On this tough and challenging 11-day holiday you cover 300 km across the desert. You have the opportunity to see all of Namibia's landscapes, from the highlands and semi-desert sheep farms, through stony and mountainous desert, red sand dunes and finally the beach at the Atlantic Ocean. Not for the faint hearted, this is a long distance adventure. Sooner or later all serious riders end up here! Camp in tents or sleep under the stars, this is a vehicle supported camping trip.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from MH of Bantry on 05/10/2018
You will be met at the Windhoek International Airport and transferred to River Crossing Lodge with its impressive view over Windhoek. Meet the rest of your riding group for dinner and attend a group briefing on what to expect on your trip.
After breakfast we depart for the Sossusvlei area (about a 5 hour commute) via the Spreetshoogte Pass which affords the first enticing glimpse of the seemingly endless Namib Desert below. At our first campsite with a spectacular view over the Namib Sand Sea you will meet the horses and crew for lunch. This afternoon’s excursion is to the terminal pan of Sossusvlei in the soft light of twilight. You are welcome to attempt to climb the towering dunes for a spectacularly panoramic view. Return to camp for a traditional Namibian meal cooked over an open fire.
The start of our riding adventure takes us up a wide grassy valley flanked on one side by the distant Namib Sand Sea. Lunch is at a surprising desert oasis of Solitaire – famous for its iconic apple crumble! To reach our evening campsite we enter the undulation that make up the foothills of the rugged Namib Naukluft Mountains. The nearby water trough attracts numerous Mountain Zebra, Kudu and Oryx during the night.
Riding along a long ramp-like dune in the morning enjoying some unspoiled wilderness offering some striking scenery. In the afternoon the pace quickens as valley opens into a riverbed before a gentle climb up to our campsite on a hill-with-a-view. Dinner is served in an old farm dam converted into a wonderful dining room!
Today we cross some red dunes before a rugged decent into the Gaub Canyon for lunch. Climbing out of the Canyon after lunch we ride across the wide plains to a cave with a spectacular view of the badlands of the ephemeral Kuiseb River in the distance.
Now we negotiate the terraces leading down the to the bizarrely rugged Kuiseb river – with a technical decent into the riverbed. It is this river which forms a dramatic end to the Namib Sand Sea, flowing just often enough to prevent the dunes from crossing the river. The tracks of Mountain Zebra criss-cross the steep sides of the canyon all leading to a year-round supply of precious water which is preserved by the high, narrow walls of the canyon. Tonight our camp is amongst a surprising grove a trees on the plain above the Kuiseb.
Good going affords some fast-paced riding towards the water-point at Ganab where Mountain Zebra, Oryx, Ostrich, Springbok, and if we are lucky, some desert-adapted warthogs come to drink. Here the wide grassy plains are scarred by several watercourses, some only distinguishable by the long lines of trees which mark their course, sometimes giving shelter some desert-adapted Giraffe.
Another day which affords some fast-paced riding past the water point of Hotsas across the Tinkas and Tumas plains which become ever less vegetated as we approach the coast. As we approach the Marble Mountain, Ostriches and Mountain Zebra often run alongside the horses, curious about the unusual centaurs inhabiting their desert. From now on life-giving evening fog can be expected, producing 5 times as much precipitation than rainfall in this hyper arid area.
Now we ride through the hyper aridity of true desertscapes where we encounter the dinosaur-like of plants, the gnarled Welwitschia Mirablis. Strange shapes form and disappear in mirages and fascinating survival devices of desert adapted creatures astound; this is a land of great antiquity and also tremendous solitude. Passing the spectacular Moon Valley on our decent to a wonderfully sheltered campsite in the Swakop River.
The last ride down the Swakop river to the coastal dunes and then, at last, the Atlantic Ocean. Our first glimpse of a town in days! The last stretch of riding is along the soft white beach sand of Swakopmund. Tonight’s accommodation is a comfortable Guesthouse while the horses enjoy their well-deserved rest in a large sandy paddock with a wonderful view of the sea. After sundowners, we enjoy our last memorable meal together, reminiscing over an adventure unlikely to be forgotten.
We say a fond farewell at breakfast as the transfer to Windhoek (4 hour commute) leaves in time for departure flights from Windhoek International Airport after 15:00
Riders heavier than the 85kg weight limit can join the ride if they pay an additional supplement for an extra horse on the trail. They will then ride each horse on alternate days while the other horse rests.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
The horses are of mixed breeding including Arab, Haflinger, Lippizzaner, Trakehner, Ranch Horses, even the famous wild horses of the Namib desert and crosses. They are from 14:2-16hh, fast and sure footed horses raised on rough terrain, some of them with experience in endurance rides, each one of them a kind, reliable companion. The horses are mainly ridden in skirted endurance saddles, mostly in snaffle bridles and on a long rein. They are schooled in a continental way and are experienced in the desert. The riding is approx. 6 hours per day and at a good pace. You ride through the highland scrub and cattle farming areas, over the stoney desert, through the sandy desert with massive dunes and finish galloping on the beach! The terrain is very varied and you will ride at all paces.
• Intermediate riders onward. Must be comfortable in walk, trot and canter and gallop
• Must be riding fit and generally fit
• Weight limit 85Kg (13 ½ Stone)
• You will be expected to groom and tack up your horse
Heavier riders can be taken by arrangement with a supplement for an extra horse. Additional horse/s for riders over 85kg in riding gear. Please enquire for the rate as varies according to your weight and the ride
Fitness, good health, experience in horse riding and handling horses are essential. You need not be an accomplished dressage rider or show jumper, but you must feel totally at ease on the back of a cantering horse; in addition you should be mentally strong and compatible, and have a sense of humour.
The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
We stay in amiable Lodges or Guesthouses on the first and last nights of the ride. Accommodations are chosen for their comfort, where possible with twin-bedded rooms with en-suite facilities. While most guests are happy to share twin accommodations, on booking you may request a single at the beginning or end of the trail subject to availability and a supplementary charge.
Most guests choose to sleep out under the glorious canopy of desert stars during the ride - a very special experience. We do provide large dome tents if required (two people sharing). We will always try to supply a single tent if required, but due to varying circumstances this may not always be possible.
Camp beds are supplied with a bedroll consisting of a canvas bag containing an insulating mattress, down duvet and pillow. You are welcome to add a fleece liner to the sleeping role if you feel you might get cold but extra blankets are available on request. Hot ‘bucket showers’ are available at all camps.
Overnight camps are usually pitched at sunset where typically Namibian meals are cooked over an open fire - all meals are included in the package.
Breakfast is typically porridge or cereal, coffee or tea and a hot dish. At lunch we meet up with the supply trucks a light lunch is served, where this is not possible, sandwiches/wraps are enjoyed under a shady tree. Dinner is a delight of typically Namibian fare; Wild Game, free-range Beef or Karoo Mutton served as braai (grilled over an open fire) or potjie (pot casserole) with vegetables and a surprise dessert also made on the open fire.
The menu is suitable for vegetarians but it is important to inform us of dietary requirements when booking – we will endeavour to accommodate your needs but please keep in mind that you will be in extremely remote areas making it difficult to cater to some complex dietary issues.
Tea, coffee and juice are always available in camp with chilled drinks, beer, wine etc available in the evenings. All drinks are included in the cost whilst on the ride – please let us know your drink preferences by completing the questionnaire form when booking.
Only drinks at the first and last night lodges, guest farms and restaurants, petrol stations while en-route are not included in the package rate.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
At the time of going to print visas are not required for UK passport holders, but please check before you depart. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on www.fco.uk.uk or 0207 008 0232/0233.
In Namibia the British High Commission can be contacted at P.O. Box 22202, 116 Robert Mugabe Avenue, Windhoek. Tel; +264 61 274800.
The High Commission for the Republic of Namibia can be found at 6 Chandos Street, London, W1G 9LU. Tel; (020) 7636 6244. Email: email@example.com.
The best time to visit Namibia is from April to September generally when the days are sunny and warm (25 Celsius) with cool, even cold evenings... At other times the desert is too hot to make riding practical during the day. Temperatures begin to climb mid to late September with the rainy season beginning in November, peaking in January and ending in March/April.
Anti-malaria precautions are not needed for most parts of Namibia, for further details please see your local doctor. There is excellent medical treatment available in Namibia, but only with immediate payment. Please ensure you travel with a credit card or sufficient cash to cover emergencies as you will need to pay immediately and claim on your insurance later.
Cholera is known to occur in Namibia.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org. You can also check the Department of Healths website at www.dh.gov.uk.
Anti-malaria precautions are not needed for most parts of Namibia, for further details please see your local doctor.
Namibia uses the 220 volt system (in the U.K it is 230V). You will need an international plug adaptor of the same type as for South Africa.
On arrival in Windhoek there is the opportunity to purchase films and batteries but we do advise to pack supplies before you travel. The next opportunity is in Swakopmund.
•A wide-brimmed hat with strap or cap
•Light-weight riding shoes
•Sunglasses on a string plus spare, wrap-around sort if you wear contact lenses
•Riding gloves and bandana/buff to help protect from sun and dust
•Comfortable clothes to ride in including jodhpurs/long trousers and chaps, long sleeved cotton shirts, jersey or long sleeved fleece, sleeveless fleece with pockets.
•Lightweight waterproof/windbreaker jacket. Layering is key as temperatures fluctuate during day and night
•Warm clothes for evenings and to sleep in (campers) including a woolly hat (beanie) socks and gloves
•Underwear and socks (men might like to consider cycling shorts)
•Shorts, t-shirts, sarong, flipflops, comfortable clothes to wear around camp and showers
•Sunblock, lip salve (lots), towel (optional as towels now supplied by hosts), personal medication and toiletries, talc, Vaseline and “second skin” plasters to protect areas of skin that might chafe, antiseptic cream, eyedrops
•Head torch, camera spare batteries and memory card and binoculars
•Although we provide a warm down-filled bedroll, you may want to add your own fleece lining for extra warmth
•Lots of sachets of electrolytes/isotonic drinks to help rehydrate and sweets to suck between canters
•Soft luggage, well labled and split in 2 bags if over 15 kgs
•A good sense of humour!
There are set dates from April to October. More dates can be arranged in this period for groups of 10 or more.
2021: September 26 (FULL).
2022: April 1, 19; May 26; July 19; August 8 (FULL); September 13 (FULL).
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2021||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||799|
|2022||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||799|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2021||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||925|
|2022||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||925|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2021||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||1,089|
|2022||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||1,089|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2021||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||9,479|
|2022||11d/10n||8||extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)||9,479|
The Sheltering Desert by Henno Martin
An unmissbale account of 2 German geologists who hid in the desert to escape internment in WWII
For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Visit the Sossusvlei area, climb a huge dune and swimming in the sea at Swakopmund for the brave!
You will be amazed at how much life there is in the desert. From oryx, kudu, springbok, jackal, hyena and zebra to smaller animals such as beetles, rock rabbits, hares.
Namibia is a vast semi-desert country with a population of only 2.3 million making it the least denslely populated country in the world. There are frequent prolonged periods of drought. The little rainfall is largely confined to the summer months (November to March). Due to the nutrient-rich Benguela Current that flows up from Antarctic waters and is the source of Namibia's rich fishing, the country's coastline is cooler than the rest of the country, with frequent sea fog. Namibia is well known for its diversity of plants and wildlife.
Germany took control of the area which it called South West Africa in the late 1800s. The discovery of diamonds in 1908 prompted an influx of Europeans. South Africa seized it during World War I and administered it under a League of Nations mandate. It has since enjoyed more than a decade of stability under its founding president Sam Nujoma, who led the long fight against rule by South Africa. The official languages are English and Afrikaans, but German and Herero are also widely spoken.
Namibia has, seascapes, bushwalking and boundlessness. Its desert dunes take on shapes and colours according to the elements. It is blessed with rich mineral resources, a solid modern infrastructure and diverse traditional cultures.
Namibia is on GMT during the summer months and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +264.