Okavango Horse Safaris riding holiday in Botswana - Far and Ride
Home  >  Riding Holidays  >  Botswana  >  Okavango Horse Safaris

Okavango Horse Safaris, Botswana





Horses



Type of horses:

A mixture of breeds to include Thoroughbred, Arab, Boerperd, Friesian and various cross breeds. Some have been bred by your hosts.

Nature of horses:

Well schooled, responsive and even tempered. There are horses to suit riders who enjoy a quieter ride as well as competition riders who prefer something more challenging. You will likely ride a number of different ones during your stay.

Height of horses:

14 - 17 hh

Weight limit:

90kg / 14 stone 7 lbs.
Heavier riders may be accommodated on payment of a 50% supplement for an additional horse. Alternatively, shorter programmes can be arranged which include game walks and short rides - please enquire.

Tack type:

Mostly good quality English leather saddles such as Albion, Ideal - all with seat savers. There are some trail saddles available but these don't fit all the horses. Bridles are English leather and most horses are in snaffles.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Explore the magical inland water meadows of the Okavango Delta on this semi-mobile riding safari which visits at least two camps during your stay. Imagine yourself seated high above the long grass and reeds, watching great herds of wildebeest or lechwe as they graze these watery floodplains. Stumble across huge buffalo herds or family groups of elephant, and canter alongside the majestic giraffe. This safari is what dreams are made of.

The ride operates in a 2,500 sq.km private concession on the western side of the Okavango Delta which contains three major river systems - the Xudum, Matsibie and Kiri.

Game is plentiful and includes all the Big Five. At main camp you may be lucky enough to meet the resident hippo, and the recently re-introduced rhino are also sometimes spotted. The proliferation of plains game such as antelope, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo means that predator activity is also good and you may see lion, leopard, cheetah or wild dog.

On five or seven night itineraries you visit two different camps - by moving camps you get to ride in two very different eco-systems, discovering the vast wetlands and moklowane palms as well as the drier islands and mopane woodlands. On a ten day itinerary you also stay in a mobile fly camp and sleep out under your mosquito net under the stars as the early explorers did.

These safaris are hosted by PJ and Barney Bestelink, the original pioneers of riding safaris in the Okavango Delta. They are ably assisted by a number of local guides. Many of the staff remain for many, many years and their children are supported through school under a Sponsored Education Programme established by PJ and Barney.

Cathy from Far and Ride has been lucky enough to ride here and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Main camp comprises of large walk-in tents built on raised wooden platforms with en-suite bathrooms. There are proper beds with duvets and pillows and solar lighting. The communal area has comfortable seating, a dining area and a small plunge pool.

At Moklowane camp, large platforms have been built in the trees which are open-fronted to view the spectacular landscape, and also have en-suite bathrooms. Again there are proper beds here, with mosquito nets over as you sleep under the canopy of trees.

Fly camp is simple with mosquito nets tied to trees with camp beds underneath. There are long-drop toilets and bucket showers.

All meals and drinks are provided.
Breakfast is usually light - tea/coffee, rusks, boiled eggs, bread etc.
Lunch includes salads, quiche, pasta, fresh fruit. Sometimes lunch is at camp whilst some days it's a picnic out on the trail.
Dinner is three courses and includes meat/fish with plenty of fresh vegetables.
Vegetarians and some special diets can be catered for with advance notice.

 

Activities

As well as the riding the itineraries include game walks, mokoro trips (dug-out canoes) and game drives. There is also a plunge pool at main camp.
Non-riders are well catered for and have their own personal guide - they can choose to explore the bush on foot, in a vehicle or by boat. Non-riders meet the riders for lunch and dinner.

 

Further Details

Languages: English

Health requirements: You need to be fit and generally healthy as you are riding in a remote location. Your doctor will likely recommend that you take anti-malarial medication, particularly during the summer months.

Age limit: Children of 12 years and older can be accepted. Younger children may possibly be accepted in private family groups. If children wish to ride then they will be asked to provide evidence of their competency from an independent equine professional (ie. Pony Club instructor).

Tuition: No

Included: Riding and other safari activities; all meals; all drinks(soft drinks and local beers, wines and spirits); accommodation

Not included: Flights; transfers; insurance; tips

 

Travel Information

Flights are generally overnight from UK to Johannesburg arriving early in the morning, followed by a connecting flight to Maun. Direct flights from the UK to Johannesburg can be booked with the following airlines:

London Gatwick to Johannesburg - Nationwide Airways

London Heathrow to Johannesburg - British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Indirect flights from the UK to Johannesburg departing from a number of regional airports can be booked with the following airlines:

KLM
Lufthansa
Virgin Atlantic

Flights from Johannesburg to Maun can be booked with South African Airways and Air Botswana. For ease and convenience we would recommend booking South African Airways throughout as your flights will be all on one ticket and you will be protected in case of any delays. You can also book a through ticket with British Airways and Air Botswana.

We will arrange the transfer from Maun to camp. There are three main options:
1. Helicopter - this scenic 25min helicopter flight arrives directly into camp meaning you can ride the afternoon you arrive. £250 per person each way (2017); £260 per person each way (2018)
2. Fixed wing flight to Pompom - during high water times you can fly by light aircraft to Pompom and then transfer by boat from there to Kujwana camp. £200 per person each way.
3. Road and boat transfer - transfer by road out of Maun for c. 2-3 hours and then complete the journey by boat for c. 1 hour. The journey has game viewing along the way but will mean there is no riding on arrival/departure day. £100 per person each way.

Transfers are also possible from/to Kasane for those visiting Victoria Falls - using fixed wing and helicopter. These transfers are £440 per person each way and also include the road transfer from Kasane to accommodation in the Victoria Falls area.

**Please note that from 1st June 2017, Botswana have introduced a Tourism Levy of 30 USD which must be paid in cash on arrival at the airport**

Airport: Maun

Alternative Airport: Kasane

 

Programmes


5 night itinerary



This five night safari is perfect for those who cannot be away from home for longer than a week, or for people who wish to combine two rides in Botswana, or add a riding safari to a longer safari itinerary. Splash through the floodplains, canter alongside lechwe and experience wildlife from the back of a horse.

This five night itinerary takes place on the first five nights of the seven night ride, so you may be riding with guests who are staying longer than you.

Please note that this is a sample itinerary and the exact route and experiences will vary depending on water levels and game movements.

Day 1: Maun - Kujwana camp

On arrival at Maun airport you will be met and transferred to camp. If arriving by helicopter (which is highly recommended as the flight itself is a magical experience) then you will arrive in time for a late lunch and safety briefing before heading out onto an orientation ride. Please note that we recommend packing your riding clothes into your hand luggage if arriving by helicopter as your luggage may arrive by road later in the day!

After your ride, relax with a gin and tonic whilst watching the sunset before dinner with your group.

c.0 -2 hours riding

Day Two - Kujwana

You will be awoken early with a cup of tea or coffee and a light breakfast meaning you are riding as dawn breaks and the game is most active.

This morning's ride takes you through the Xudum river area, where you will wade from island to island through lush green malopos. You may surprise a timid reedbuck out of it's dense cover or watch giraffe or lechwe as they appear to effortlessly move through the water. There is exceptional birdlife in this seasonal marshland and your guides will help you to identify everything you see. Return to Kujwana camp for lunch in the shade and a relaxing siesta.

In the afternoon, head out on a game drive, stopping for sundowner drinks on the plains - perhaps watching zebra grazing, or if you are lucky, lions awakening from their daytime slumbers.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Three - Kujwana - Moklowane camp

Today is a full day of riding as you depart Kujwana camp and ride to Moklowane camp. You follow a 30km route north-west, cantering across open floodplains and traversing shady islands amongst the Matsebe river system. Stop for lunch in a shady spot before continuing your ride towards camp. When water levels are high you may have to swim the horses into camp - your saddles are taken across by boat and you mount bareback (you may also cross by boat if you prefer). Arrive at sunset for a welcome drink before dinner.

6-7 hours riding

Day Four: Moklowane

After a long riding day yesterday, this morning you explore the surroundings on a game walk or mokoro (dugout canoe) depending on water levels and game movements. This gives you the chance to view the delta from a different perspective, looking for smaller creatures such as the painted reed frogs clinging to the reeds or hiding under the lily pads.

After lunch and a siesta, take an afternoon ride into the Matsebe river system, where wide floodplains are interspersed with Moklowane palms - a favourite with elephants! You may encounter large herds of buffalo amongst the dense Tsaro palms.

c. 2 hours riding

Day Five - Moklowane camp - Kujwana camp

A full day ride as you return from Moklowane to Kujwana camp, following the southern route of the Matsebe river. Picnic besides a watering hole and siesta on a camp bed under the trees - or watch elephant as they splash in the shallows. Continue riding in the afternoon, arriving to Kujwana camp in time for sunset and a delicious drink.

6-7 hours riding

Day Six - Kujwana camp - Maun

If transferring out by helicopter then there will be time for a final ride exploring the myriad of waterways around Kujwana camp before departing. If transferring by road/boat then you will leave after breakfast.

c. 0-2 hours riding



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: You need to be a capable and competent rider. This is an area containing potentially dangerous game and so you need to be confident and able to stay with your horse if you need to gallop out of danger.
Type of ride: Semi-mobile safari
Total riding time: 6 days / 5 nights. Four full days of riding plus possible short ride on arrival/departure days.
Departure dates: Available all year round, arriving on either a Saturday or a Tuesday.
 
Pricing: 2017:

Low Season (December): £2600 per person for five-night stay.

Mid Season (November): £3050 per person for five-night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

There are two new, spacious riverside suites at Kujwana main camp, with spectacular views across the river - these two suites can be booked on request and subject to availability for an additional £70 per suite per night.

2018:

Low Season (January, February, March, December): £2850 per person for five-night stay.

Mid Season (April, May, June, 1st - 17th July and November): £3300 per person for five-night stay.

High Season (18th - 31st July, August, September and October): £3750 per person for five-night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

Riverside suite supplement: £70 per suite per night (subject to availability)



7 night itinerary



Discover the "jewel of the Kalahari" on this fantastic semi-mobile trail ride safari through the Okavango Delta. Spend 7 nights exploring two distinct areas of this magical watery wonderland whilst staying in two luxurious camps and experience the thrill of splashing through the flooded plains alongside the nimble lechwe antelope.

Please note that this is a sample itinerary and the exact route or experiences may vary depending on water levels and game movement.

Day One: Maun arrival - Kujwana camp

On arrival at Maun airport you will be met and transferred to Kujwana camp. If transferring by helicopter - which we recommend as the flight itself is a thrilling introduction to the delta - then there will be time for a late lunch, safety briefing and introductory ride. We recommend packing your riding clothes in your hand luggage in case your main luggage travels in separately by road/boat. If transferring by road/boat, then you will arrive in time for sundowner drinks and dinner with the rest of your group.

0-2 hours riding

Day Two: Kujwana

You will be woken early so that you are heading out on horseback as dawn breaks and the wildlife is most active. This mornings ride heads through the Xudum area, where you will wade through lush green malopos and cross between islands. You may startle a shy reedbuck out of a dense island, or watch giraffe loping across the floodplains. These seasonal floodplains are a haven for birdlife and your guests will knowledgably point these out to you. Return to camp for lunch and a siesta.

In the afternoon, head out on a game drive to look for those animals you may not wish to approach on horseback, such as lion. Enjoy sundowners as night falls and perhaps head back to camp with the spotlight, looking for nocturnal species.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Three - Kujwana

Today's ride explores the western Baobab area - follow numerous hippo channels and cross many islands until reaching Baobab Island. The deep lagoons make this a popular area for water dependent species such as hippo, buffalo and lechwe. The dense forest also provides security for breeding herds of elephant and they leave a lattice of paths as they travel from pan to pan. The abundant animal tracks will thrill you with the promise of what's around the corner, or what passed by the night before.

After lunch at camp, spend the afternoon drifting through the reeds on a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) looking for the pretty painted reed frogs amidst the heady scent of the water lilies.

c. 4-5 hours riding

Day Four: Kujwana camp - Moklowane camp

Today you have a full-day of riding as you leave Kujwana camp behind and head north-west to Moklowane camp. Canter across open floodplains, perhaps with a herd of lechwe splashing alongside and cross the scattered islands of the Matsebe river system. A picnic lunch is set up in a shady spot and there is time to relax before the afternoon ride. After c. 30kms of riding you will reach Moklowane camp. If the water is high then you will untack the horses and swim them bareback into camp - those that prefer can travel across by boat with the saddles!

6-7 hours riding

Day Five: Moklowane

After yesterdays long ride, you stretch your legs and use different muscles on a game walk, allowing you to explore the delta from a different perspective. After lunch at camp, take an afternoon ride to explore the wide floodplains and moklowane palms which predominate in this area. These moklowane palms are a favourite food of elephant, whilst the numerous buffalo prefer the Tsaro palms.

c. 2 hours riding

Day Six - Moklowane

A full morning ride today offers the chance to explore deeper into the wilderness out to the west of Moklowane camp. Perhaps hear lion calling as they defend their latest kill from hyena. After lunch on the raised platform overlooking the Matsebe river, you may watch elephant wander past or hippo splashing in the deep lagoons. If you've discovered something exciting during the morning ride then you may head out in the boat or on foot for a closer look before settling down for your final night in your tree house.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Seven: Moklowane camp - Kujwana camp

A full day of riding as you leave Moklowane camp behind and head back to Kujwana, following the southern route of the Matsebe river. Track elephant during the morning ride before stopping for lunch overlooking a water hole where they splash in the shallows. After a siesta on a camp bed under the trees, continue riding until reaching camp as the sun sets.

6-7 hours riding

Day Eight: Kujwana camp - Maun

If you are departing by helicopter then there will be time for a final morning ride before being transferred back to Maun. If departing by road/boat then you will leave straight after breakfast to ensure you are back in time for your onward flight.

0-2 hours riding



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: You need to be a capable and competent rider. You are riding through an area of potentially dangerous game and so you should be a confident rider and able to stay on your horse if you have to gallop out of danger. There are opportunities for long trots and canters, so you should be fit for sometimes long hours in the saddle.
Type of ride: Semi-mobile Safari
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights. Six full days of riding plus possible short rides on arrival/departure days.
Departure dates: Safaris depart on either a Tuesday or Saturday throughout the year.
 
Pricing: 2017:

Low Season (December): £3640 per person for seven-night stay.

Mid Season (November): £4270 per person for seven-night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

There are two new, spacious riverside suites at Kujwana main camp, with spectacular views across the river - these two suites can be booked on request and subject to availability for an additional £70 per suite per night.

2018:

Low Season (January, February, March, December): £3990 per person for seven-night stay.

Mid Season (April, May, June, 1st - 17th July and November): £4620 per person for seven-night stay.

High Season (18th - 31st July, August, September and October): £5250 per person for seven-night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

Riverside suite supplement: £70 per suite per night (subject to availability).



10 night itinerary



This ten night mobile safari is for the adventurous traveller, who wants to experience a mobile fly camp as well as plenty of fantastic riding in the game-rich Okavango Delta. After staying at both Kujwana and Moklowane camps, you spend two nights under the stars with only a mosquito net over your head. The camps are chosen for their variety of terrain and location of fly camp may vary depending on which species are in the area. The ultimate horseback safari within the "Jewel of the Kalahari".

Please note that this is a sample itinerary and the actual route and game sightings will vary depending on water levels and the movement of game.

Day One: Maun - Kujwana camp

You will be met on arrival at Maun airport and transferred to camp. We recommend flying in by helicopter as it's a magical experience and means you arrive in time for an afternoon ride. If arriving by helicopter then you should pack your riding clothes into your hand luggage in case your main luggage follows by road/boat. If transferring into camp by road/boat then you will not have time to ride on arrival, but will view game on your journey. Everyone will be in camp in time for sundowners and dinner.

0-2 days riding

Day Two: Kujwana

You will be woken early with a cup of tea or coffee in your tent. After a light breakfast you will mount at dawn so as to be out riding as the game is most active. Today's ride will explore the Xudum area, where you wade through lush green malopos as you head from island to island. Perhaps you'll stumble across the shy reedbuck as it hides amongst dense bush on the islands, or watch herds of lechwe and giraffe as they splash through the waters. The seasonal marshlands are a paradise for birdlife and your guides will help you tick off all the species you see. Return to camp for lunch and a siesta.

In the afternoon go on a game drive, finding a beautiful spot to watch the sunset whilst sipping a cool drink. Then head back to camp with the spotlight, trying to spot some nocturnal animals.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Three - Kujwana

Today's morning ride explores the western Baobab area. Ride from island to island across the numerous hippo channels until reaching Baobab Island - the deep lagoons here make it an ideal spot for hippo, lechwe and buffalo who are reliant on large quantities of water. The dense forest is favoured by breeding herds of elephant who create a lattice of paths for you to follow. The abundance of animal tracks mean that you can choose what to search for - or avoid!

After lunch back at camp, explore the delta on a different mode of transport in the afternoon - drifting through the reeds on a traditional dugout canoe (mokoro). From this vantage point you can search for the pretty painted reed frogs hanging on reeds or sheltering under the lily pads.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Four: Kujwana camp - Moklowane camp

Today is a long day, as you ride 30km from Kujwana camp to Moklowane camp. Follow a north-westerly route across open floodplains perfect for long canters and across scattered islands until reach the Matsebe river system. A picnic lunch is served en-route on a shady island. Upon reaching Moklowane camp, just before sunset, you may get the chance to swim the horses across the waterway - only possible when water levels are high. Your saddles go across by boat and you ride bareback into camp - those who prefer can take the boat instead.

c. 6-7 hours riding

Day Five: Moklowane

After yesterdays long ride, this morning is a chance to use different muscles and explore the surrounding area on a game walk. This is a great chance to learn about the smaller species or to spot differences in animal tracks. After lunch and a siesta, take an afternoon ride into the Matsebe river system to discover the wide floodplains dotted with Moklowane palms - these palms are a favourite food for elephant, whereas buffalo prefer the dense Tsaro palms.

c. 2 hours riding

Day Six: Moklowane

This morning's ride allows you the chance to explore the wilderness to the west of Moklowane camp - who knows what you will find? Return to camp for lunch on the raised platform overlooking the deep lagoon in front of camp - perhaps hippo will be splashing there, or a herd of elephant parading past on the horizon.

In the afternoon you may set out on foot or by boat to discover more secrets before spending your final night in your tree house 10ft above the ground.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Seven: Moklowane camp - Kujwana camp

A full day of riding back to the main camp at Kujwana, this time following the southern edge of the Matsebe river. Your picnic lunch spot overlooks a watering hole where you can siesta under a shady tree and perhaps watch a bull elephant as he strolls past. You arrive back to Kujwana camp at sunset, in time for a cool drink and dinner.

c. 6-7 hours riding

Day Eight: Kujwana camp - Fly camp

Set off riding to a completely new area and your fly camp, stopping for a picnic along the way. Fly camp will already be set up when you arrive - bedrolls and mosquito nets will be set up in individual locations with private wash stands and bush toilets. There are bucket showers which are filled with plenty of hot water for you by the friendly staff. Have dinner around the campfire whilst listening to the reed frogs and crickets. Then head off to bed under a blanket of stars.

c. 6-7 hours riding

Day Nine: Fly camp

After breakfast, ride out to explore the surrounding area. Perhaps startle a pack of wild dog and, if you are lucky, watch them hunting. Return to camp in time for lunch and relax during the heat of the afternoon with a book, or perhaps take a dip in the cool, clear waters. As the air cools, head out for sundowner drinks in the bush and a thrilling night drive back to camp with the spotlight.

c. 4 hours riding

Day Ten: Fly camp - Kujwana camp

Ride back towards Kujwana camp, keeping your eyes open for the graceful giraffe or beautiful kudu antelope with their big ears. Your picnic lunch spot is in a beautiful remote area where you can splash in the shallows to cool off or simply relax in the shade. Ride back to main camp in time for your final dinner and to re-count your adventures.

c. 6-7 hours riding

Day Eleven: Kujwana - Maun

If you are transferring out by helicopter then there may be time for a final ride; if you are transferring by road/boat then you will depart straight after breakfast.



Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 6
Ability description: You need to be a fit, capable and confident rider. You are riding in an area of potentially dangerous game so you need to be confident and secure in the saddle. There are opportunities for long trots and canters and occasional gallops.
Type of ride: Mobile trail safari
Total riding time: 11 days / 10 nights. 9 days of riding with the possibility of a short ride on arrival/departure days as well.
Departure dates: Departing on a Tuesday throughout the year, except the wetter months of January/February.
 
Pricing: 2017:

Low Season (December): £5200 per person for ten-night stay.

Mid Season (November): £6100 per person for ten-night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

There are two new, spacious riverside suites at Kujwana main camp, with spectacular views across the river - these two suites can be booked on request and subject to availability for an additional £70 per suite per night.

2018:

Low Season (January, February, March, December): £5700 per person for ten night stay.

Mid Season (April, May, June, 1st - 17th July and November): £6600 per person for ten night stay.

High Season (18th - 31st July, August, September and October): £7500 per person for ten night stay.

The first three singles to book will be guaranteed their own single tent without supplement. After this, any singles who book must be prepared to share or pay a 50% supplement to guarantee their own tent.

Riverside suite supplement: £70 per suite per night (subject to availability).