Waterberg Big Five Safari riding holiday in South Africa - Far and Ride
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Waterberg Big Five Safari, South Africa





Horses



Type of horses:

Boerperd, Boerperd cross, Arab cross, Thoroughbred cross and Nooitgedacht cross

Nature of horses:

Brave, sturdy, forward going and willing to please

Height of horses:

14.2 - 16.2 hh

Weight limit:

95 kg / 14 stone 9 lbs

Tack type:

English, but there are a couple of trail saddles if you prefer. All horses respond to neck-reining as well as conventional riding.

 

Travel Advice



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

Ride Description

Entabeni - "The Place of the Mountain" is a stunning reserve situated within the World Heritage Waterberg Biosphere. This 22,000ha malaria-free reserve is only three hours north of Johannesburg and boasts five ecosystems. The upper escarpment offers majestic craggy rock formations and wide-open grassy plains. This is separated from the lower plateau by 600m high cliffs. The lower escarpment is approximately 3 degrees warmer and comprises sandveld vegetation and a series of wetlands.

Within this spectacular landscape all of the Big Five reside, along with plentiful plains game too. Riding safaris take place on both the upper and lower escarpments so you get to experience not only the stunning ecosystems, but also search for a high number of animals.

The horses are all well adapted to the environment and used to the game. Whilst they are independent they are also keen to stay as a herd in game situations. The resident herd are all special characters and love their job, so all guests can focus on the game viewing and magnificent surroundings rather than worrying about their horse. Each horse is schooled regularly as well as going on safari so that they are responsive and do not get bored.

Your guides are experienced, fully qualified and will teach you the signs to look for as you track the game, as well as introducing you to exhilarating riding across the plains.

The usual riding safari itinerary includes staying in a lodge on the lower escarpment before moving to a fly camp in the bush for an authentic African adventure. Finally finishing in a different lodge. However, on dates when these mobile rides are not operating, it may be possible to organise a private lodge-based safari for groups, so please do contact us if you would prefer this option.

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

Your first night is usually at Wildside Safari camp on the lower escarpment. There are 20 tented chalets which are en-suite and offer a comfortable African experience. There is an open lounge/bar area with a roaring fire.

Nights two to five are spend at fly camp, with large, comfortable tents which you can stand up in and have proper beds and bedding.

Nights six and seven are usually at Ravineside on the upper escarpment. This thatched, wooden lodge is built on stilts and hugs the cliff edge, offering spectacular views. There are 22 double/twin chalets and open sundecks where you can watch the game.

All meals are included. Breakfast is usually light and on the days with early starts you may just want tea/coffee and fruit. Lunch, or sometimes brunch, is late morning/midday and will include fresh salads and light options.

There is usually high tea with cake/biscuits before the afternoon ride. Dinner is then a larger meal after sunset and will include meals cooked over an open fire when in camp.

Special diets can be accommodated with advance notice.

All drinks are included when staying at fly camp, but whilst at the lodges, your bar bills are to your own account.

 

Activities

One game drive is included on the first afternoon so you can take photos of the animals from a steadier location than horseback! You can choose to join additional game drives if you wish, but these are extra cost (payable locally).

At Ravineside lodge there are spa facilities which you may wish to use, but these are at extra cost (payable locally).

Non-riders would be better accommodated at the lodges with a package which includes daily game drives (we can organise this, so please ask).

 

Further Details

Languages: English. Some German and Spanish.

Health requirements: General good health, plus fit enough to lead your horse on occasions.

Age limit: 12 years or over. Children MUST be competent riders.

Tuition: No

Included: Riding, game drive on arrival day, all meals, drinks at fly camp, accommodation

Not included: Flights, transfers, drinks at lodges, optional additional game drives, optional spa activities, travel insurance

 

Travel Information

There are several airlines flying direct to Johannesburg (ORT). Many leave the UK in the evenings and after an overnight flight you will arrive the next morning hopefully without any jet lag! We will arrange your safe transfer to the reserve - a journey of c. 3 hours.

Group airport transfers are at additional cost - see individual itinerary for prices.

Airport: Johannesburg (JNB)

 

Programmes


Waterberg Big Five Circuit



This horseback safari in Entabeni reserve includes riding on both the lower and upper escarpment, offering great opportunities to view all of the Big Five. Spend some nights in luxury lodges and other nights in a fabulous fly camp with very comfortable tents. The views are truly spectacular and there is abundant game on the plains.

Day One:

Arrive into Johannesburg early in the morning (before 09:30) and transfer to the reserve in time for a late lunch - the journey is c. 3 hours by road. Your first night is spent in one of the lodges (Wildside) on the lower escarpment and there will be time to settle in and relax a little before your afternoon game drive departs at 4pm. This will be your first chance to spot the wildlife in the reserve and hopefully get some photographs from the vehicle. Dinner is served at the lodge at c. 7pm.

Day Two:

After a light breakfast you are transferred to the horses and at c. 9am you set off on your first ride through big game territory on the lower escarpment. After about an hour and a half of riding you reach Waterberry picnic spot where you stop for brunch and to rest a little. You then set off to climb up to the upper escarpment, which is separated from the lower escarpment by 600m high cliffs. You will have to lead your horse for some sections which involve climbing one of the steepest roads in South Africa with a gradient of 40 degrees in some parts. (If you have a medical condition which means you cannot walk this route or get tired, then you will be able to transfer up in the vehicle instead).

As you reach the top you will have time to refresh yourself in the natural rock pool with spectacular views and crystal clear water. The ride then continues out onto the plains - an idyllic scene with game scattered across the grasslands. At c. 3pm you reach your fly camp at Boukenhout in time for high tea. You will spend four nights here and dinner will be served around the fire at c. 7pm.

Day Three:

An early start today as you set off with your lunch in your saddlebags for later. Ride along a flat rock valley until reaching a waterfall which only flows in summer, or alternatively, head towards yellow wood rim which offer spectacular views over the escarpment. Stop for lunch and a rest. Ride back to fly camp for snacks before relaxing in hammocks or various chill-out areas around camp whilst watching the sun set. 

Day Four:

A slightly later start today with a 7am light breakfast before riding. Your guide will point out animal tracks and signs of activity as you ride in search of some of Africa's giants. After a couple of hours, arrive back in camp for brunch before taking a plunge in the river to cool off.

After high tea at 3pm, your afternoon ride takes you to a magnificent viewpoint (Kgamakutla point) where you stop for sundowners with spectacular views. Arrive back to camp for a beautifully set table and fire in the riverbed, whilst dinner is served listening to the sounds of the bush coming to life around you.

Day Five:

Another early start as you set off on the horses at 6am. Ride west on sandy tracks which offer great opportunities to pick up speed. Then ride east towards Ingwe valley, with some chance of spotting more elusive animals in the thicker vegetation and perhaps hippo as you pass the lake. Continue onto the wide open grass plains and return to camp for lunch. 

After lunch, weather permitting, pack your bags for a night under the stars. Ride for c. 2.5 hours across varying terrain including a memorial spot similar to monument valley and up to high ground which offers stunning views. Where the terrain gets tough you will dismount and lead the horses on foot. On reaching the viewpoint, the fire will be lit and you can watch the sunset. (In inclement weather you ride a route which returns to fly camp instead of sleeping out).

Day Six:

Quickly pack your bags and ride to Ravineside for breakfast. There is time to settle in and appreciate the lodge for a few hours. In the afternoon, ride to an idllic spot with a natural plunge pool and deck with awe-inspiring views where you stop for a snack. As the temperatures cool, ride across open grassland to arrive at your lodge before sunset. Drinks and a three-course dinner await you before settling down for a night in this beautiful lodge.

Day Seven:

A light breakfast at 6.30am and then set out to catch the stunning morning views and crisp air from the outer rim, overlooking the views of the lower plateau. This ride takes you through different scenery and along some rocky ledges to a dam where you can swim with the horses if it's warm enough! Return to the lodge for brunch and to relax. You may wish to make use of the spa facilities at the lodge (at extra cost). Your afternoon ride departs at c. 3.30pm to head to Hanglip viewpoint with good chances of seeing abundant game on the open areas and Ungululu. Stop at the viewpoint for some stunning photos with your horse before heading back to your lodge for a second night and dinner.

Day Eight:

After an early breakfast, hand your packed bags to the team and set off riding to descend back to the lower escarpment. The route takes c. 1 hour 30 mins, of which c. 45mins will be leading your horse on foot. At the base of the cliffs, remount and ride to the "Extreme 19th" gate, arriving at c. 11am. Brunch will be served at the clubhouse looking out onto the golf course. There are showers available so that you can refresh and change ready for your departure to the airport and your flight home.



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider who is confident in all paces across different terrain. This is a Big Five area and so you have to be able to stay on your horse and remain calm in all situations.
Type of ride: Safari
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights / 6.5 days riding
Departure dates: 2019: 7-14 December; 28 December-4 January 2020.

2020: 5-12 January, 19-26 January, 8-15 February, 22-29 February, 8-15 March, 21-28 March, 4-11 April, 18-25 April, 2-9 May, 16-23 May, 6-13 June, 20-27 June, 4-11 July, 18-25 July, 8-15 August, 22-29 August, 5-12 September, 19-26 September, 3-10 October, 17-24 October, 6-13 November, 20-27 November, 5-12 December, 19-26 December.
 
Pricing: 2019/20:

£2344 per person sharing

Single room supplement: £349

Airport transfers: £213 per person return

Additional optional extras:
Optional Night Drive - Payable locally, c. 400 Rand per person
Optional Game Drive - Payable locally, c. 350 Rand per 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.



Five Night Safari



A short break safari under canvas in the Entabeni Safari Conservancy. This programme is available on request and confirms for two or more riders, so it's ideal for those who can't make the longer fixed departures or who have less time to spare. Entabeni is full of fantastic wildlife and this is a true safari experience with varied riding terrain, plenty of game-viewing and spectacular scenery.

Day 1: Arrival to Johannesburg airport before 11:00 with transfer to Wildside Safari Camp for a late lunch. This afternoon there is an introductory game drive after you settle in, your first chance to see some of the Big 5 up close. After getting to know your riding preferences a horse will be selected to suit you ready for your ride the next morning. As the sun sets it's time for dinner and overnight.

Day 2: Today is a moving day as you head from the lower escarpment to the upper and is a day of both riding and walking. There is an early morning game drive for those who'd like it, followed by breakfast at 09:00 and transfer in the game vehicle to the horses to start your ride. This is big game territory!

After about an hour and a half in the saddle you will reach Waterberry picnic spot for brunch. This will energise you for your climb up the escarpment - you will partly lead your horse over one of the steepest roads in South Africa which has a gradient of 40 degrees at some point. A support vehicle with ranger accompanies the ride so if walking becomes tiring you are welcome to jump into the jeep.

On reaching the top you will have some time to refresh yourself in the natural rock pool, enjoying spectacular views and crystal clear water. The ride continues onto the plains, an idyllic scene hopefully dotted with game. You will reach fly camp at Boukenhout at about 15:00 in time for high tea and a chance to settle in to the place you will call home for the next four nights. Dinner will be served around the fire at 19:00. Overnight Boukenhout Fly Camp.

Day 3: Today is a full day ride with a packed lunch. Starting after breakfast you will saddle up with lunch in your saddle bag. The ride today will take you along a flat rock valley until you reach a waterfall (only flowing in summer) or alternatively towards a yellow wood rim and a viewpoint with wonderful views over the lower escarpment. You will stop here for lunch and a well-deserved rest. You will ride back to your fly camp in time for a snack before dinner is served, relaxing in the hammocks or chilling out with a drink watching the sun set. Dinner and overnight in the fly camp.

Day 4: Today is day for amazing sundowners at Kgamakutla Point and a romantic dinner in the riverbed! After a later start today and a light breakfast you will head off with your guide pointing out animal tracks and signs along the way, in the hopes of finding some of Africa's giants. You will arrive back in camp after a two hour ride for a hearty brunch and then you can take some time to relax, enjoying a swim in the river or lazing in a shady spot on a picnic blanket or in a hammock. High tea is served at 15:00 before mounting up for your afternoon ride - today you are headed to a magnificent spot on the plains for sundowners! You'll arrive back to camp for a beautifully set table and fire in the riverbed where you can listen to the sound of the bush come to life whilst enjoying a wonderful South African wine to set the scene. Overnight in fly camp. 

Day 5: Today is a plains ride with a sleep-out under the stars, provided the weather is good. It will be a late breakfast today before mounting up and riding west on sandy tracks with the opportunity to pick up some speed. You will head for the Ingwe Valley with chances to spot some of the more elusive animals in the thick vegetation, plus you may see some hippos in the lake. The ride continues on to the wide open grass plains and then back to camp for late lunch. 

After lunch your bags will be packed for one night in the bush under the open skies, weather permitting. The ride will set out again for around two and a half hours, this time experiencing different scenery as the day gets cooler. You will visit a memorial spot in their monument valley and also ride on higher ground to enjoy the views. Walking can be expected where terrain gets tough. 

On arrival at the view point the camp site will be lit for you and the fire will be ready. Tonight it's another romantic dinner and drinks but a more adventurous experience with a basic wash area, hand towels and toiletries. The views and sunrise this night are spectacular! Overnight sleep-out OR back at fly camp if the weather requires it. 

Day 6: After a full breakfast at a stop close to camp, you will ride down the escarpment and traverse the lower plains towards the main gate. On reaching the resort clubhouse the horses will be taken home whilst you can shower and have a bite to eat before your shuttle to the airport. Flights should leave 18:00 or later. 



Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: You need to be a capable rider who is confident in all paces across different terrain. This is a 'Big Five' area and so you have to be able to stay on your horse and remain calm in all situations.
Type of ride: Tented safari.
Total riding time: 4 - 6 hours per day on average.
Departure dates: 2019/20: dates are available on request - the first person to book sets the date and the programme requires a minimum of 2 riders to go ahead.
 
Pricing: 2019/20:

£1619 per person
£64 per night single supplement (if not willing to share)

Price includes 1 night in the permanent camp, 4 nights fly camping, all meals and drinks whilst at camp, 1 game drive on arrival day and horse riding.

Not included: flights, insurance, any additional activities not mentioned in the itinerary, drinks at Wildside Safari Camp (Day 1), transfers from and to the airport (£213 round trip price), optional lunch at clubhouse before departure, gratuities.

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.