What makes a horseback expedition special?
Venturing into the wilderness with just the essentials, your horses and companions, brings home what is important in life. The feeling of freedom is addictive and life-changing. A horse riding expedition is all about the personal journey you make and gives you an incredible sense of achievement and the satisfaction of overcoming challenges and pushing your own limits.
As a small group, riding over vast distances, with no one else around for miles, the bonds you form with your fellow intrepid travellers, guide, crew and horses is something truly special. You become like a family and often these bonds last a lifetime – with strangers becoming friends around the campfire. Many of our riders have met up again, year after year for similar horseback adventures.
The horses used for these expedition rides are specifically chosen for their willing temperaments, endless endurance and comfortable paces. Between safaris, the horses stay fresh, healthy and fit living out in thousands of hectares of natural bush in a natural herd environment. Day after day of galloping over endless open plains and traversing over tough obstacles forms a strong bond between horse and rider. Each rider is well-matched with their steed and through the course of your horse riding holiday, you’ll inevitably fall in love with your equine partner. Many a returning adventurer has dreamed of taking their horse home with them! (And legend has it this has happened a couple of times!)
Riding ability for expedition rides
Ranging from 7 to 14 days, these trail rides require a sense of adventure as well as technical riding ability. You will often spend up to 6 hours (Sometimes even up to 8!) in the saddle a day, so need to be fit enough to keep up with the group. These horseback adventures can be physically challenging, with long hours in the saddle, ever-changing conditions and difficult riding terrain testing your riding skills.
We recommend these horseback adventures for riders of an intermediate plus or above riding ability with a good level of fitness. These are not for novice riders. Riders need to be confident at all paces, able to post in the trot and do a two-point canter. Some rides need more expertise due to the challenging nature of the terrain.
Riders need to have an adaptable attitude, a good level of fitness and a great sense of humour for this kind of riding holiday. We recommend that anyone considering an expedition safari rides regularly leading up to the trip, as well as doing some basic cardio such as walking, swimming and yoga. In return, you will be one of the few who get to travel through these remote and breath-taking places. The rewards for coming prepared for these challenging adventures far outweigh the effort involved in the preparation…these horse rides will change your life!
Accommodation on mobile horse safaris
These longer horse riding holidays allow riders to discover a simpler way of life in harmony with nature. Each day is different to the one before, and you are more likely to see hoof prints than tyre tracks. These mobile horse safaris operate with a support crew who move and set up camp in a new location either everyday or every other day. Your belongings will be transported on the back of a pack donkey, poled down a river in a traditional canoe or driven from point to point in an old Land Rover, depending on the location of your trail ride.
The mobile camps allow you to cover more territory and have more opportunities to encounter wildlife on horseback. Some of these camps consist of canvas or dome tents set up by the crew with comfortable camp cots. In others, your cot will be set-up in the open with nothing above you but a sea of stars. Evenings are spent relaxing around the fire while the crew prepare sumptuous meals on the hot coals. At night, riders snuggle up in their tents or on stretchers, falling asleep to the night-time chorus with horses tethered nearby.
While these adventure trail rides are not quite as luxurious as many lodge-based rides, there is no compromise on the dining experience, in fact somehow food tastes even better made on the open fire. The camp chefs are excellent at whisking up delicious meals cooked over the hot coals or open flames – flavours that belong in Africa and linger in your memories long after you get home.
Where are these riding adventures?
A horseback adventure in Namibia is the ultimate trail ride – rugged, remote landscapes that few people have ever seen. Gallop across endless sandy plains, ride through meandering riverbeds in search of the elusive desert elephants or uncover the secrets of the mysterious Skeleton Coast. Accommodation is not 5-star, but 5 billion star, as you fall asleep on your stretcher under the stars, with your horses tethered nearby. This is for the riders who long to get off the beaten track and find a true sense of freedom in the African wilderness.
For those who crave that Out of Africa feeling, very few places can compare with a horse riding adventure in Tanzania or Kenya. This is where horse safaris originated, when explorers of old wanted to share the magic of the Mara plains, teeming with wildebeest, zebra and gazelle. Ride along ancient elephant paths in the shadows of Mt Kilimanjaro or follow the migration in the open plains of the Serengeti. As you fall asleep in the white canvas tent, listening to the night sounds, it is as if you have been transported back in time.
There is also no better way to explore the Okavango Delta and the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana than on horseback. Ride where vehicles cannot venture, cantering through the water channels alongside giraffe and waterbuck. Find untouched islands in the watery oasis and watch herds of elephants come to drink as your horse munches on the long pale grass. Let your inner cowboy loose as you gallop across the open white salt pans and find silence in the endless nothingness. If you are seeking true adventure, then an epic horseback expedition is perfect for you.