This incredibly unique horse riding holiday holds a special place in my heart. This November, we’re organising a week-long trail ride through the untouched wilds of Lesotho.
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Also read: Horse riding in Lesotho
There are over a hundred horses at the farm, located in South Africa. These horses are mostly born and raised on the farm in the mountains. The main breeds are Basotho (native mountain ponies of Lesotho), Boerperd (South African war horse), and Arabian. The horses are cross breeds of these three, and are completely at home in the mountains. They are able to navigate through incredibly rocky and steep terrain like no other! We’ll see lots of Basotho ponies during the trail, as they are still used by the locals to get from A to B. The country is therefore perfect for horse riding, and covered in trails used by the locals and their horses and donkeys. The ponies we’ll be riding aren’t very tall, but strong, stocky and sure-footed. The mountain passes and river crossings may seem daunting at first, but your horse will quickly show you how it’s done, so keep your reins long and admire your horse as they tackle anything in their path!
As I mentioned before, horses and donkeys are still commonly used by the locals as transport, and to carry goods, meaning we get more than enough trails to choose from! We’ll barely run into other people, but when we do they are usually accompanied by their horses, donkeys, sheep and cows! The trails are challenging, and that’s a big part of the fun. This country has some of the roughest and toughest terrain I’ve ever ridden horses through, but they do it all as if it’s the easiest thing in the world (to be fair, for them it is!). You have to be physically fit to join this horse riding holiday, as we’ll need to get off our horses and lead them every now and then. This is necessary in steep, rocky places, where the horses need absolute freedom in finding the best way up, and so do we!
There is so much and such ancient history to be seen from horseback in Lesotho, such as San rock art, dinosaur bones, and fossil tracks. We’ll ride through national parks and spot local wildlife through our horse’s ears. Even though we won’t get to see an abundance of wildlife, what we do see is incredible. We might even see large herds of Elands, an impressive type of antelope, with a shoulder height of 160 cm. Do beware that this horse riding holiday is not a safari, and the adventure is in the spectacular views and horse riding, as there is not a lot of wildlife in this area. The trails here are the ultimate challenge for experienced horse riders. This horse riding holiday is simply indescribable and completely unique, there is not another place in the world where you get to witness such impressive mountains, nature, and complete silence. In between river crossing and mountain passes, we’ll go for long canters and some gallops over the wide open plains in between the tall mountains of Lesotho. During the trail we will climb to almost 3000 meters, and see the incredible panoramic views on the mountain range on clear days. Most of the trail will be done at a walk, as you can probably imagine with the terrain! However, there are places where we can trot and canter. We will be able to see parts of South Africa and Lesotho that most people never get the chance to see, unless they do it on horseback.
This is an example of how our trail riding adventure in the African mountains might go. We don’t provide a set itinerary, as the weather can have a big impact on our trails. We might have to change up our routes, or even our destination depending on the weather and terrain. This truly is an adventure, and we’ll need to go with the flow of what the natural world of Lesotho provides us with!
We’ll arrive at the farm on the 31st of October this year, where we’ll have time to settle in and prepare our saddle bags for the start of the adventure! The farm is in South Africa, and we’ll start our trail at the border the next day. We’ll get to meet our horses and try them out on a short trail around the farm. Your horse will become your most trusted friend over the week! We can also adjust our saddles to ensure a quick and easy start of our trail the next morning. We’ll have dinner and spend the night on the farm, and head out early the following morning. I recommend arriving in Durban at least a day early if you’re flying in from far, to rest and recharge before the start of the trip. I usually stay in one of the Protea hotels whenever I’m in Durban, which you can view here, and here.
We’re hitting the trails early, and heading into Lesotho! The horses will be loaded into the horse truck, and we’ll go by car to the South Africa-Lesotho border, which is about an hour away depending on road conditions. At the border, we’ll get the horses ready, fasten our saddle bags and head out into no-man's land, the area in between South Africa and Lesotho. We’ll ride to our lunch spot, which has incredible views of the surrounding mountains, which we can admire as we eat our hard-earned sandwiches! We’ll ride for a few more hours, over wide open plains, through rivers, and rock arches, before arriving at the lodge. At the lodge, we’ll turn out our ponies and enjoy drinks and dinner by the fire as the sun sets. Stargazing here is exceptional!
We’ll spend Thursday at the lodge in the highlands of Lesotho, located on the edge of a small village. Horse riding on this day is optional, but highly recommended! We’ll likely visit the nearby valley, which is filled with ancient rock painting and serene rivers and streams. Here, we’ll have lunch, and swim in the river. We will pass through a few villages where there will be time to stop along the way to meet the people and experience their way of life as well as try the local home-brew beer for those who dare sample this questionable white substance (I don't recommend it...).
From here on out, the itinerary will completely depend on the weather! We might move to another location, and we might not. We will however visit the very impressive and remote waterfall, where we’ll have lunch and swim. We’ll enjoy some wide open plains, which are fantastic for long gallops. During some of the rides, we’ll pass through villages with our horses and meet more of the locals and their array of livestock! Be prepared for lots of chats around the fireplace and swimming in all the rivers. On these days, we’ll sleep in rustic but picturesque mountain refuges. Some are quite basic and simple, others are really comfortable, but all of them have excellent views. Hot water is scarce, and electricity is not available at all! Rooms at these refuges and lodges are shared, but with comfortable beds and warm blankets.
On this day, we’ll move to our next destination, which is just on the other side of the border (the border in this case being a small fence!). We’ll enjoy canters and gallops on our way to the rocky mountain pass before finding the incredible views of South Africa on the other side. On this day we’ll have to lead the horses through some tricky terrain. We’ll arrive at a lovely hotel, which has a number of small thatched cottages, each en suite with open fire places in the bedrooms. They have a well stocked bar and great meals served in the dining room. They also have electricity!
On Monday, we’ll be taking it easy, as we prepare for our long ride on the last day. As our own horses take a rest, we’ll get the chance to ride the horses of the hotel for those that want to. You can of course also take this day to rest!
Our final day of horse riding is an adventure! It’s long, varied and incredibly beautiful. Starting out over farmland, we slowly make our way back into the mountains and forests of Lesotho and South Africa. This trail can’t really be described, you just need to see it with your own two eyes… After a long but incredible day of riding, we’ll arrive back at the border and head to the farm by car. Here, we’ll enjoy a last dinner together. We'll stay at the farm for an extra night and leave on the 8th of November. This last night at the farm is not included, but can be booked in advance and paid upon arrival.
Home-cooked, simple, and filling meals by candlelight are the norm in the remote lodge and refuges in Lesotho. Enjoy drinks around the campfire or fireplace, and listen to the stories of the locals and your newly made friends as the horses graze in the background. Lunch will be sandwiches, and breakfast can be yogurts, toast and spreads, or an English breakfast depending on our accommodation for the night.
Since we’ll be crossing borders with our horses on this horse riding holiday, please keep your passport close and protected. I recommend keeping your passport on you and in a waterproof bag, as you won’t always be able to keep an eye on your saddle bags when we’re galloping across the plains! You’ll be wearing your riding gear on the day we set out, and you’ll only need one or two extra shirts - we’ll all be equally dirty after a few hours, so don’t worry about looking presentable! Everything needs to fit into your saddle bags, and larger luggage can be left at the farm and picked up on the last day. Make sure to bring long sleeved shirts and a waterproof coat.
Our upcoming equestrian meet-up in Lesotho will be taking place in the African summer, which is the wet season. This means incredibly lush and green grass, and mountain views that are out of this world! It also means that we set out early to avoid the afternoon storms, and that we can get very wet. Make sure to bring your waterproofs.
Bring a few pairs of underwear, socks, and a towel. You’ll have time to wash your clothes in the river if need be. Please bring sunscreen with a high SPF factor, even if it’s cloudy! We’re high up in the mountains and the sun is incredibly strong. Pack basic toiletries, but don’t worry about bringing any makeup or shavers. You won’t be allowed to ride with a backpack, however you can bring a fanny pack for your phone, passport and/or camera.
As I said before, you won’t have electricity on this horse riding holiday! Don’t bring your charger or other electronics unless you have a power bank or solar powered charger. Also, leave all your valuables back at the farm.
Bring a 0.5 or 1 liter water bottle. We’ll be able to fill our bottles up during the trail, so please don’t bring a big, heavy bottle with you!
Make sure to bring your bathing suit and a towel, some snacks or power bars if you’d like, and some cash for souvenirs. Last but not least, you might want to bring a book (if that still fits in your saddle bag!). However, in the past I’ve noticed that horse riding, fire place talks, and stargazing provide more than enough entertainment, even better than a good book!
This horse riding holiday is challenging, and for intermediate and experienced riders only. You must be comfortable and confident in walk, trot and canter, and be able to control your horse at any speed. Please be very clear about your horse riding experience level when signing up for this trip. If you’re a competent rider, but aren’t comfortable on very forward or excited horses, please let me know and I can match you with a suitable pony!
We’ll ride for at least 6 hours per day. If you are not riding regularly at the moment, be sure to spend some time in the saddle before the horse riding holiday starts! You also should be physically fit, as we’ll have to lead our horses over some parts of the steep, rocky mountain passes.
Weight limit: 85 KG
Number of riders: 4 to 8
Riding style: English in South African trail saddles (we ride with long reins!)
Airport: Durban, South Africa
Transfer: group transfer at 10am on the 1st of November (3 hour drive) from Durban airport
Dates: 31 October to 8 November 2023
Price for 2023: 2395 EUR
Price for 2024: 2595 EUR
Including accommodation, meals, 2 drinks per night, and all horse riding.
Excluding flights, insurance, tips, the last night at the farm and extra drinks.
You have to be physically fit to join this horse riding holiday, and it’s not suitable if you suffer from vertigo. We’ll have a safety briefing and sign indemnity forms on the first day before riding. Horse riding, especially in the remote mountains of Lesotho is never without risk and you should be covered for any medical emergencies by your travel insurance. During the horse riding holiday, we’ll stay in touch with the staff at the farm, and if needed there is a private security and healthcare provider available at all times. Our guide is from Lesotho and knows the mountains better than anyone! He will also have a first aid kit with him for any minor injuries.
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