Horse Riding Safari in South Africa

South Africa

While putting together the Ultimate South African Horse Riding Experience, I had the pleasure of riding horses in a beautiful safari conservancy in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Here, we got to experience the amazing hospitality, incredible food and fantastic horse riding safari that this place has to offer. In this blog post, I will tell you all about my experience and why I just had to include this incredible ride in our South African horse riding package. 

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My experience of guiding horseback safaris in Africa

As a guide and back-up guide, I’ve had the pleasure of riding horses in some beautiful places and reserves in South Africa and more. Experiencing the pure beauty of spotting animals in the wild with your horse is indescribable. Every reserve has a different feel to it, whether in size, landscape, or variety of wildlife. The guide that rides with you is incredibly important in making your experience even better. Guides are qualified wildlife behavioural experts and their most important goal is to keep you safe. They know how to navigate in the terrain on horseback, and are able to track wild animals safely. While approaching game in different landscapes, they know which distances and positions are safe to view the animals from. Besides the importance of a qualified and experienced guide, the horses are of course a key factor for the quality of your horse riding safari in Africa. The ideal safari horses are forward, sensitive, and almost completely bombproof. This also means that horse safaris are a suitable adventure only for the experienced and confident rider. The ideal safari horse also clearly lets you know when you’re on the right or wrong trail, and is not desensitised to the smell of predators and other wild animals. These horses will clearly let you know when you’re getting close to a predator that’s possibly hiding in the tall grass, giving the guide the chance to turn away from it, or get closer for a viewing, depending on the type of predator, weather, and more. These three factors (the reserve, guide and horses) are incredibly important for a fantastic and safe experience during your horse riding safari. Below I will go into detail about each of these factors at the reserve that we ride in during our Ultimate South African Horse Riding Experience.

Conservation

Horse riding holidays and any other type of safaris are crucial to the conservation of wildlife and nature in Africa. The funds raised by tourism are essential for the survival of many reserves and species around the entire continent. If you've already looked into it a bit more, safaris are far from a cheap holiday idea. The price you pay for these safaris includes the conservation fee of the reserve, which is directly used to preserve the wild animals that the area holds, their safety, and their surroundings. Going on a horse riding safari is absolutely the perfect way of giving back to nature, and communities. Before I fly, I always calculate and offset my carbon emissions here. You can calculate the carbon emissions of your flight easily and contribute to several fantastic projects to offset it.

The South African reserve and its wildlife

This reserve in Mpumalanga is by far the most beautiful and varied reserve I’ve had the pleasure of riding in in South Africa. The reserve is made up of wide open plains on which you will spot wildebeest, impalas and other grazers, with rock formations between them for predators such as lions to relax on, and keep watch from. There are more than enough watering holes spread throughout the large reserve, and on its border there are stunning, tall mountains. To ride horses in an area as abundantly varied as this one is very special. This variety and size of the area also allows for incredible wildlife viewings. The reserve boasts large herds of different species of wild animals. From incredible birds to cheetahs strolling through the plains. Four of the big five can be spotted here from horseback, with the exception of rhinos. Rhinos, as you might know, are a highly endangered species and incredibly prone to poaching incidents. It is a risk to both the rhinos and the other animals to have them in a reserve, and a highly trained anti-poaching team needs to be on constant guard to keep them safe, which is why this reserve has decided to not yet introduce these beautiful animals until they are sure they can provide for their safety. There are elephants, lions, leopards and buffalos that roam freely throughout the reserve. You will also get the chance to possibly spot giraffes, hippos, zebras, and so much more as you ride your horse through the area. Wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, which is why I so clearly add “possibly”. Even with an exceptional guide and fantastic horses, you are still at the mercy of the wild nature of the animals. Wildlife can cover large distances, and that means that there might be days that you don’t see any wildlife at all besides the occasional impala and bird. It is certainly unlikely for this to happen several days in a row, but we can’t ever promise that you’ll definitely see that buffalo you so desperately want to see by horseback. The adventure and beauty in a horse safari is that you have to search for the animals, and to then finally see them is the ultimate reward. 

Horse riding safari in South Africa
Happy ponies, happy riders!

The guide on your horseback safari

We rode with the amazing Tamlyn, who runs the entire operation. She is an impeccable guide with a great feel for horses and a sense for wildlife. During our short stay we got the chance to try out her horses, and explore a small but fabulous part of the reserve. We rode our horses past a large river, on the lookout for wildlife. Tamlyn was able to show us waterbucks, giraffes, kudus, blesbucks and a large herd of zebras together with wildebeest. On our way to look at the riverside lodge, which is incredible by the way, and has the most helpful and friendly staff I’ve met in a long time, we also got to drive through a larger part of the reserve that we weren’t able to cover on horseback in one day. Here we spotted elephants, lots of zebras, and more giraffes! Tamlyn was a pleasure to ride with and she is an exceptional guide with lots of experience. She knows how to keep her guests safe, and is a great host too. We had a lovely braai (South African barbecue) in the evening, and Tamlyn told us all about her business, her horses, the reserve and more while we sipped our drinks around the fire. 

Horse riding safari in South Africa
Spotting a dazzle of zebras close to the rocks

The horses on your safari

We rode absolutely amazing horses, and I immediately fell in love with my horse. She was a spunky mare with big, powerful gaits, and she rode like a saint. She is the perfect safari horse, and a great fun ride too. Tamlyn's horse was an incredible lead horse, fearless and clearly letting her know where animals could be found, navigating the terrain perfectly. I was absolutely shocked by how great the horses looked, and how good their condition was. Keeping horses in Africa to the same standards as in Europe is downright impossible. The climate and insects in South Africa are relentless and even though the horses are used to it and even bred to cope with these conditions, it does not mean they even so much as resemble a pampered European pony. Tamlyn's horses however, looked magnificent. Carefully brushed tails, not a tick to be found on their bodies, all bush scratches well cared for, and in good shape. It’s a great feat to be able to provide such good care for your horses in an environment as harsh as Mpumalanga, and I was impressed. You could tell the horses were excited to go out riding, and they were strong in every step they took. Because of these well trained horses, we had a very enjoyable ride, with amazing canters along the riverbank. 

Horse riding safari in South Africa
The horses in their large field with lots of grass!

How do I book my horse safari?

I get it, you want to go! I want to go again too! To book this incredible horse riding holiday, you can choose to go on the Ultimate South African Horse Riding Experience, and ride here for three days. You can however also book this horse riding safari separately and stay for longer. Below I will give you a breakdown of the prices. 

Prices per person for a 7 day horse safari

Peak season

15 to 31 Dec 2022 
1 to 11 January 2023

2695 EU 

High season 

1 Sept to 14 Dec 2022
12 Jan to 30 April 2023 
1 Sept to 14 Dec 2023

2500 EU

Low season 

1 May to 31 Aug 2023

2200 EU

Included Accommodation (in a deluxe safari tent), breakfast, afternoon tea, dinner, all horse riding and optional game drives, tea, coffee, water, house wines, local beers and spirits, soft drinks for sundowners and welcome lounge, transfers

Excluded Upgrades to luxury or presidential safari tents, all other drinks and extra food ordered, flights, insurance

You can contact me to book this incredible horse riding safari in South Africa. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have so you can go on this dream safari! 

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