Botswana Horse Safaris
This blog has been written for people looking to experience horse riding in Africa, whether as a solely horseback safari experience or as part of a traditional safari involving game drives. We share with you, in the third installment of our equestrian blog series, the top locations and camps offering horse safaris in Botswana. Let’s find out more.
Botswana is a unique country that boasts both desert and delta. Whilst the delta pan handle fills with floodwater, the desert pans dry out making for an amazingly diverse land of scenery and experiences. The Okavango Delta is the jewel in Botswana’s crown, famed for its incredible wildlife and camps that offer game viewing by both land and water. For us, the desert pans are also so special. Incredible landscapes, beautiful camps, and great wildlife; the pans are home to the second largest migration in Africa. The zebra migration occurs between January and April, and is a must see for those traveling during that time of year. What we will focus on in this blog however, are two of the best horse safaris opportunities in Botswana.
Horse riding in Botswana
Okavango Horse Safaris was founded in the 1980s and is consistently voted one of the best horse riding safaris in Botswana. It is made up of three camps located in the Okavango Delta, each with their own characteristics and style. Kujwana Camp is the main camp, followed by Mololowane. The third camp is a ‘fly camp’, where you will sleep out under the stars. Most safaris will spend the majority of time at Kujwana Camp, which is the most luxurious, boasting a swimming pool and ensuite tents with riverside views. The camp has 60 well cared for horses and an amazingly organised tack room featuring high quality English and South African Saddlery.
The camp has a team dedicated to training and schooling the horses and together with an exceptional safety record, you really are in excellent hands at the lodge and on horseback. The safaris take place in a 2,500 km2 private concession in intimate groups of no more than 8 riders (unless you organise a private group that is larger). This is the ultimate experience, riding tall on your mount through grass reeds, splashing through golden floodplains and moving through herds of lechwe and wildebeest. Along with the horse safaris, which are around 4 to 6 hours a day, you will also have the opportunity to swim, go on game drives, mokoro trips, and walks.
Okavango Horse Safaris offers 5 night, 7 night and 10 night itineraries, all splitting their time between Kujwana and Mokolowane Camps, while their 10 day itinerary also includes a night fly camping. For those travelling with a non-rider, the company will also create a non-riding itinerary, making this an ideal opportunity for keen riders traveling with not so keen riders!
Ride Botswana is a company that offers riding safaris not only in the Okavango Delta, but also in the Kalahari Desert and the Thamalakane River, which is a great opportunity to experience both the desert and delta from the saddle. The Okavango Delta Ride is a 7 night safari and a rather unique experience. As it is a mobile riding camp, all the camp equipment is transported between camp locations by mokoro. The camp is simple but comfortable, with food cooked over the campfire, offering a wonderfully intimate and authentic safari experience. There is no set route on the safaris, instead the locations are chosen based on water levels and where the wildlife is, making each safari unique.
The Kalahari horse safari offers a safari experience with a landscape like no other. The vast open salt pans of the Makgadikgadi, stretching as far as the eye can see, and the opportunity to ride alongside the zebra migration. Here you have two options: The more casually rider can enjoy morning and afternoon horse rides at Jacks Camp, San Camp, and Camp Kalahari. For experienced riders, enjoy a 5 night itinerary that sees you spend 3 nights a Camp Kalahari followed by two nights fly camping in the Makgadikgadi.
A great option for families or novice riders is the Thamalakane River Ride, where you stay at the Royal Tree Lodge, a luxury lodge with horses to suit all abilities. Itineraries range from 3 to 5 nights, with the option of morning and afternoon rides, or just morning rides. The 5 night safari incorporates a mix of activities such as a mokoro ride, boat cruise and flight over the delta, making it great for someone not wanting to spend every day in the saddle.
When to go?
Botswana’s dry season runs from June to October, which is the peak time for safari in the Okavango Delta, however horse safaris are possible almost year round. It is worth noting that Botswana gets very hot from October until the end of year and fairly humid in the early months of the year when rain is expected. Your interests and other travel plans are taken into consideration when looking at the best time of year to travel.
Where to rest your legs after?
Africa is your oyster. Maun is the nearest international airport and from here you can fly pretty much anywhere. Enjoy Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles or even East Africa. If your main focus is wildlife then head to Zimbabwe for more days on safari. Direct flights link Botswana and Cape Town so you can complete the trip with some city life, or a few indulgent days in the Cape Winelands.