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Mozambique Horse Safaris

Overview

This beautiful destination in Mozambique offers what is arguably the best beach riding in the world. Their day rides run along the stunning Vilanculos coast and on Benguerra Island, part of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Your hosts here, Pat and Mandy Retzlaff, specialise in custom-made riding holidays …

Highlights

  • Canter down the glorious white sand beaches
  • Swim with your horse in the crystal clear ocean
  • Take a boat to the island and watch for dolphins & rays
  • Snorkel the reefs to see the amazing array of fish
  • Dine on glorious seafood as the sun sets over the water

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 2 - 3 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2 lbs

Description

This beautiful destination in Mozambique offers what is arguably the best beach riding in the world. Their day rides run along the stunning Vilanculos coast and on Benguerra Island, part of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Your hosts here, Pat and Mandy Retzlaff, specialise in custom-made riding holidays which introduce visitors to the beaches, magnificent cliff top views and the turquoise seas of this Mozambican paradise. The horses, a combination of Thoroughbreds, Arabs and South African Boerperds, are their greatest and most treasured assets and are well taken care of. A number of the horses were rescued from war-torn Zimbabwe and your hosts are happy to talk to you about their epic journey.

The stunning town of Vilankulo is world renowned for its variety of white sand beaches, alluring golden sunsets and tall palm trees. The beaches stretch for tens of kilometres allowing riders plenty of opportunities for exhilarating canters and long trots. There are extraordinary views over the Bazaruto Archipelago, red sand dunes to explore and a fascinating fishing village where the local chief will welcome you in the traditional style. Vilankulo also has many interesting markets and there remains a visible Portuguese influence in the restaurants and culture, a result of its past inclusion in the Portuguese Empire.

As well as all this, visitors have the opportunity to travel to Benguerra Island which was declared a National Park in 1971. Guests can ride on different horses also owned by the hosts, travelling through forests and savannahs, around freshwater lakes and past wetland eco-systems. The island is home to around 140 species of bird and fresh water crocodiles and flamingos can be found in the three lakes. The island is also known for its remarkable dive sites.

After a wonderful day's riding there is nothing better than returning somewhere lovely to relax, to enjoy an exotic cocktail and to eat a delicious meal before watching the sunset from the beach. Accommodation for these holidays is in a lodge located on the beach and it features eighteen chalets and an excellent restaurant and bar. This is the finishing touch to these breathtaking holidays, a little slice of paradise for the horse loving traveller.

This ride is not only a glorious holiday in it's own right, but a fabulous extension to another riding holiday. After the adrenaline of a safari in Botswana or South Africa, or a trail ride in Namibia, what better way to relax than on these glorious beaches, with stunning riding as well as a more laid-back holiday feel.

READ ABOUT IT!: In 2013 the owner of Mozambique Horse Safaris, Mandy Retzlaff, published her book 'One Hundred and Four Horses'. It tells the true story of how Mandy and Pat moved to Mozambique, rescuing horses from the Zimbabwe land invasions as they went. An incredibly moving story and a great read for horse lovers! Available to purchase online. We recommend reading before you travel so you will recognise some of the horse characters when you get there.

Horses & Riding

Tack

A combination of Wintecs, Australian Stock and McClellan saddles are used. Bridles are uncomplicated with single reins and are generally bitless or single jointed or French link snaffle bits.

Horses

There are just over 40 horses - the majority were rescued from Zimbabwean farms during the height of the political violence in the early 2000's. Several have been bought in Mozambique and they also recently acquired a small herd of prize winning South African Boerperds. The bulk of the horses are mixed breeds including Thoroughbred Crosses, Arabs, South African Boerperds and bush ponies. They are all well loved and well schooled with calm temperaments, reacting easily and lightly to the aids.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Idyllic Adventure is a based ride

Ages

No age limit within reason

Health

Fit & Healthy

Weight

90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2 lbs

Food & Accommodation

Food

Mozambique has a rich culinary heritage, with its strong Portuguese influenced specialities revolving around fresh seafood, coconut curries and world famous peri-peri chicken. Mix in with your hosts English heritage and love of braai (BBQ) and you get the idea of what to expect.

In the morning there are fresh seasonal fruits, cereal or oats, a choice of eggs, bacon or tomatoes with fresh rolls or toast. For lunch and evening dinners your meals are prepared by your personal chef or taken out at top seafood restaurants or as a poolside BBQ.

Vegetarians can be catered for with a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that can be sourced locally. Please advise us in advance. There are limited options for vegan or gluten free diets due to the remote location, so it's important to share your dietary requirements early to ensure your hosts have time to prepare.

Accommodation

Accommodation is usually at Vila de Sonhos on the outskirts of Vilankulo.

Vila de Sonhos is an exclusive lodge made up of four luxury beachfront homes overlooking the turquoise sea of the Bazaruto Archipelago. Each villa has a set of impressive bedrooms uniquely designed with breathtaking views. The bedrooms are spacious and comfortable, furnished with indigenous hardwood and open onto private balconies and have ensuite bathrooms.

The villas have fully equipped kitchens with a personal chef and there is a comfortable lounge and dining area with modern conveniences such as WiFi. The beautifully designed pool is a short distance away with lounge decks and BBQ facilities. The large garden is neatly manicured and home to several ancient Baobab trees that silhouette the blue skies and chatter with wild birds and monkeys. At the bottom of the garden there is private access to the incredible beach below.

It is within easy walking distance of the stables and just a short ride from the town centre.

If this resort is full then you will be accommodated in similar resorts in the area.

Itineraries

Idyllic Adventure Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Horse Riding on Bazaruto Island:

As an optional activity (at an extra cost), guests have the chance to ride on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Bazaruto Island is the largest island in the archipelago and has white sand beaches, large sand dunes and freshwater lakes surrounded by the translucent blue of the Indian Ocean.

Scuba Diving and Snorkelling:

The waters around the Bazaruto Archipelago are one of the largest marine conservation areas in the Indian Ocean. The coral reefs and clear waters offer some of the best diving in the world. With sites at a depth of 12m to 30m and visibility up to 40m, you will discover protected reefs teeming with dolphin, humpback whales, whale sharks, sharks, manta and spotted eagle rays and turtles. The endangered dugong, of which only a very small number still exist, swim in the shallow crystal waters that are also home to abundant starfish, soft and hard corals, anemones, seahorses and a dazzling array of beautiful tropical fish.

Dhow Trips:

Experience the wonder of a traditional sailing dhow gliding through the Bazaruto Archipelago. The islands of Benguerra, Bazaruto, Magaruque and Santa Carolina are complete with azure waters, sandy beaches, palm trees and pristine coral reefs.

Portuguese Lessons:

For those who choose to volunteer at this destination on one of the schemes, the hosts can arrange intensive one-to-one Portuguese lessons.

Fishing:

Vilankulo is renowned for its excellent game fishing.

Kiteboarding:

During the windy season you can kiteboard and windsurf in Vilankulo, the conditions are perfect due to the shallow water and flat waves.

Canoeing: paddle with a guide down the Govuro river to discover the unspoilt riverine and incredible birdlife.

Travel

Visitors from Europe may find that the most affordable flights are from Paris or Lisbon into Maputo. From here you can take a direct flight from Maputo to Vilanculos where your hosts can meet you. Alternatively, guests can take a luxury bus which runs between Johannesburg, Maputo and Vilanculos twice a week and you can be picked up from the bus drop off point in Vilanculos.

There are also regular flights into Vilanculos from Johannesburg, particularly useful if you are adding this ride as an extension to your riding safari in South Africa/Botswana/Namibia. There are also less frequent flights from Nelspruit (Kruger Park) to Vilankulo with SA Airlink.

The included airport pick ups are from and to Vilankulo.

Testimonials

Frances H., Nov. 27, 2014

Wonderful! Knowledgeable attentive hosts, excellent horses, fabulous scenery, superb accommodation, delicious food. Variety of things to do other than ride if you wanted to, very flexible.


Malcolm T., Nov. 26, 2014

An excellent holiday in every way; the accommodation far exceeded my expectations and the food was very good. We enjoyed canters on the beach and I was very happy with my horse.


Itinerary & Pricing

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.

Experience Beginner / Intermediate / Experienced

All levels can be catered for

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

At any time during: Jan. 1, 2021 - Dec. 31, 2021  (Arrive any day, stay as long as you like, min 3 nights)

At any time during: Jan. 1, 2022 - Dec. 31, 2022  (Arrive any day, stay as long as you like, min 3 nights)

Pricing

2021/2022
Non-Rider, 4 nights, sharing
£975 $1350 €1155
2021/2022
Non-Rider, 7 nights, sharing
£1445 $2000 €1715
2021/2022
Rider, 4 nights, sharing
£2075 $2875 €2465
2021/2022
Rider, 7 nights, sharing
£3115 $4310 €3695
Included Accommodation, horse riding, meals, all local drinks (including soft drinks, spirits, beers and house wines), transfers, motorised dhow trip to Benguerra Island, laundry, cultural tours as described, national park fees and Mozambique Government VAT.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, visa, tips, extra excursions/activities & other personal expenses.

Extras

2021/2022 - Sole Rider Supplement £415 $575 €490
Paid to Far and Ride
To confirm the ride for one person
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.