For those who love horse riding, there are few better places to ride than Namibia; for those who love Namibia, there are few better ways to see it than on horseback. Just outside of Swakopmund is a horse farm called Okakambe Trails. It is a haven for horses and a training ground for serious equestrians in Namibia. For horse loving tourists, Okakambe offers everything from pony rides for young kids, afternoon rides through the plains or the dunes, to complete horseback safaris throughout Namibia in coordination with other horse riding venues.
For the uninitiated, horse riding is great exercise and an excellent way to explore. Not so slow as on foot, not so fast as in a car, with a perfect perch high above the earth for a grand view of the landscape. Not surprisingly, animals are far less skittish around horses than they are around people, allowing the rider to get much closer to wildlife.
On day rides you are likely to see meerkats, perhaps springbok or jackals, and a wide variety of birdlife. You will also see relics on the old trail between Swakopmund and Walvis bay like wagon wheels and horse hooves, remnants of the days when the passage between towns was an arduous day or more, rather than the thirty minute drive it is today.
There is a vibe at Okakambe trails which is full of life, peace and satisfaction. Working in a stable is hard work. All of the horses have to be fed, brushed and exercised every day. The work starts early in the morning and doesn’t stop until the sun goes down. Yet, at the Okakambe stables, no one is in a hurry. Young children, adolescents, young adults, and adults young, old and in between are all working the stables all day long, but none of them seem stressed at the work.
The atmosphere is something like what you might find at a commune, lots of people living and working together for a common cause, not to mention birds, cats, dogs, rabbits, warthogs, mules and lots of other semi domesticated animals that consider Okakambe home. That’s just life on the ranch. Everyone and everything is comfortable with one another, and no one is in a hurry. It is a place where civilization and the wild have found a common ground, all through the love of horses.
Okakambe has been doing guided horse trail rides for over twenty years, and their professionalism shows. The horses are prepared and groomed a half an hour before you will mount up. They cater for each rider according to his or her skill and experience. Okakambe offers a wide variety of outrides ranging from ninety minutes to seven days, in cooperation with other equestrian professionals.
Experienced riders can take overnight excursions past the ringing stones, the ancient Welwitschia plants and the moon landscape, camping in tents with desert catered meals and support vehicles for the horses. There are several lodges that offer horseback riding as well, and full one week and two week horseback safaris can be organized.
Okakambe Trails is owned and operated by Kathrin Schaefer-Steige. Day tours start at 9h00 in the morning at the ranch and can take you through the Swakop river valley, through the moon landscape, and over the sand dunes. You can ride along teh old railway line to the colonial horse cemetery and then to the beach where a lunch will be waiting for you. Home again past the Rössmund golf course where you will be sure to find springbok grazing on the fairways returning at about 16h00 back at Okakambe.
Many visitors to the coast don’t realize that exploring on horseback is even an option. But it is an option you should experience. There a many good ways to experience the the desert, but nothing compares to the serenity of exploring on horseback.
by John R Wheeling | Leisure Times Namibia