Horse Riding Safari in Okavango: Galloping Through Africa’s Oasis

A 8 day trip to Botswana 
4.25
4.25 out of 5 stars
4 reviews

You will take the ride of your life through the Okavango through the exceptional African safari camps and incredible landscape. With a vast array of options before you, hooves will splash with water as you gallop across the Okavango Delta, traveling from island to island amidst the mystical floodplains. Elephants and buffalo watch you pass as zebra and lechwe join the journey, and you will quickly be submerged by the wilderness. On this 8-day Okavango horseback safari, you will be hundreds of miles from any road as you explore an oasis of big mammals and beautiful vistas. 

Customize This Trip For Me
Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Okavango Delta, Moremi Game Reserve, Baobab Island, Western Baobab area, Kujwana, Mokolwane

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Maun to Kujwana – Spectacular Flight Over the Okavango Delta and Orientation Ride

Spilling out across the Kalahari, the Okavango Delta is an oasis of life in the desert, attracting nomadic animals from thousands of miles around. Great floodplains ripple with life, from bathing hippos to elephants splashing around and zebra herds prancing through the shallows. The scale can be unfathomable. And it's this scale that initially inspires as you arrive for your safari. After your international flight touches down in Botswana, you will fly from Maun to the Kujwana Camp by helicopter, a 20-minute journey across flooded expanses, marooned herds and thousands of islands. Soon after you take off, the Delta will be all you see as its lush colors contrast with the desert yellow that surrounds Maun.

You will arrive at your camp and spend your afternoon on an orientation ride. There are around 60 horses in the stable, and the guides have an intimate knowledge of their behavior which will ensure that you are matched with a suitable ride. All are sensible, forward-moving horses, used to the wild open spaces and the random encounters with wildlife. On your 2-hour ride around the local area, you will enjoy your first safari sights, notably the zebra and lechwe which huddle in large numbers. The odd elephant will grace the scene, but the main focus of the day will be getting comfortable with your horse and getting used to the conditions. Like each day on this horseback safari, you will not be following the horse trails; rather you will be making your own routes across the Delta.

What's Included: accommodation, helicopter flight, transfers, safari, dinner

Day 2: Kujwana – Galloping From Island to Island and Afternoon Game Drive

As the sun begins to rise, you will be cantering across the floodplains, riding with the zebra and following the hundreds of red lechwe to their fresh grazing pastures. Wade into the lush green bits of land that lead you between islands as some are thick with forest and the horses' hooves will surprise the reedbuck out from their cover. In the open spaces, you will join the mass herds, and by moving confidently, it is easy to ride within ten meters of the zebra and lechwe. Elephants rumble about the trees and are nomadic wanderers that still look huge when you are on horseback. Hippos are also easily spotted, filling the lagoons with their riotous grunts and noise. After leaving at dawn, you will return to camp in the late morning, where your lunch will be followed by a siesta.

Later in the afternoon, as the heat of the day begins to fade, you will enjoy a game drive in the areas south of the camp. Trackers locate lions expertly, understanding their realms and where they like to find shade. Often you will see a pride in full repose, languidly rocking away an afternoon as their cubs annoy their parents with their flailing paws. Leopard also hides around here, although they are not as easy to spot in the dense woodland. Your vehicle will stop and your guide will point, but you will follow the finger to see nothing. But eventually, a tail will flick, and the leopard's camouflage is betrayed.  You will be surprised to realize that she was much closer than you had imagined. Your vehicle will stop at the water for sunset drinks as the hippos emerge to graze, and then you will continue by spotlight with a nighttime drive that will reveal the animated scenes on the plains. A candlelit dinner will then complete your first full day on safari.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3: Kujwana – Big Game Horseback Safari in the Western Baobab Area

Hippos fill the channels as you ride off through the western Baobab area. These channels will lead you to a string of small islands where the odd wildebeest or monkey may have been left marooned. Sometimes the channels bring you to deep lagoons, where the horses wade in, and you are almost swimming across the Okavango. Keep riding as you move at a fast canter to cover large swathes of land that are completely inaccessible by vehicle. Sometimes you will follow elephant trails through the dense forest, using their pathways of destruction and passing clusters of the pachyderms along the way. There are resident breeding herds around here, and the baby elephants will be a safari highlight, especially when they give you and your horse an inquisitive look.

As you reach Baobab Island, the lattice of animal tracks will extend to crisscross in every direction, hinting of the abundance of life attracted to this area. Wildebeest are spotted at increasing frequency, many of them galloping with an almost comical ebullience. So many tracks also bring surprises here and there as often a new animal is found when you emerge from the woodland; impala, warthog, springbok, sable antelope, perhaps the hooting of a baboon troop. After six hours in the saddle, you will return for lunch and a siesta before your afternoon is spent drifting along the waters in a makoro.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 4: Kujwana to Mokolwane – Full-Day Ride Across the Floodplains

It is a full-day expedition between camp as you move across quintessential Delta landscape. Leave the hippos behind as you wade through the lagoons to cross wide open floodplains. At the height of the flooding, the guide will pick your route very carefully, trying to keep the water beneath the horse’s knees. But most of the time, you can just pick your space to canter and gallop across a blanket of lush green and ankle-high water. Thousands of ungulates graze here, the openness enabling the sentinels to spot nearby predators easily. It is the high grass that is dangerous, both for zebra and a horse.

Your guides have decades of Okavango riding experience, and they will expertly tailor your route, drawing on ancient knowledge to ensure your safety. For tens of thousands of years, tribes have lived alongside the elephants and lions of the Okavango, and some of their simple techniques make exciting safari adventures like these possible. You will stop on a shaded island for lunch, with hippos frolicking in the distance and echoed primate calls arriving from the trees. Rest for a couple of hours before continuing your ride, moving northwest to arrive at Mokolwane camp just before sunset.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 5: Mokolwane – Morning Game Walk and an Evening Ride Along the Water

Rest your legs for the morning and shake the stiffness out of your muscles with a morning game walk. The animals will appear even larger when you are walking, especially the giants of the Delta. Seeing an elephant or giraffe from a vehicle is special, but seeing one tower high above you is something else entirely. Much like riding on horseback, a game walk is evocative and exhilarating, bringing intimate encounters with those on the plains. Tsessebe skips past, following the sitatunga on a journey to the water. Springbok litter the plains and you will regularly spot the distinctive horns of kudu. Then there are the birds, as hundreds of different species beat their colorful wings around the trees.

Relax at your camp through the afternoon and savor the setting. The ensuite tents are raised on wooden platforms above the Delta, providing imperious vistas across the landscape that you have been exploring. The interiors are more like a hotel than a camp and are very comfortable, while still providing a safari under canvas experience. Your afternoon and evening ride will take you through the Matsibe River system, where elephants and baboons munch on mokolwane palms and buffalos chomp on the tsaro palms. In the evening, you will dine with candles and moonlight as you listen to the reverberating calls of the Okavango, glimpsing the odd hippo and elephant moving along the horizon.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 6: Mokolwane – Riding Through the Wilderness and Afternoon Mokoro Safari

You will have already journeyed deep into the wilderness, but Mokolwane will bring you even further away from the accessible trails. Very few people have ever explored this area, and there will not be any other tourists anywhere near. The deeper you go, the more you will find. From the yelps of hyena to the blue wildebeest and large baboon troops, you will also find endangered wild dog that occupies the area. Hippos continually wallow in the lagoons, and it is easy to lose count of how many you see each day.

It is likely to be a five or six hour morning ride today with a return for a leisurely lunch and a few hours of downtime at your camp. A hippo's grunt will arouse you from your siesta and your afternoon will be spent on a mokoro as a guide paddles you down the channels and through the reeds. After the rugged adventure your horse brings, a mokoro trip is all about the calm serenity as you just sit back and watch the world unfold from your canoe. Lechwe drink on the banks, the curled horns of a sable antelope impress from up close, and as you are watching a fishing owl soar, a spotted hyena has appeared at the shore.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 7: Mokolwane to Kujwana – Back Across the Okavango on Horseback

It is a full day of riding to return to Kujwana Camp as your guide will lead you on a different route to that of days previous. By now, the sights will have become commonplace as a zebra herd canters alongside you while buffalo march in their hundreds and baby elephants discover their swimming skills. The raw beauty of safari often comes from this naturalization of experiences; you are so immersed that finding a giraffe next to your breakfast table feels like an ordinary thing to happen. On today's ride, you will stop for lunch beside a swimming pool, where your camp bed is shaded by a giant baobab and the odd elephant bull wakes you from slumber. After the ride, you will arrive back around sunset for a final evening in the bush.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 8: Kujwana to Maun – Morning Game Drive and Departure

A helicopter will bring you back to Maun in the early afternoon, so there will be time for a final safari experience in the morning. Some opt for the ease of a game drive and a chance to seek out lions, while others prefer one final horseback safari with a last canter between islands or a final wade through the lagoons. Returning by air, you begin to grasp the scale of what you have just done as the Okavango just keeps extending in your view as you realize how amazing your journey has been. Once in Maun, you will connect with your international departure.

What's Included: accommodation, safari, helicopter transfer, breakfast, lunch

Price

Starting Price 

$4,795
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.