Horse riding for beginners
Africa is the perfect place for non-riders to get their first experience of the wonders of horseback adventures. In areas where there is no big game, such as in the Ant’s Reserve or at Horizon Ranch, novice riders can get the feel of riding on well-trained trail horses. At Ol Donyo and Borana lodge in Kenya, less experienced riders can join on shorter rides to gain confidence in the saddle. And the Kalahari Desert’s wide-open plains offer the perfect backdrop for your first time riding wild.
For less confident riders, the horses are specifically chosen for their gentle personalities, patience, and ability to follow the lead horse. The riding is gentle, starting with walking and trotting through the bush. Here you can encounter wildlife, such as giraffe, zebra and antelope on horseback. The groups are kept small and often have 2 guides. This means the more confident riders can go on ahead where the terrain calls for a good canter. You might even find yourself cantering along by the end of the week, as addicted to horse safaris as your counterpart!
Expedition horse safaris in East Africa
For expedition-like safaris in Kenya and Tanzania, the distances travelled over the week are too far for inexperienced horse riders. As the riders mount up for their riding adventure, non-riders can hop into game drive vehicles where their qualified ranger will take a similar route between camps. Both the riding and vehicle safaris offer incredible wildlife sightings, with many Lion King moments. It is especially exciting when the herds of wildebeest and zebra are migrating through the area – with plenty of predator action!
Cycling and Riding Safaris
For cycling enthusiasts, how about a different type of saddle? Ants Nest, Borana and Ol Donyo lodges offer a range of bicycles for adults and children. The incredibly diverse terrain offers gentle meanders through the bush as well as technical cycling. You will set out with an experienced guide who will show you the best trails depending on your fitness and expectations. Enjoy cycling alongside herds of game in the vast plains or set off to find more challenging terrain.
One of our most popular horse safaris is also perfect for cyclists to join along for a multi-day adventure in the saddle. This is a great option for couples, friends, or families with a mix of riders and non-riders. The 7-day Tuli trail follows the elephant trails in the Mashatu Game Reserve. The cyclists follow a similar route to the horseback safari, with all guests staying at the same camps, spending meals and afternoon non-riding activities together. Catching up after a long day in the saddle is the perfect way to reconnect and compare animal encounters. The aim is to cycle 3-5 hours per day at an easy going pace with regular game sightings. Expect to cover about 25 – 50km per day depending on the experience and fitness of the group.
Other activities on safari
GAME DRIVES – Lodge-based rides in South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya offer informative and exciting game drives. These take place in the early mornings and late afternoons when wildlife is most active. While riders set off on horseback, non-riders hop into open safari vehicles, each with a window seat – ideal for wildlife photography (and taking great snaps of the riders!) As most lodges are in private conservancies, vehicles can head off-road, getting you incredibly close to wildlife such as lion, elephant and buffalo. You can also head out on night game drives where you may encounter more elusive nocturnal animals such as leopards, porcupine, and hyena.
GUIDED WALKS – Many safari lodges offer incredible guided walks out into the bush. This is not only a chance to stretch your legs but a chance to take in the nuances of nature. You head out with a local guide who will tell you about the secrets of the bush. Learn how to read animal tracks, the ancient uses of wild herbs and how the locals live in tune with the bush. It is a great experience for anyone interested in the smaller creatures such as birds and insects, but often you will get fairly close to larger game which is always incredibly exciting.
CYCLING – Set off on a cycle through the bush in South Africa, Kenya or Botswana. These trails follow the animal tracks and can be a gentle meander through the bush or a more intense workout to reach the top of rocky outcrops for incredible views.
ON THE WATER – In the Okavango Delta, seasonal floodwaters miraculously fill the dry channels and create a haven for wildlife. When water levels permit, embark on a tranquil paddle in a traditional canoe, gliding past water lilies, brightly coloured frogs and pods of hippos. Deeper channels can be explored by motorboat and create the ideal platform for wildlife viewing and fishing. In Mozambique, set sail on a traditional wooden dhow for an unforgettable sunset cruise. And Egypt offers you two exceptional experiences, a sunset cruise on the River Nile or a boat trip to swim with wild dolphins in Makadi Bay.
HELICOPTER FLIGHTS – Get a bird’s eye view of the Okavango Delta with a thrilling helicopter flight. From the air, you have the chance of seeing herds of buffalo and towers of giraffe crossing the open plains below. Our Zambezi Horse Safari is set just a few minutes away from the mighty Victoria Falls. David Livingstone famously wrote “Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight”. Little did he know that 150 years later you can have exactly that opportunity.
HOT AIR BALLOONING – At the top of many bucket lists is an ethereal dawn flight in a hot air balloon. In the Masai Mara and Serengeti, you can drift over the endless plains, watching the river of wildebeest meander below you. In southern Namibia watch the sand dunes transform from shades of grey to golds and reds.
QUAD BIKING – Somehow deserts are synonymous with 4×4 adventures, whether in a conventional vehicle or the more adventurous quad bike. In Egypt, while the horse riders are galloping through the desert, head off on a guided quad biking tour through the sand dunes. Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Salt Pans also offer the perfect racetrack, stopping in the middle of the pans to take in their immense size and the utter stillness found in very few places on earth.
CULTURAL EXPERIENCES – Safaris are the perfect way to immerse yourself in a different culture. All lodges employ local guides and staff from the local villages. You will find them waiting to greet you with warm smiles and hearty laughs. In the Masai Mara and Serengeti, spend time getting to know the nomadic Masai people and take part in traditional games. In the Makgadigadi Salt Pans, learn the secrets of the desert from the local San Bushmen. In South Africa, be amazed at the sharp eyes and amazing memories of your guides as they tell you stories about the bush. In Morocco and Egypt, visit the cities and sacred sights that are off the beaten track.
WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS – Ants Nest Lodge is home to both black and white rhinos. They will often come to the lodge and you can spend hours watching them from the purposely built viewing deck. You can also head out on foot, horseback, or vehicle to learn about tracking these incredible animals. In the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, set out in the early morning light to see the fearless Meerkats coming out of their burrows. It is an unforgettable experience watching them warm themselves in the sunlight, using the termite mounds, rocks, or humans to get the best vantage point over the plains. Follow them as they forage for their favourite foods, hear how they communicate with growls and squeaks and be amazed at how good their eyesight is!