Untamed Horseback Safari Across Botswana

A 11 day trip to Botswana 
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Gallop into an untamed world with this unique horseback adventure across Botswana. You’re not just observing. You become part of the natural world and experience the wildlife from a thrilling proximity. Explore wilderness that’s only accessible in a saddle, relish intimate encounters with Africa’s great mammals, and lose yourself in the evocative charms of the wild. Covering the Kalahari and the Okavango, this is the adventure of a lifetime.

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Most tours are customized for private travel.

General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Maun, Okavango Delta, Kalahari, Xai Xai, Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park 

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Horse riding safaris are heavily customized to rider’s preferences. The following is an example and each day’s riding will also depend on local conditions and where wildlife has been spotted. While it’s possible to go horse riding in Makgadikgadi and Okavango for just one day, a multi-day safari is recommended as it offers a more complete immersion in the wilderness.

Day 1: Acclimatizing and Exploring the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park

A shimmering blanket of white welcomes you to camp, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans clearly visible as you touch down in the wilderness. After arriving in Maun, you’ll transfer to a light aircraft and land at an isolated air strip that’s surrounded by a pristine wildlife world. The first day is about getting to know your horse by going for a gentle adventure around the camp. Gallop across endless stretches of grassland; pick a careful trail through acacia woodland, before trotting across the edge of the salt pans and admiring the mirage that flickers above the whiteness. It might be a get-to-know-you ride but there’s plenty of wildlife to see. Approach the zebra herds and get to within meters of their majestic beauty. Spot lone elephant bulls plodding a different path through the trees. Return to the simple yet elegant camp for a serene evening in the wild. Kalahari lions roar in the distance and logs crackle as you sit around the fire. There’s a lot to take in. But the adventure has only just started.

Day 2: Galloping Through the Land of 1000 Islands

Sand dunes and palm trees cover an ancient lakebed, rising evocatively as you head off in the cool morning breeze. Botswana’s wildlife comes alive in the early morning, and like many days, you’ll head off around dawn to explore. As the sun slowly rises, the silhouetted zebra herds become full color reality as you gallop alongside them. This landscape goes from scorched red in the dry season to vivid green in the wet season, providing lush grazing grounds for huge numbers of marauding zebras. The action intensifies around February to April, when the salt pans become covered in a blanket of water. However, not every individual follows the crowd, and you can expect to be riding with zebras and other ungulates all year round.

This serene environment has no trails or paths. You’re free to explore; so gallop past the palm trees, turn around and follow elephant footprints, and stop to explore the peculiar antics of meerkats. In certain months the hooves kick up dust and a rumbling sound accompanies your adventure. At other times of year you’re splashing up water and feeling the long grass come up to the stirrups. Return to the same camp before the heat of the afternoon sets in. As the mercury rises everything in Botswana enjoys some down time. So while the wildlife is resting, this is a good time to relax at camp and enjoy a siesta. Because when the sun relinquishes control there is always time for a short late afternoon ride.

Day 3: Cantering Across Endless Plains to Xai Xai

A long day of riding takes you away from the salt pans and into the acacia woodlands. Just pack the essentials as you canter away from camp and cross a huge stretch of wilderness that very rarely sees people. It’s not just zebras that you’ll ride with on these days. Hairy wildebeest congregate in large numbers as they graze on fresh pastures. Majestic hartebeest don’t flinch as you approach; after all, nature’s largest antelope weighs more than your horse. Their striped elegance shows you a path through the trees, before the grasslands return and you effortlessly canter for miles.

Have a siesta beneath a collection of huge baobab trees, allowing their immense branches to shade you from the afternoon sun. Then continue to ride deeper into this lost landscape, heading across the pans to the Xai Xai mobile camp. Like each day, you’ll have all the comfort required in the bush. That includes hot bucket showers, western toilets, and spacious tents with raised beds. So don’t think you’ll be sleeping on the floor! Relax around the campfire and gaze up at the Kalahari sky. Remember to stock up on wishes before you come, because the number of shooting stars is difficult to believe.

Day 4: An Adventure Across Salt Pans and Kalahari Woodlands

You take a different route back to the Kalahari camp, saddling up early and covering most of the distance in the cool morning hours. Meerkat mobs love this otherworldly landscape. They stand to attention and aren’t scared if you approach slowly. Some will happily interact and play if you’re non-threatening enough. While today’s route doesn’t have the same abundance of large wildlife, there’s a breathtaking serenity to crossing this land. Few people have ever explored parts of these woodlands. They’re too dense for cars, and too remote for any walking safari. So soak up the natural atmosphere as the thrills are combined with tranquility. And, just when you think everything is quiet, a lone elephant bull is effortlessly uprooting a tree in the distance.

Day 5: The Endless Waterways of the Okavango Delta

A provocative expanse of blue extends beneath the wingtips as you fly across the Okavango Delta. Gaze out of the plane window; elephant herds are regularly spotted, and shallow waterways excite everyone about the riding challenges to come. After four days in the saddle, you’ll have a shorter afternoon ride exploring the area around your new camp. Splash across the floodplains and go in search of abundant all year round wildlife. Giraffes elegantly stroll past, their long legs giving them surprising speed. Buffalo herds stand and stare, refusing to take a backward step as you approach. Their curled horns are dangerous so you won’t want to get too close. As always, elephants and zebras seem to be magnetically attracted to your horse. Even after five days you won’t be getting bored of them. Settle into the camp and spend a relaxed evening on the verandah, gazing down on the succession of wildlife that approaches the nearby water.

Day 6: Baboons and Leopards in the Forests

The Okavango isn’t just about water. Set off in a different direction to discover fig tree dotted plains and mopane woodlands. A different cast lives in these trees and your arrival alerts a troop of baboons. They swing through the branches to get a closer look, inspecting your horse and sending echoing calls into the trees. They’re not alone. A leopard lounges on a high branch, a swinging tail and glinting eyes betraying its camouflage. Bush babies leap and shout, while an assortment of nocturnal creatures can be spotted if you look carefully.

The forests are about going slow and surrounding yourself with the bountiful sights. But when the trees rescind there are large areas of open grassland. So relax your grip and let the horse go, allowing its hooves to thunder across the ground. Giraffes love this area and they epitomize how close a horse can get you. Despite their size, a rumbling engine will disturb almost any giraffe. However, a person on horseback is hardly threatening. To the giraffe you’re little more than a large zebra. Careful control of your horse is essential as any sudden movements can easily spook a giraffe. Follow the giraffes’ rhythm and approach very slowly, holding your breath as you walk to within just a few meters. Return to the camp and spend a leisurely afternoon absorbing the life that surrounds your tent.

Day 7: Galloping Across the Floodplains and Exploring the Heart of the Delta

The Okavango is Africa’s great oasis, a lavish banquet of permanent water and fertile grass. Rain rarely falls here. It descends from the Angolan highlands and then nourishes ancient channels and open lagoons. This day is about getting immersed in these waterways and roaming between all the animals that have found paradise here. Gallop across the floodplains, slowly walk through the hippo-filled channels, and then splash a route down the riverbanks. During high water times your horse will also have to swim through the lagoons as you make your way into the heart of the delta.

Elephants cavort in the water, sending immense jets out of their trunks and playfully pushing each other under. Immense herds of buffalo are easily spotted, so use the cover of a sandbank to approach unnoticed. Soft ground makes for exhilarating gallops and you charge through thick reeds that teem with inimitable birdlife. Storks, herons, egrets, Egyptian geese; the colorful flocks stop and stare as you maraud on and approach the high delta plains. Tonight’s accommodation is as unique as they come. Climb the ladder and check out your magical tree house. Have you ever slept anywhere as remote? Gaze out for endless vistas of the Delta and peer across the branches to check if any baboons or monkeys have been resting nearby. Not only are you in the middle of the world-famous Okavango Delta, you’re practically on top of it.

Day 8: Splashing Through Water and Following Ancient Trails Back to Camp

Wild sounds provide a natural wake-up call and you must pinch yourself in the morning. “Am I really in a tree house that overlooks endless miles of safari territory?” Look out across a lush expanse of water and spot the herds that dot the horizon. Set your camera to panoramic mode and document the views before saddling up and following a myriad of ancient waterways back to camp. It’s always impossible to predict exactly what is seen on each ride; however, the Okavango’s teeming world ensures every day brings wonder and a healthy dose of surprise. It’s very rare that you will encounter lions while on horseback. Understandably, that could be a little dangerous. Your local guide is an expert on picking up clues and tailoring the route to avoid any hungry big cats. Guides also network with each other and communicate any potentially risky areas. That could also include something like two boisterous hippos that are always fighting and rampaging without abandon. This whole horseback itinerary is about getting you into the middle of an untouched world, and ensuring that you’re always comfortable and safe.

Days 9 - 10: Relaxing Amongst Wildlife at a Luxury Lodge

Even the most experienced of riders are likely to have aching legs by now, although any pain is immediately forgotten when you recollect the eight days of unique encounters and memories. Completing your vacation is a serene piece of Okavango paradise. Check into a luxury lodge and check out the view from the secluded private verandah. On horseback you were approaching the wildlife. Now it’s time to put your feet up and wait for the animals to come to you. Wild elephants and giraffes slowly wander past, an assortment of antelope graze beside your room, and it’s not uncommon to see lion prides majestically wandering across the plains. Go to bed and hear rustling sounds coming from the trees. Wake in the morning to find a whole trail of hippo prints beside your door.

These two days are about relaxing and indulging in the Okavango’s bounty. You can create a program of game drives and boat safaris that explore parts of the delta that were too dangerous for horses. Head deep into big cat territory and pull up beside large prides of hungry lions. Cruise through lagoons and get within meters of giant hippo pods, a succession of eyes peering out of the water and fixing you with a steely stare. Or enjoy a picnic beside a waterhole and watch the elephant herds come for a drink. Alternatively, you may want to simply sit back on the verandah and allow nature’s magical spell to unfold before your eyes.

Day 11: Farewell to Botswana

Fly back over the Okavango Delta to Maun, where a connection takes you to Johannesburg, South Africa. From here your homeward bound flight awaits. Scroll through the camera on the journey home and it’s difficult to believe the experience you’ve just had.

Price

Starting Price 

$6,595
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.