A Quad Biking Tour in Namibia

July 24, 2015 by

Action, Adventure & Adrenaline, Middle East & Africa, Places to Go, Things to Do

On a quad bike tour of the Namib Desert

On a quad bike tour of the Namib Desert

Piled high against the shores of the Atlantic Ocean are the golden red sands of the Namib Desert. Between the towns of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, a massive dune field backs the seaside. While on the coast of Namibia, we found time to jump on off-road bikes as part of a quad bike tour of the Namib Desert and explore this beautiful part of the country. On the tour we got to see how the Topnaar tribe lives in the desert, visit an ancient burial site, see centuries-old petrified footprints and have some fun carving up the massive sand dunes.

First we stopped in the garage to get geared up for our adventure. We strapped on helmets and safety gear and, after a quick briefing, were off into the sand. Just a few hundred meters from the sea lies a rolling ocean of sand. The landscape is filled with sand swells stretching further than the eye can see. There is something starkly beautiful about the golden red dunes.

Learning about survival in the Namib Desert

Learning about survival in the Namib Desert

After riding for a short while, we came upon the house of a local man belonging to the Topnaar tribe. Our guide introduced us and the man explained how his people live and have lived in the Namib Desert for many generations. They have learned to survive in this harsh environment. He took us to a patch of sand and showed us how the tribe is able to extract drinking water from it using a simple bucket system. Being close to the sea, water flows just under the sand, and if you know what to look for you can dig just a few feet and find fresh water.

Nara fruit

Precious Nara fruit

Our Topnaar tribesman showed us the fruit that is the lifeblood of the desert, the Nara fruit. Every living thing in this part of the desert relies on Nara fruit to survive. The Topnaar people compete with jackals, springboks and other animals for the pumpkin-like fruits, which provide seeds to eat as well as a meaty pulp for carbohydrates. He had a few pieces to share with us. The seeds and meat weren’t too bad, but the branches were not to my taste–the branches hold water, but I wouldn’t recommend them unless you’re really thirsty in the desert! Soon it was time for us to jump back on the quad bikes to our next destination in the sand.

An ancient burial ground

An ancient burial ground

We rode across another handful of large dunes until we came to a spot with a few white objects poking out of the sand. As we got closer we could see the objects were bones. We jumped off our bikes and our guide explained that this was an ancient burial ground. He talked about the burial practices and traditions of the people who used to live in this area. Adjacent to the burial ground we came across a large plane between dunes where a field of mud had turned to stone. Trapped forever are footprints of elephants, buffalos, even humans. These animals are no longer found in this area so it’s an important place of study for scientists. It was amazing to stand next to footprints that were cast several hundred years ago.

Riding on the dunes

Riding on the dunes

Back on the bikes after our interesting lesson in history, it was time to just ride. Toward the end, we went away from the archeology sites to the wide open dune fields to have some fun. Our guide took us up and down massive dunes and showed us how to ride down their steep sides. It was the perfect way to end our time in the desert.

We rode back to the garage over picturesque plots of sand, with the ocean in the distance. Riding quad bikes on these amazing dunes should not be missed when visiting Walvis Bay or Swakopmund, Namibia.

Contributed by Hannah Lukaszewicz

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