Africa

Horse riding trails and riding safaris in Namibia

The starkly beautiful desert landscapes of Namibia offer some of the most challenging trail rides in the world - the Namib desert, the Fish River Canyon, Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast - remote wide open spaces, desert adapted species and herds of wild horses. Most itineraries involve camping under star-filled skies, but there are some options with more comfortable accommodation. Closer to the capital of Windhoek you can join a riding safari on Arabian horses at a private game reserve or even have a go in an endurance race.
See all our trips

From the horse’s mouth

  • Namib Desert Trail
    March 2018 Veronica aged 44
    I loved Namibia I loved the desert, the sunsets, the gallops, the horses, the food eaten by the camp fire and nights under the stars and this free exhilarating and intense sense of adventure! you need to be prepared for all this for sure but it is an amazing experience worth doing!!! A special mention to the great... Read all
    More about this trip
  • Namib Desert Trail
    Namib Desert Trail
  • Namib desert on horseback
    Riding in the Namibian desert
  • Horseback trail riding across Namibia
    Riding across Namib desert
  • Okapuka horseback safari in Namibia
    Horses and riders in sunset light
  • Horseriding on the Namibian beach
    Cantering along the Skeleton Coast
  • Horseback trail riding across Namimbia
    Gallop in the Namib desert dunes
  • Okapuka endurance horseback in Namibia
    Okapuka endurance riding safari
  • Namibian wild horses
    Wild horses in Namibia

Visa & Health

Formalities

Entry requirements
To enter Namibia, a passport valid for six months from date of entry with one blank page is required by all nationals of Australia, USA, Canada, the UK and other EU countries. If you require a visa, you must have at least three blank pages in your passport.
Visas
Visas for Namibia are not required by nationals referred to above for stays of up to three months if visiting Namibia on holiday except:
Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, who do require a visa.
Nationals not referred to are advised to contact the high commission/embassy for visa requirements for Namibia.
Single-entry visas: £30 (three-day processing) or £50 (same-day processing); multiple-entry visa: £60 (three-day processing) or £80 (same-day processing).
Validity:
Valid for up to three months, for stays of up to three months from the date of entry.

Embassies
Namibian High Commission in the UK
Telephone: (020) 7636 6244. Website: http://www.namibiahc.org.uk/ Opening times: Mon-Fri 0900-1700.

IMPORTANT - TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
Visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/namibia/entry-requirements

Namibia introduced new immigration rules in 2016 relating to travel with children. In addition to valid passports, parents travelling with children (under 18) should at all times carry the original or certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted by the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration.

Adults travelling with children where they are not the biological or legal guardians of those children, should be in possession of an affidavit statement from the child’s parents giving consent for their travel. If a child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent should give consent for travel in the form of an affidavit.

Unaccompanied children may be required to provide in addition to a valid passport:

Proof of consent from one or both parents/legal guardians in the form of an affidavit.
A letter from the person receiving the child including their residential address where the child will be staying.
Contact your nearest Namibian High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip.

If your child was born in the UK, you can order a full unabridged birth certificate online via GOV.UK

IF TRAVELLING THROUGH SOUTH AFRICA:
From 1st June 2015, South Africa have introduced tough rulings for anyone travelling with children, including passengers transitting South Africa to another destination.
- Two parents travelling with children will need to show the childs Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC)
- One parent travelling with a child will need to show the UBC plus either: a Parental Consent Affidavit (PAC) from the parent not travelling OR a letter of special circumstance.
- Widowed parents will need to show the UBC and a death certificate for the deceased parent
- Children travelling with family friends will need a UBC, PCA, copies of the parents passports and contact details for the parents.

For more information click here: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/621-updated-advisory-new-requirements-for-children-travelling-through-south-african-ports-of-entry

Contact South African Immigration for what is required for other circumstances.

Addresses of consulates

  • Paris | Ambassade de Namibie
    80, avenue Foch
    75016 Paris
    Tél. : 01.44.17.32.65
    Fax :
    info@embassyofnamibia.fr
  • Ambassade de France en Namibie
    1, Goethe Street PO Box 20484
    9000 Windhoek
    Tél. : +264 61 27 67 00
    Fax :
    cad.windhoek-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr
  • Namibian High commission
    6 Chandos Street
    W1G 9LU London
    Tél. : +44 (0) 20 7636 6244
    Fax : +44 (0) 20 7637 5694
    info@namibiahc.org.uk

Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Namibia except that you need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Namibia) where that disease is widely prevalent, such as Zambia.
Like with most countries, it's advisable to have general injections regarding diseases like Hepatitis A and typhoid. Most travellers are already vaccinated against DTP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio) and Hepatitis A, especially if you travelled already to countries outside the western world. If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as Hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Malaria is usually only a risk in the northern part of Namibia, and in some areas only during the wet season (October to April). The central and southern parts of the country, including Fish River Canyon and Sossuvlei are considered malaria free. Don't underestimate this tropical disease and take precautions. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Voltage

220 volts AC, 50hz. Outlets are of the South African three-pin type (two small round pins over one larger round pin).

Budget and money

The Namibian Dollar (NAD; symbol N$) is in note denominations of N$200, 100, 50, 20 and 10. Coins are in denominations of N$5, N$1, 50 cents, 10 cents and 5 cents. It is linked to the South African Rand (R) on a 1:1 basis and the South African Rand is also acceptable as currency in Namibia.
Credit cards:
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted. Credit cards are not usually accepted at petrol stations, so bear this in mind when you visit the ATM. Setting aside an emergency petrol cash fund is a good idea if you’re planning to drive.
ATM:
Although ATMs can be found in most towns, it’s worth making sure that you’ve got enough cash handy at all times, as towns can be few and far between. Make sure you notify your bank of your travel plans before you go: Namibia is among the countries that trigger an automatic account freeze (fraud protection) if you fail to tell your bank beforehand.

Telephone and jetlag

Namibia has an excellent fixed-line telephone network run by Telecom Namibia:
http://www.telecom.na

Domestic calls are reasonably priced, although international calls can cost upwards of N$20 (£1.40) per minute.
Mobile phone:
MTC is Namibia’s mobile service provider but has roaming arrangements with international providers. However, it operates on GSM 900/1800, which is compatible with European and Australian networks but not with those from North America or Japan. Check with your mobile provider whether they will be able to provide coverage through the MTC network during your stay. MTC does offer a prepaid service called Tango, which involves a one-off purchase of a sim card and pay-as-you-go thereafter. Although coverage is generally good, it can be sporadic outside urban areas.
Dialling code is +264
GMT + 1hr

Country information

Country ID

Capital: Windhoek
Area: 824,292 sq km (318,261 sq miles).
Population: 2.2 million (2013).
Population density: 2.6 per sq km.

Language: English is Namibia’s official language but is the mother tongue of just 7% of the population. Until 1990, Afrikaans and German were also official languages but have since been demoted to two of the country’s many ‘recognised’ languages. Others include Rukwangali, Silozi, Setswana, Damara/Nama, Herero and Oshiwambo.
Religion: Christians make up 80-90% of the Namibian population, of which 50% are Lutheran. Other denominations include Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Dutch Reformed and Mormon. Between 10 and 20% hold indigenous beliefs. The Muslim and Jewish populations are tiny with the two religions making up less than 3% of Namibian believers
Political regime: Republic
Head of state: President Hifikepunye Pohamba since 2005
Head of government: President Hifikepunye Pohamba since 2005 and Prime Minister Hage Geingob since 2012

Socio-economical data

The mining industry is one of Namibia’s key sources of income and provides more than half of the country’s foreign exchange income. Namibia is one of the largest producers of uranium in the world. Other minerals extracted include silver, copper, lead, zinc, tungsten and some of the world's highest-quality diamonds.
Livestock dominates the agricultural sector, with huge cattle and game farms making up the largest part of the industry. A substantial proportion of the workforce is engaged in subsistence farming of crops such as wheat, maize and millet but their yield is under constant threat from desertification. Even in a good year, Namibia only grows around 50% of the cereal its population consumes and has to import the remainder. Namibia also has an active commercial fishing industry centred around Walvis Bay and its sardine-packed waters. Manufacturing is mainly devoted to processing raw materials and agricultural produce.
Tourism, particularly eco-tourism, is a key part of the economy and one of the country’s biggest employers. Although it is dominated by the white Afrikaaner population, the industry is increasingly geared towards benefitting the local people who live in remote safari areas via initiatives such as conservancies and training schemes for would-be chefs, guides and hotel managers.
Namibia’s biggest trading partner is South Africa, followed by the UK, USA, Angola, the Netherlands and Spain, and generally involves the exchange of raw materials for manufactured goods. Recent economic policy has seen many former state enterprises transferred to the private sector. The economy has performed reasonably well during the last decade but inflation has recently accelerated. Annual growth in 2012 was 4.6% with inflation at 6.3%. Official unemployment figures hover around 50%, although this does include subsistence farmers and tribal hunter-gatherers.

History

Namibia’s prehistory dates back more than 750,000 years, when the first settlers moved in to brave the hostile Namib and Kalahari heat. Although the earliest people were basic hunter-gatherers, the Boskop – ancestors of the San people – had developed a structured society more than 20,000 years before the birth of Christ, making it one of the world’s oldest civilisations.
Sadly for the Boskop and the San who followed, their period of dominance was not to last with Bantu and Khoikhoi agriculturalists moving in and displacing them. Later, during the 16th century, the Herero people arrived from the Zambezi Valley, followed in the 19th century by a new Bantu group, the Owambo, who settled along the Kunene and Okavango rivers.
Although Namibia had been known to Europeans since 1486, when Portuguese Captain Diago Cão sailed along the coast as far as Cape Cross, it wasn’t until the 17th century when Dutch settlers from Cape Colony (now South Africa) began to take an interest. In 1844, the first German settlers appeared, followed by the British who promptly annexed Walvis Bay, thanks to its huge sardine shoals.
German colonisation proper began with Lüderitz and quickly extended outwards and upwards to include the whole of Namibia, barring Walvis Bay which remained in British hands. Settlement began as the Nama-Herero wars raged, giving the Germans the opportunity to sweep in and take over. Then followed one of the darkest periods in Namibia’s history: the German extermination of nearly 80% of the Herero population. Happily for the Herero, WW1 intervened and from 1918 onwards, Namibia became a British protectorate overseen by the South Africa.
Although South Africa became fully independent in 1967, Namibia did not and as a result, the full force of apartheid was visited on the country. Throughout the 50s, despite pressure from the UN, South Africa tightened its grip on Namibia leading to uprisings among the black (and some white) population and the eventual formation of SWAPO (South West African Peoples Organisation). SWAPO spent the next 30 years battling to rid Namibia of the South African occupiers, at one point asking for help from Cuba. In 1988, a ceasefire was negotiated between SWAPO, Cuba and South Africa and independence followed two years later.

Geography

Namibia is a large, mostly arid country in southwest Africa with Angola to the north, Botswana to the east, and South Africa to the south. In the northeast corner, the Caprivi Strip, a narrow panhandle of tropical Namibian territory juts towards Victoria Falls, forming borders with Angola, Zambia, Botswana and South Africa. To the west is a 1,280km long stretch (795 miles) of perhaps the loneliest coastline in the world, with foggy shores lashed by the Atlantic and littered with shipwrecks.
Along the entire length of the country, the huge shifting dune fields of the Namib Desert spread inland for up to 130km (81 miles). The most stunning sand dunes can be found in Sossusvlei National Park. In the far northwest, the Kaokoland Mountains run parallel to the Skeleton Coast, while further inland lies the Etosha Pan, a dried-out saline lake surrounded by grasslands. The Etosha National Park is the third largest in Africa, remaining largely free of human influence.
In the interior, the Central Plateau runs from north to south, sloping away into the vast sand basin of the Kalahari. Windhoek, the capital, perches on this plateau. The Kalahari has a geography all of its own, with inselbergs, or isolated mountains that create microclimates and habitats for organisms not adapted to life in the desert.

People, culture and traditions

Thanks to the high number of religious believers, Namibians are on the whole a conservative people. As a result, homosexuality isn’t really understood and is barely tolerated, while modest clothes, although not expected, are appreciated. Generally though, Namibians are friendly, entertaining people who will deal with you politely and expect the same in return.
Western customs are generally accepted as the norm, so usual courtesies should be shown when meeting new people or visiting someone’s home. In rural areas, visitors should follow the advice of a local guide when it comes to indigenous etiquette. Giving a proper greeting is particularly important and those who are standoffish or blunt are regarded as extremely rude. Many can be fairly blunt themselves, particularly among straight-talking Afrikaaners.

Choosing the right riding holiday

Choosing the right riding holiday

Namibia is a land of contrasts and offers some spectacular options for riding safaris and trail rides. From the stunning dunes at Sossusvlei to the desolate wonder of the Skeleton coast; the dramatic canyons of Fish River and the vastness of the Namib desert, there are horseback rides to amaze you. Namibia is best suited to competent or experienced riders, who can make full benefit of the wide open spaces and spirited horses.

One of our most challenging trail rides is the Namib Desert trail - 400km across the desert to the coast at Swakopmund, camping every night, this one is for experienced and adventurous riders only.

To hopefully view wild Namibian horses and the second largest canyon in the world, choose the Fish River Canyon ride. With some camping nights and some comfortable nights this trail ride is a great option.

If you wish to view desert adapted species such as black rhino, elephant, and oryx, then the starkly beautiful Damaraland trail ride will hopefully deliver....

For a more traditional riding safari, viewing giraffe, zebra, various antelope and white rhino, then choose Okapuka - and experience the thrill of riding an Arabian horse too.

You can also try your hand at Endurance riding in an actual competition on endurance horses owned and trained by Okapuka - a once-in-a-lifetime experience.