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The Best Places To Ride In Namibia - Swakopmund

The Dunes

Slow time spent riding, running and swimming around Swakopmund and up the deserted coastal highway, plus visiting the town’s museums and spectacular gemstone Kristall Gallery,

had me falling for its gentle charm, but a fat bike ride into the world’s oldest dune

biome is what stole a piece of my proudly African heart forever.

On a tour led by Swakopmund Fat Bike Tours, and accompanied by Austrian pro triathlete Tanja Strosjneider and her partner, coach and pro photographer, Wilhelm Lilge, we set off into what we did not expect to be much more than a novelty ride. How wrong we turned out to be!

The thrill of cycling up and down Namibia’s famous dunes on a fat bike, combined with the fascinating discovery of an unseen world beneath our feet, was intoxicating. Taking in the silence and breathtaking scenery of the oldest desert in the world in the most ecological way

– where there’s no pollution, no roads or buildings, nor even other humans, just pristine nature as far as the eye can see – with the cool coastal breeze in your face is pure poetry to an adventure-loving rider.

The trip starts in Swakopmund where you mount a fat bike that can travel over sandy terrain. They’re eco-friendly with tracks even shallower than footprints. Set off with your guide following a deep, time-carved, rock-lined riverbed into the deep desert beyond. It was an amazing sensation rolling over countless red and yellow dunes, some steep and almost

endless like a rollercoaster ride, all the while learning about the biome that lies

just 2km outside of Swakopmund. On seemingly deserted sand dunes, our guide revealed tiny plants, lichens and all sorts of living creatures – from birds, snakes, beetles, spiders, geckos, legless skinks and even a Namakwa chameleon to the tracks and burrows of nocturnal animals. Some riders have been fortunate to see a roaming desert elephant. The incredible square and triangular shapes created when our guide drew a magnet along the sand, with its plentiful magnetite content, provided a sense of wonder that our astonishing planet must have been created by a higher power.

The superb circular route through the desert finishes off with a fun stretch along the low tide beach where the black snaking road hugs the blue sea and steep yellow dunes to Walvis Bay airport. Cycle leisurely through rolling dunes, soak up the views and stop to photograph the scenery. You can see back down to Swakopmund across the Atlantic, with the never-ending sands of the Namib Desert stretching in the other direction. You’ve got the contrast of the

yellow, orange and even black dunes, all set against the blue sky. Namib means ‘vast place’ in the local Nama language, which perfectly describes the view and why this seemingly boring tract of ancient land gets under your skin. – Paul Ingpen


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