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The Desert Horses

The Fish River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world, second only to the Grand Canyon in the USA. We were lucky enough to walk a certain part of it, a 90km section over five days. The Fish River winds itself through a semi-desert landscape deep inside the canyon walls. The hike which follows it's winding path became pathetically slow in places as we negotiated sand dunes and boulder fields. Cheekily, we spent a lot of time looking for the trail of other (guided) groups that may have picked a more direct line or found firmer sand to walk on. Most of the time we didn’t find it – if there was one at all! :-)

But every time we saw some horse shit on the ground we said to each other: "We must be right here. Only locals or guides with groups would hike the Fish River Canyon with horses" – and we nonchalantly followed the signs.

One late afternoon, when we were ready to make camp, we spotted two horses on the other side of the river. They were beautiful in the warm evening light of the sunset and turned their heads towards us watching us attentively. We were happy to see that they were free and could move up and down the river as they wished, finding the juiciest plants to munch on. Yet we asked ourselves where the owner might be as we couldn’t hear or see anyone.

About two days later our path crossed the horses again. First we thought that they must have been the same ones. But this time there were four of them, one of them a fowl. Our path took us within ten metres of them.

They looked wonderful with their dark brown fur shining in the sun, their bellies round and their mane and tail thick and full. The healthiest horses we have ever seen! We remarked that we couldn't make out any traces of saddles or heavy loads they had been wearing. Although there were no people in sight we were still sure that they must belong to a guided hike trough the Canyon.

That night we finished the hike and ended up at a lodge with a bookshop. We stumbled upon a book called "Namibias Desert Horses" and we couldn't believe to find out that a small population of these wild horses must live in the Fish River Canyon!!!

Today we were lucky to see some of the other Desert Horses of the Namib. They were coming to a waterhole not far from the main road where we passed on our way to Luederitz. As we sat in the shade of a simple shed next to the waterhole, we could take our time to study the horses intently. Even these animals dwelling on a desolate gravel plain far away from a river and plants to feed looked surprisingly well. Their remarkable story of survival in these harsh conditions is deeply impressing. A wonderful experience.

Read more about this topic at www.wild-horses-namibia.com

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