Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris) riding holiday in Zimbabwe - Far and Ride
Home  >  Riding Holidays  >  Zimbabwe  >  Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris)

Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris), Zimbabwe


• Hwange Big Five Ride



Type of horses:

A variety of breeds including Boerperd, Shire X, TB X and Percheron X.

Nature of horses:

Sure-footed, experienced, fit and well-schooled.

Height of horses:

15 - 16.3hh.

Weight limit:

14st 2lbs / 198lbs / 90kg but they will accept up to 95kg for experienced riders.

Tack type:

A range of saddles to fit different horses and cater for guest preferences - Leon Liversage Trailmasters (handmade in South Africa), Australian stock saddles and Wintec English saddles. Most horses are ridden in snaffle bits. Water bottle pouches and saddle bags (in the saddle pads) are provided.


Travel Advice

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

Ride Description

Join James and Janine Varden for a fascinating horse safari in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. The start and end point is the luxurious Iganyana Tented Camp, situated on the Dete Vlei which forms part of the buffer zone to the park. From here the Vardens can offer you an exciting adventure into Hwange, home to more than 100 species of mammals (including all of the Big Five) and more than 400 species of birds.

This is an owner-operated safari with James and Janine on every trip. Their team of seasoned safari horses are well-schooled and equipped with quality tack to suit your preferences, allowing for a comfortable but exhilarating ride as you explore the wilderness, observing game in an area not currently operated on by any other safari companies. A Professional Guide since 1993, James Varden is renowned for his incredible knowledge of southern Africa and its wildlife, whilst also having a particular love of birds. The Vardens are also known for their conservation ethos and this is reflected in their safaris - they employ local staff, source local produce and keep a low environmental footprint. The fresh food they serve is found nearby.

Transfers are available from and to Victoria Falls from where it's a two hour drive to Hwange park, ready to begin your adventure! There are many great add-ons possible in this region too, including a visit to world-famous Falls or perhaps a walking, canoe or jeep safari with a chance to see some more of the Big Five - please contact us for suggestions.

See Programmes.


Food & Accommodation

On the first and last nights you are accommodated at Iganyana Tented Camp. This luxury camp offers purpose-built tented rooms, all of which have en-suite facilities and verandas. The tents are made of steel-frames with double layers of canvas and are furnished to a high standard. The bathrooms have flushing toilets and solar-heated showers.

When on the riding safari in Hwange National Park guests are accommodated in traditional safari-style tented camps which are semi-mobile. The tents are mini walk-in Meru style tents with long-drop loos and hot bucket showers. You will have comfortable beds with good linen and everything you need for a peaceful sleep.

During this safari you will be served fresh, home-cooked meals using produce which has primarily been locally-sourced. Lunches may be a hearty cooked brunch in camp or potentially eaten out in the bush.

Drinks are included and are standard local Zimbabwean beverages (both alcoholic and soft drinks). Should you request specific premium or imported drinks then these will be charged as an extra cost.



Bird-watching, game drives, night drives, guided walks.


Further Details

Languages: English.

Health requirements: Good health and fitness recommended.

Age limit: 14+ unless by prior arrangement. Participants must be competent riders.

Tuition: No.

Included: Accommodation, meals, drinks (inc. local alcoholic beverages), laundry, guided horse riding and safari activities mentioned in itinerary.

Not included: Flights, airport transfers, travel insurance, National Parks fees (see pricing), premium drinks, tips or items of a personal nature.


Travel Information

The closest airport is Victoria Falls, with a 2 hour transfer time. We have included the transfer costs in the package price.

Airport: Victoria Falls



Hwange Big Five Ride

This ride is set within Hwange National Park, deep in the Kalahari. The terrain is perfect for the barefoot horses and the landscape is predominantly flat with no mountains or kopjes in sight, making for excellent riding and unimpeded views. Numerous animals roam the wonderful woodlands and grasslands near the pans, particularly elephant and giraffe. You should also see zebra, impala, kudu, warthog, eland, buffalo etc, and if you are lucky lion, cheetah, leopard and wild dog.

Day One:

You will be transferred from Victoria Falls International Airport to Iganyana Tented Camp where you will spend the first night. 

Days Two - Seven: 

For the next five nights you will camp in Hwange National Park on a true adventure with your experienced guide, James Varden. You will sleep in semi-mobile tents camps, moving a few times during your stay in the park, and will explore this great wilderness on horseback. Hwange is one of the most biodiverse national parks and is home to all of the 'Big Five' animals. 

By the end of day seven you will end up back at Iganyana Tented Camp where you can spend the last night in more luxurious surrounds, recharging before your onward journey.

Day Eight: 

Departure after breakfast. 

Accommodation: Five nights mobile camp with stretcher beds and two nights Iganyana Tented camp. There is no electricity at the mobile camp, but there are bucket showers. Once at Iganyana you can re-charge your batteries.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: You must be an experienced rider who is comfortable in all paces and riding fit. This is a Big Five area and there is potentially dangerous game.
Type of ride: Safari
Total riding time: 7 nights / 5.5 days riding
Departure dates: 2021: 3-10 April, 17-24 April, 1-8 May, 15-22 May, 5-12 June, 19-26 June, 3-10 July, 17-24 July, 7-14 August (confirmed), 21-28 August, 4-11 September, 18-25 September, 2-9 October, 16-23 October, 6-13 November, 20-27 November.
Pricing: 2021:

Special post-Covid rate (valid until end July 2021): 3093 per person sharing
Single supplement 804 if not willing to share
(Please contact us for rates from August 2021 onwards)

Price includes 5 nights mobile safari and 2 nights Iganyana Tented Camp, all activities, meals, drinks, return transfers from Victoria Falls airport to Hwange national park.

Conservation fees for Hwange ($50pp) and camping fees at Hwange ($115pp) must be paid directly in cash at Hwange gate - please bring small denomination US Dollar notes for this ($165 in total).

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.