Horse riding in Malawi


There is a beautiful village called Kande (pronounced: candy) in the rural north of Malawi. Malawi is truly the warm heart of Africa. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming, the nature is stunning and the climate is pleasant. There are almost no horses in Malawi, but in Kande there are! Keep reading to learn all about this incredible village, the horses and the surrounding nature. 

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Some background information: rural Malawi

Rural Malawi really is something else, some people may call it “the real Africa”, and for a good reason. Malawi is the fourth poorest country in the world, and a lot of people in the rural north still barter. Money is scarce and people live off their land. Horses are difficult and therefore expensive to keep in these types of climates, and therefore people often choose goats, chickens, and occasionally a cow or two to farm with. Schools are rare in the rural parts, and tourism is close to nothing, which with a rapidly growing population causes serious problems for the country’s overall welfare. The spirit of Malawians is undying though, and with incredible willpower they truly make the best of their lives. 

Kande horse in northern Malawi

Kande is a small village with a little bit of tourism. There are a few over-lander buses that stop here on their way from Kenya to South Africa, so the locals are used to seeing tourists and have adapted to it. There is a bar, a market, and a few little stores. There are spaces available for camping, and there is an incredible farmhouse which is now called Matamba Equestrian. This used to be called Kande horse, when I visited repeatedly between 2016 and 2018. They have a stunning herd of horses, set in a fairytale-like forest near the village. The horses roam free in their large paddocks and have beautiful open stables in front of the farmhouse. The accommodation here is incredible too, very authentic and you immediately feel at home. I volunteered here a few times and absolutely loved every visit. The village is incredible and we rode the horses through the markets, forests and dunes to get to the incredible beach, before riding back while the sun set. We did this almost every afternoon to take the horses swimming, and the rest of the day I would spend training the other horses! 

Horse rolling on the beach in Kande, Malawi
A nice roll on the beach during sun set in Kande

Matamba Equestrian in Kande village

Since my last visit, the condition of the horses had reduced quite tremendously, and as a result the new owners have had to retire several. The people that run Matamba Equestrian (the new name of Kande Horse) have been fighting every day since their arrival to get the horses in good shape, and with success. The retired horses are staying at the farm and get to be fat and grow old at their forever home there. Matamba Equestrian plans to offer accommodation, bespoke horsemanship courses and training, problem solving lessons and trekking within Malawi’s incredible nature parks. They told me their ultimate goal is to eventually get involved in conservation. In my opinion such an incredible goal and setup, and a paradise for the horses that have worked so hard in the past years. 

Volunteer with a pony in Kande, Malawi
Jesse and I after a training ride around the forest

North Malawi is not very touristy and so worth it! 

In my highly biased opinion, I very much recommend visiting Malawi and experiencing its lovely cultures, people, wildlife and nature on horseback. Not a lot of people visit or even know about Malawi, but it is so very worth it. Horse riding in Malawi has been one of the best experiences of my life, and Malawi will always be my favourite country in the whole of Africa. I unfortunately have not had the chance to visit Matamba Equestrian yet, but am sure it won’t disappoint when I do finally get to go. Their knowledge of natural horsemanship and the love they have for their animals is truly inspiring. 

More incredible places to visit in Malawi

Kachere Kastle

A stunning castle set right at the beach front, close to Kande village. 

Nkhata bay and Ruarwe

Nkhata bay is a slightly bigger village with a port, where a weekly ferry called the Ilala can take you either north or south along lake Malawi. The ferry south will take you all the way to Monkey bay. If you take the ferry north, there is an incredible village called Ruarwe. I’ve stayed in Ruarwe a few times and taught and volunteered at the local school and clinic, which was an incredible experience which I highly recommend. At the moment the organisation Phunzira is not taking on new volunteers due to covid, however they are always trying to raise funds to keep their operation up and running. They need us more now than ever, having been hit hard by covid.

Volunteer with children at Phunzira in Ruarwe, Malawi
Careful of the kiddies! There is no escaping from their hugs.

Likoma island

It doesn’t get any closer to paradise than on Likoma island. There is a budget lodge and a few more expensive lodges on the island. I’ve visited a few of them and they each have their charm, but I keep coming back to the incredible budget lodge called Mango Drift. The atmosphere and people here are incredible. Likoma has this great ability to make anyone relax and reconnect with nature. 

A book and beer during sunset on Likoma island, Malawi
Stunning sunsets on Likoma island
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