Namibia is a country of hidden gems, and the deeper you dig the more you find. We asked local mountain bikers to share their best trails with us, and came up with a gleaming horde of diverse rides.
Namibia is an acquired taste. Having spent a brief, forgettable time on the Angolan border in the 1980s, ridden a remote race down south in Mariental in the 90s, and done two overnight Desert Dashes in the early 2000s, my memories were dust-clouded by sandy
desolation. I hadn’t felt the unique magic so often described by native Namibians – until my most recent trip to the coastal hamlet of Swakopmund, where I was MC for an African Cup event. I enjoyed a scenic three-hour drive down to the coastal desert lowlands from the grassy game reserves of the high eastern plateau around Windhoek – especially rewarding given my two previous trips by bike along this route were by night with very little scenery visible.
Riding a fatbike in the dunes stole my proudly African heart, and I was determined to find out more about the trails in this vast country that borders ours. It has a relatively tiny population of 2.5 million, yet so many top riders have emerged from its wilderness. Rio Olympian Dan Craven (grandson of the rugby legend), Wines2Whales winner and Commonwealth Games medallist Vera Looser, 36One record holder Drikus Coetzee and,
most recently, fast-rising star Alex Miller are examples of big engines with humble heads
who hail from Namiba.
If I could only go back to one place in the country, I’d choose the coastal dunes around Swakopmund, but as we discovered when we reached out to locals, there are plenty of other special places to explore on two wheels.
Given the vast distances, we’d suggest you choose a region and explore all it has two offer. Many farms are opening up trails to the general public, and Windhoek has a world-class track on its doorstep. – Paul Ingpen
We go over some of these trails in depth in the Summer edition of Mountain Bike Magazine, available now from local stockists.