Horse riding holiday in the wilds of Namibia


This is probably one of the biggest and most exciting projects I have undertaken in a long time. I have already shared a lot about Namibia, and now there is news: a new ride! From inland Namibia to the coast of the Atlantic Ocean at Henties Bay. The Western Ranch Gross Okandjou and I have been preparing, planning, and thinking about this ride for a year, figuring out the best way to organize it. Ultimately, we decided to launch a test ride in November 2023: the 10-day Discovery Ride!

We were a total of eight riders, including the owner of Gross Okandjou Ranch, her best guide, five adventurous girls ready to embark on a completely unpredictable adventure, which could be breathtaking but also possibly end in a complete disaster (which thankfully it did not!).

This blog is written by Luzia Montag. Feel free to reach out to Luzi with questions about the Namibia trail, Botswana, or bookings for our Lesotho trip. You can contact her on Instagram, or on

Campsite in the desert at night

An adventurous and completely new trail on horseback

The route had never been ridden before, and the Discovery Ride was meant to find out if it was even possible. Gross Okandjou and her team had outlined a rough route and selected places to stay overnight, but it was unpredictable how it would be on horseback.

A total of 10 days were planned, with one night spent on the farm to get to know each other, especially the horses, and ensure that we all formed a good team. On the first day, horses could still be changed if someone didn't feel comfortable, and indeed, a few teams were reshuffled. After we all had our horses, the teams were as follows: Adel rode the red-spotted Ruckzuck, Janina ended up on Bucks Bunny and loved him from the first second, Mirella rode Valentino, Claudia formed a team with Sonntag, our guide Junias rode a beautiful grey horse with no name, Alina was on Silverado, and I got to ride the little Feuerstein. I was overjoyed; the last time I visited the farm, Feuerstein was still a foal, and I loved him even then. Today, he was considered a very fast little pony, always full of energy and never tired – a perfect match.

Horse and rider galloping through the desert on a cloudy day
Luzi and Feuerstein

Testing the horses (and riders!)

On the day of arrival, we started with a short introductory ride on the farm, each galloping away and back to ensure that we got along well with our horses. Since this ride was only suitable for very fit and experienced riders, it was important to determine beforehand that everyone would be up to the challenge. We faced 8 days of riding in the desert, with extremely high temperatures, long distances, and sometimes high speeds to cover enough ground each day. We had to arrive at the planned camp every evening to ensure we would reach Henties Bay on time.

Horse and rider looking at the view on a rocky hill in the desert on a cloudy day

Ever-changing sceneries of Namibia

So, the teams were set, everyone was very happy with their horses, and for most, it was love at first sight. And so, after a night on the farm and a relaxed morning, our Discovery Ride began. Our route always followed the Omaruru River, heading west and taking us through various habitats. Initially, we rode through relatively green landscapes with lots of vegetation, bushes, and trees. Over time, the scenery cleared, and we entered a semi-desert dominated by gentle hills, lots of rocks, and breathtaking views. This was followed by canyons and high cliffs, equally impressive and creating truly dramatic images, before we entered the true sand desert. These expanses were unimaginable, the sky absolutely dramatic, and the gallops felt like they were from another world – riding there was truly the most beautiful, fastest, and best experience I've ever had. From there, we headed straight towards the coast, and the ride ended almost in the sea at Henties Bay, where we were greeted by some seals in high waves. Simply an outstanding end to an outstanding ride.

Since it would be a bit extensive to write about each of the 10 days individually, here are the highlights of the ride summarised.

Horses and riders at sunset in the desert

The Most Beautiful Camp

It is actually harder than I thought to pick out the most beautiful moments because I must admit that every single day was absolutely special, and each day was a lot of fun. We were just the perfect group; all the girls got along great, the mood was always lively and good. Nevertheless, there were a few moments that really stood out.

In my favorite camp, we arrived after a long day of riding. We must have spent at least 6 hours in the saddle, so the day was quite long, it had been hot, and we were all relatively exhausted. We were already in the middle of the ride and had ventured quite far into the desert. We had just left the cheetah area behind us and climbed a hill to enjoy a breathtaking view when we realised that it was already quite late, and we should hurry if we wanted to be in camp before sunset. 

Horse ears view of a desert road

So off we went. We rode slowly out of the hilly landscape and as we were always heading west, we rode towards the sunset almost every evening. We came to a perfect sandy track and galloped all the way to camp. The scenery was just absolutely dramatic, as the sun was already approaching the horizon, the whole desert was bathed in a purple-red light. In front of us was an infinite view, uninterrupted by any tree, mountain or road. All we could see was the endless expanse, the sandy desert could already be glimpsed on the horizon and only here and there did a cactus-like plant called euphorbia grow, rounding off the picture of the desert perfectly. 

None of us talked because the moment was just absolutely magical, like a movie. After a long, very relaxed and comfortable canter, the path wound around a small hill and our camp finally opened up behind it. It was in the middle of two hills, surrounded by euphorbia and our timing couldn't have been better. Because at that moment, the sun actually set and bathed our camp in a beautiful pink. We rode into the middle of the camp, set up together and watched the last moments of the sunset from our horses. It was just absolutely perfect. 

We ended the rest of the evening around the campfire as usual, with a few drinks, very good food cooked over the fire and, as always, some pretty funny conversations.

Arriving at camp with horses during a pink sunset in the desert

The Most Beautiful Riding Day

One of the most beautiful rides, which is really difficult to choose, started directly the next morning from this camp. I would rank this day, with the ride through the sand desert, which I will tell you about later, as the number 1 among the most beautiful days.

In any case, we started early as usual, with a light breakfast. Like every morning, I drank my coffee on the highest hill I could find to enjoy the sunrise and, above all, the peace and absolute seclusion. By the way, this was to become a ritual that I have not skipped since then.

A cup of coffee on a hill looking down on a campsite and the desert with shrubs

The first part of the ride naturally took us through a very similar landscape to the one we arrived in. Everything already resembled a desert; the landscape was flat, but in the distance, some hills still obstructed our view of the real desert. The paths were a dream! The morning consisted of many long gallops, which were incredibly fun on these horses. Their endurance was extremely good; no European horse I know could keep up. Once they found their pace, you could ride for ages, and since they were all rather small Western horses, it was also extremely comfortable.

Three horses riding on a dirt road in the desert surrounded by shrubs and trees

After the first hours of the ride were well-filled, the sandy path ended quite abruptly, and suddenly we stood in front of relatively high, rocky cliffs. A narrow path wound its way up between the steep slopes, which we climbed slowly but steadily. Not without almost trampling the first snake on this ride first. The little creature was quite lucky that the horse hooves miraculously missed it, as it was right on the path we were trotting over.

The higher we climbed, the more breathtaking the view became. These endless expanses of Namibia are really very difficult to describe and even harder to grasp, even when you were there and had them directly in front of you. Everything about this landscape was dramatic.

Once at the top, we took a short break to let the horses catch their breath, give us a chance to eat some snacks, but above all, to enjoy the view. You might think that you would eventually get used to these gigantic views, but that wasn't the case. We had been on the road for five days already and were still absolutely overwhelmed wherever we went and had a view in front of us.

Horses looking out over desert landscape with rocky hills

Even after half an hour, we hadn't had enough, but we had to keep riding to reach our camp for the night on time. So, now we went down on the other side. The path was still very rocky, and we felt like we were on another planet; the entire scenery seemed surreal. Finally, we found ourselves on a narrow mountain road, a steep cliff towering to our right, and to our left, it went just as steeply into the abyss, and we slowly but surely found a way right into that abyss. However, our little desert horses were absolutely sure-footed, and since they were all born and raised in Namibia, they mastered this terrain with ease.

Horses riding on rocky road through the hills

When we finally arrived at the bottom, another impressive landscape awaited us. We found ourselves in the riverbed of the Omaruru River, which, except for the narrow path we had just come from, was framed on both sides by huge granite walls. The sight was extremely impressive and a little intimidating. You definitely wouldn't want to linger here when the river had water because then there was no way out far and wide. But November was the hottest month of the year, and the rain would have to wait a little longer, so we were on the safe side.

Riding horses through a dry riverbed surrounded by cliffs

Now the real fun began! Anyone who has ever galloped in a dry riverbed knows what I'm talking about. Since the horses sank a bit into the sand here, even the most difficult-to-sit gallop became a relaxed ride on the couch, and additionally, this was the perfect terrain to let the horses go properly. Ahead of us lay the sandy riverbed for kilometres, there was no one around, and apart from the fact that these perfectly trained horses would never run away, you could also let the fastest and most energetic horse go freely here. So, that's exactly what we did, and it was the best feeling in the world.

The riverbed was wide enough to ride our horses side by side, release the reins, and give your horse the opportunity to find its pace. So, we galloped for a good 15 minutes straight, giving our horses, which once again proved their extremely good endurance, occasional breaks, only to start again. Thus, we galloped through an absolutely unreal scenery. Colourful granite rock walls flew past us, eagles circled above us, here and there, you could see a rock hyrax in the cliffs, and you heard nothing but the wind, the horses' breathing, and the flying sand we stirred up behind us.

Horses galloping in between mountains in the desert

In between, we found a small swamp landscape that transformed the entire surrounding nature into a green oasis since the plants naturally made the most of the small water source. Here, we spent our break in the shade of a large tree, enjoyed our last snacks, and dozed in the shade while the horses around us searched for the fruits of the trees.

The last part of the route was no less impressive and varied than the first. The riverbed slowly widened, the granite walls next to us gradually flattened until the Omaruru River was eventually so wide that I couldn't properly discern its banks anymore. On our right side, a small forest gradually appeared, and on the left, large rock hills, almost mountains, opened up. Until we finally discovered our camp under a few giant trees. As always, Alina's brilliant team had already set up and prepared everything for us, so we only had to take care of our horses, grab a few cold drinks, and climb to the top of the mountains to watch the sunset.

The Most Beautiful Evening

In my opinion, the most beautiful evening was spent in our second camp, which was actually no less breathtaking than any other. It should be noted once that every place where we spent our night was chosen with extreme care, and each one was more beautiful than the last. Even in the desert, where one would expect nothing but sand, the team found special spots, such as a granite formation that provided shade and wind protection.

Camping in the desert at sunset

This second evening camp was on a perfectly smooth sand surface and was surrounded by huge rock formations that looked as if someone had perfectly polished each individual rock, so they had no corners or edges and then stacked them on top of each other. This was also the perfect leopard territory; these animals loved these rock formations as they provided many caves and thus good protection and hiding places. This was demonstrated to us upon arrival with a fresh leopard kill, which was about 3 days old and approximately 400 meters from our camp. For the girls who slept on a tarp in a sleeping bag instead of in a tent (entirely voluntary, of course, we could have also slept in a tent), this was definitely one of the most exciting nights, as we kept waking up thinking we finally heard the leopards.

Upon arrival at the camp, the sun was already relatively low, and since our horses were already taken care of, I organised some drinks for everyone; for most, it was, of course, the obligatory gin and tonic. We made our way to climb the rocky hills. We chose the highest one to have the best view of the camp and the sunset. We had to climb quite a bit, but when we finally arrived, we were rewarded with an overwhelming view. There's no other way to say it, but it really looked like The Lion King. The sun set dramatically before us, coloring the entire rocks first orange, then red, and finally pink. Everyone should see an African sunset in my opinion. They are never average, always absolutely dramatic, colourful, and definitely extremely picturesque.

Sunset in the African plains from on top of a rock formation

The Most Beautiful Gallop

We had the best gallop of all time, even in my life, when we finally reached the flat sand desert. Just the moment to ride into it was extremely impressive. Behind us was a small green oasis, where we had watered our horses and taken a break before. Now, we rode out of it, while in front of us, nothing but boundless, sandy vastness unfolded. It was impressive and a bit frightening at the same time, as all the movies came to mind where people got lost in the desert and wandered aimlessly among all the sand masses for days. But fortunately, we were on our horses.

Horse galloping in the desert with a storm and mountains in the background

We turned around one last time to our little oasis and noticed that the sky behind us was turning black. A storm was slowly but surely brewing behind us, and in the distance, it was already raining, giving us two huge rainbows behind us in the sky.

So, we immediately picked up the pace because in the flat desert, where we were by far the highest point, you certainly didn't want to encounter a storm. So, a little race against the storm began. We started with a relaxed, slow canter. But slowly but surely, we all felt that tingling sensation that you inevitably feel when you're on your horse and have absolutely perfect conditions for a full-speed gallop ahead. And the horses felt it too. Slowly but surely, we could also feel their anticipation until Alina finally gave the sign that we could let them go, and we did.

Galloping horse and rider in the desert of Namibia

We flew through the desert! Mirella on Valentino and I on Feuerstein left the group behind within seconds, and with every gallop stride, the two got faster and faster and even faster. It was the most beautiful feeling ever! We rode like this for what felt like an eternity. I couldn't say how long it really was, but what still fascinates me extremely is that it took the slightest signal from us to stop our horses again. They didn't even hesitate for a moment and stopped perfectly despite the full-speed. Afterwards, we were all high from the adrenaline rush and the happiest girls out there far and wide. And we had also gained some distance from the storm.

Actually the whole ride consisted of one highlight following the next. Every time we thought it couldn't get any better, we experienced another overwhelming moment. For me, this ride was one of the most special, emotional and impressive rides I have ever taken part in and I am therefore extremely happy that the Discovery Ride was a complete success and that it will now take place again from 18 to 28 November 2024. The 2024 ride in Namibia is not hosted by Hooves, but by Gross Okandjou themselves. The price for this trip is 3750 EU. Please email me on for more information and to sign up!

Horses and riders in a storm in the desert
explore more

Inspiring destinations