Desert Trail, 2006
Once outside of the cities everyone that I met in Namibia was warm and friendly. I really got the feeling that they knew the value of tourism to their country. The group was led by Waldi, the owner of the business and a great horse woman. On our trip she was aided by four others.
It was all well organised, we would leave camp in the morning, ride all day, and at our destination camp had been set up. Don’t get me wrong, this is not luxury camping but the food was good and we even got a hot shower every night on the trail.
The food was always fresh and plentiful whether in camp or in accommodation. While camping the brai or barbeque is the weapon of choice for our bush cooks. Somehow they managed something tasty and different every night. Grilled Zebra, springbok, gemsbok and wild boar. Breakfast is simple with plentiful real coffee. Most days we would each pack a lunch.
The terrain you encounter is varied from wide open harsh desert (the Namib is known as the land God created in anger!) to canyons, river beds and mountains. You ride at least six hours on most days. Although some of our group found it hard the great satisfaction at the end of each day soon made you forget about any aches. Our longest day in the saddle was eight or nine hours, we covered around eighty kilometres of difficult terrain that day.
The riding is unforgettable; the pace is mixed interspersed with some memorable long gallops. The horses were good, ideally suited to the terrain, mostly between 14hh and 15hh. I have to say I fell in love with the mare that I rode. She was a real no-nonsense horse, fast and tough. No one in our group had any problem at all with their horse. You ride using a western trail saddle which is quite comfortable considering the long hours you spend in it.
On the trail, there is some wildlife to be seen, we regularly saw herds of Zebra, Giraffe, Ostrich and Warthogs. We saw two Cheetah run off as we disturbed them and heard the roars of a leopard who was either angry with us being in his canyon or was preparing himself for dinner. There were no stragglers that day, funnily enough.
The trip ends in Swakopmund, a coastal resort on the Skeleton Coast. Here our accommodation was in a bungalow near the beach. The coastline here is absolutely stunning and wild. The ocean is far too cold to swim in though. In all we had a couple of days in Swakopmund with plenty of time to relax and for a great afternoon bare back riding along Swakop beach. From here we also had a half day trip on a catamaran to Walvis bay where there is a huge seal colony.
I would definitely recommend this ride to anyone that is interested,with only two reservations;
1. That they should be reasonably fit (it is demanding),
2. They know how to ride (some days a certain amount of ground has to be covered so it helps if the riders are capable to do so).
But maybe the best praise I can give is that I’m going back!!!
Read more about the ride here: Desert Trail.