This tough and challenging 11-day horseback riding trail covers 400 km across the desert with the opportunity to see the Namibian 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 equestrian adventure through remote rough desert terrain. Sooner or later all serious horseback  riders end up here! Camp in tents or sleep under the stars.  While camping, hot bucket showers are available in the evenings and either chemical or long drop toilets at all campsites, this is a vehicle supported camping trip.   

We now also offer a shorter 6-night version of this challenging desert vacation, please see itinerary.

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

Ride Summary
Brilliant!!
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Just for the return instead of driving 4 hrs to windhoek there is also an airport at walvisbaai which is only a 15 minute drive.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
8
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Long days in the saddle with a lot of canters and gallops.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Correspondance is quick and friendly
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

Day 1:
Guests are met at the Windhoek International Airport and transferred to River Crossing Lodge, with its impressive view over Windhoek. Meet the rest of the riding group for dinner and attend a group briefing on what to expect on the trip.

Day 2:
After breakfast, depart for the Sossusvlei area (about a 5 hour drive) via the Spreetshoogte Pass which affords the first enticing glimpse of the seemingly endless Namib Desert below. The first campsite has a spectacular view over the Namib Sand Sea. Meet the horses and crew for lunch. The afternoon’s excursion is to the terminal pan of Sossusvlei in the soft, early evening light. Riders 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.

Day 3:
The start of the riding adventure leads up a wide grassy valley flanked on one side by the distant Namib Sand Sea. Lunch is at the surprising desert oasis of Solitaire – famous for its iconic apple crumble! To reach the evening campsite, 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.

Day 4:
Ride along a long ramp-like dune in the morning, enjoying the unspoiled wilderness that offers some striking scenery. The pace quickens In the afternoon as valley opens into a riverbed, before a gentle climb up to the campsite on a hill-with-a-view. Dinner is served in an old farm dam converted into a wonderful dining room!

Day 5:
Today, 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.

Day 6:
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, leading to a year-round supply of precious water which is preserved by the high, narrow walls of the canyon. Tonight the camp is amongst a surprising grove a trees on the plain above the Kuiseb.

Day 7:
Good going affords some fast-paced riding towards the water-point at Ganab where Mountain Zebra, Oryx, Ostrich, Springbok, and if 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.

Day 8:
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 the group approach the coast. On approaching 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.

Day 9:
Ride through true desertscapes and encountering the dinosaur-like of plants, the gnarled Welwitschia Mirablis. Strange shapes form and disappear in mirages, and the fascinating survival devices of desert adapted creatures never fail to astound. This is a land of great antiquity and also tremendous solitude. Passing the spectacular Moon Valley on the decent to a wonderfully sheltered campsite in the Swakop River.

Day 10:
The last ride down the Swakop river to the coastal dunes and then, at last, the Atlantic Ocean. The 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, enjoy our last memorable meal together, reminiscing over an unforgettable adventure.

Day 11:
Say a fond farewell at breakfast before the transfer to Windhoek (4 hour commute) leaves in time for departure flights from Windhoek International Airport after 15:00

Little Namib Desert Trail Itinerary (approximates Day 6-11 of full itinerary)
Day 1:

Guests are met at the Windhoek International Airport and transferred to River Crossing Lodge, with its impressive view over Windhoek. Meet the rest of the riding group for dinner and attend a group briefing on what to expect on the trip.

Day 2
After an early breakfast set off on an exciting journey into the desert (approximately 4,5 hours transfer).  Arrive in camp to meet the guides and horses then settle round the campfire for your first night under the stars with the spectacular Milky Way arching 
overhead.

Day 3 - 6
Today enjoy fast-paced riding on the wide grassy plains on the Namib. Dry watercourses, distinguishable by the long lines of acacia trees marking their course and a favoured resting place of Giraffe, Springbok and Oryx.  As the plains become more arid strange shapes form and disappear in mirages.  The Swakop river basin has some truly ancient geology (600 million years old) which exposes a bizarre moon-like landscape. Curious black ridges of dolerite intrusions form whale backs on the hills surrounding the river basin, some spectacular views await.  Finish your adventure with a ride across the dunes and to the Altantic ocean before enjoying one final canter along the white sandy beach, the end of a truly epic adventure.  Your final nights 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. Enjoy our last memorable meal together, reminiscing over an unforgettable adventure.

Day 7
After an early breakfast, pickup your transfer back to Windhoek (just over 5-hour commute) arriving around 13:00, in time for departure flights from Windhoek International Airport after 15:00pm

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.

Horses & Riding

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. 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.


Rider requirements

• 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.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Guests stay in amiable Lodges or Guesthouses on the first and last nights of the ride. Accommodations are chosen for their comfort, and where possibl, 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 within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

When visiting Namibia your passport should be valid for 6 months from the date you arrive and have at least one blank page. Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

If you are planning to visit South Africa before or after Namibia your passport must be valid for a minimum of six months and we recommend you have two blank pages. Be sure to check the latest regulations concerning travelling with children under 18. Check with your travel provider to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Passport and Visa 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/namibia

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Namibia.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/namibia

Climate Summary

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.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you, and spare, just in case.

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.

Some people suffer skin irritation and/or dehydration due to Namibia’s hot and dry climate. Make sure you carry a good supply of drinkable water.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Namibia and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Health (ride specific)

Anti-malaria precautions are not needed for most parts of Namibia, for further details please see your local doctor.

Electricity

In Namibia the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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.

Packing List

•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 you will be provided with 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 labelled and split in 2 bags if over 15 kgs
•A good sense of humour!

They will provide:
Saddle bags (which have a pocket to hold a 1 ltr water bottle)
Comfy bed rolls with down sleeping bags. Every rider keeps his/her sleeping roll throughout the ride.
Towels.
Water bottles are handed out at the beginning of the safari and can be refilled. Our saddles

Programmes

There are set dates from April to October. More dates can be arranged in this period for groups of 10 or more.

Departure Dates

2024: 10 April (Full); 22 May; 3 July (Full); 14 August (Full); 25 September (Full)
2025: 11 April; 18 June; 20 August; 1 October (Full)

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
202411d/10n8double pp5,799
202411d/10n8single supplement199
202411d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)849
202511d/10n8double pp7,409
202511d/10n8single supplement219
202511d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg))849
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
202411d/10n8double pp6,775
202411d/10n8single supplement235
202411d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)995
202511d/10n8double pp8,649
202511d/10n8single supplement259
202511d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg))995
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
202411d/10n8double pp7,545
202411d/10n8single supplement249
202411d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)1,065
202511d/10n8double pp9,635
202511d/10n8single supplement275
202511d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg))1,065
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
202411d/10n8double pp79,939
202411d/10n8single supplement2,689
202411d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg)11,435
202511d/10n8double pp102,085
202511d/10n8single supplement2,959
202511d/10n8extra horse (compulsory for riders over 85kg))11,435
Recommended Reading


Other Activities

Visit the Sossusvlei area, climb a huge dune and swimming in the sea at Swakopmund for the brave!

Wildlife

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.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Windhoek Airport (WDH)
Transfer:
2024: included in price
Flight Guide:
London - Windhoek return £850pp return. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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