A JOURNEY ACROSS THE NAMIB DESERT TO THE SKELETON COAST BY FOOT AND FAT-BIKE TO REACH THE MOST FAMOUS SHIPWRECK ON EARTH…
In the ancient expanse of the Namib Naukluft desert, endless skies merge with towering dunes for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Nothing else. Just sand and sky. And then at the coast, the Atlantic breakers come crashing onto the shore amid colonies of 1000s of seals, rolling in on the cold seas of the Benguela Current all the way from Antarctica.
3 - 10 NOV / 2024
1 - 8 NOV/ 2026
124 MILES (200 KM) ON FOOT OR BIKE
HOTEL AND CAMPING
8 DAYS /
DIFFICULTY RATING: CAN I DO THIS?
Absolutely. This adventure is perfect for hikers looking for a new challenge!
7 nights accommodation (hotel and camping)
All meals included as standard, at hotels and in camp, cooked up by our expert catering crew
GUIDES AND SUPPORT
Professional 4x4 support vehicles, bike mechanic, desert guides, safety staff, medical and welfare
High quality medal, rat rag and premium t-shirt for all participants.
Flexible transfer policy.
Fat bike hire and associated equipment included.
Professional local and UK safety staff, medics, drivers, route safety staff and Rat Race experts on hand throughout. Audited and accredited to BS8848 expedition safety standard.
RAISE £5000 AND GET UP TO £2500 REFUNDED
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT OUR CHARITY PARTNERSHIP HERE
An utterly stunning, unique desert adventure in one of the most remote places on earth. Namibia means Vast Place.
The sand dunes of the Namib Desert and the famous Skeleton Coast are perhaps 2 of the most photographed landscapes in the World – in equal part alluring, evocative, mysterious and foreboding. In the ancient expanse of the Namib Naukluft desert, endless skies merge with towering dunes for hundreds and hundreds of miles. It is here our journey unfolds, 200km on foot or 300km by fat bike and foot in our fully supported crossing of the Namib to the eerie Eduard Bohlen shipwreck
DAY ONE: SUNDAY
Arrive in Windhoek airport. Transfer from airport to our luxury desert camp accommodation.
DAY TWO: MONDAY
Enjoy the surroundings of your stunning desert camp setting. Today’s schedule will also include briefings, a kit check plus opportunities to be sized for and trial your fat bikes. Another night accommodated in the camp and then it’s off into the desert.
DAY THREE: TUESDAY / RACE TO THE WRECK BEGINS!
MULTISPORT: Cover 90km on fat bikes over gravel roads through the Khomas Hochland region, roughly paralleling the course of the Kuiseb River through rough, mountainous desert country to our overnight tented camp. Enjoy hot showers, braai, beers and vast starry skies.
RUN/HIKE: Cover 50km on foot over gravel plains, rusty red dunes and rolling sand until you near the Kuiseb River and our overnight tented camp. Enjoy hot showers, braai, beers and vast starry skies.
DAY FOUR: WEDNESDAY
MULTISPORT: Day 2 sees an early start to cover a massive 110km on the fat bikes, now descending into the sandy dry river bed of the Kuiseb itself and its towering gorges and really feeling the rhythm of that fat bike in the sand. Today we will reach the home of the Top’naa people at Homeb. From here you can literally touch the massive dunes of the Namib Naukluft, which tower above your overnight camp in the cool river bed.
RUN/HIKE: As the dunes get bigger you’ll rack up another 50km as you run towards the jawdropping canyon of the Kuiseb River before descending into it via an adrenaline filled dune drop off. Surrounded by towering gorges you’ll work your way to our canyon camp which are shouldered by the massive dunes of the Namib Naukluft which will tower above you.
DAY FIVE: THURSDAY
Day 3 sees the transition to foot for the Multisport participants as we merge onto the same course for a massive 40km day (approx) as you get a taste of the dunes this area is so famous for before reaching our stunning overnight desert camp.
DAY SIX: FRIDAY
Be ready for Day 4, with over 9000ft of ascent packed into this 43km section it’s an exhilarating and exhaustingly long day on foot over another marathon’s worth of sandy terrain. Taking on over 21 dune formations will test you to the limit but the views are well worth it. The Day 4 camp will sit amongst these sand mountains in a truly spectacular setting.
DAY SEVEN: SATURDAY
The final 20km and the exit from the dune awaits you on Saturday morning, as you hit the coast you will also take in some of the abandoned mining settlements around Conception Bay. By lunch time Rat Racers will reach their incredible destination – the Eduard Bohlen where a celebratory lunch and a cold beer will be waiting in its shadow. Once everyone is in we’ll be extracting you via our brilliant 4×4 excursion down the coast and over the dunes back to the afterparty in Walvis bay.
DAY EIGHT: SUNDAY
Transfer for those who want it back to Windhoek or to Walvis Bay Airport. OR hang around and enjoy Walvis Bay.
*NOTE THAT TIMINGS AND ITINERARIES ARE APPROX AND MAY CHANGE
Upon arrival and transfer from the airport at Windhoek or Walvis Bay, you will spend your first 2 nights at a luxury desert camp. Accommodation will be based on 2 sharing (doubles and twins available). Limited singles (with supplement fee) are available on request.
This is the essence of the Namib experience and we will pride ourselves on the quality and ambience of these campsites. Ride or run into camp and enjoy a night under a desert sky filled with stars, a good hot plate of food, a roaring fire and (at some, a hot shower too). The latter certainly is a real luxury that no other outfitter of such events provides. We will provide tents, roll mats, toilets, showers (at 2 of the 4 camps) full catering service. There will also be the “Wrecked” on-site bar, limited WiFi facility and satcomms for those who wish to call home. Medical facilities, bike mechanics and other event services will also feature.
The final night of your adventure, we will be laying on 4-star hotel accommodation in Walvis Bay, full slap-up buffet, drinks and presentation of medals, mementos and awards.
All meals included during our itinerary. Including hot and cold options for breakfast, hot dinner and pit stop provision when out on the course. Soft drinks, squash and water are provided with all meals (or similar). Hot drinks are provided at breakfast also. Meat will feature heavily but a vegetarian option will always be provided.
There are no participant cooking facilities provided at the camps so if you do wish to cook your own food, you may do so with a small private stove, which we will transport for you with the rest of your gear.
We will offer savoury and sweet snacks and water will be provided at the designated pit stops.
Please note that the provision whilst on the route does not consist of ‘full meals’ and will be more snack-based grab n’ go options, to reflect the journey being undertaken. We would also advise that if you have sports nutrition products that you know work for you, please bring them with you. See below for information on gluten-free and vegan provision.
Gluten-free, Vegan or other dietary requirements: Gluten-free and Vegan provision will be made at the pit stops and desert camps; although if you have food intolerances please do ensure you check with us on our provision as you may need to augment with your own supplies in the desert camps. Please contact us in advance with any specific dietary requirement questions well in advance – on booking you will be asked to list dietary requirements.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Quite simply, you can expect a campsite experience that will blow your mind. All of these sites are in stunning desert locations. The locations are remote but the level of facility is high. Calling these campsite moments life-affirming or life-changing experiences, alongside the clear epic nature of the challenge itself, is no cliché. The camps are extremely well appointed, but are of course still camp sites. You will supply your own sleeping bags and we supply the rest – tents, toilets, showers (not all sites) and food and drinks. It is all laid on. We even have a bar!
WHAT ARE THE FACILITIES?
The camps will be laid out with your pre-pitched tents, with your overnight bags in your designated tent. You will sleep 2 per tent. There will be a central cooking point and food will be served in the evening and the morning from here, together with hot and cold drinks. Our bar will be open for the purchase of alcoholic drinks each night also, for a few sun-downers in the desert. You’ll find medical services, admin services, toilets cubicles and tents (long-drops or thunder boxes) and showers at some of the locations.
The date-range is set and the route is tried and tested. However, our challenges unfold in some of the most spectacular places on Earth. Sometimes we do have to change plans on account of weather or other unforeseen factors. If we do have to do so, you will be informed and usually, these unforeseen changes simply add to the flavour of proceedings and provide for a good story to tell at day’s end! That having been said, our route is likely to remain largely intact, regardless of any on-the-ground changes.
Click ‘Buy Event Voucher’ and go through the sign-up process, you’ll then be issued with an event voucher which will automatically reserve you a place in the event you have chosen.
Rat Race require you to be over 18 on the day of Registration for this adventure. If you wish to participate as a family group or with a responsible adult and you are 16+, we will consider applications on an individual basis. Please contact us if this is the case.
Getting to the start line is important and we are there to help you as best we can. However, if you feel on reflection that it is just not your time yet, we do have a transfer system that you can use to transfer out, receive Rat Race credit and come back again next year or do something else. Credit is typically valid for 12 months and there is a fee to be paid for transferring out in this way. We want to be really clear that this option is there for you if you need it, but it does have a deadline. View our full terms and conditions here.
The latest kit list will be sent to you before the event within the Essential Event Information Document.
Of course. If you run for Children with Cancer UK and raise the target amount for this event per person, we will refund your entry fee up to the amount of £2500. You are of course more than welcome to fundraise for any cause close to your heart.
Yes, you can. We welcome support on almost all of our events and if you do decide you want to come and work with us, we will make sure we look after you. Click here to find out more about volunteering for Rat Race.
We’ve put together a fantastic new instalment plan that allows you to choose how many months you want to spread the cost of this brilliant adventure over. You can pay it off all in one go or spread it over as many months as you like, totally interest free. There is no credit check required to use this facility. When you sign up to the instalment plan Rat Race will then set up a reoccurring payment and your card will be debited on the same date each month. If there is an error with your payment you will receive reminders from Stripe, our payment provider, and also the Rat Race customer service team. After 3 attempts to contact you if the outstanding balance remains unpaid we will assume you wish to cancel your entry and will withdraw you from the event and you will not be eligible to enter our transfer process and no monies will be refunded.
Add Refund Protect to your booking during purchase and receive a full refund of your entry fee if you are unable to attend the event due to a qualifying unforeseen circumstance. PLEASE NOTE this protection is with our 3rd party partner Refund Protect and NOT Rat Race. In the event you make a refund application this is administered by the Refund Protect customer service team, Rat Race are not privy to the application and cannot intervene on your behalf to influence the outcome determined by their team.
To check the full list of qualifying unforeseen circumstances that are protected please click here to view Refund Protect terms and conditions.
To add Refund Protect (administered by a 3rd party) to your Rat Race booking simply select this option when presented during the entry process. Refund Protect cannot be added retrospectively. Rat Race will then send you name and booking details to Refund Protect in order to protect your transaction with them. If you opt to pay in instalments and transfer your entry before the entry cost is full paid you will be liable to ensure the cost of Refund Protect has been fully covered. This total amount will be deducted from any Rat Race credit due through the transfer process or you will be invoiced by Rat Race for the outstanding amount as Rat Race have paid this on your behalf to Refund Protect at point of entry.
Yes. You need a decent travel policy covering you for general travel and which covers participation in outdoor sports. You will also need what is called an Evacuation Insurance Policy, which is for if we need to send you back to the closest city for urgent medical attention via a helicopter or similar. We also recommend you have this in place as soon as you enter this event and that if you book flights, we highly recommend booking a flexible option for any last-minute changes you might need to make or to ensure you have maximum flexibility if you cannot attend for any reason.
Travel insurance is compulsory for our events, so please make sure your insurance policy covers the activities you will be participating in. There are a number of specialist providers available including Mann Broadbent.
Once you’ve signed up, you will receive a confirmation email. After that, you will be kept in the loop closer to the event when we will send out our Essential Event Information approximately 12 weeks ahead of the event, detailing the full itinerary, what you need to bring and other important information relating to the specific event you have signed up for. We will also host webinars which you will be invited to (again, closer to the event), where you will have the opportunity to ask questions and go through your kit. There will be a final email one month ahead of the event, just to check you’ve completed all the important forms and are ready for the event ahead.
If you have chosen to pay in instalments, we will also get in touch with you if any of your payments have been missed.
Rat Race have been audited and accredited to the prestigious BS8848 expedition safety standard.
We have firm emergency protocols and response systems in place whilst out on our adventures. Our main priority above all else is to keep you and our staff safe. Before we leave for each trip a comprehensive in-country risk and threat assessment has been conducted by the Head of Expeditions. All protocols are put in place relating to those assessments. We make sure that the staff involved have the highest level of first aid training; a higher level of medical cover is also put in place if needed; all instructors have qualifications and/ or competencies to match the adventure we will undertake. In the event of an emergency, Rat Race staff and appointed contractors have comprehensive knowledge of procedures which will rapidly be put in place. If needed, our staff will provide first aid and then further medical assistance and evacuation if needed in line with a published Medical Procedures Plan. We have medical back-up and Clinical Directorship provided by a specialist events medical company and we have further emergency response support services provided by competent contracted partner. All our cover is available 24/7 while operations are underway. We use our knowledge and emergency procedures to provide the best possible care in our often remote and austere environments. Before leaving on a trip, we will advise on the insurance cover you are required to have in place for the trip; we will ask for a copy of these insurance details before the departure date.
Race entry includes a glorious finishers medal and bespoke event Rat Race tee. We will request your t-shirt size and this will be the size you will be given at Registration.
The short answer is no. The price for this event is for everything outlined on the website and it is very difficult for us to split this out. Our accommodation is based on group rates and is on a shared basis. All of our event logistics, support and organisation has been designed to have all the participants in the same locations to allow transfers, briefings etc to run smoothly and to let you bond with your fellow #ratracers! You are welcome to arrange your own accommodation if you wish but this will not result in a reduction in the event fee from us, you will also then be responsible for ensuring you are at our meeting points at the arranged time and we will not be able to transport you to and from your own accommodation, you will need to be able to do this independently.
No problem. Where we use hotels, rooms are offered on a twin / shared basis. If you wish to share with a fellow participant, you will be asked to add this information to your event participation from which we will issue you with approximately 12 weeks ahead of the event.
Unfortunately for this style of event, we cannot accommodate any supporters.
You can use it if you wish but no, you do not need one. We will provide fat bikes for participants. If you do decide you use your own, it is important to note that Day 1 does not require a fatbike (can be done on a regular mountain bike) but Day 2 definitely DOES need a fatbike. So unless you intend on using 2 different bikes (we cannot transport these, so it is not practicable) then a fatbike is the weapon of choice here.
The 2 days of biking in this format both have different characters. Day 1 is on gravel trails and roads. A mountain bike would cover this ground fine. BUT on Day 2, we are into the soft sand of the Kuiseb Riverbed system and here, a fatbike is 100% required, owing to that soft sandy terrain. A normal mountain bike would just sink into the sand and be difficult to ride. A fat bike floats over it. It’s a fantastic ride. You’ll love it.
No. This is a supported format, which means that we transport gear for you. You will need to carry a daypack, which will have food, water, emergency gear and spare clothing in it, so you will have to carry something. But not all of your kit. We will do the hard yards on your overnight supplies by carrying a bag for you from camp to camp, plus all of the camping gear. This is a large logistical operation and is part of the value offered in this very special trip.
Yes. But that’s kind of the point. It’s 200km from the nearest human beings. We will finish at the Wreck before making a spectacular 4×4 convoy return north to Walvis bay up the Skeleton Coast and across the dunes. On the way back we will pass landmarks such as the wreck of the Shawnee and Sandwich Harbour, with its enormous dunes and its flocks of pink Flamingos.
About the area
The Namib desert stretches for hundreds of miles along the coast of Namibia, reaching the swirling South Atlantic abruptly at the forbiddingly-named Skeleton Coast. We will be following the ancient Kuiseb River (which only flows about once every 5 years due to the lack of water in these parts) from its source near the Namibian capital Windhoek, to the edge of the famous Sand Dune Sea of the Namib Naukluft National Park, containing the highest sand dunes on Earth. The Naukluft is the jewel of the Namib Desert and special permission must be obtained to access it, which is only possible with rugged 4×4 vehicles. The highest sand dunes on Earth can be found here and we will be going over those dunes to reach our objective at the coast, the wreck of the Eduard Bohlen. This multi-sport crossing is a true World-first in many respects and the permissions granted for this event are truly unique. All up, a very special journey awaits into the heart of a very special piece of Africa.
It can be very hot during the say and actually quite cold at night. The desert is a land of extremes of all descriptions, weather included. It is not overbearingly hot however and the heat is very dry, making it far more manageable than humid climates with lower temperatures. One phenomenon which is unique to the coastal Namib is the fog that rolls in off the sea every morning. Aside from supporting all life-forms in this desert area, it has a cooling effect. One thing the weather is here is predictable: The fog burns off every day by mid-morning and the day heats up, before cooling down after dark.
The cold Benguela current brings a fog that shrouds the dunes of the Namib, supporting a surprising array of lifeforms. You will come across Welwitschia plants, nourished by the fog to live for over 2000 years; These truly are some of the oldest living things on Earth. Then there are the animals – oryx, jackal, seal, springbok have all adapted to this environment and especially at the coast, there is an abundance of these critters.
THE KIT LIST
Here’s a rundown. We may revise this nearer the time but this should give you a good idea at this stage.
Note: All items are mandatory, unless it says recommended, where they are, well, recommended!
Cap/hat with neck protection: Protecting your head and neck from the sun is a must. There are several variations but something like either this from My Race Kit or this from Raidlight will do the trick. The removeable neck protection function is useful, although it does not need to be removeable. You’ll want all the shade you can get on this event and this starts with your head.
Sunglasses: We advise wrap-around sports sunglasses to give you maximum field of vision and maximum sun protection. These can vary massively in price, but anything with good UV protection will be fine as long as they’re comfortable on your hot sweaty face. Cat 3 protection minimum spec.
Darren: I steer away from spending too much on glasses on these trips as you have a good chance of getting them ruined at some point.