Damara Elephant Trail

Namibia Namibia: (PG-NADT)
URL: http://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/namibia_damaraland_skeleton_coast_riding_tour.aspx

Introduction
Namibia Namibia

Damaraland is a very spectacular part of the country, almost inaccessible, with amazing colours and vast open spaces that will blow your mind, ancient craters and remnants from prehistoric times, not to mention the forbidding Skeleton Coast. This is the quintessential ride for those who can identify with escaping day-to-day city life and becoming one with a horse in the wilderness. The ride begins in northern Damaraland - wild, desolate, sparsely inhabited and breathtakingly beautiful, challenging horses and riders across vast, ancient flood plains and through deep, silent canyons, across a great desert to a hostile coast. In a waterless land, you’ll come to understand the challenges of the terrain and the environment. Riding between 20 and 50 km per day at all paces, the ride covers approximately 290 km to the Atlantic Ocean’s Skeleton Coast over 11 days.

For the intrepid adventurer who seeks out the last of earth’s true wildernesses, this is truly an exceptional riding experience.

On this journey, you'll encounter ancient Namibia - Petroglyphs and rock art, thousands of years old, that depict great hunts, animals and the locations of sub-terrestrial water. Once the pathways of mighty glaciers, boulder strew flood plains give way to soft grass covered valleys trimmed by gentle sand dunes, watched over by range upon range of purple hued mountains - a true wilderness. ...and then, to the sea and the endless beach where the flotsam and jetsam tell a story of a wild sea on a wild coast! The cold Benguela current brings cool, plankton and fish-rich waters all the way from Antarctica and moderates the temperatures in the region - but this is a Namibian story for another time!

Unique Attractions
- Twyfelfontein rock engravings & cultural village
- Dramatic landscapes
- Real wilderness area

Accomodation


Accommodations
This is a wilderness ride, so you will be staying in a mixture of lodges and camping.

Description
You will be staying in a lodge for 2 nights and camp for 8 nights. Lodges are subject to changes based on availability. Consider yourself ‘unplugged’ while on safari – cell-phone reception is minimal at best and internet not at all except in cities and larger towns. Water is a very precious commodity in a desert, so while it is possible to rinse a few smalls things on safari, only lodges and hotels have laundry service.

Night 1: Lodge in Windhoek
Night 2 & 3: Camping in Aba Huab
Night 4 - 7: Camping along Huab River
Night 8 & 9: Camping in Namib Plains
Night 10: Lodge in Henties Bay


Lodge in Windhoek 
The main lodge building comprises a dining room, a centrally situated bar, a lounge with fireplace, a conference room and a boardroom. Nestled outside, between the lounge and dining area, is the pool (great for swimming lengths – it really is quite long!) The elevated wooden deck offers a fairytale view of Windhoek. The Lodge and the rooms have been designed to emulate old German farm houses – think ‘stoep’ with ‘afdakkie’ and pots of geraniums. The 20 guest chalets consist of 14 twin chalets and 6 double chalets (all chalets have ensuite bathrooms with showers, toilets, and basins). Two of the chalets have been designed with honeymooners in mind and have baths instead of showers. All rooms have feather duvets wrapped in 100% cotton, environmentally friendly guest amenities, and unparalleled service and hospitality. 6 chalets offer views of Windhoek and 14 face east offering superb sunrise views of the Moltkeblick Mountain. You'll also have WIFI available.


Camping
While we do provide tents if needed, generally guests sleep out under the stars on cozy cots with bedding. The cots have bedrolls consisting of an insulating mattress, duck-down double duvet, and pillow - can zip up and has a waterproof cover. Hot bucket showers and chemical loos travel along with us - we endeavor to provide a shower every night but if water is scarce, one night might be shower-less.

Room Occupancy
Single supplement is waived if you are willing to share.


Meals
All meals are included from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on the last day. Breakfast is typically porridge or cereal, coffee or tea and a hot dish. On days we are able to meet up with the supply trucks a light lunch is served, where this is not possible, sandwiches are enjoyed under a shady tree. Dinner is a delight of typically Namibian fare; wild Game, free-range beef or Karoo mutton served as braai (grilled over an open fire) or potjie (pot casserole) with vegetables and a surprise dessert also made on the open fire. Tea, coffee, and juice are always available in camp with chilled drinks, beer, wine, etc. available in the evenings. All drinks are included in the cost whilst on the ride. Only drinks at the first night lodges, guest farms, restaurants, and petrol stations while en-route are not included in the package rate.

Dietary Restrictions
We can easily cater to vegetarians. We cannot fully cater to vegans, so please supply your own snacks.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Riding Level
Don't underestimate the physical toll living outside take on you- come very fit! You need to be balanced in the saddle and stay off your horse's back without having to hang onto their mouth at all paces. You need to be able to post trot. If you do not ride regularly (2 - 3 times a week), we strongly recommend that you get into practice before joining one of our challenging safaris. This is a challenging ride suitable to confident intermediate riders. Please note we reserve the right to prevent anyone from riding if we feel they do not fulfill the minimum competence level as indicated or if weight and fitness level do not fall within that recommended for these challenging safaris.

Pace
You will ride in the morning for 4-5 hours, have a lunch break for 1-2 hours, and then continue riding for another 2-3 hours, totaling around 6-8 hours per day in the saddle for 7 days. You will cover 20-60km per day at all paces and over rough terrain. Other days may be less.  Pace depends on the terrain and temperatures as well as on fitness and weight of riders with walk, trot, canter and gallop.  Because Namibia has such wide-open spaces it is possible to accommodate up to 15 riders on most trails plus 2 - 3 riding guides.

Horses
Your horse will be chosen from a mixed herd of many breeds i.e. Arab, Haflinger, Trakehner, ranch horses, they are small to medium-sized (14.3 to almost 16 hands) sure-footed horses raised on rough terrain, some of them with experience in endurance riding, and every one of them a kind, reliable companion that deserves the very best treatment and care.

Tack 
We use skirted endurance type saddles best suited for the comfort of horse and rider as well as the rough terrain. Each saddle is fitted with two specially made water bottle holders with water bottles supplied. If you normally ride with a sheepskin bumnah you may bring your own (western shaped). Each rider is responsible for grooming, regularly checking over, and tacking up their own horse (assistance is given when required). It is this experience which cements the bond between you and the horse you must rely on to carry you across the desert.

Weight Limit 
We have a strict weight limit of 85 kg dressed in your riding gear – fit riders heavier than this will need to hire a 2nd horse.
Fit riders over 85kg (187 lbs) -- please enquire about surcharges for additional horse/ s

Children
Experienced children riders who are accompanied by their parents are welcome – but please remember that these rides can be quite strenuous – so parents must use their judgment as to whether their children are suitable. Anyone unable to keep up with the group may have to travel in the support vehicle at some times. Non-riding companions are also welcome to join the trip and travel with the trucks.

Conditions
Your safety and enjoyment are of paramount importance to us while you are our guest. Every precaution is taken to ensure this and we ask you to give the following your earnest consideration, before booking.
- Guests must comply with the physical fitness and riding competency stipulated for the individual rides.
- A weight limit of 85kg, when dressed in riding gear, applies. The tour operator reserves the right to rest horses during the ride if so required. 
- Medical insurance (mandatory) should include coverage for emergency air evacuation.
- Hard hats are obligatory, unless medical insurers acknowledge that you will still be insured, should you choose not to wear a hard hat. 
- Routes are subject to change without notice, should prevailing weather or terrain conditions demand.
- Please alert us to any personal medical condition, allergies included and ensure you have all essential personal medication before arriving in Windhoek.
- Please advise before booking if you have particular dietary requirements. We will do our best to accommodate you.
 

Itinerary

Sample Itinerary- subject to changes

Days begin at sunrise with the delightful aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting through camp followed by breakfast; departure is generally by 8am with 4 – 5 hours riding before lunch. Lunch breaks are an hour to 2 hours followed by another 2 – 3 hours riding in the afternoon.

Day 1: Arrival
Arrive Windhoek’s Hosea Kutako Airport – preferably by 17:00, overnight Windhoek

Day 2: Windhoek to Twyfelfontein
After an early breakfast next day, we journey north (about a 7-hour transfer including a lunch stop en route) through some spectacular Namibian landscapes to our camp at Twyfelfontein (Doubtful spring) where you will meet the horses and crew. Overnight Aba Huab camp.

Days 3: Huab
Your first ride is in the Aba Huab watershed, where good going invites a few brisk canters, allows you to get more acquainted with your horse and the terrain. We return to camp for lunch after which we visit the San Rock Engravings ending with a sundowner with a panoramic view of this wild magnificence. Overnight Aba Huab camp.

Days 4, 5, 6, & 7: Huab + Ugab River systems
With the rising sun at our backs, we begin our westward journey to the distant Atlantic. In these ephemeral river systems the cycles of rainfall dictate the seasonal movement of game which is not concentrated, but we can encounter Elephants, Rhino, Oryx, Springbok, and other desert-adapted game. Here huge glacial valleys, impressive Tableland mountains, exhumed by erosion, and folds and fractures resulting from cataclysmic eruptions present a well preserved snapshots of a land of great antiquity.

Days 8, 9, & 10: The Great Plains
Leaving the river valleys we now cross the vastness of open plains with the striking massive of the Brandberg (burning mountain) forming a dramatic backdrop. Here endless plains allow for some fast-paced riding as we approach the dramatic Messum Caldera, the eroded remains of a massive collapsed volcano. Our last ride takes us to the ocean at last - the spectacularly formidable Skeleton Coast, apparently so called for the wrecked hulks of stranded ships which dot this coastline. The cold upwelling Benguela Current results in some diverse weather conditions from hot desert easterlies to cold south Atlantic westerly’s – a place of extremes! We overnight in the small coastal town of Henties Bay in a private house with the most spectacular view over the Atlantic Ocean. Our last meal together is freshly caught Atlantic Fish done to perfection over the coals.

Day 11: Departure
Departure for Windhoek Airport, arriving in time for flights departing after 15:00 (recommended is SA 77 to Johannesburg or Air Namibia’s late flight direct to Frankfurt).  There are many other options of course.


Rates and Dates for Damara Elephant Trail

Rates include:

All accommodations (8 nights camping and 2 nights lodge) and meals, drinks in camp, 7.5 riding days, half day sightseeing, transfers, sightseeing of the Twyfelfontein Rock Engravings

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescriptionGBP ~US$
    A
    201911 day trip, AP£4515$6050
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.34
Minimum Deposit: ~$50.00 per person

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:



 DescriptionGBP~US$
2019 Transfer from/to Windhoek Airport included £ 0 $0
2019 Single supplement £ 225 $305
2019 Over 85 kg (extra horse charge) £ 935 $1,255

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
A 2019 06/21 - 07/01 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP 4 /15 Sold Out
A 2019 07/12 - 07/22 11d / 10n 11 day trip, AP 4 /15 Reserve

Dates Note:

Rates do not include:

Bottled and canned drinks; souvenirs; tips for local guides and crew;

Other Info
Meeting: Windhoek
Airport: Windhoek
Transfer: Windhoek airport

Climate:


Swakopmund area

Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

71

71

71

71

70

70

68

65

64

65

67

69

Average Low Temperature (°F)

59

60

58

56

53

52

50

49

50

52

54

57

Average High Temperature (°C)

22

22

22

22

21

21

20

18

18

18

19

20

Average Low Temperature (°C)

15

15

15

13

12

11

10

9

10

11

12

14

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Source: NOAA

 

Seasons
This is Africa and the climate reflects it. But just as Namibia is filled with contrasting geography, equivalent climactic differences do apply depending on your location.
Partially covered by the Namib, one of the world's driest deserts, Namibia's climate is generally very dry and pleasant. The cold Benguella current keeps the coast cool, damp and free of rain for most of the year (when it does rain it is between October and April). Inland, all the rain falls in summer (November to April). January and February are hot, but nights are usually cool. Winter nights can be fairly cold, but days are generally warm and quite nice.

Keep in mind that temperatures vary hugely seasonally and geographically – coastal areas much cooler than inland, often subject to fog (10 – 20 degrees Celsius).  Day and night temperatures, particularly in winter, vary dramatically (below zero to 30’s).  Weather in desert is always highly variable and unpredictable – come prepared to all weather – layering is key to living in a desert.
The bottom line: Namibia is a year-round destination. Just pack accordingly.

An excellent weather report reference can be found on:
www.yr.no/place/Namibia

What To Bring:
What to Bring
Place all items in soft luggage, well labeled, and split into 2 bags if over 15kg- lots of pockets help with organizing.

- Light-weight riding hat (recommended - it may be a condition of your insurance, please check)
- A wide-brimmed sun hat with strap or baseball cap
- Light-weight riding shoes/jodhpur boots and comfortable shoes for in camp. 
- Sunglasses on a string plus spare, wrap-around sort if you wear contact lenses
- Bandana/buff to help protect from sun and dust
- Comfortable clothes to ride in including jodhpurs/long trousers and chaps, long sleeved cotton shirts, jersey or long sleeved fleece, sleeveless fleece with pockets
- Lightweight waterproof/windbreaker jacket. Layering is key as temperatures fluctuate during day
- Warm clothes for evenings and to sleep in including a woolly hat (beanie) socks and gloves
- Underwear and socks (men might like to consider cycling shorts)
- Shorts, t-shirts, sarong, flip-flops, comfortable clothes to wear around camp and showers
- Sunblock, lip balm/chap stick
- A towel,  personal toiletries and mosquito repellent. 
- Personal meds including “second skin” plasters to protect areas of skin that might chafe, antihistamine and antiseptic cream, eye-drops. Anyone with chronic medical conditions should discuss medication with their doctor
- Head torch, camera spare batteries, memory card
- Although we provide a warm down-filled bedroll, you may want to add your own fleece or silk lining if you get cold
- Sweets to suck between canters
- A good sense of humour! ​