Horizon Botswana (Limpopo Valley) riding holiday in Botswana - Far and Ride
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Horizon Botswana (Limpopo Valley), Botswana




Programmes


• Tuli Safari

 

Reviews



The Tuli Trail was an incredible, unforgettable experience, fabulous hosts, horses, accommodation and food. The wildlife sightings exceeded all expectations. The holiday was a perfect balance for me of excitement and relaxation. There are too many favourite memories to list, some wild like cantering with Giraffe, to the African stars and sunset, watching the horses enjoy a well deserved roll in the African dust at the end of the day.

Claire L.
We had a fantastic time. The trip really met our expectations, and we got to see lots of animals. The guides were great and knowledgeable. The horses were really fit. All in all we had a fabulous trip.

Remy H.
The horses were very good and well matched to the riders so a mixed ability group could all have an enjoyable stress free time. Wildlife was brilliant as was accommodation, food and guides. My favourite memory was riding amongst the wildlife on a really good horse that was so easy to ride so I could relax and enjoy the experience.

Sarah W.
Exceeded my expectations. Limpopo had extremely well schooled and very well mannered horses - saw all big five closely. Fantastic horse with a big jump. Excellent guide - we felt safe and reassured even when lions did come close to camp - very well briefed on safety by David.

Susan G. (African Explorer)
Once in a lifetime trip! Knowledgeable guides, beautiful horses, outstanding scenery, incredible animals and great company - what more could you want?!?!? Superb accommodation, showers were a bit rubbish in Camp Davidson, but much better in Limpopo. Food was some of the best we've had on a riding holiday!! Very comfortable saddles, nicely schooled horses and all very happy and healthy. (Guides?) Horizon - fantastic, friendly and knowledgeable. Limpopo - very knowledgeable, felt safe and had some lovely canters. (Favourite memory?) Cantering along the African plains with the beautiful African sunset. Seeing lion, leopard, giraffe, rhino, elephant, hyena, etc. (during the ride and the drive) to name but a few!

Martin, Suzanne & Kat W. (African Explorer)
 

Horses



Type of horses:

A wide range including Boerperds, Shire Thoroughbred Crosses, Appaloosas and Warmbloods.

Nature of horses:

Responsive, honest and well-schooled. The horses here are all capable of good level dressage and jumping and are regularly schooled to ensure that they are an enjoyable mount.

Height of horses:

14.3hh - 17hh

Weight limit:

15st / 209lbs / 95kg

Tack type:

South African McLellan trail saddles are used which have been specially designed for long hours in the saddle. English bridles and style of riding. Hard hats are mandatory.

 

Travel Advice



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

Ride Description

This destination is owned by Shane and Laura who also run Horizon in South Africa. Your main hosts in Botswana are Lindy - stable manager - who formerly ran horseback riding in Mauritius and Carmen - camp manager - former manager at Dinaka and Motswiri safari camps. They offer safaris on Mashatu Game Reserve which is located in the Northern Tuli Game Reserve - the eastern tip of Botswana. Mashatu covers 30,000 hectares and is home to great herds of elephant, estimated to be at least 800 strong.

As well as numerous cats, including leopards, lions, cheetah, African wild cat and cerval, the Tuli Block is known as 'The Land of the Giants' for good reason - the magnificent Baobab tree, huge sandstone outcrops, magnificent plains and of course, the Mashatu trees, are all prevalent along the great Limpopo River. The area is perfect for riding, offering good going with natural ditches and logs to jump, adding that extra dimension to an already exhilarating ride. Guests can expect regular game sightings, not only of the elephants and cats but also of antelopes, jackals, bat eared foxes and giraffe. The occasional canter across the plains with zebras and wildebeest will leave you with memories of an unforgettable riding holiday.

The horses used for these safaris have been individually selected for their temperament and ride-ability. Many have been chosen from the various South African breeds which are known to be of a tough nature and able to cope under extreme conditions. Some of the breeds used include the Boeperd, Shire x Thoroughbreds and South African Warmbloods. Arab and Friesian crosses are also becoming popular. Your hosts pride themselves on providing horses which have been selected using the same stringent criteria as those used to choose horses for eventing and other competitive disciplines. Their schooling concentrates on classical English style, although neck reining is used when in the bush. The horses are schooled to a high level and respond easily and lightly to the aids. South African Mclellan saddles which have been specially designed for long hours in the saddle are used for the comfort of both horse and rider.

There are a choice of programmes to choose from at this destination, including the famous African Explorer Safari which combines this destination with Horizon in South Africa (see our South Africa Horizon page for more details). Safaris are mostly mobile, giving you the special chance to see as much of Mashatu as possible. Whichever itinerary you choose, you can rest assured that this will be one of the best horseback experiences of your life.

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

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Different itineraries offer different standards of accommodation.

The "Two Mashatus" camp is where most safaris begin and end. This camp is in a wonderful location near the Limpopo River but also has a view over open plains to the west. Each tent has its own flushing toilet and shower in a private area behind each tent. The central dining area is built on a teak platform using the local building style with a lala palm thatch roof. In 2013 a small swimming pool was also built so now you can relax with a refreshing dip after your exciting day on horseback safari!

The Kgotla is an old tribal court and now performing the function of a wilderness camp. It is built from leadwood poles in the sandstone formations of the Limpopo basin. Equipped with running water and hot showers, the Kgotla provides an alternative exciting night out.

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.

A local cook will prepare delicious meals offering an array of regional specialities using fresh local produce. You will be amazed at what can be produced over the fire!

Breakfast is very early and light, such as tea, coffee, cereal and rusks.
Lunch is also light and may include quiche and salads.
Dinner comprises hearty meals and may include game meats.

Local drinks are included and you can help yourselves to soft drinks, beer and cider. Local spirits and good quality South African wines are also on offer.

 

Activities

Whilst on the safari, guests can take part in sundowner drives or bush walks when not on horseback - these are included in the itinerary. There is also the possibility of paying extra for a specialised game drive.

For non-riders there is the option of joining the safari by mountain bike with specialised biking guides. Cycle out each day in search of game before regrouping with the riders for meals and sundowners.

For the adventurous, or those wishing to explore more of this beautiful continent, then it is worth knowing that Limpopo valley airfield is only a 1,5h direct flight to Vilankulo, Mozambique. We would highly recommend spending a few days riding and relaxing on the beautiful coast as an extension to your trip and can help with flight reservations and accommodations in this area.

 

Further Details

Languages: English

Health requirements: Dependent on programme, but a reasonable standard of physical fitness is required throughout. Please note that hard hats are compulsory and you will be unable to ride without one.

Age limit: For the most part, strictly no under 16s, unless they are judged to be very competent, strong riders and are accompanied by parents.

Tuition: No

Included: All riding with qualified guide and armed back up, all meals, drinks, snacks, tea, coffee, concessions fees, luggage transfer between camps and specified transfers to/from Limpopo Valley Airfield or Point Drift Border.

Not included: Flights, travel / medical insurance, gratuities, specialised game drive, and transfers to/from Johannesburg International airport. For 2019 a conservation fee of USD 10 per person per night is payable locally.

 

Travel Information

Direct flights from the UK to Johannesburg (OR Tambo) can be booked with the following airlines:

London Gatwick to Johannesburg - Nationwide Airlines

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

Indirect flights from a number of regional airports can be booked with KLM, Lufthansa and Air France.

Transfers (prices on individual itineraries):

It is likely that ALL transfers will be by air from Lanseria airport (Johannesburg) to Limpopo Valley Airfield (10 minutes from the stables). You MUST book flights at the following times to meet these air transfers:

Arrival: Your flight MUST land before 09:30 to allow time to collect your luggage, clear passport control and transfer by road (c. 40mins) to Lanseria airport. If you arrive later than this then you will have to pay extra for a Menzies transit service or a private road transfer.

Departure: You flight MUST depart later than 20:00. We cannot guarantee what time the air transfer will get you to Johannesburg airport for earlier flights and so if you book an earlier departing flight you will need to pay extra for a private road transfer back to Johannesburg and miss the final morning ride.

There are luggage restrictions on the light aircraft which will be detailed in full after you have booked.

**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: Johannesburg (JNB)

 

Programmes


Tuli Safari



Itinerary (which may vary depending on local conditions)

Day 1:

Upon arrival at the Pont Drift Border Post or Limpopo Valley Airfield, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the Reception area by the Stables. After a light lunch itís time to head off to the stables to meet your horse for the week. You will embark on a short introductory ride to make sure that you and your horse are well suited - if time permits you will ride directly to Two Mashatus Camp, otherwise back to the stables again. Dinner will be served in the Llala palm dining room of the Two Mashatus Camp.

Day 2:

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:

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 game drive to search for the areas resident lions before stopping at the "Ampitheatre", an ancient rock formation, for sundowners. 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:

Todays ride takes you to explore the amazing sandstone formations including the famed Solomonís 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:

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:

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:

Todayís ride meanders through the beautiful plains between the Majale and Pitsane rivers, with abundant game and spectacular views of the Limpopo river valley. En-route you explore the remains of an old Boer war fort on a rocky outcrop before dropping down into a cooler wetland area where plentiful game enjoy the lush grasses. In the summer month, rain and water dependent, it's possible to canter through the shallows of the Limpopo river. 

Return to camp for lunch and a cooling drink beside the pool. In the afternoon you can choose to ride or take a bush walk to your final sundowner spot. 

Day 8:

Your last ride is a great opportunity to snap one last picture of elephants or to take a long and winding canter through the scattered mustard bush with your guides. This is a shorter ride of about two hours, allowing you to get back to the stables with enough time to enjoy a hot shower and hearty brunch before saying your farewells. Then itís off to the airstrip for your air transfer/road transfer back to Johannesburg.



Accommodation: First and last two nights at the comfortable Two Mashatus camp which is nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big A frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons.

Two nights at the Kgotla camp “sleeping under the stars”. The Kgotla 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 boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.

Two nights at Tree Camp. Nestled in the boughs of a giant Mashatu tree and two ancient Leadwood trees, this glorious deck is 4m above ground. Cool and airy sleeping pods filter off the central deck and along a short walkway there are shared showers and toilets. There is a spacious dining and lounge area and you can watch wildlife approach the Majale river from your heightened vantage point.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 10
Ability description: 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.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: Long hours in the saddle.
Departure dates: 2020: 5-12, 12-19, 19-26 January; 26 Jan-2 Feb; 2-9, 9-16, 16-23 February; 23 Feb-1 Mar; 1-8, 8-15, 15-22, 22-29 March; 29 Mar-5 Apr; 5-12, 12-19, 19-26 April; 26 Apr-3 May; 3-10, 10-17, 17-24, 24-31 May; 31 May-7 June; 7-14, 14-21, 21-28 June; 28 June-5 July; 5-12, 12-19, 19-26 July; 26 July-2 Aug; 2-9, 9-16, 16-23, 23-30 August; 30 Aug-6 Sep; 6-13, 13-20, 20-27 September; 27 Sep-4 Oct; 4-11, 11-18, 18-25 October; 25 Oct-1 Nov; 1-8, 8-15, 15-22, 22-29 November; 29 Nov-6 Dec; 6-13, 13-20, 20-27 December.
*Dec/Jan and Feb dates require a minimum of 4 riders to confirm.
 
Pricing: 2020:

Per person for 7 nights
High season (May, July-November): £2940
Mid season (March, April, June): £2450
Low season (Jan, Feb, December): £2100

Single supplements (if not willing to share):
Low season (Jan, Feb, Dec): 25% of ride price (£525)
Mid season (Mar, Apr, Jun): 35% of ride price (£858)
High season (May, Jul-Nov): 35% of ride price (£1029)

Rates are inclusive of accommodation, riding, bush walks, sundowner drives, meals, teas and coffees, drinks and laundry. Additional game drives, tips and curios payable locally in cash.

Price does not include flights or travel insurance.

Air transfers from OR Tambo International to Limpopo Valley Airfield (10 minutes from the stables):

£570 per person return trip
Price includes passenger taxes, transfer between OR Tambo and Lanseria airport and onboard refreshments.

* In the event that there are not sufficient passengers to run the flights, alternative road transfers will be taken.

**From 1st January 2019 a conservation fee of USD 10 per person per night will be payable locally**

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.