Horse sleep-out in the Namib Desert

desert-horses

Galloping across the rocky plains of the Namib took us into a desert valley with no other soul in sight. We hadn’t been riding for many years, but it wasn’t long before we gave the horses their heads. With nothing between us and the wide-open spaces, the sense of freedom, of riding through the desert with the wind blowing through our hair, was a safari like no other.

horses-in-desert

At a desert homestead just south of Sesriem we pushed our feet into the stirrups and swung up into our saddles. We rode across sandy riverbeds and into a grass-covered valley surrounded on all sides by the Nubib, Tsaris and Naukluft mountains. Our trail horses seemed to share the spirit of the wild horses of the Namib, tossing their manes and kicking up dust.

horses-in-desert-at-sunset

The dunes and valleys of the Namib seem devoid of life but when we set out on the horses there was wildlife all around us. Springbok leapt from the bushes, ostriches crossed through the valley and we spotted brown hyena tracks in the sand. Being on horseback meant that the animals were less skittish than they would normally be and allowed us to get up-close.

desert-views

At our camping spot we removed the saddles and bridles and left the horses to roll in the grass and rest. Saddle sore from the ride, we sat down to a traditional potjie slow-cooked over the campfire, and watched the sun set over the towering dunes at Sossusvlei. We shared desert stories as night fell over the valley and, one by one, the Namibian stars blanketed the sky.

incredible-stars

We have never, before or since, seen a sky as breathtaking as the one on our horseback safari. After checking for snakes and scorpions we pulled our camp beds out onto the sand, falling asleep under the star-filled canopy of the Milky Way. We rose early to climb a nearby mountain for the sunrise before getting back in the saddle and returning to the stables.

starry-sky

Marcus and Kate travelled with thanks to The Desert Homestead and Horsetrails.

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About Marcus & Kate

Marcus and Kate are a freelance writer/photographer team, contributing stories on travel, conservation and human interest from across east and southern Africa. They just completed a year in Kenya's Masai Mara where they conducted a research project on wildlife tourism and community-based conservation, including working on projects such as Elephant Voices and Living with Lions. They are a Swedish-Australian couple with itchy feet and a love for Africa, adventure and discovery. To see more photos from Marcus and Kate, visit their website or follow them on Facebook.

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