reach Swakopmund on the coast, you will have become firm friends.
With its incredible landscapes, fast riding and good dose of adventure, this trip should be on every rider’s wish list. But the experience of riding in the desert is very special and here’s why:
The horses: The guides are skilled at matching horse and rider. Your horse will carry you over 300km, willingly tackling sandy plains, steep mountain paths and canyons. These horses are amazingly fit, so their ‘up for it’ attitudes don’t falter even when you cover 60km in one day. When you reach the beaches of Swakopmund, they try their very best to win that last race for you in the final gallop to the finish.
Open spaces: You spend eight days riding along desert tracks, across open plains and through rocky gorges. There are steady sections where you have time to reflect and enjoy your remote surroundings. There are also plenty of really long canters and lots of flat-out gallops. The boundless space is other-worldly, and you won’t see another soul until you reach the civilisation of Swakopmund on the coast.
Escapism: Being in the desert means no internet and no way to communicate with the outside world. Riders often arrive in Windhoek feeling stressed from work or home life. But the rhythm of being on a journey soothes the soul and brings a sense of peace. It allows you to live in the moment, let everything go and just ‘be’. Forget a fancy spa hotel, this is the best kind of retreat from the modern world you could ever hope for. If you can hold on to what you learn in the desert, this is an experience that might change your life.
The season runs between March and November, when the weather is at its best for riding in the desert.
As well as the Namib Desert Ride, there are similar wilderness adventures in different parts of the country. You can seek desert adapted wildlife on the Damara Elephant Ride, cross incredible dune landscapes on the Wild Horses Ride and explore the infamous Skeleton Coast on the Skeleton Damara Ride.