Wild Horses of Namibia: A feral existence of the equestrian kind

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February 17, 2011

To every human there comes a time when we want nothing more than to break free of the shackles of modern living… to take off our shoes and run barefoot through the sands of some exotic destination.

With all the hoo-ha of the World Cup soccer, traffic jams, overcrowded venues and high prices, a number of South African travellers fled to the Namib Desert in search of just that. They found what they were looking for at the aptly named “Klein Aus Vista” lodge. It has sand and is very exotic, but perhaps not the place for bare feet. With daytime temperatures exceeding 40 degrees, even the birds take shelter under desert shrubs. A barren desert landscape with scarce vegetation and hardly a drop of water, hell on earth perhaps for some, but there is an animal that has made this savage hot fryer its home, The Wild Horse of Namibia.

Originally there were no horses in Southern Africa. They were first imported by Europeans in the 17th century for use in transport, sport and even war. There is much debate as to how these rogue outlaws of the horse clan escaped domestic life, but what is known is that they have successfully adopted a feral existence, not unlike the “Mustangs” of North America. They are the “Namibs”.

Early mornings and late afternoons are the best time to view the horses at the local waterhole, as midday temperatures can be unbearable. There is something to be said for spending time with a once domestic animal that has perfected the art of freedom. At sunset a graceful dance of chocolate brown coats and rippled muscles, sets a freewheeling mood that soon rubs off on even the most uptight of city slickers, transforming thoughts and liberating dreams.

There are many threats to the existence of these horses: water and food shortages as well as the danger of being knocked over on the main road between Aus and Luderitz. Yet somehow they have survived. Perhaps it is a chance for us all to sit and take stock, even if just for a couple of days to reconnect with our ancient free spirit, perhaps then we too can run free without a care in the world.

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