Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris) riding holiday in Zimbabwe - Far and Ride
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Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris), Zimbabwe





Horses



Type of horses:

A variety of breeds including Boerperd, Shire X, TB X and Percheron X.

Nature of horses:

Sure-footed, experienced, fit and well-schooled.

Height of horses:

15 - 16.3hh.

Weight limit:

15 st / 210lbs / 95kg but they will accept up to 100kg for experienced riders.

Tack type:

A range of saddles to fit different horses and cater for guest preferences - English leather GP saddles, Leon Liversage Trailmasters and Australian stock saddles. Most horses are ridden in snaffle bits.

 

Travel Advice



Please ensure you read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you travel.
 

Ride Description

Join James and Janine Varden, seasoned riding safari operators, for an adventure in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. Their beautiful farm homestead lies 23km outside of Bulawayo on the picturesque Umguza River - built in the 1950s, this is a working dairy farm and the ideal base from which to launch rides in the World Heritage Site of Matobo National Park and the game-rich Cawston Wildlife Conservancy Area.

This is an owner-operated safari with James and Janine on every trip. Their team of seasoned safari horses are well-schooled and equipped with quality tack to suit your preferences, allowing for a comfortable but exhilarating ride as you explore the wilderness, observing game in an area not currently operated on by any other safari companies. A Professional Guide since 1993, James Varden is renowned for his incredible knowledge of southern Africa and its wildlife, whilst also having a particular love of birds. The Vardens are also known for their conservation ethos and this is reflected in their safaris - they employ local staff, source local produce and keep a low environmental footprint. The fresh food they serve is found nearby.

Transfers are available from and to Bulawayo from where it's just a short drive to Cawston (or to the home farm), ready to begin your adventure! There are many great add-ons possible in this region too, including a visit to world-famous Victoria Falls or perhaps a walking, canoe or jeep safari with a chance to see some more of the Big Five - please contact us for suggestions.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

When on safari in the Cawston Wildlife Conservancy and Matobo National Park guests are accommodated in traditional safari-style tented camps. These feature spacious walk-in tents with en-suite facilities. The camp has mains electricity for charging of devices. The camp is situated on a small ridge unearth beautiful indigenous trees - these bring welcome shade and offer respite from the famously hot African sun. The camp overlooks a small watering hole and has a wildlife viewing area which is floodlit at night, allowing you to sit out and quietly observe any nocturnal visitors.

Accommodation is also available in Umguza Cottage on the Vardens' farm - this is a beautiful Cape Dutch style cottage situated in the garden. This sleeps four in one double room and one twin room with a shared bathroom or in the Loft, a room with twin beds and an outdoor shower overlooking the farm. This can be incorporated into a tailor made programme.

During this safari you will be served fresh, farm-style meals using produce which has primarily been locally-sourced. Lunches may be a hearty cooked brunch in camp or potentially eaten out in the bush.

Drinks are included and are standard local Zimbabwean beverages (both alcoholic and soft drinks). Should you request specific premium or imported drinks then these will be charged as an extra cost.

 

Activities

Bird-watching, game drives, night drives, guided walks.

 

Further Details

Languages: English.

Health requirements: Good health and fitness recommended.

Age limit: 12+ unless by prior arrangement. Participants must be competent riders.

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals, drinks (inc. local alcoholic beverages), laundry, guided horse riding and safari activities mentioned in itinerary.

Not included: Flights, airport transfers, travel insurance, tips and souvenirs.

 

Travel Information

The farm is 23km outside of Bulawayo - guests should arrive into Bulawayo airport, likely around midday on the SAA flight, and will then be transferred to the farm for a relaxed lunch.

Airport transfers will eventually be at additional cost but are currently offered free as an introductory special offer.

Airport: Bulawayo

 

Programmes


Plains Game & Rhino Discovery Ride



For 2018, this new riding safari is a seven night plains game discovery in the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe. James and Janine Varden will take you on an adventure which starts in a 32,000 acre wildlife-rich ranch on which no other safari companies operate. It is a private reserve with the scope for various activities aside from riding, including bush walks, game drives, night drives, hide-sits and birding. You will be away from the regular tourist routes and areas with full access to James' exceptional knowledge of the surrounding flora and fauna. On your fifth day you transfer to Matobo national park, which covers an area of approximately 452 square kilometres. The area is rich in history, from Bushmen Rock Art to the more recent Cecil John Rhodes, whose grave was dug 1.5m into granite by hand and chisel in 1902.

There is no dangerous game in this area and so families are welcome - family members as young as 12 can be accepted but they must be competent riders, able to canter confidently in open country and ride long days. Younger children may be accepted as part of a private group (please enquire). 

Some of the many mammals that it's possible to see include Southern Giraffe, Sable, Blue Wildebeest, Plains Zebra, Greater Kudu, Southern Impala, Tsessebe, Common Eland, Bushbuck, Common Duiker, Steenbok, Sharpe's Grysbok, Warthog, Bushpig, Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Scrub Hare, Aardvark, Temminck's Ground Pangolin, Black-Backed Jackal, Porcupine, Large and Small-Spotted Genets, Civet, Brown Hyena and Leopard. 

Sample Itinerary (subject to change in accordance with guests' interests, weather conditions and the current wildlife):

Day 1: Guests arrive into Bulawayo airport at midday on the South African Airways flight and are transferred to the Cawston Wildlife Estate - a journey of c. 1.5 hours. You may get your first glimpse of the wildlife on your journey and should arrive in time for afternoon tea. Once settled into your accommodations, you will take an introductory ride around the estate. This gives you a chance to get to know your horse, the tack and to make any adjustments. You will also be given a safety briefing and advice regarding how to ride in the area and how best to act when encountering wildlife. 

Sundowners at the end of the ride allow the group to get to know each other. This is followed by a delicious three course dinner around the camp fire before heading to your tent for the night.

Day 2: An early start this morning with a 5-5.30am wake-up call with hot tea/coffee and a light breakfast. Set off riding through the various landscapes and habitats, learning interesting anecdotes about the vegetation or game from your knowledgable guides. The vegetation of the ranch is dominated by thorn scrub woodlands, grassland drainage lines and Mopane woodland. The Umguzi river forms the northern boundary with some beautiful acacia and searsia woodland. 

The beauty of the sights you may see are sure to overwhelm you if you are a first time visitor to Africa. After a few hours in the saddle you'll have worked up an appetite for a mid-morning brunch on return to camp, before the heat of the midday sun means an afternoon siesta is on order for everyone. Afternoon tea at c. 3pm heralds the afternoon ride of c. 2-3 hours before heading back to camp for drinks around the fire and another delicious dinner.

Day 3: Today will be similar to yesterday, although you never know what will await you on the rides. The pace will be determined by the general riding experience of the group and what sort of wildlife you are observing. 

The afternoon ride has the option of ending with sundowners or spotlighting for some of the nocturnal wildlife on your way back to camp.

Day 4: Another day searching for game in the wilderness as before. This afternoons ride will end at a sundowner site offering a night drive back to camp for another chance to look for the nocturnal wildlife - maybe you will be luck enough to spot aardvark or even leopard!

This is your last night in Cawston and so a great time to reflect on your safari so far over dinner.

Day 5: A chance to sleep in and relax this morning whilst the horses are transported to Matobo national park by truck before the heat sets in. Enjoy a full English breakfast before setting off on your own journey of c. 2hours to Rowallen Camp. After settling into your tent, it's time for lunch and a short siesta.

Your first ride at Matobo commences at c. 3pm for a couple of hours to offer a preview of your new surroundings. Evening drinks await on return to camp, before dinner.

Day 6: Another early start as you set off on horseback through some of the oldest landscapes in the world. Rhino tracking is the first order of the day. Matobo national park is defined as an IPZ - Intensive Protection Zone for rhinos and you may come across anti-poaching scouts whilst riding - it is their job to protect these incredible creatures from the threat of poachers.

Mid morning you return to camp for brunch and a siesta before heading out on your afternoon ride.  The park also has one of the highest concentrations of leopard so you may be lucky enough to spot this cat slinking along the path as you head back to camp in the evening light.

Day 7: This morning follows a similar pattern to yesterday with an early ride in search of game before returning to camp for lunch. The afternoon brings a drive around the area to visit the site of Cecil John Rhodes' grave. Sundowners are taken at the aptly named "view of the world" which offers an almost 360 degree view of the Matobo landscape. (There is a small additional fee to visit this site which is payable locally).

A final dinner around the camp fire awaits on return to camp.

Day Eight: A final morning to ride through the bush before breakfast and say goodbye to your horse. Then transfer back to the airport for your flight home.

Notes: 

  • Activities are dictated by the guests' interests, weather conditions and the wildlife.
  • There are some excellent photographic opportunities as there are various viewing hides, some located at waterholes.
  • Birding will be a feature of the safaris, along with discussion on habitats, geology and the human history of the area. 


Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Intermediate to experienced riders, happy to ride at all paces in open country and to manage long days in the saddle. Families are welcome and children 8 and above can ride if competent and able to confidently control a horse (there is no dangerous game in this area).
Type of ride: Two centre safari
Total riding time: Riding available everyday, although possibility to ride on arrival and departure day depends on timings. Hours can be somewhat flexibility in accordance with your wishes.
Departure dates: 2018: 17-24 March, 21-28 April, 19-26 May, 16-23 June, 21-28 July, 18-25 August, 15-22 September, 20-27 October, 17-24 November, 15-22 December.
Safaris start on the 3rd Saturday of every month. Additional dates may be possible to groups - please enquire.
 
Pricing: 2018:

£2218 per person sharing

Road transfers are £324 per person return

Price includes 7 nights of accommodation, meals, drinks (standard local Zimbabwean beverages), riding, non-riding activities at Cawston, laundry services.



Horse and Hippo Safari (12 Night Explorer)



This exciting new safari programme combines a fascinating riding programme with a canoeing trip - the 'Explorer' is for the adventurers amongst you who are happy to get stuck in! This 12 night safari features riding in Matobo National Park, home to rhino and leopard, and in Cawston Wildlife Conservancy which is rich in plains game. From there you fly on to Kariba to begin your canoeing safari and the trip is rounded off with a night near to world-famous Victoria Falls. An epic Zimbabwean safari experience!

Day 1 - Saturday: 

Upon arrival at Bulawayo Airport (Joshua Nkomo International) at 12:05, the Ride Zimbabwe team will meet you in the arrivals area, after you have cleared customs. From there you will be taken by road transfer to Matobo National Park where your riding adventure begins - the journey is around one hour and you'll have your first glimpse of the beautiful scenery of Matabeleland. 

There will be a debriefing before you get going with an introductory ride - this is the most important ride which serves to ensure that you're well-match with your mount and that you feel comfortable in your saddle. You'll be spending many hours with this horse over the next seven days and your hosts would like your safari to be memorable for the amazing experience and bond you'll form with them. Your steed has been bred or individually handpicked by Janine and James to join their team of safari horses. They believe there is no better way to get up close and personal with wildlife than on horseback and they are sure you'll agree. 

The eerie call of the Fiery Necked Nightjar will herald dusk falling, along with the symphony of other wildlife and bird noises, settling in for the night. 

Day 2 - Sunday: 

Today has an early start of around 05:00 - 05:30am, with coffee, tea and a light breakfast to prepare you for a morning's riding through some of the world's oldest landscapes. Rhino tracking is in order for the first ride of the day! Matobo national park is defined as an IPZ - Intensive Protection Zone for rhinos and you may come across anti-poaching scouts whilst riding - it is their job to protect these incredible creatures from the threat of poachers.

As you ride through the valleys and pass close to the kopjes, a rock hyrax or 'dassie' may chatter at you in alarm, a harsh cry in this tranquil landscape. If you look closely you might spot this little creature which is brown in colour and appears like an overgrown guinea pig. Circling overhead, especially during the heat of the day, you'll see the dassie's main predator, the Black or Verraux's Eagle. You can ask your guide to point out the distinct nesting site of these birds of prey whose population in the Matobo is one of the highest in Southern Africa. 

Mid-morning you return to camp for brunch and a siesta. Afternoon tea is served and then you will head out on your afternoon ride around 15:30 - 16:00.  The park also has one of the highest concentrations of leopard, with five leopards every twenty-five kilometres, so you may be lucky enough to spot this cat slinking along the path as you head back to camp in the evening light.

Campfire stories, laughter, cold beers and scrummy hot food. What more could you ask for at the end of a day in the African Bush? 

Day 3 - Monday:

The morning of day 3 runs the same as the day before, with a ride, brunch and a siesta. In the afternoon you will take a drive in the area and head to visit the site of Cecil John Rhodes' grave. Sundowners can be sipped on whilst you gaze on the historic 'View of the World', named by Mr Rhodes himself, an almost 360 degree view of the Matobo landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. The colours at sunset are breathtaking at this peaceful spot and you can listen as stories of Cecil John Rhodes' life are told. Rainbow Lizards and Elephant Shrews make amusing company as they compete for crumbs from any food brought up the hill. The patches of vivid colours on the granite may intrigue you - the 'Malindizimu' hill shows unmatched examples of these coloured lichens found all over the Matobo, varying from green to blue to orange. An artist's palette delights at such scenes.

Please note that there is a small additional fee to visit the grave and the View of the World. 

Dinner and campfire session is waiting for you back at the camp. 

Day 4 - Tuesday:

Today you will have a chance to sleep in and relax whilst your mounts are moved on to Cawston Wildlife Estate by truck. They will be travelling before the heat of the day, leaving at 06:00. Whilst the horses are on the move, you will be treated to a full English breakfast before setting off on your own road transfer to follow the horses. 

The road transfer to Cawston Wildlife Estate routes through the colourful city of Bulawayo and is a pleasant journey of around 2 hours. You will have a chance to take in the sights of what is called the 'City of Kings'. There's a good chance you'll also come across some of the 'locals' driving into camp - giraffe, impala and warthog are regularly seen. You will arrive in time for lunch and perhaps a swim in the camp pool. You'll be staying in spacious, walk-in en-suite tents.

After lunch you will be reunited with your horse for your first ride here at Cawston, starting around 15:00 - 16:00. This afternoon's ride will be a couple of hours to give you a preview of the new surroundings that you'll be exploring over the coming days. Sundowners welcome you back, helping you to unwind and relax into the safari routine... an ice cold beer or gin and tonic does just the trick. The clink of glasses and the crackle of the campfire, all the while gazing at the expanse of the African night sky. There will be time for a hot, invigorating shower in your tent before you sit down to a delicious three course meal. 

Day 5 - Wednesday: 

Today has an early start with a 05:00am wake-up in summer and 05:30am in winter. A steaming mug of tea or coffee will start the day, along with a light breakfast, as the morning sun creeps up from the East. 

This morning you will ride until approximately 11:00am, enjoying various scenery and habitats. Your knowledgeable guides will share information about the different vegetation and game that you see along the way. The song of the Cape Turtle Dove becomes the background soundtrack to your rides, its distinctive 'work harder' call sounding in time to the rhythm of the horses' hoof beats along the bush tracks. You might also hear the call of the White Helmet Shrikes, a sound which locals say means game is nearby! As the sun rises in the sky the day will warm up, enhancing the unique smells of the African bush from the scent of dry grass being trampled on to the waft of 'gaminess' from the wildlife you'll encounter. The aroma of the bush is something quite unforgettable. 

The vegetation of the ranch is dominated by thorn scrub woodlands, grassland drainage lines and Mopane woodlands. Underlying geology is predominantly basalts and Kalahari sands, the latter supporting Zambezi Teak habitats. The Umguza River forms the northern boundary with some beautiful Acacia and searsia woodland. 

The beauty of the sights you may see whilst out on a ride is sure to overwhelm you, whether you're a first time or have had the opportunity to visit Zimbabwe before. Be it the elegant, long-legged grace of the giraffe, the camouflage of the zebra or the antics of misbehaving monkeys and baboons, something is sure to leave you awestruck. 

After a few hours in the saddle, you'll have worked up an appetite for the mouth-watering, mid-morning brunch which will be waiting for you when you return to camp. The heat of the midday African sun means that an afternoon siesta is in order until afternoon tea at approximately 15:00. 

The second ride of the day begins around 15:30 - 16:00 and lasts another 2 - 3 hours or so. On return to camp there will be drinks around the fire followed by another 3 course dinner. Fresh air and a day in the saddle is an excellent recipe for a good night's sleep. 

Day 6 - Thursday:

Today's schedule looks almost identical to the day before but you never know what is waiting for you out on the rides! The day brings another opportunity for the ride to engulf all your senses... from the smell of sweat from your mount, to the sight of your beautiful surroundings, to the warmth of the African sun on your skin, to the sound of the incredible birdlife and rhythmic hoofbeats and finally to the taste of the delectable cuisine. 

The afternoon ride today can either end with sundowners or spotlighting for some of the nocturnal wildlife. Ice cold drinks await you on your return to camp and who knows, maybe tonight you will dine under the stars (weather permitting)!

Day 7 - Friday: 

Today will be the same as before but the ride will end at the sundowner site, from where you will be taken on a night drive back to camp - maybe you'll even see an Aardvark or a Leopard! 

A variation of this day is the option to dine on lunch in the bush and end the ride at a sundowner spot and be driven back to camp. This will be your last night at Cawston, a great time to reflect on your safari so far and to share your experiences! 

Day 8 - Saturday: 

Today is your last morning at Cawston with time for a final ride before breakfast. This is the last part of your horse riding safari and you will have to say a fond farewell to the horse you've shared many experiences with. 

After breakfast there is a road transfer of around 3 hours to Hwange National airport, from where you will take a charter flight to Kariba. You will need to pay $15 per person departure tax here (please bring small USD notes). On arrival at Kariba you will be collected and transferred to Hornbill Lodge by Natureway Safaris, where you will spend the night before setting out on the next segment of your safari on the Zambezi River. This evening you will head out on a sunset boat cruise on Lake Kariba. 

Day 9 - Sunday (18km):

Natureway Safaris will collect you at 07:30am in good time for check-in at their office. Here you will be able to hand in any extra luggage or valuable (please do not take your passport on the river!). There will be a short briefing to summarise what the safari entails and you will have a chance to ask questions. Guests will be required to sign an indemnity form before leaving the safari. 

After the briefing you can visit the shops to buy any extra drinks you'd like before you set off for the river - please note that credit cards are not a recommended payment option in Zimbabwe. The group will be transferred in open 4x4 vehicles to Nyamepi (Mana Pools Main Camp) arriving at approximately 13:30. The route takes in 70km of dirt road through the National Park. 

The canoes and kit will be off-loaded and the guide will give a safety talk and demonstration on how to paddle, then lunch will be served before you begin canoeing. You will paddle until early evening when you reach the first night's camp on Nyamatusi Island. There is time for a bucket bath, relaxation and dinner after a brief safety talk on camping by your guide. 

Day 10 - Monday (25km):

You will be woken early with time for tea, coffee and biscuits before a short morning's paddle. Breakfast will be served either on the banks of the river or on an island. Afterwards you will resume canoeing until around midday, stopping for lunch and a brief siesta on the river bank whilst the heat passes. Canoeing then continues on until early evening when you will make your next stop at 'G' camp in the channels.

Day 11 - Tuesday (20km):

Programme as per the day before, with the night's camp set up at Chewore High Sand Bank. 

Day 12 - Wednesday (7km):

Tea, coffee and biscuits are taken after a more leisurely start to the day. Following breakfast, camp will be broken and you will depart at approximately 8am. On arrival at Chewore at 10am, canoes and equipment will be loaded onto the vehicle to return to Kariba, while you are transferred to Chewore Airstrip for your charter flight to Victoria Falls. You will be collected from Victoria Falls Airport and transferred by road to Bayete Guest Lodge where you will spend the night. Here you have the option to visit the rain forest and plenty of other activities at extra cost. 

Day 13 - Thursday:

This morning is spent at leisure and your after breakfast activities will depend on what time your international flight departs. You will be transferred from Bayete in time for your flight. As you depart with your memories, your hosts feel sure that this experience will have enriched your life and touched your soul! 

NB. This 'Explorer' safari is for adventurous souls only. There are no ablution facilities - you will be provided with a spade, toilet paper and matches to burn the paper. Bathing is done from a bucket using water scooped from the Zambezi River. 

All equipment and food is carried in the canoes and there is no vehicle back-up apart from pick-up and drop-off. The safaris are semi-participatory requiring guests to help set-up their own tents and to assist the guide with cooking and washing up. 



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate to experienced riders, able to ride at all paces in open country. The ride is of a medium pace with a number of canters, small logs to jump, rough ground to navigate and trees to avoid. Participants should be 14yrs and older (children as young as 12 can ride if proficient, but only 14+ can be accepted for the canoeing).
Type of ride: Safari.
Total riding time: Riding on 7 days, hours vary.
Departure dates: 2018: ideally April through to the end of November but December and January can also be possible (but rain is likely).
 
Pricing: 2018:

2-3 pax: £4054 per person
4-5 pax: £3933 per person
6-7 pax: £3892 per person
8 pax: £3872 per person

Rates include tented camp accommodation, all meals, drinks (inc. local beers, South African wines, soft drinks, gin, vodka and scotch), riding, charter flight from Hwange to Kariba, canoeing (with equipment provided), safari activities, boat cruise on Lake Kariba, road transfers from and to Hornbill Lodge, B&B at Bayete Guest Lodge (Victoria Falls), road transfers between Vic Falls Airport and Bayete Guest Lodge, laundry services.



Horse and Hippo Safari (11 Night Odyssey)



This exciting new safari programme combines a fascinating riding programme with a canoeing trip - this 'Odyssey' version is a fully backed-up adventure, meaning all your needs, camp chores and transportation of luggage are taken care of. This 11 night safari features riding in Matobo National Park, home to rhino and leopard, and in Cawston Wildlife Conservancy which is rich in plains game. From there you fly on to Mana Pools to begin your canoeing safari and the trip is rounded off with a night near to world-famous Victoria Falls. An epic Zimbabwean safari experience!

Day 1 - Saturday:

Upon arrival at Bulawayo Airport (Joshua Nkomo International) at 12:05, the Ride Zimbabwe team will meet you in the arrivals area, after you have cleared customs. From there you will be taken by road transfer to Matobo National Park where your riding adventure begins - the journey is around one hour and you'll have your first glimpse of the beautiful scenery of Matabeleland.

There will be a debriefing before you get going with an introductory ride - this is the most important ride which serves to ensure that you're well-match with your mount and that you feel comfortable in your saddle. You'll be spending many hours with this horse over the next seven days and your hosts would like your safari to be memorable for the amazing experience and bond you'll form with them. Your steed has been bred or individually handpicked by Janine and James to join their team of safari horses. They believe there is no better way to get up close and personal with wildlife than on horseback and they are sure you'll agree.

The eerie call of the Fiery Necked Nightjar will herald dusk falling, along with the symphony of other wildlife and bird noises, settling in for the night.

Day 2 - Sunday:

Today has an early start of around 05:00 - 05:30am, with coffee, tea and a light breakfast to prepare you for a morning's riding through some of the world's oldest landscapes. Rhino tracking is in order for the first ride of the day! Matobo national park is defined as an IPZ - Intensive Protection Zone for rhinos and you may come across anti-poaching scouts whilst riding - it is their job to protect these incredible creatures from the threat of poachers.

As you ride through the valleys and pass close to the kopjes, a rock hyrax or 'dassie' may chatter at you in alarm, a harsh cry in this tranquil landscape. If you look closely you might spot this little creature which is brown in colour and appears like an overgrown guinea pig. Circling overhead, especially during the heat of the day, you'll see the dassie's main predator, the Black or Verraux's Eagle. You can ask your guide to point out the distinct nesting site of these birds of prey whose population in the Matobo is one of the highest in Southern Africa.

Mid-morning you return to camp for brunch and a siesta. Afternoon tea is served and then you will head out on your afternoon ride around 15:30 - 16:00. The park also has one of the highest concentrations of leopard, with five leopards every twenty-five kilometres, so you may be lucky enough to spot this cat slinking along the path as you head back to camp in the evening light.

Campfire stories, laughter, cold beers and scrummy hot food. What more could you ask for at the end of a day in the African Bush?

Day 3 - Monday:

The morning of day 3 runs the same as the day before, with a ride, brunch and a siesta. In the afternoon you will take a drive in the area and head to visit the site of Cecil John Rhodes' grave. Sundowners can be sipped on whilst you gaze on the historic 'View of the World', named by Mr Rhodes himself, an almost 360 degree view of the Matobo landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. The colours at sunset are breathtaking at this peaceful spot and you can listen as stories of Cecil John Rhodes' life are told. Rainbow Lizards and Elephant Shrews make amusing company as they compete for crumbs from any food brought up the hill. The patches of vivid colours on the granite may intrigue you - the 'Malindizimu' hill shows unmatched examples of these coloured lichens found all over the Matobo, varying from green to blue to orange. An artist's palette delights at such scenes.

Please note that there is a small additional fee to visit the grave and the View of the World.

Dinner and campfire session is waiting for you back at the camp.

Day 4 - Tuesday:

Today you will have a chance to sleep in and relax whilst your mounts are moved on to Cawston Wildlife Estate by truck. They will be travelling before the heat of the day, leaving at 06:00. Whilst the horses are on the move, you will be treated to a full English breakfast before setting off on your own road transfer to follow the horses.

The road transfer to Cawston Wildlife Estate routes through the colourful city of Bulawayo and is a pleasant journey of around 2 hours. You will have a chance to take in the sights of what is called the 'City of Kings'. There's a good chance you'll also come across some of the 'locals' driving into camp - giraffe, impala and warthog are regularly seen. You will arrive in time for lunch and perhaps a swim in the camp pool. You'll be staying in spacious, walk-in en-suite tents.

After lunch you will be reunited with your horse for your first ride here at Cawston, starting around 15:00 - 16:00. This afternoon's ride will be a couple of hours to give you a preview of the new surroundings that you'll be exploring over the coming days. Sundowners welcome you back, helping you to unwind and relax into the safari routine... an ice cold beer or gin and tonic does just the trick. The clink of glasses and the crackle of the campfire, all the while gazing at the expanse of the African night sky. There will be time for a hot, invigorating shower in your tent before you sit down to a delicious three course meal.

Day 5 - Wednesday:

Today has an early start with a 05:00am wake-up in summer and 05:30am in winter. A steaming mug of tea or coffee will start the day, along with a light breakfast, as the morning sun creeps up from the East.

This morning you will ride until approximately 11:00am, enjoying various scenery and habitats. Your knowledgeable guides will share information about the different vegetation and game that you see along the way. The song of the Cape Turtle Dove becomes the background soundtrack to your rides, its distinctive 'work harder' call sounding in time to the rhythm of the horses' hoof beats along the bush tracks. You might also hear the call of the White Helmet Shrikes, a sound which locals say means game is nearby! As the sun rises in the sky the day will warm up, enhancing the unique smells of the African bush from the scent of dry grass being trampled on to the waft of 'gaminess' from the wildlife you'll encounter. The aroma of the bush is something quite unforgettable.

The vegetation of the ranch is dominated by thorn scrub woodlands, grassland drainage lines and Mopane woodlands. Underlying geology is predominantly basalts and Kalahari sands, the latter supporting Zambezi Teak habitats. The Umguza River forms the northern boundary with some beautiful Acacia and searsia woodland.

The beauty of the sights you may see whilst out on a ride is sure to overwhelm you, whether you're a first time or have had the opportunity to visit Zimbabwe before. Be it the elegant, long-legged grace of the giraffe, the camouflage of the zebra or the antics of misbehaving monkeys and baboons, something is sure to leave you awestruck.

After a few hours in the saddle, you'll have worked up an appetite for the mouth-watering, mid-morning brunch which will be waiting for you when you return to camp. The heat of the midday African sun means that an afternoon siesta is in order until afternoon tea at approximately 15:00.

The second ride of the day begins around 15:30 - 16:00 and lasts another 2 - 3 hours or so. On return to camp there will be drinks around the fire followed by another 3 course dinner. Fresh air and a day in the saddle is an excellent recipe for a good night's sleep.

Day 6 - Thursday:

Today's schedule looks almost identical to the day before but you never know what is waiting for you out on the rides! The day brings another opportunity for the ride to engulf all your senses... from the smell of sweat from your mount, to the sight of your beautiful surroundings, to the warmth of the African sun on your skin, to the sound of the incredible birdlife and rhythmic hoofbeats and finally to the taste of the delectable cuisine.

The afternoon ride today can either end with sundowners or spotlighting for some of the nocturnal wildlife. Ice cold drinks await you on your return to camp and who knows, maybe tonight you will dine under the stars (weather permitting)!

Day 7 - Friday:

Today will be the same as before but the ride will end at the sundowner site, from where you will be taken on a night drive back to camp - maybe you'll even see an Aardvark or a Leopard!

A variation of this day is the option to dine on lunch in the bush and end the ride at a sundowner spot and be driven back to camp. This will be your last night at Cawston, a great time to reflect on your safari so far and to share your experiences!

Day 8 - Saturday:

Today is your last morning at Cawston with time for a final ride before breakfast. This is the last part of your horse riding safari and you will have to say a fond farewell to the horse you've shared many experiences with.

A road transfer to Hwange National airport takes approximately three hours and from there you will catch a charter flight to Mana Pools. You will need to pay $15 USD per person departure tax here so please bring small USD notes in cash. 

 On arrival in Mana Pools you will be collected by your safari guide and drive around 30km, a leisurely game drive through the spectacular Mana Pools floodplain to your first night's campsite. The area has one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Zimbabwe and the drive is usually very rewarding - enabling your guide to give an overview of the various animals, birds and plants that make up this unique habitat. Vehicles are open Toyota Land Cruisers with good all-round visibility.

On arrival at “Vundu”, the first camp, met by the welcome smiles of the support staff, lunch will be served. Usually consisting of cold meats, a variety of salads and freshly baked breads.

After a refreshing lunch break you will take a short drive to the canoe launch-spot near the confluence of the Ruckomechi and Zambezi Rivers. Here, the guide will give a full safety briefing, pointing out where all equipment - such as the first aid kit - is kept, as well as explaining what to do in an emergency. The briefing also covers the basic techniques of steering and controlling the Canadian-style 5.5m (18 ft) canoes. The group then departs downstream, by canoe, returning to Vundu camp. This first afternoon of paddling is taken at a slow pace, allowing you time to become acquainted with the canoes and methods of steering. You should now begin see some of the multitude of animals and birds attracted to the water’s edge. Hippo, buffalo, elephant and crocodile, as well as variety of antelope species, may be seen.

Arrival at camp is around sunset. The camp will be fully prepared and you will be able to sit back and relax with sundowners and snacks – tea and coffee and hot showers are also available. A campfire is already burning and this is invariably where guests will gather to discuss the day’s events and plan for the morning. In the background your support staff and resident bush cook are busy preparing a three-course dinner for you.

Day 9 - Sunday: 

An early wake-up - as dawn breaks. Hot water for freshening up will be placed in raised basins outside each tent, while tea, freshly brewed coffee, muffins or home-made biscuits are already waiting by the campfire. While you pack up your personal kit, the support staff load the canoes with all required for the day ahead. Guests need only worry about a small daypack carrying essentials such as sun block, camera, spare film, hat and binoculars.

The aim is to be in the canoes and on the water in time to watch the sunrise. As one of the most magical times of day, you will be enchanted as you drift along quietly, listening to the sounds of the African wild wakening to a new day.

Following paddling for couple of hours, breakfast takes place under a grove of acacia trees. After breakfast, guests have the opportunity to set off on a walk on the floodplain and surrounding woodlands. This is a great time to try and view predators before they hide-up for the day. You may even be lucky enough to spot one or more of the diurnal animals making their way down to the river.

This walk offers an opportunity, not only for game viewing, but also to explore some of the more interesting aspects of the environment. Guests will spot a variety of animal spoor, and may even find themselves engrossed in tracking down a particular species. The guide will share fascinating facts about strange insects and spiders as well as a wealth of knowledge about this miniature world that forms such an integral part of the bush. Sounds of many brightly coloured birds can be heard while marvelling at the beauty and tranquility of this unique area.

Returning to the canoes guests head downstream to an area renowned for its huge, old elephant bulls. The guide tries to time the trip to catch them swimming or wading out to the grass islands, where the canoes will be able to glide quietly alongside these awesome giants. Their age makes them placid enough that they tend to ignore the canoes.

Lunch break coincides with the heat of the day. The canoes are pulled up below a grove of mahogany trees whose dense shade provides a welcome relief. The meal generally consists of cold meats, freshly prepared salads, pizza or quiche and cheese and biscuits. After eating and drinking their ice-cold drinks, guests have a choice to either take another short walk through the mahogany forest or to just relax and enjoy an afternoon siesta. The late afternoon and evening is spent drifting down to camp and enjoying the game and birding along the river’s edge. Our welcoming support staff are waiting at camp which is reached by sunset. This night’s camp, Chessa, overlooks a small channel, with a large grass plain separating it from the main Zambezi, 500 metres away. Frequently the plain hosts buffalo, waterbuck, elephant and hippo in the evenings.

Day 10 - Monday: 

This follows the same basic itinerary as day two, with a predawn wake up and sunrise whilst drifting down the Zambezi. However, this is the day that guests will enter the “Wilderness Area” of Mana Pools National Park where there is limited access to people and vehicles. In fact, the only road is 3 to 5 kilometres in-land - the same one our support team will use. From here on you are entering a much more remote environment.

Breakfast may be taken on the Mbera River floodplain, which comprises stunning acacia woodland with large patches of thick “Adrenaline” grass – a habitat much favoured by all the predators. Towards the end of the dry season it also hosts large groups of female elephants with their babies.

The day is spent paddling through a maze of small channels before once again joining the main Zambezi. For a change, lunch is on one of the shallow sandbanks in the middle of the river, where a table and chairs are set up in ankle deep water with the whole width of the river stretching out on either side. This afternoon is the last chance for canoeing. Depending on water levels and time allowed, there may be an opportunity to explore Chikwenya Island on foot. This unique island is the largest on this section of the river and is host to prolific bird life as well as a number of interesting mammal species. In the afternoon you will paddle into Illala Camp to spend the last night in the rustic luxury of the Odyssey Camp.

Day 11 - Tuesday: 

Depending on guests’ departure time, an early morning walk before breakfast is possible or a well-deserved lie in! After which, there will be a short game drive to the airstrip main camp where we will bid you farewell! You will be collected from Victoria Falls Airport and transferred by road to Bayete Guest Lodge where you will spend the night. Here you have the option to visit the Rain Forest and plenty other activities at extra cost.

Day 12 - Wednesday: 

This morning is spent at leisure and your after breakfast activities will depend on what time your international flight departs. You will be transferred from Bayete in time for your flight. As you depart with your memories, your hosts feel sure that this experience will have enriched your life and touched your soul! 

NB. This Odyssey safari is fully backed-up and your tents will be put up for you each day. There are no permanent ablution facilities but the camps have long-drop toilets and all tents have en-suite chemical toilets for night use. You can also enjoy luxurious hot showers underneath the expanse of the African sky. 



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: Strong intermediate to experienced riders, able to ride at all paces in open country. The ride is of a medium pace with a number of canters, small logs to jump, rough ground to navigate and trees to avoid. Participants should be 14yrs and older (children as young as 12 can ride if proficient, but only 14+ can be accepted for the canoeing).
Type of ride: Safari.
Total riding time: Riding on 7 days, hours vary.
Departure dates: 2018: ideally April through to the end of November but December and January can also be possible (but rain is likely).
 
Pricing: 2018:

2-3 pax: £4468 per person
4-5 pax: £4347 per person
6-7 pax: £4306 per person
8 pax: £4286 per person

Rates include tented camp accommodation, all meals, drinks (inc. local beers, South African wines, soft drinks, gin, vodka and scotch), riding, charter flight from Hwange to Kariba, canoeing (with equipment provided), safari activities, boat cruise on Lake Kariba, road transfers from and to Hornbill Lodge, B&B at Bayete Guest Lodge (Victoria Falls), road transfers between Vic Falls Airport and Bayete Guest Lodge, laundry services.