Namibia from the back of a horse – a unique kind of safari Almost everyone has been on some sort of African safari; few get to do so from the back of a horse in one of the most breath-taking environments on the planet, the Namib Desert. From the dramatic landscapes of Damaraland, the great plains of the central Namib, and the biodiversity of the Fish River Canyon, we are privileged to ride in extraordinarily diverse environments. The Namib has an indescribable yet very tangible appeal to both nature-lover and soul-seeker alike and what better way to explore this wild beauty than on horseback? With over 20 years of experience in perfecting mobile riding safaris, Namibia Horse Safari Company has specialised in extreme but infinitely rewarding riding experiences.
Covering up to 300 km in 8 days over rough desert terrain, these challenging riding safaris are certainly not for the unfit or inexperienced rider. But for those who are confident and fit enough to ride any type of horse, this is possibly the most thrilling riding you will ever experience. Wide open spaces invite long, long canters – sometimes with zebra or ostrich racing alongside the horses. There is enough space to breathe, time to enjoy the natural beauty and the silence…. that is precious. Comments by guests often express the inadequacy of words in describing the sheer majesty of these impressive landscapes – especially the joy of no phones, computers or TV for a whole week. Another frequent comment is that this is the ‘reset button for your soul’ – and guests have been known to make extraordinary changes in their lives after one of these riding safaris. Stripped bare of seemingly unnecessary complexity, these hauntingly beautiful places remind us of how vulnerable we are in such extreme environments and of how supremely adapted the animals and plants are which survive this wild desolation. Long mystified by poets and mystics, deserts often evoke an ineffable feeling that invites a much more broad-minded approach to life. For those brave enough to allow a radical shift in perspective, enlightening experiences have known to happen. Days on safari are leisurely; beginning at sunrise with the comforting aroma of coffee wafting from the kitchen and horses quietly nickering for their nosebags. We keep pace with the westward orientated sun, reaching our overnight camp in time for chilled sundowner drinks. The delight of a hot shower at the end of an exciting days riding is simply heaven.
Nights spent sleeping under the splendid Milky Way with picketed horses quietly eating nearby have an indescribable magic about them. Warm duck down bedrolls keep even the winter chill out and although tents are provided on request, it seems a shame to sleep in a tent when such magnificent night skies are on offer. Campfire camaraderie and the lasting bond between horse and rider often linger long after you have left the desert. So addictive is the appeal of these extraordinary rides that 60 % of our guests are repeats and some have completed up to ten safaris. They almost always ask for the same horse and of course we are happy to oblige. Our plucky horses are wonderfully adapted to life on safari. Bred and raised on rough mountain terrain, they come from mixed stock including German sport horses, quarter horses, Arabs and of course the supremely adapted Boerperd. Calm on a picket-line, yet forward going and willing, they do their job well and always seem to have more to give. For the comfort of both horse and rider we use skirted endurance saddles which are best suited to the challenges of desert terrain. The saddles also provide for the tying-on of shed fleeces as the days warm up, only to be untied again as winter evening temperature rapidly drops Deserts can be unpredictable places and any self-respecting desert rat will know that dressing in layers is the sensible way to survive the Namib’s surprises. To make the most of these unique riding experiences, it is best to come well prepared. Spending up to six hours in the saddle without being riding fit to begin with can be rather a surprise to both horse and rider alike. At times the going gets rough and you will be required to get off and lead your horse through the tricky bits. However, there are always friendly crew on hand to help, including with saddling and the care of your horse while on trail. One crew member who is always fondly remembered by guests is our ever-smiling chef Vincent. Proficient at producing remarkable cuisine over an open campfire, the creations he produces from his three-legged potjie’s will surprise and delight the palate. It is our mission to make these remarkable safaris available to horse lovers from the SADC regions and to this end we are planning a special Namib Desert Safari in October 2017. Aimed at endurance riders, this will be an opportunity to test your and your horse’s metal on these incredible rides.
And so another group of picketed horses watch as eager riders, full of expectation, arrives at their first desert campsite. In the hush of evening the sun sinks into the distant sea of sand and a lone jackal calls in the distance. This sublime Namib.