Andrew Gilles is the consummate professional when it comes to guiding and hosting guests on our Namib desert rides. You could probably call him an adrenaline junkie, but it was his love for adventure and his passion for nature that saw him become the one thing that would allow him to pursue both – a safari guide! Andrew has now been guiding horseback safaris for over fifteen years and it’s his experience as a horseman along with his philosophy of ‘reserving the element of surprise’ in everything he does, that truly puts the cherry on top of any horse riding adventure. Let’s find out more!
How long have you been guiding in Namibia? And what was the background, history, reason for starting?
I have been guiding since 1989 and doing horseback safaris since 1992. It was the obvious combination of my love of horses, conservation and adventure. It also doesn’t hurt that I enjoy people.
How many guest horses do you have?
We have 120 horses in various stages of schooling from unstarted to schoolmasters.
Describe your herd of horses in four words:
Brave, generous, surefooted and hardy
What is the philosophy or ethos behind your horse riding experiences?
Fun-filled, informative adventures in the harsh rugged beauty of the Namib desert which will create memories and a sense of achievement for life.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the indescribable feeling of freedom you get from thundering across an ancient desert plain with curious zebra joining in and loose horses galloping along and guests whooping it up.
What is the most challenging part?
I guess keeping all the wheels in the cog behind the scenes – rolling in a mobile safari operation while meeting all the guests expectations of a hot shower every night and ice in the gin and tonic.
Why should globetrotters sign up for this ride?
Because it’s the most fun you can legally have and you will be changed or moved by the experience of crossing the oldest desert in the world on a horse, getting to places otherwise inaccessible by foot or vehicle.
A tip that every globetrotter must know before signing up for this ride:
This isn’t a pony ride. It’s probably the toughest commercially run ride available and you may need to push your boundaries a bit.
Finish this sentence: Don’t leave home without…
Your sense of humour. Your passport, insurance details, hat etc are all important, but mostly your sense of humour.
What has been the most memorable or significant moment of your guiding career?
I can’t narrow it down to only one!
Awesome game experiences, like up close and personal with desert adapted black rhino and elephant; seeing the sense of achievement that guests get from completing our rides and the changes they undergo, like divorce or a change in jobs, but mostly a positive transformation since the desert gives one time and space for contemplation; bonding with my horses and seeing how they grow and learn after each safari; truly getting to experience the spirit of the horse.
Don’t forget globetrotters, if you’re keen for an adventure with Andrew, check out our Namibia rides – a wonderful adventure awaits!