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Desert trail riding offers the chance to feel complete freedom on horseback – galloping across the endless sands is the closest thing to flying without wings!

Over one-third of the African continent is covered by desert, from the vast Sahara Desert in the North to the ancient Namib Desert in the South. We offer horse riding holidays in three of Africa’s desert landscapes. Surrounded by distant mountains or towering sand dunes, these panoramic horse rides are beyond anything you can imagine. The scenery only increases in wonder as the sun sets to reveal a sky full to the brim with stars and a rare view of the milky way without the tiniest amount of light pollution.

Deserts hold their own unique fasciation. Perhaps it is the sheer vastness of the endless plains and getting as far away from humanity as possible. Or, simply experiencing something more similar to Mars than anything on this planet. Traversing these sparse, wide and varying terrains on horseback will give you a sense of adventure very difficult to rival. These arid areas are home to some of the most extreme landscapes and inhospitable conditions on Earth, as well as some of the most exhilarating horse-riding adventures!

For many, the draw is the sheer challenge of crossing a desert on horseback, relying only on yourself, and your four-legged companion. It is incredibly life-affirming waking up in a landscape that seems incredibly hostile yet embracing it completely and finding its hidden secrets. Plus, there are few other places that offer the perfect natural race track where you can forget about the world and just fly! The freedom and adrenaline is completely addictive and the adventure can be life-changing!

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For More Info About Desert Horse-Riding Holidays

Horse riding Swakopmund

10 nights: GBP £5350 pp sharing

Skeleton Coast & Damaraland Ride

  • 10 Nights
  • Namibia
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
Embark on a challenging and awe-inspiring horseback adventure to discover two of the most remote areas on the planet.
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Horse riding in the High Atlas Mountains

7 nights: From EUR €1247 pp sharing

High Atlas Mountains on Horseback

  • 7 Nights
  • Morocco
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
An exhilarating horseback adventure crossing the High Atlas mountain range to discover Morocco’s best-kept secrets.
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Horse riding in Morocco

7 nights: From EUR €1683 pp sharing

Horses, Dunes & Nomads in Morocco

  • 7 Nights
  • Morocco
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
Set out on horseback into the depths of the Sahara Desert where you'll be immersed in this unique nomadic culture.
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7 nights: GBP £2999 pp sharing

Tombs, Dunes & Kingdoms

  • 7 Nights
  • Egypt
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
A new thrilling ride that combines riding in Luxor and Fayoum, with the chance to add on colourful Aswan and Abu Simble.
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7 nights: GBP £2199 pp sharing

Palms, Pyramids & Pharaohs on Horseback

  • 7 Nights
  • Egypt
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
Discover the best of Egypt on horseback - ancient wonders, breathtaking scenery and thrilling riding.
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Cha Cha Metsi Buffalos

8 nights: From USD $7465 pp sharing

Desert & Delta Horse Safari – Ultimate Botswana

  • 8 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
The ultimate Botswana horse safari combining two unique landscapes - the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Desert.
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3 Nights: From USD $3690 pp sharing

Kalahari & Makgadikgadi Salt Pans Ride

  • 3 - 5 Nights
  • Botswana
  • Wildlife & Scenery Focused Safari
Embark on an otherworldly adventure as you canter across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans alongside unique desert wildlife.
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10 nights: GBP £5800 pp sharing

The Namib Desert Ride

  • 10 Nights
  • Namibia
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
These true adventures take you through some of the most unique and breathtaking desert landscapes on earth.
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10 nights: From GBP £5800 pp sharing

The Wild Horses Ride in Namibia

  • 10 Nights
  • Namibia
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
This is an adventure like no other: ride across the iconic dune sea of the Namib Desert in search of the desert horses.
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8 nights: From GBP £3800 pp sharing

Fairytales of Fayoum on Horseback

  • 8 Nights
  • Egypt
  • Scenery Focused Horse Safari
Explore the oasis of Fayoum, the ancient city of Luxor, and tick of galloping in front of the pyramids of Giza.
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Horses cantering in the Namib Desert

Ride incredible desert horses

On all our desert focused horse-riding holidays, the horses are the stars of the show. Uniquely adapted to the harsh desert environments they have small feet and huge hearts. In Egypt and Morocco, ride on purebred flashy Barb or Arabian steeds, often decked out in colourful traditional garb. In Botswana and Namibia, the horses have a more ambiguous heritage but will impress you with their energy and tenacity.  All safari horses are specifically chosen for their temperament, endurance, and willingness. They never cease to amaze riders with their endless energy, and the last canter is often just as thrilling as the first.  After a week of riding, covering hundreds of kilometers in the saddle, the bond between horse and rider is undeniable. Riders often fall deeply in love with their four-legged companions and teary goodbyes are not uncommon.

Horse riding in the Namib Desert

Expedition Trail Riding Holidays

Our expedition rides in Namibia and Morocco offer a true challenge for the intrepid equestrian. These remote rides cover dramatic, wild, and rugged scenery on horseback, backed-up by a mobile camp.  Due to the wild nature of the landscape, the pace, and the distance of the rides, the horse-riding level required is intermediate plus and above. We also recommend a good level of fitness as you will cover up to 20 – 60 kilometers each day.   Challenging and testing of your fortitude at times, completing a desert expedition leaves you changed!

In Namibia, cross hundreds of kilometers of open desert without encountering a single human apart from your fellow riders.  Ride through meandering sand dunes and scramble up ancient mountains before reaching the seemingly endless open plains. This is where the horses are in their element and riders can spread out, give their horses’ their heads and fly across the desert.   Eat and sleep under the stars with the stunning canopy of the southern hemisphere as your ceiling for a completely wild horse safari experience. From horseback, see elephant, zebra, oryx, and possibly even some of the last remaining prides of desert lion all uniquely adapted to the harsh conditions of the desert.

Morocco offers the chance to discover the world-famous Sahara Desert on horseback.  For the more adventurous and those who like simple travel, this is a great way to see a country that is rarely seen by outsiders. Morocco has so much to offer with its ancient history, exotic culture, and unique lifestyle – and horses playing a pivotal role. This horse-riding adventure takes you through the dunes and across the gravel plains to date palm oases and the Berber communities that live there. The pace is varied, walking along the trickier sections before picking up the pace as the trails become wider. The open plains allow your horse to show off their true speed as you race across the desert.

Man on white horse cantering in front of Egyptian Pyramids

Ancient Egypt on horseback

Riding in Egypt offers a true horseback adventure, with stunning horses, historic temples, and famous landscapes such as the Red Sea and the River Nile. This unique horse-riding destination allows you to explore Egypt’s famous historic sites. Visit the site of the ancient Thebes, the Royal Tombs of the Valley of the Kings or the Pyramids of Giza while enjoying some great hours riding along ancient trails. Experience epic gallops through the desert, with the wind in your hair as you speed across the undulating landscape. Upon reaching the Red Sea, see the horses’ ears prick up as they anticipate a swim in the clear, turquoise waters.

Sleep on a stretcher bed in Namibia
Explorer style canopy bed in luxury safari tent

Accommodation on your desert horse safaris

The best thing about riding in the desert is being able to disconnect from reality and get completely off-grid. In Namibia and Morocco, you’ll be fully immersed in the culture and landscape, sleeping in traditional tents or on stretcher beds with a blanket of stars overhead. Falling asleep after a long day in the saddle, with the horses tethered nearby, is incredibly soul affirming.

A horse safari across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans combines the wonderful luxuries of a beautiful tented base camp, with a true bush experience. During a five-night ride, head out to one of the grass islands to experience a night of fly-camping like the original pioneers. For shorter stays or non-riders, swap horse for quad bike and head out into the depths of the vast open salt pans.  After a candlelit dinner, you’ll find your bed set-out with nothing but the stars above you and your fellow travellers for company.  The lodge also has activities such as game drives, guided desert walks with the Kalahari Bushmen and a morning with the habituated meerkats.

And in Egypt, you’ll be staying in small hotels and local guesthouses, chosen for their unique locations. The horses are always just a short walk, water taxi or Tuk Tuk away. And you’ll be treated to local delicacies and even belly-dancing lessons!

Elephants from horseback in Namibia
Horse riding with zebra in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Meerkats in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans

Wildlife on your desert horse safari

While these are scenery-based horse-riding holidays, even the harshest deserts are home to unique African wildlife. Whilst most of the Sahara is barren, the desert supports a mix of wildlife including oryx, gazelles, brown hyenas, jackals, sand foxes, and small rodents. In the Sahara you are more likely to see domestic animals, but the possibility of seeing wildlife always adds an edge of excitement to your trail riding holiday.

The Namib and Kalahari Desert boast a surprising number of desert adapted wildlife. Riding in the red sand dunes of Southern Namibia, you might be surprised to see an oryx standing on the dune crest, before it vanishes into the sea of sand. You are also likely to see herds of zebra, springbuck and ostrich in the ancient sand mountains or roaming the dry grasslands. In Damaraland, you may be lucky enough to encounter the rare black rhino or some of the few remaining desert lions. And an experience that will forever be imprinted in your memory, is the sight of elephants appearing like a mirage out of the desert haze.

Despite the Kalahari being classed as a desert landscape, you will ride over unique golden grass plains and huge glistening white salt pans. Hidden in this dry landscape, there are a few permanent water sources. On horseback or game drive, you may come across wildebeest, zebra, ostrich, elephant, lion and other creatures that call this place home. You will also be able to spend a morning with the habituated Meerkats who allow you to be part of their world.

Summer rains transform the desert, filling the salt pans with water and turning the grasslands into green islands. Flocks of flamingos turn the pans into rippling rose coloured pools and new grass shoots give the dunes a green shimmer. This radical change draws thousands of zebra, wildebeest, and antelope on the second biggest land migration in Africa. This incredible spectacle is best seen on horseback as much of the area becomes inaccessible by vehicle.

FAQs

What should I wear for a desert horse safari?

You’ll need to be prepared for any kind of weather in the desert, so layers are essential. It can get very cold at night, but heat up during the day.  Wear comfortable riding clothes, especially if you spend long hours in the saddle. We recommend wearing lightweight, breathable, long-sleeved clothing to protect against the sun. Comfortable boots with good grip are essential, especially in Namibia and Morocco, where you might need to dismount and lead your horse over difficult terrain. Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, buff or scarf, and sunscreen.  We’ll send you a detailed packing list. 

How fit do I have to be to go riding in the desert?

For longer, multi-day horse safaris or more adventurous trail rides that cover varied terrains, such as Namibia and Morocco, a higher level of fitness is beneficial. Riding for extended periods and navigating different types of terrain can be physically demanding. You’ll often need to dismount to help lead your horses over challenging terrain, plus you’ll be feeding, grooming and tacking up your own horses. They may be some of the most challenging rides, but they are also some of the most rewarding!

How long are the horse rides in the desert?

The duration of horse rides can vary, depending on the destination. In the Kalahari, we offer a 3-5 night tailor-made riding holiday. In Egypt and Morocco, most of our rides are 7 nights, and in Namibia, they are 10-night adventures into the desert. You can expect to spend 3 – 8 hours in the saddle a day.

What kind of wildlife can be encountered in the desert?

While mostly scenery-based rides, there is plenty of wildlife in the desert. Depending on the location, you may encounter desert-adapted animals such as oryx, gazelles, zebra and various bird species. In Botswana and Namibia, you might encounter desert elephants, giraffes, hyenas, bat-eared foxes and jackals. The guides are knowledgeable about the local wildlife and provide unique insights during the safari.

Can I bring my camera or smartphone on the safari?

We encourage guests to bring cameras or smartphones to capture the breathtaking scenery and wildlife. However, it’s essential to secure your devices properly, as riding conditions in the desert can be rugged. Remember to bring a battery-bank to charge your devices on the go.

What happens if there are sudden weather changes in the desert?

Desert weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared and pack your sense of adventure! Sometimes it can be very cold in the desert, and at other times you might get sand storms or unexpected heat waves. If it is very hot, the riding times will be adjusted, so you’ll head out before dawn when it is cooler. In the heat of the day, horses and riders will rest in the shade of the trees, rocky outcrops or vehicles and then you might saddle up again in the late afternoons.

Are there age restrictions for desert horse safaris?

Age restrictions may vary among safari operators. Some may have specific age requirements or offer shorter rides for younger participants. Generally, we don’t take children under 12 on our desert-based safaris, besides the Kalahari Desert, which is a lodge-based ride and suitable for families. 

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