Horse lovers, thrill seekers, soul searchers and intrepid explorers alike will all get their fix from a riding safari. There are so many beautiful wilderness areas around the world to explore on horseback, but here we mention just a few of our favourite riding safaris in South Africa, Botswana, Kenya, and Namibia.
SOUTH AFRICA – FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
For a riding safari to suit the whole family we love the Ant Collection in the malaria-free Waterberg area of South Africa, an easy three-hour drive from Johannesburg. With luxury accommodation, no age limit for riding and horses and ponies to suit all sizes, children can have a wonderful first experience of viewing life 'between the ears’. Ant’s Nest is the original bolthole built by owners Ant and Tess, beautifully designed and offering a home away from home vibe, whereas the nearby Ant's Hill is slightly more private (great for honeymooners) with private pools and outdoor baths that overlook the reserve. For more experienced riders wishing to ride alongside the Big Five in South Africa, Gerti and Phillip from Wait a Little operate rides near Kruger National Park and along the breath-taking Drakensburg escarpments. Accommodation is a combination of mobile camps, sleeping out under the stars and the luxury tents / chalets of Wait a Little and XiDulu.
BOTSWANA – FOR THE PROS
Botswana is home to a number of outstanding riding outfitters but the closest to our hearts is Okavango Horse Safaris with Katie having worked and lived here for a year in 2016. The camp itself is located on a small island in the south west of the Okavango Delta, where it isn’t unusual to have 'visitors' wander through camp - namely bull or breeding herds of elephants - and put on a show in the river that runs directly in front of the guest accommodation which is made up of luxury suites and traditional menu styled tents. At Okavango Horse Safaris, mornings are spent galloping alongside giraffes and herds of zebra and listening to the rumbles of breeding herds of elephants, whilst lazy afternoons are spent swimming bareback. The horses here are happy, with gleaming coats, squeaky clean tack and a special relationship with the guides looking after them. For those in a family or group of mixed riding ability, RAW on the banks of the Selinda Spillway is a great option, treating their guests to much more than days out on horseback, including walking safaris, speedboat cruises along the Delta and taking in the spectacular birdlife by mokoro (a traditional dug-out canoe).
KENYA – FOR THE YOUNG AT HEART
There is no doubt about it that Offbeat Riding Safaris is among the most renowned riding safari outfitters in the world and even after Tristan tragically passed away in 2017 his legacy still lives on. With Cindy’s attention to detail back at base (the lovely Deloraine) and the fantastic riding guides that have all been taught by Tristan himself, the rides through the Mara and Amboseli are still as wild and exhilarating as ever. Having operated in the area for the last 30 odd years, the Voorspuy family have created something extremely special in this area of outstanding beauty and cantering on their beautifully trained horses alongside the famous Mara migration or viewing lions from just a few metres away are just a few highlights of a riding holiday with Offbeat Safaris. For the ultimate luxury riding safari that’s ‘on the move’ then look no further than Safaris Unlimited, led by riding power couple Gordie Church, who has over 25 years of experience in the bush and meticulously organised by his wife Felicia back at home. Fixed date rides tend to take place around the migration with a few private rides available throughout the year.
NAMIBIA – FOR THE PIONEERS
Namibia is probably not the African country people most associate with riding safaris, especially given the popularity of rides in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and across Kenya but a ride with Namibian Horse Safari Company is an exceptional way to experience Namibia’s varied and hauntingly beautiful desert landscapes. Namibia Horse Safari Company have been the first to pioneer a route across the Southern Namib desert and dunes – and much of the 360-km ride towards the Skeleton Coast is still relatively unchartered territory. One cannot fail to be deeply affected by spending time in the desert – to have that much space and nothingness around you is a privilege we are rarely afforded in today’s fast-paced world. The fact you can combine this introspection with adventure, game-viewing and the comforts of a top end safari operation make this ride all the more special. The company run ten rides per year, one of which is an exploratory ride to pioneer new routes. The rides can be challenging and most of the camps are wild and remote, however riders on these safaris are not spared their creature comforts - with delicious food served and five hundred thread Egyptian cotton duvet covers provided for sleeping under the stars.
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We organise riding safaris all over the world - we know the owners, we know the guides, in some instances we even know the horses!