5 of the Best Riding Holidays in Botswana
With over 40 horses to choose from, there’s a mount to suit most riders here. You’ll need to be fit enough to ride for up to six hours at a time, and experienced enough to stay on at all paces. Fulfil these criteria and you’ll enjoy a varied riding holiday in the Okavango Delta, sometimes quietly walking, stalking big game and admiring bird life, sometimes cantering through the water meadows alongside galloping giraffe and lechwe. With wildlife drives, boating, bush walks and fishing on offer, non-riding partners will enjoy the safari experience too.
The original Botswana horse safari, owned and run by PJ and Barney Bestelink, riding safaris here are built around five, seven or ten nights and allow experienced riders a glimpse of the Okavango Delta’s many diverse habitats. Safari wildlife is plentiful in this watery paradise and among the species you can expect to see are elephant, buffalo, giraffe and zebra, along with the likes of wild dog, warthog and ostrich. You’ll spend around four to six hours in the saddle with the chance to game drive, bush walk or get onto the water in a mokoro most days. Non-riders are welcome, but need to be booked in advance to ensure a holiday programme is designed for them. Owner Barney Bestelink says what makes us different is, ‘our 35 years’ experience in the Okavango Delta – we ran the very first horse riding safari in southern Africa and are pioneers in this field. We have also been breeding our own safari horses for over 20 years, using our knowledge to produce horses to give our guests the very best experience.’
The spectacular Selinda Spillway provides the setting for Motswiri Camp from which Ride and Walk Botswana operates a great mix of riding, walking and boating safaris. Riders can choose from 20 well-schooled horses on which to explore a mix of dry savannah, riverine bush and wide open flood plains. Expert walking guides are on hand for those keen to investigate the area on foot, and when water levels allow, boat or mokoro (traditional dug-out canoe) provide an alternative viewing platform. Families are welcome and it’s a great place for riders and non-riders to enjoy an African holiday in a less visited corner of Botswana. RAW Botswana’s Kate Holmes says, ‘as well as being a world class riding camp we also cater for guests who prefer not to ride, which makes us the perfect destination for those travelling with non-riding family or partners. We can offer walking, game drives, mokoros and canoeing amid the 330,000 acres of untouched wilderness in which we operate.’
Ride through the Makgadikgadi Pans and you’ll experience a wild, unspoilt area unlike any other in Africa. The truly exceptional landscape of vast pans, sprawling open woodlands and good ground lends itself to an unforgettable riding safari holiday. At the height of the migration season (which runs from November to April) the grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich – and the attendant predators. Spend an afternoon on foot and you can visit the meerkat families that live here – some are quite habituated to humans and may even use you as a look out post as they survey the African desert for danger.
Cor and Louise Carelsen run their superb riding safaris from the Mashatu Game Reserve in the south eastern corner of Botswana. Often referred to as the ‘land of giants’ for its baobab studded plains and large herds of elephant, Mashatu is a remote African wildlife paradise, pretty much untouched by tourism. Among the resident wildlife is lion, cheetah, leopard, wild dog and a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe. Three riding safari itineraries are offered to experienced riders and range in length from four to seven nights. You’ll enjoy some fast riding over rugged terrain on one of the 35 horses stabled here. Non-riders are welcome to join their riding friends or family on holiday and can explore on game drives, mountain bikes or on foot. You’ll meet up with riders for lunch and sundowners before supper. Louise says, ‘our horses are trained by professionals for discerning riders to enjoy and our good ethical guiding makes for magical, natural wildlife encounters.’
These are just some of the riding holidays in Botswana available. We would love to hear from you, no matter how early in the planning process you might be for planning a riding safari in Africa. We’re passionate about Africa and would be happy to chat about creating your tailor made safari. Please get in touch with me.