Day 1 - Arrival and Introduction
Riding: 1 - 2 hours
You will be met at Vilankulo Airport by Pat or Mandy, your hosts and guides for the week, and after a short transfer you will settle in to your accommodation at Archipelago Resort. In the afternoon you will meet the horses and riding staff and will be presented with horses to try in the riding school. Once you have been matched to a suitable horse, you will enjoy an introductory beach ride giving you a chance to become familiar with the horses and tack. This is a slow, relaxing ride which incorporates the different eco-systems of the archipelago - wide open beaches, cliff top views, untouched dune bush and the mangrove shoreline.
Please note that the weather conditions and changing tides in Vilankulo will control the timing and order of rides during the week, but the following gives you an idea.
Day 2 - The Great Lakes
Riding: 3 hours
The ride today is inland, following trails which wind between African villages and past the natural fresh water lakes. The birdlife here is wonderful and riders have a good chance of seeing eagles, herons, harriers, rollers, pelicans and kingfishers. You will canter along the bush paths, crossing farmlands and passing by the old ruins of Portuguese homesteads. The old farm roads allow for a fast pace as you continue across country. As usual, the return journey takes you along the beach where there is plenty of space for long canters.
Day 3 - Swimming ride and Canoe trip
Riding: 1 hours
Start this extraordinary ride by mounting bareback on the beach and wading chest deep into the turquoise blue seas on an amazing ocean walk along the shoreline for about 30 minutes until reaching the safe swimming spot. Dismount and lead your horse into the shallow where they can wallow and roll. Then mount again bareback and wade out into deeper water - you will be attached to a lead rope so that you feel the exploding surge and strength of your horse as he starts to swim.
In the late afternoon you travel out to Govuro River by vehicle where you are paddled along a picture-perfect waterway. Soak up the lush riverine, look for native fish and listen to the magical calls of the birdlife. As evening falls, ducks return inland to roost and there is a good chance you will see fireflies lighting up the evening sky.
Day 4 - Benguerra Island Rides
Riding: 3 hours
Today requires an early start - from town you will travel by motorised dhow across the Bazaruto National Park to Benguerra Island where a wonderful day awaits you. As you meander across the calm waters you can admire the sea views and keep watch for dolphins, turtles and rays. As you approach the island you'll see the shapes of horses under palm trees on the prinstine white sandy beach, awaiting your arrival.
Benguerra Island is comprised of massive sand dunes, freshwater lakes and beautiful white sand beaches, all of which combine to create a breathtaking riding area. With a varied eco-system the island is home to an exceptional variety of birdlife and riders often see large flocks of flamingo. You'll ride inland past local villages towards the high golden sand dunes and freshwater lakes, before continuing along sandy tracks and onto the beach. Just before reaching the stables, you'll remove the saddles and ride into the sea bareback.
If tides allow you'll then spend some time snorkelling on Magaruque Island where a simple and delicious seafood lunch is served ashore under a shady tree. Mask, fins and snorkel are provided and you are encouraged to take part in some of the world's finest drift snorkelling along a vertical rock drop off. For those not keen on the water you can simply relax and take a long walk on the impressive beach. The return to Vilankulo is a chance to admire the sun setting over the ocean before you return to land for dinner and drinks. This unique day cannot be captured in pictures or by words, it is simply magical.
Day 5 - Fishing Village Ride
Riding: 2 - 3 hours
This morning you can take your time, eating a relaxed breakfast and maybe enjoying a morning swim before the ride starts at lunchtime. You start by riding down to the beach at a walk, to watch the shimmering blue sea shimmering in the distance. Once past the rocks, the beach opens up and you can canter towards the mangroves in the distance and up a red bank to the Fingerprint of God. The panoramic views look out over the Bazaruto Archipelago and you can see colourful dhows gliding through the channels and fisher-women hunting crab in the shallows. Continue riding through winding coconut plantations to reach the Managlise Fishing Village.
Here you'll hear the distinct chatter of laughing children and soon you are greeted by hoards of smiles. Dismount and sit in a simple thatch shelter to refresh yourself with newly harvested coconuts. A traditional lunch is served including fresh crab from the beach, grilled fish from the mornings catch and Matapa - a local dish made from cassava leaves, nuts and coconut milk. After your lunch and some local songs and dances from the children, you re-mount and return home.
The Fishing Village Ride is completely authentic, rich in cultural experiences and brings much appreciated business to a locality well off the beaten track. It also means that locals, who once feared the horses, have a better understanding and involvement with them in their community.
Day 6 - Bush and Beach Ride
Riding: 3 - 4 hours
Today’s ride is a favourite with many guests. You follow a route along the old coastal main road running parallel to the beach before meandering up and wading across a small river estuary. Along the route you pass through small rural villages where
young children will come to wave at the horses. As the local population thins out there are long safe canters through coastal bush. After several hours in the saddle you will follow a bush track through dense woodland that leads down on to the beach with amazing views over the bay. The long, deserted, safe, sandy beaches offer a chance to experience dream-like canters on your way back to the stables. After a long day in the saddle, there is a chance for sundowners and a fine dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 7 - Red Dune Ride, North Beach
Riding: 3 - 4 hours
After a delicious breakfast you will be driven over to the stables and will mount up for an exhilarating ride through the outskirts of town and along the deserted beaches to the Red Dunes on North Beach. There are plenty of chances for controlled canters on the beaches before you climb the giant coastal dunes... the incredible panoramic views of the white sandbars and turquoise seas below are a special highlight of this holiday and not easily forgotten. After taking many photos you ride back down and canter along the beach to a fresh seafood lunch.
After lunch you will stop at a local arts and crafts centre which supports the local community - there is plenty of time to look around and pick up some souvenirs for friends and family back home. In the late afternoon you can relax by the pool or perhaps take a walk on the beach. Dinner tonight will be served in tranquil settings as the groups toasts to your last night.
Day 8 - Farewell Ride
Riding: 1 - 2 hours
After a final relaxed breakfast you can take a short morning farewell ride southwards, passing through lines of mangroves and swaying palms. The ride allows for long canters up towards the 'Fingerprint of God' again for a final view overlooking the archipelago. Ride a little further through the dune bush and the it's one last canter along beach to return home. Time for one final lunch before bidding farewell to new friends and preparing for departure.
If the tide is due to be out on your final morning then the swim will take place on another day.
NB. Please note this itinerary may change depending on the tides and weather conditions in the Bazaruto Archipelago. The ride order might be changed.
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.