Namibian Desert Game Reserve - Panorama

Training Run: Namibian Desert Game Reserve

While travelling through Namibia my tour group stopped for a couple of nights at a private game reserve in the desert. With our planned activities taking place in the early morning and evening to avoid the heat of the daytime we had plenty of spare time. Therefore the obvious question to ask my tour guide was whether it was safe to go for a run. Luckily the answer was yes.

Needing to return for an early dinner prior to an evening game drive I set out as late as possible in the afternoon but the temperature was still in the high 30’s. I soaked my shirt and buff before setting off and then headed into the arid landscape. The predominantly flat desert landscape was punctuated by hills formed of piles of large boulders, and I had decided to circumnavigate one of those hills.

I set off along a jeep track headed back towards the entrance of the reserve before taking a turn off that seemed to run parallel to my target hill, although about a kilometre distant. The track start to veer away from my intended destination but I stuck with it since it was easier than the off-trail running that would soon follow. Even following the sandy track was tiring work as it was quite soft in many places. Eventually I decided it was time to leave the track and to make my own path. The ground was sandy with clumps of grass as well as holes created by ground squirrels and field mice.

Namibian Desert Game Reserve - Jeep Tracks
Namibian Desert Game Reserve – Jeep Tracks

As I reached the far end of the hill I had my first game sighting when a pack of seven gemsbok ran past me at a steady pace. A few minutes later another group of more than ten gemsbok ran across my path in the same direction. It was exactly the type of behaviour that could be expected if a predator had been detected in the area but I decided not to dwell on that.

Once I reached the far side of the hill I spotted a line of trees running along a river bed that was dry at this time of year. I made my way to the tree line and started following the line of the river. With the shade and food provided by the trees I started to sight numerous animals. I spotted many herds of gemsbok, with the largest made up of around 30 animals, a few herds of springbok, a lone ostrich, and had a couple of beetles quickly scamper out of my way. I also came across a gemsbok skull in perfect condition with its two long, straight horns.

The river bed took me all the way along the far side of the hill until I could spot another hill in the distance, this one providing shade for the spot where we were camped. I broke away from the river bed, crossing towards the hill. Our camp was located behind the hill, and I decided that rather than running around it I would clamber over the boulders comprising it to reach the end of my run.

I finished with a total distance just over 15 km, and it was a great run since I had felt comfortable despite the heat and had enjoyed the landscape and animal sightings along the way.

You can check out stats from my run, and even view a map showing the remote location in which it took place at here.


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