Volunteering with horses on safari in South Africa

South Africa

Horse riding safaris are incredibly special trips, and they cost quite a large amount of money too. When I first started traveling I couldn’t afford any horse riding safaris, but desperately wanted to see South Africa from horseback, so I started volunteering with horses. We are very proud to therefore add another volunteer program with horses and wildlife to our Hooves trips, this time in South Africa! 

Also read: Horse riding with rhinos and elephants in Zimbabwe

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Volunteering with horses in South Africa

Horseback riding 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 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 a horse riding safari. In this volunteer program, the reserve, guide and horses are absolutely out of this world, which I’ll tell you more about now.

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

About the horse safari volunteer program

During your stay, you’ll go horse riding once or twice a day to help create a positive presence on the property. You’ll look for wildlife and view the animals from horseback to get them used to it for horse safaris. Besides trail riding, you’ll also school the horses in the arena, do some stable duties such as cleaning, but also grooming, tacking up and feeding. Tamlyn, the owner, has 14 fantastic horses, and the property is 2000 hectares, meaning plenty of opportunities for fantastic trail riding in the South African bush!

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

Kruger National park and Mozambique are on your doorstep here in Mpumalanga province, so you can also combine this volunteer program with traveling in Mozambique. Kruger is of course a reserve most of us have heard of, and with good reason, being 2 million hectares and crawling with wildlife and diversity. During this volunteer program, you can do short and full day game drives into this fantastic park. The short game drives are 500 ZAR, and a full day of wildlife spotting by car in Kruger costs 1500 ZAR. 

Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park
Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

When you’re not discovering South African nature by horseback, you’ll be staying at a renovated farmhouse, built in the early 1900s. This is true farm living, and for power, there is an engine running for about 7 hours a day. The horses roam around the farm house, so you get to live out your horse girl dream by waking up with horses in the garden! You might share a room with one or two other volunteers. This horse safari volunteer program is self-catered, meaning you’ll be doing your own food shopping and cooking. There is a kitchen in the farm house where you can prepare all your food, and Tamlyn will take you food shopping in town once or twice a week so that you have everything you need. 

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

To get to the property, you’ll need to get to Nelspruit airport, which is either a 4 hour drive, or a one hour flight from Johannesburg. In your free time, Tamlyn will make sure there are enough options. Once a week, or every two weeks, she’ll take all the volunteers to Marloth park for a meal, and for a pool day! 

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

The owner and guide of the horse safari volunteer program

Tamlyn runs the entire operation. She is an impeccable guide with a great feel for horses and a sense for wildlife. During my previous stay with her, we got the chance to try out her horses. Tamlyn is 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. You can tell how passionate she is from all her stories and her love for horses!

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

Spotting wildlife from horseback

Wildlife sightings are never guaranteed, 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 all the animals you’d like to see by horseback. The adventure and beauty of a horse safari is that you have to search for the animals, and to then finally see them is the ultimate reward. In this reserve, there are giraffes, warthogs, wildebeests, some types of antelopes and other small animals. There is even a tame elephant on the property which can be spotted occasionally. The goal is to get the wild animals habituated to humans and horses viewing them in their natural habitat, so that’s what you’ll be helping with during the rides with Tamlyn. 

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

The horses of the volunteer program

When I visited Tamlyn, I immediately fell in love with the horse I rode. 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. The lead horse Tamlyn was riding is incredible, fearless and clearly letting her know where animals could be found, navigating the terrain perfectly. I was amazed 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. Tamlyns horses however, look magnificent. Carefully brushed tails, not a tick to be found on their bodies, all bush scratches well cared for, and in great shape. It’s a remarkable thing to be able to provide such good care for your horses in an environment this harsh, and I was impressed by Tamlyns love and passion for her herd of safari horses. You could tell the horses were excited to go out riding, and they were strong in every step they took. 

Volunteering with horses in South Africa

Rates and how to book 


Two weeks of volunteering: 595 EU

Three weeks of volunteering: 875 EU

Four weeks of volunteering: 1125 EU

Five weeks of volunteering: 1335 EU

You can stay and volunteer with the horses here in South Africa for a maximum of 3 months. After five weeks, each extra week costs 195 EU. This volunteer program is suitable for experienced riders, who are comfortable and confident in all paces. To book this incredible program you can contact me directly to discuss dates and pay the 30% deposit, the remaining payment for your trip is due 90 days before departure.


Two weeks of volunteering: 650 EU

Three weeks of volunteering: 995 EU

Four weeks of volunteering: 1295 EU

Five weeks of volunteering: 1595 EU

Per extra week: 295 EU

Included Accommodation in the farmhouse (self-catered), horse riding 

Excluded Meals and drinks, game drives in Kruger National Park (500R for a short drive, full day costs 1500R), 50R conservation levy per day, flights and transfers, insurance

Volunteering with horses in South Africa
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