Why choosing Namibia for a horseback safari?

Matias Carrillat

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Galloping across the most ancient desert in the world, going across the gorges, and even riding your horse along the coastline are experiences that await every rider that decides to go deep into Namibia’s old region. 

Why choosing Namibia for a horseback safari?

Namibia is a country located at the southeast of Africa. It limits with Angola, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, and, to the west, with the Atlantic Ocean. Crossed by a desert that ends in the Atlantic coast, this destination awaits us with more surprises than we can imagine. 

 

What is it that makes this land so special? For starters, its history: a desert that has the reputation of being the oldest one in the world cannot be but a wonder. And there is more: traces of the first human beings to ever inhabit the earth have been found there.This is why visiting Namibia means not only traveling through space but also through time, to the origins of humanity and the planet itself. 

Namibia, the best place to go on a horseback Safari - Geography and Landscapes

Namibia has a surface of 81 thousand square kilometres; it is not coincidental that Namib means “huge”. Neither is coincidental that we feel an urge to go deep into it: we want to be part of this hostile immensity. Excursions to places like the dunes of Sossusvlei in the experience Namibia: more than sand are corroborations that Namibia has the highest dunes in the planet, a challenge that anyone who calls themselves a rider needs to experience this at least once in their life. 

 

During a long part of the year, these dunes are covered by fog. They have a diverse and exceptional  aesthetic, influenced by the climate. Both for its changing shapes and for the range of colors and textures, dedicated to us at different times of the day, they represent a beauty that enchants the five senses.

 

Beyond the dunes, we find a huge cut in the southern surface of Namibia that constitutes an almost impossible landscape.The Kuiseb Canyon is of an indescribable magnitude, and it is surrounded, on one side, by the highest dunes in the world, and on the other side, only by  rocks. Feeling so small while we face the immensity of such extraordinary rocks that seems to have been carved by a master hand makes us think. Crossing a magnificent landscape on our horses as in the experience Namib Desert requires a physical and mental state appropriate for these kinds of adventures. 

 

For some reason, gorges in all parts of the world turn out to be fascinating. The desert gorges near Namibia, in particular, include rivers, steep and closed areas, but also open plains where you can ride your horses fast. The solitude, the imminent danger, the uncertainty of not knowing what is on the other side, lure us. Hence, there is a horseback ride dedicated especially to this, Desert Canyons. This area offers diversity in terms of plants and animals: we will find from rhinos to giraffes, which increases the level of uncertainty. As said before, there are open spaces on the plain where we can accelerate and unleash the adrenaline of speed, galloping in the immensity and feeling in tune with the desert. 

 

But not everything revolves around the desert. On the coast bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean we will find beaches as the ones that can be seen in our horseback ride In Namibia along the Sea. A secluded region whose bays of sand and rocks under the hazy blanket of fog create a ghostly atmosphere.

Namibia, the best place to go on a horseback Safari - Fauna and climate

The weather is pretty dry, with scarce rains between the months of October and April. Additionally, certain areas are what it is called “hyperarid”, thus, as soon as rains cease, the ground dries again. This makes the fauna and flora dearing to inhabit this land be willing to adapt to the changes in the environment. Loose sand, winds, and fog create a variety of habitats and rare ecological niches. 

 

As far as the fauna is concerned, there is less than what we know but more than what we expect. The strange but witty way the fauna finds to survive contributes to some animals species getting used to the environment. Therefore, we will find foxes, marmots, lizards, scorpions, spiders and numerous birds roaming the sand. But this does not end here: if we look up, to the south, we will see ostriches, jackals, hyenas and wild horses (besides the ones who are accompanying us in this journey, of course); to the north, elephants, zebras, giraffes and even lions. Contrary to what we believe, we will realize that we are not alone in the desert. 

Namibia, the best place to go on a horseback Safari - Culture and History.

Namibia poses a population relatively small compared to its size (2.4 million inhabitants spread over 824,000 square kilometers of territory). However, we should take into account that most of its lands are just uninhabited seas of sand. Its population is comprised of different ethnic groups, hence, we will be surrounded by different languages, traditions and appearances. Most Namibians belong to dark skin people with languages of Bantu origin. Conversely, among its minorities, we will find people of mixed blood and caucasian, predominantly of German origin, since the country is strongly influenced by Germanic culture. 

 

One of the best urban treasures is the city of Swakopmund, which we will visit on the last day of our journey in our horseback ride, Namib Desert. With a German art nouveau architecture, maritime outings, houses mainly made of wood, and colonial buildings, this place represents an amazing visual paradise that takes us to a 19th century Germany. If we add the depths of the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the desert on the other, we will feel ourselves submerged into a cinematografic landscape. 

 

It would be very wrong to talk about Namibia and not mention Twyfelfontein, a site declared a World Heritage by UNESCO.  This place is comprised of rocks over which our ancestors left paintings and representations imprinted on them- getting in contact with such old messages cannot but intensify our senses. This will make us see that, deep inside, we are communicating with a part of ourselves that lived in other place and time. Of course, one of our horseback rides includes them in the itinerary, Namibia: more than sand. 

 

However, the most extraordinary feature of this place is its desert. It is estimated that this desert has existed for about 65 million years. Throughout the region, scattered settlements and stone tools that are associated with the Homo erectus have been found. In addition, one of its archaeological sites shows that 750,000 years ago these first men who walked upright hunted the ancestors of the elephants with stone axes.

 

Getting lost in the desert is re engaging in a past time that will soon be not that distant. Spending the days riding while chasing the footsteps of instinct, following routes where there are no roads or paths, and spending the night amidst the flashes of bonfires that may well have been the same as in previous millennia … It is an non transferable experience.

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