Run by The Namibia Horse Safari Company, these rides have to be one of the best ways to experience Namibia's varied, wild, sometimes harsh but always hauntingly beautiful, desert landscapes. The challenging Namib Desert Ride, a journey of around 350km across the world’s oldest desert, has become renown as one of the toughest riding trips one can do. A modern day adventure, a chance to escape the hum-drum of everyday life and to get back to basics, completing this ride will give you an incredible sense of achievement. For those not so sure they will relish such a challenge, there are several other ride itineraries, all providing a remarkable opportunity to explore Namibia’s stark, immense and contrasting landscapes. Most rides are lead by Andrew Gillies who is fast becoming one of Africa's most sought after riding guides. With many years of experience under his belt, he is knowledgeable, laid-back, charismatic and fun. Telané Greyling who has lived and worked in Namibia for many years and is an internationally recognised authority on the Wild Horses of the Namib Desert, with an extraordinary knowledge of the southern part of Namibia, also continues as a guide for many safaris. Andrew and Telane are the people to explore Namibia with!
Different ride itineraries are offered from set dates between April and October. Tailor-made rides for groups, with different accommodation options and dates to suit, can also be organised on request.
Riding: 5-9 hours a day
Horses: Arab, Hanoverian and Boerped crosses
Pace: moderate to fast with plenty of long canters in open country
Riding ability: fit, confident, intermediate to experienced riders
Weight limit: 85kg (13 st 5lbs) although a few experienced riders up to 92kg (14st 7lbs) may be accepted (will be charged a supplement for an additional horse)
Accommodation: 3∆ camping / guesthouses & hotels
Group size: maximum 12
Season: April to October
Horses: The horses are mainly crossbreeds that include Arab, Hanoverian, Haflinger and South African Boerped crosses. There are also a few crosses of the rare “wild desert horses” of the Namib Desert. They are small to medium sized, between about 14hh and 16hh, sure-footed, athletic and responsive to ride. Maclellan style saddles are used, most horses are ridden in snaffles and on most rides (not private Wolwedans Lodge Ride) riders are expected to groom and tack up their own horse.
Hours: Generally 5 to 7 hours riding a day, with breaks for rests and lunch (NB some longer days on the Namib Desert Ride).
Pace and experience required: Fitness and experience required varies a little with itinerary but all riders must be confident, comfortable and in control on a horse at all paces (including long trots and canters) when riding with a group over varied, sometimes rough or tricky, terrain. You will need a good level of general fitness for all rides but the longer rides (Namib Desert Ride particularly) are for physically fit, experienced riders. The riding pace depends very much on the itinerary and day’s terrain and temperatures but you can expect chances for long canters on most days and when riding on desert flats, an energetic pace with plenty of opportunities for long canters.
Accommodation varies with the ride itinerary but most include nights in simple camps with dome tents and camp beds. Camps are set up and moved ahead on ahead for you by a back up team and support vehicle. There is limited water when camping in the desert but showers are usually possible. Meals are cooked by the back up team and eaten around the campfire. Other nights (eg in Windhoek) are spent in guesthouses and safari lodges and some nights during rides are in lodges and semi-permanent camps. Rooms at lodges usually have en-suite bathrooms and are clean and comfortable. Semi-permanent camps have walk in East African style tents with proper beds and showers (sometimes shared shower blocks).
Damaraland Elephant Ride (10 nights) - £4515
Single rooms can normally be arranged if requested, though a single supplement is charged - single supplements are not charged if you are prepared to share a room with another guest.
Namib Desert Ride
Itinerary in Brief - Damaraland Elephant Ride (please enquire for other itineraries)
|Day 1||Meet in Windhoek. Dinner and night at a guesthouse in Windhoek.|
|Day 2||Breakfast and set off driving, about 6 to 7 hours, including lunch stop en-route, to camp near Twyfelfontein, world heritage site. Meet the horses and time permitting a sunset ride. Night in camp.|
|Day 3||Breakfast and a morning ride from Aba Huab across the plains. In the afternoon visit a cultural village and the Twyfelfontein rock engravings before dinner and night in camp.|
|Day 4||Set off riding west across endless plains. A picnic lunch then continue over rocky and sandy hills to the new camp, set up ahead of you.|
||Continue along the Huab River across a wide plain, stopping for lunch at 'cheetah tree'. The afternoon ride is long and through fascinating scenery. Dinner and night at View Point camp.|
|Day 6||Breakfast and ride southwest towards the Ugab River. Lunch at 'Lion head' and then a long canter to the mouth of a narrow canyon. Continue through spectacular country to camp near Brandberg West. Dinner and night in camp.|
||Breakfast in camp and then ride on, winding your way through reeds and kori bush thickets along the Ugab to Brakwasser, another place of brackish water. After lunch, ride up a deserted gorge with fascinating folded rockwalls. Dinner and night in camp.|
||Leave the Ugab tributary and set off across a vast open plain with some long canters before lunch at the Quarry. Continue across stony plains west towards the coast. Night in camp|
|Day 9||Set off riding to the Messum River and Crater. Plenty of chances to move on again today. Night in camp|
|Day 10||Tha last ride takes you to the beach, arriving at the Skeleton Coast around lunchtime. Again lots of exhilarating canters and spectacular views. Overnight at a beach house in Henties Bay.|
|Day 11||After breakfast transfer about 5 hours by bus back to Windhoek. Own arrangements for onward travel (late pm departure).|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544(+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.|
The meeting point for most rides is Windhoek, the capital of Namibia (for Desert Canyons Ride meet in Cape Town - see below). From London it is generally easiest to fly via Johannesburg (eg British Airways or South African Airways overnight London to JNB, connecting onto Windhoek with Com Air or SAA). Air Namibia also fly from London to Windhoek overnight (via Frankfurt). For flights from London to Windhoek budget around £850 to £1150 economy return (varies with season, carrier and availability).
For the Desert Canyon Rides meeting and departure are from Capetown in South Africa. British Airways and South African Airways have direct overnight flights to Capetown from around £750 to £900 (varies with season).