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African Horseback Safaris (Macatoo)

Overview

Macatoo Camp is situated on the western side of the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. This area is a lure for a variety of magnificent wildlife who depend upon the delta's waters in order to survive and these include lions, hyenas, buffalo, wild dog, elephant, antelope, hippo, …

Highlights

  • Fast, fun riding across the floodplains on great horses
  • Splashy canters through the shallows and deep wades
  • View big game such as elephant & buffalo from horseback
  • Relax in a stunning camp & watch the wildlife from deck
  • Spend a night on the sleep-out platform under the stars

Essential Facts

  • 2 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group (16 in camp)
  • Average of 3 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg/ 210 lbs / 15 stone.
    more info Riders weighing between 95-100kg may be accepted subject to availability and for advanced riders only. Those exceeding 100kg may be accommodated by special arrangement only

Description

Macatoo Camp is situated on the western side of the Okavango Delta, the largest inland delta in the world. This area is a lure for a variety of magnificent wildlife who depend upon the delta's waters in order to survive and these include lions, hyenas, buffalo, wild dog, elephant, antelope, hippo, crocodiles, warthog, mongoose, genets, monkeys, bush babies and over 400 species of birds (resident and migrant). Guests are invited to join these magnificent safaris, cantering through the Okavango Delta, listening to the calls of the wildlife or riding with a herd of zebra or giraffe across the plains. One of the resident elephants may even join you in camp!

For the keen rider the main attraction here is of course the selection of great horses and the spectacular riding country. The landscapes offer a variety of riding opportunities from peaceful walks, stalking some of the bigger game and wildlife, to cantering through the water-meadows or galloping alongside lechwe. Qualified and knowledgeable guides are delighted to share their knowledge of the area with you and can use the horses to get you as close as possible to the exciting wildlife for optimum viewing. Non-riders are also welcome to come and enjoy some of the other activities which include seasonal boating, mokoro canoe rides, fishing and game drives.

The camp comprises of eight comfortable tents, each with an en-suite shower and toilet, and a large communal mess tent. A private pool is available for guests to enjoy. There is also the opportunity to spend a night sleeping out under the stars on the treehouse platform (weather dependent). The majority of guests reach camp by flying to Maun via Johannesburg. They are then met by a staff member in Maun and introduced to their pilot who will fly them into the camp airstrip.

The company was set up in 1995 (Macatoo Camp being established in 1999) and is designed to offer you an exciting but not strenuous riding safari. Within a 500,000 acre private concession the camp is ideally placed for guests to explore the fertile floodplains whilst enjoying extremely comfortable tented accommodation, excellent food and the company of experienced but warm and friendly guides. The camp is also visited regularly by eventing legends such as Mark Todd and Lucinda Green MBE!

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

Horses & Riding

Tack

Saddles used are a combination of English and western-style trail saddles. The majority of these are synthetic as the man-made material copes better with getting wet during splashy canters in the delta waters. Bridles are English style and horses generally respond to English riding aids as well.

Horses

There is a mixed stable of horses, including some Thoroughbreds, Namibian Hanoverians, Kalahari-Arab crosses, South African Boerperd crosses and some Percherons. The horses have been chosen for their rideability and temperament and are all forward going and responsive. Heights range from c.14.3hh to 17hh and the wide choice means you are certain to find one you bond with.

Riding

There are 2 itineraries:

  • Macatoo Camp is a based ride
  • Best of Botswana Safari combines a based stay and point to point trail

Ages

16 years and over for riding. Younger children can be accepted as non-riders. Anyone over 60 needs to be riding fit and strong.

Health

None specific but those with severe heart or respiratory or any other physical limitation must consult a doctor before travelling. Clients are asked to sign a medical indemnity form on arrival.

Weight

95kg/ 210 lbs / 15 stone. Riders weighing between 95-100kg may be accepted subject to availability and for advanced riders only. Those exceeding 100kg may be accommodated by special arrangement only

Food & Accommodation

Food

Food served in camp is to a very high standard, well-cooked by a professional team. Meals are accompanied by quality wines and dinner is generally a candle-lit affair with several courses.

Breakfast is usually light and served at dawn or just before.
Lunch is late morning and usually comprises a main dish such as lasagne or quiche together with salads and freshly baked breads.
Dinner usually comprises three courses with plenty of vegetables and a dessert. Mains are generally European with roasted meats or occasionally fish.

Vegetarian and some special diets can be accommodated with advance notice.

Accommodation

Macatoo Camp features eight spacious and well-appointed tents, each of which have their own en-suite shower and loo. Each tent is situated on its own raised platform which offers wonderful views across the surrounding flood plain. Amongst these eight tents are the 'family and friends suite' which are two tents linked together by a walkway, ideal to provide easy access for parents and children. There is also the honeymoon tent - a lovely couples' tent complete with additional deck to allow for private dining experiences and a raised double bath tub with fantastic views.

Centrally there is a large, furnished 'mess tent' with dining deck, plus a swimming pool deck with plunge pool and sun beds. This is a wonderful place to relax, read a book or simply to enjoy your surroundings when not in the saddle. You might also like to bring your binoculars here for some game and bird-spotting!

Communal areas are linked together via a chain of well-lit pathways whilst a warming fire burns in front of the mess tent at all times of year. This provides a great social spot for guests to gather at.

Longer rides may include a stay at the magical 'tree house' - a platform suitable for lunches, drinks or even an overnighter if you feel adventurous! This lies a short drive away from the main camp and is accessible via a ladder.

There is a daily laundry service. The tents are mosquito proof, although there are few mosquitos around between June and late August. There is a generator at the camp and solar lights but there is no electricity in the tents at night.

Itineraries

Macatoo Camp Tented / Luxury accommodation.

Best of Botswana Safari Tented / Luxury accommodation.

Other Activities

In addition to riding, guests can enjoy game drives, bird walks, night drives, seasonal boating, canoeing and fishing. Most riders opt to do a non-riding activity on at least one afternoon to experience the bush in a more sedate fashion.

Non-riders can be accommodated and will have their own guide. They are offered boating or vehicle safaris depending on water levels as well as walking, fishing or mokoro excursions. Non-riders are eligible for a 10% discount on the rate.

Travel

We can arrange charter flight transfers from Maun (the most popular option) or Kasane into Macatoo Camp. The majority of customers fly from Johannesburg into Maun and then we organise the flight transfer from there.

The light aircraft takes approximately 30 minutes to transport you from Maun to Macatoo or 1.5 hours from Kasane. This is followed by a game drive / boat trip depending on water levels. As the Kasane flights are longer, it's not possible to ride on your departure day should you be flying there.

Air transfers are an additional cost - please see individual itinerary pricing for details

**Special Offer** For stays of 7 nights or more we can offer a 50% discount on return Maun flights. For stays of 10 nights or more we can offer FREE return flights from Maun.

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

Testimonials

Peter H., June 7, 2021

Excellent, even better than hoped for! (Horses were) Perfectly matched, great equipment & lovely horses. (Favourite memory?) Waking up with an elephant bull outside our tent at 5 am!


Anita & Paul H., Dec. 19, 2014

Amazing, fantastic, one of the best. The 'posh tents' were great, food and drink and hospitality were of the highest order. The horses are of the highest quality. Sekongo our guide and his 'back man' knew their stuff - it appeared to me they 'sensed' the wild animals - we never felt in danger, just sat back and enjoyed it.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

On arrival in Maun you are met and transferred by plane and a game drive to the camp which overlooks a seasonal flood plain lagoon. After lunch under the trees, there is time for a rest before the evening ride where you can get to know your horse. You return, as every evening, to a candle-lit dinner.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Awoken by a cup of tea or coffee in bed, followed by a light breakfast you then ride westwards following elephant trails from one palm island to another through seas of grass into the back country. After lunch and a siesta you ride out into the plains, later enjoying a drink while the sun goes down.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You leave camp early to investigate fresh game tracks, joining semi-aquatic red lechwe as they thunder through the water meadows. A champagne breakfast is waiting for you under a large baobab tree. The evening ride is spent exploring the lower flood plains where elephant often gather at a pool. As dusk closes in you have drinks around the fire.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You ride through different country, making your way through clouds of bushman hair grass to plains with fig trees.You might encounter giraffe or shyer antelope while passing through mopane woodlands. Your pace increases as you break out onto the flood plains, often disturbing troops of baboons. Return to the camp for an afternoon spent at leisure and later a night drive by spotlight.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today's ride heads deeper into the heart of the delta, to reach another river system and a hippo pool. Return to camp by a different route. In the afternoon you may prefer to take a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) to drift gently through the reeds, searching for the pretty little painted reed frogs; or perhaps try your hand at fishing from the steel boat whilst listening to the haunting cries of the African Fish Eagle. After dinner you may choose to spend the night on the Treehouse platform - sleep under a mosquito net high in the trees and listen to the sounds of the bush around you.

Day 6

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Having slept under the stars, the next morning you splash through water on the vast open plains, home to wildebeest and zebra. The riding may be fast as you approach deep reedy areas full of bird life before heading back to main camp for a hearty lunch followed by another afternoon activity.

Day 6

Riding: 4 - 7 hours

For your last full day you ride through the shallow flood plains admiring the deeper pools of lilies. Here the buffalo gather in numbers and you have to creep up to them using islands for cover. The evening offers a last quiet ride with memorable smells of sage as the sun goes down.

Day 8

Riding: 1 - 3 hours

For your final ride you will go along some of the high palm islands which offer great vistas. You'll maybe take a final exhilarating gallop and run with the game before returning to camp to prepare for your onward journey.

We are sure you will never forget the true sense of freedom which you will experience on your horse with in the Okavango Delta in Africa.

Accommodation

Each night is spent in one of 8 spacious and well-appointed tents, each with their own en-suite bathroom.

Experience Experienced

Confident, fit experienced riders. This is big-game country and you should be capable of staying on and in control in all situations across varied terrain. The pace can be fast at times.

Minimum group size 1
Maximum group size 10
Accommodation for up to 16.
Departure windows

At any time during: Jan. 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2022  (Dates available to suit with flexible arrival and departure days. 3 night minimum stay, but 5-10 nights recommended.)

Pricing

2021
Green Season (Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec); per person; sharing
£485 $670 €575 per night
2021
Mid Season (Apr, May, 1-14 June, 15 Oct-30 Nov); per person; sharing
£625 $860 €740 per night
2021
Peak Season (15 June-14 Oct); per person; sharing
£760 $1050 €900 per night
2022
Green Season (Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec); per person; sharing
£495 $680 €585 per night
2022
Mid Season (Apr, May, 1-14 June, 15 Oct-30 Nov); per person; sharing
£645 $890 €760 per night
2022
Peak Season (15 June-14 Oct); per person; sharing
£790 $1090 €935 per night
Included Shared accommodation, all meals and selected local beverages (including beers, wines and spirits), riding and non-riding activities, government taxes.
Not included Flights, air transfers from Maun/Kasane to camp, travel insurance, tips, visas & other personal expenses.

Extras

2021/2022 - Honeymoon Suite Upgrade £150 $205 €178 per night
Paid to Far and Ride
Honeymoon Suite supplement, per couple, per night
2021/2022 - Kasane to Camp Light Aircraft Transfer £300 $410 €355
Paid to Far and Ride
Kasane to camp by fixed-wing plane, each way, per person
2021 - Maun to Camp Light Aircraft Transfer £205 $280 €240
Paid to Far and Ride
Maun to camp by fixed-wing plane, each way per person **Special Offer** For stays of 7 nights or more we can offer a 50% discount on return Maun air transfers. For stays of 10 nights or more we can offer FREE air transfers from Maun.
2022 - Maun to Camp Light Aircraft Transfer £215 $295 €250
Paid to Far and Ride
Maun to camp by fixed-wing plane, each way per person **Special Offer** For stays of 7 nights or more we can offer a 50% discount on return Maun air transfers. For stays of 10 nights or more we can offer FREE air transfers from Maun.
2021/2022 - Single Supplement 50.0%
Paid to Far and Ride
There is one tent available for single travellers with no supplement (subject to availability). Other singles must be prepared to share a twin bedded tent or pay a supplement of 50% to guarantee their own tent.
2021 - Non-Riding Children 50% discount for non-riding children (under 12 years)
2021 - Non-Riding Adult 10% discount for non-riding adults
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.

Day 1

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

Your flight MUST land before 09:30 to allow time to collect your luggage, clear passport control and make it to the gate. If you arrive later than this then you will have to pay extra for a Menzies transit service or a private road transfer.

You will be met at Johannesburg International Airport at c. 11 am for the flight which will depart at around 12.00 (one hour flight) to Limpopo airstrip where you will be met by your guide and transferred to the reception area by the stables. Following a light lunch, you will be taken to the stables to meet your assigned horse and to set out on a short introductory ride, a chance to make sure that you are well matched. If there is time then you will ride directly to Two Mashatus Camp or otherwise back to the stables again. After dismounting it's time for a refreshing drink before heading to camp for a warm shower and a delicious dinner, served in the Llala palm dining room at the Two Mashatus camp.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

The day begins at sunrise with tea/coffee brought to your tent, followed by a light breakfast. Mount up and head away from the dense woodland along the Limpopo river towards the shallow rocky hills that mark the edges of this great river valley. Your destination is the new Tree Camp which overlooks the Majale river. Here, in the heart of the Mashatu area, the game is plentiful. The Tuli area is home to one of the largest herds of free-roaming elephants south of the Zambezi and you are almost assured of great viewings of these magnificent creatures. After lunch and a siesta you can enjoy your first gentle guided walk to explore the area along the west of the Matabole river before returning to camp for sundowners and dinner.

Day 3

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

An early wake up call heralds a new day and tea/coffee and breakfast is served around the log fire pit. Today your journey takes you through the heart of Mashatu to the ancient rock formations synonymous with the Limpopo valley. Giant baobabs silently survey the land as they have for centuries, ancient elephant trails are stamped into the soil and there are wonderfully long canters on offer through the open scrub. This ride brings you to the banks of the Motloutse river, and nestled amongst the dense Mashatu trees sits a leadwood boma or "Kgotla". This is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The open-air traditional African enclosure offers perfect security for spending a night under the stars and a unique experience in the African bush. In the afternoon you are taken on a guided walk to the "Ampitheatre", an ancient rock formation, before ending your walk with sundowners overlooking the river. Back at the Kgotla, dinner is enjoyed around a large log fire after which the night is spent sleeping under the stars while listening to the cacophony of sounds generated by the African bush orchestra.

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Todays ride takes you to explore the amazing sandstone formations including the famed Solomon’s Wall. Some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa had their settlements in this valley, with their kings safely nestled in royal kraals on top of these flat-topped hills. The Mapungubwe topography is ancient and timeless, and combined with the great wildlife sightings, makes for an incredible riding day.

In the afternoon you are driven a short distance to the Mmamagwa Hills. After a short, easy climb you can sit beneath a beautiful baobab and be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Tuli area, with South Africa to the south, Zimbabwe to the north and Botswana surrounding you - this is a sundowner spot you will never forget. Return to the Kgotla for a second night under the stars.

Day 5

Riding: 5 - 7 hours

Another early rise and a good breakfast will set you up for probably your longest day on horseback. Wind your way through Elephant Valley, following ancient trails stamped into the soil by centuries of migrating elephants, before heading north towards the upper reaches of the Majale river. This area is peppered with enormous baobabs and is one of the most remote areas of the reserve. After an exhilarating ride through this timeless countryside you reach Tree Camp again in time for a relaxing lunch.

In the afternoon you can choose to take another ride, a game walk or a game drive to explore the northern banks of the Majele, Matabole and Jwala rivers.

Day 6

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today's ride promises great game viewing as you explore the Pitsane river valley. Drinking holes dug by elephants are scattered along the course of the Pitsane and attract thirsty herds of game. This area once staged a skirmish during the Boer war which destroyed Bryce's store, an old British supply post. The stagecoach line, Zeederbergs, ran from the Transval towns in South Africa to the newly forged settlements in southern Rhodesia, now called Zimbabwe. These coaches crossed the broad Limpopo and followed the Pitsane into Zimbabwe.

Your ride eventually returns to your base camp, Two Mashatus. Feeling like a returning traveller, you can relax in the comfort of this permanent camp with its pool, shady tents and ensuite bathrooms. In the afternoon, a guided bush walk takes you to a nearby koppie for sundowners before returning to camp for dinner.

Day 7

Riding: 2 - 4 hours

Today is your final day in the Tuli and your last ride meanders through the beautiful plains between the Majale and Pitsane rivers, with abundant game and spectacular views of the Limpopo river valley before heading back to the stables where you will bid your horse a fond farewell. This shorter ride of about two hours means that you have time for a hearty brunch before getting ready to depart.

Board the light aircraft for your flight onwards to the Okavango Delta where you will enjoy a bird eye view as you approach. Macatoo Camp, overlooking a seasonal flood plain lagoon, lies just a short game drive or (depending on the time of year) an exciting boat ride from the airstrip. You should arrive in time for tea and cake before mounting up for an evening ride and a chance to get to know your horse, returning to camp for a hot shower and a candle-lit safari dinner.

Day 8

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

This morning you will wake up with a cup of tea or coffee brought to you in bed. This is followed by a light breakfast of homemade toast and muesli and then a ride out from camp to explore. Depending on the season this may involve galloping, swimming through the flood waters or pushing on through the seas of tall grass, following giraffe, zebra, antelope, elephant, buffalo or whatever else is out there! After the morning's excitement you ride back to camp to enjoy an outdoor lunch with the guides... if you're lucky then it will be their famous chicken pie and some good wine to encourage a little nap before tea. The evening ride is of a slower-pace and is a good time to ask questions and take photos. Leopard sightings are not unusual and the bird life is considered some of the best in the world. As sunset approaches you may also get to interact with some elephant or hippo! A sundowner is enjoyed out in the bush before you ride back to camp to freshen up. Dinner is not always eaten in the same place...

Day 9

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Wake up as normal with freshly-brewed coffee or tea and then, depending on your wishes, you can choose between another ride out (maybe to find the rare semi-aquatic antelope - the red lechwe) or perhaps a guided walk, game drive or a spot of bream fishing from the boat. Riders and non-riders can meet for a spectacular champagne breakfast under one of the impressive baobab trees. After lunch you can relax, swim in the pool or maybe read a book. Homemade tea and cake is followed by a sunset ride, exploring the lower flood plains where elephants often gather at a pool. As dusk approaches it is fascinating to watch them interact in the wild and being on horseback allows you to get that much closer.

Day 10

Riding: 2 - 4 hours

After waking up amongst the trees, listening to the call of the African Fish Eagle, you are ready to ride again! You will splash through the water covering the vast plains, home to blue wildebeeste and Burchell's zebra. This ride may well be fast as you reach the deep and reedy areas which are full of bird life such as open-billed storks, squacco herons, slaty egrets, egyptian geese and more. The path back to Macatoo is along the myriad of waterways which are lined with large trees. On arrival back at camp it is time to pack your things and say goodbye before you are driven to the airstrip with a picnic lunch. Your hosts are sure that you will never forget the true sense of freedom you have experienced on your horse in the African Bush.

Your flight MUST depart Maun in the afternoon, and then depart Johannesburg late in the evening (we recommend later than 20:00).

Accommodation

Six nights at luxury camps on the Tuli Safari followed by at least three nights at Macatoo Camp in the Okavango Delta.

Tuli: Tree Camp is a unique camp which is built 4m above the ground in the boughs of a giant Mashatu tree and two ancient Leadwood trees. Sleeping pods which each sleep two people filter off the central dining/lounge area, and a short walkway leads to shared showers and toilets. This extraordinary camp overlooks the Majale river for wildlife sightings from a heightened perspective.

Tuli: The Kgotla - An old tribal court (leadwood enclosure) as described in the itinerary. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.

Tuli: Two Mashatus - Nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Llala palm rondavels serve as the dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big A-frame, walk-in tents which are pitched on teak platforms. They have en-suite enviro loos and hot water showers. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax in the afternoons.

Okavango: Macatoo Camp - This camp is situated on the western side of the Okavango Delta. Covering 17,000km sq, this is the largest inland delta in the world and offers a mix of labyrinth channels, palm fringed islands and fertile floodplains. The beautiful camp features eight large, luxury, en-suite safari tents on raised wooden platforms. These overlook the floodplains where elephant, zebra, buck and the birdlife can be seen by visitors from their private verandahs or even bed! Centrally there is a large, well-appointed mess tent and a private pool lies tucked away.

Experience Experienced

Experienced riders who must be riding regularly (at least once or twice a week) and who are comfortable at all paces, including gallop, as well as managing small jumps should you have to. Riders must be 16 or older.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

At any time during: Jan. 3, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021  (Dates available to suit for a min of 2 pax. Safaris start on a Sunday with 6 nights at Tuli followed by a min of 3 nights at Macatoo camp.)

June 12, 2022 - June 21, 2022

Pricing

2021
1 January - 28 February & December; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£3355 $4640 €3980
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
2021
March; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£3665 $5070 €4350
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
2021
April & 1-14 June; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£4115 $5690 €4885
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
2021
15-30 June; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£4550 $6295 €5400
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
2021
May, 15-30 October & November; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£4555 $6300 €5400
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
2021
1 July - 14 October; sharing (6 nights Tuli; 3 nights Macatoo)
£4990 $6900 €5920
* These prices EXCLUDE air transfers and are for the rides ONLY. Please request a quote for internal transfer prices, which typically ranged from GB£1380 - GB£2380 per person in 2020.
Included Accommodation, all meals and drinks (incl. wine, beer and local spirits), all riding and safari activities, internal air transfers from Johannesburg to Limpopo/Limpopo to Macatoo/Macatoo to Maun, laundry
Not included International flights, flight from Maun to Johannesburg, travel insurance, conservation fee for Mashatu (currently 60 USD), tips and other personal expenses.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.