Go quad biking in the Namibian dunes
Namibia is a truly beautiful country; the modern cities are a stark contrast to the wild countryside areas in the north and the desert landscapes which cover the majority of the country. The country is almost three times the size of the UK but has a population of only a little over two million people, so there really are a lot of wild, empty landscapes to explore.
The desert areas are one of the main attractions, firstly because of their beauty but also because they are home to some of the most exciting experiences that the country has to offer. The coastal areas west of Windhoek, the capital city, attract many people who are in search of a thrill. Most of them end up staying in Swakopmund for at least a few days due to the many activities that can be found there, including sand-boarding, 4×4 off-road safaris, dirt bike riding and quad rides through the sand dunes.
There are many different companies who offer a dune riding experience, most of them can be found along the main road between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, but the most popular place is the largest dune in the area, Dune 7. This dune is located inland, just outside Walvis Bay but is easily accessed from Swakopmund. The adventure centre at Dune 7 offers a chance to get out on the dunes with an experienced rider who will guide you through the dunes, taking you along a different route depending on your experience (or sense of adventure). Most of the equipment is provided for you, which means all you have to do is turn up prepared to have a great time. However, I would definitely recommend taking sun glasses, firstly so that you can see without the glare of the sun, but also because of the sand that can be kicked up from the guides back tyres or carried in the wind. If you plan on really pushing it you should probably take a scarf to keep the sand out of your nose and mouth.
When I first arrived I was glad to sit in the café area and have a cold drink in the shade, as the temperature was in the high 30’s. While I sat there waiting for my guide to finish with another group, I sat and watched the other riders fly through the dunes, some of them on quads but there were also people riding around on dirt bikes, then a little further back in the distance there were about twenty people sand boarding down a huge dune. Sitting there watching all this going on really gets you in the mood to get out there yourself, so when my guide came to collect me I was ready to go.
We started off by running through the controls of the quad bike; this is a good idea even if you have ridden before. Once that was out of the way we got on the bikes and headed out onto the dunes. This may sound obvious, but it gets very hot out there in the desert, so I was eager to get going on the quad so that I could the benefit of the air blowing past me. The ride is amazing, it’s like riding over a roller coaster, but the sand dunes look like a rough sea turned to sand. If you are comfortable enough riding, you may be able to do a few small jumps over the steeper of the small dunes. After around thirty minutes of rushing up and down through the dunes you head back to the centre for another cold drink and a rest. I really enjoyed riding through the dunes and I would recommend it to anybody who has enough of a sense of adventure. There is no better way to see the desert than to fly around through it on a quad.
Further information and to book: Discover both sides of Namibia's scenery - from the arid desert to the fertile greenery and wildlife, on a spectacular holiday of adventure.
Article by Tony Gahegan.