Photography Ness Knight and Red Bull
‘I’ve always dreamed of exploring Namibia and climbing its iconic sand dunes,’ says Ness Knight in a Red Bull film, Open Space, documenting her fatbiking adventure across the country.
For Ness, originally from the African continent, it was a chance to explore somewhere that, as well as being close to home, would provide an opportunity to experience a severely testing environment in one of the most personal, up-close means of travel; by bike.
‘I wanted to find somewhere that would challenge my mind, my body, and my bike,’ she says before getting underway. ‘The start of any expedition, when you’re first putting your foot onto the pedals, is one of the most exciting bits, because you know you’ve got an entire expedition ahead of you. It’s just sheer elation; it’s nerves, it’s excitement, it’s freedom.’
Ness’ route through Namibia starts on the northern Angolan border and heads directly south to finish on the famous Namib dunes at Swakopmund, where the desert meets the ocean.
‘The word “Namib” actually means “Open Space”‘, explains Ness, ‘and the first few hundred kilometres of the expedition is just remote wilderness. There are no road signs, so navigation is just basically, “Head south”. Wilderness is wilderness. There’s not a soul distracting you. It’s just you, the mountains, and the beauty.’
From the border, Ness heads towards the Kunene river on unforgiving sand and dirt tracks, then on to the Murdorib river, through wide open expanses entirely befitting of the ‘Open Space’ derivation. As the journey continues, through Palmwag and past Brandberg mountain – the highest in Namibia – the heat, terrain, and exhaustive nature of the ride visibly take their toll on Ness, and the final push for the dunes of Swakopmund become every bit the challenge she was after.
‘It’s not about conquering the environment that you go through, it’s about respecting it,’ reflects Ness in the film. ‘I built my own skills, and I also developed trust in my bike, allowing the two of us to move through the landscape together.’