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Ride Zimbabwe (Varden Safaris)


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. This is owned by Sheona and Terry Anders who are also horse love…


  • Ride in the world-renowned Hwange National Park
  • View large game such as elephant from horseback
  • Canter along soft, sandy paths under the teak canopy
  • Watch the sun set over the savannah from your bush camp
  • Tag on an extension at the glorious Victoria Falls

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 3 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2 lbs.
    more info Heavier riders, weighing up to 95kg, may be accepted if they are very experienced.


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. This is owned by Sheona and Terry Anders who are also horse lovers. From here the Vardens can offer you an exciting adventure into Hwange, home to more than 100 species of mammals and more than 400 species of birds. In particular it is known for having one of Africa's largest elephant populations, estimated to number over 40,000.

This is an owner-operated safari with James and Janine involved in 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.

Terry Anders is also a licensed Professional Guide and former competitive polo player, enabling him to lead rides as well as James.

Rides operate from April until December. From December there is a strong chance of rain and riding is according to weather conditions, with no riding possible from mid January until the end of March. During November it can be very hot and so you will be expected to rise very early so that your rides can be completed before it becomes too hot.

Transfers are available from and to Victoria Falls from where it's a two and a half 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 more wildlife up close - please contact us for suggestions.

Horses & Riding


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.


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


There is 1 itinerary:

  • Hwange National Park Ride is a trail ride


12+ unless by prior arrangement. Participants must be competent riders.


90kg / 198 lbs / 14 st 2 lbs. Heavier riders, weighing up to 95kg, may be accepted if they are very experienced.

Food & Accommodation


During this safari you will be served fresh, farm-style 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. Strong French press coffee is available.

Restricted diets such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten/lactose intolerant etc. can all be catered for with prior notice - this is essential to notify us months in advance. It's important to note that whilst it is easy to prepare meals without certain foods, Zimbabwe does not have the specialist food options available in more developed countries. Therefore we cannot guarantee the availability of specific food items or equivalents.

Water is borehole water which is filtered and very clean and safe to drink.


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. There is a full-size swimming pool.

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 private long-drop loos and hot bucket showers. You will have proper beds with good linen and everything you need for a peaceful sleep.

Laundry is available both at Iganyana and when in the bush. Electricity is available at Iganyana but not in the mobile camps - gadgets and cameras can be charged in the vehicle with the right plugs. There is also limited WiFi at Iganyana but none at all when in the park and no mobile phone service either.


Hwange National Park Ride Tented / Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

Bird-watching, game drives, night drives, guided walks.
Non-riders are welcomed and will be offered mainly game drives whilst the riders are riding. Additional walking guides can be hired at extra cost for non-riders who wish a more active holiday.


The closest airport is Victoria Falls, with a 2.5 - 3 hour transfer time.

You normally leave camp at 09:30am to arrive at the airport 12:30 midday. Your flight should therefore depart 14:30 or later.

Earlier transfers are possible, but will incur an additional cost because the driver will have to arrive the night before and overnight in camp to facilitate an earlier departure.


Tom H., June 15, 2023

Outstanding in every way. Favourite memory? Being in the presence of 150+ elephants. Accommodation and food? Both excellent and exceeded expectations. Horses? Fit, well cared for and healthy horses that knew their job. Tack excellent. Guide? Above and beyond excellent.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: 1 - 2 hours

You will be transferred from Victoria Falls International Airport to Iganyana Tented Camp where you will spend the first night. This is a two to three hour drive and the 'meet and greet' and transfer is carried out by a road transfer company.

Afternoon high tea is served, followed by a briefing from your guide, an indemnity signing and introduction to the horses. You'll mount up for a short introductory ride before heading back to camp for sundowners, showers, dinner and a peaceful sleep under canvas.

Day 2

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

An early start with tea, coffee and a light breakfast before mounting up. Today you'll explore the Dete Vlei and surrounds on horseback, allowing more time to adapt to the local riding style, tack and horses - any changes can easily be made today. You may ride for the whole day, or may ride 3-4 hours in the morning and then head out for a shorter ride in the afternoon - everything will depend on local game movements and conditions.

Return to Iganyana for a second night in this lovely camp.

Day 3

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Early this morning the horses and equipment will be transported by truck into Main Camp in Hwange National Park. You will have an early morning wake up with tea and coffee around the campfire, then you'll pack your bags, have breakfast and head off in the horses' footsteps. The drive is only around half an hour to an hour, depending on what sightings you have along the way!

You'll check in at the tourism office and make your conservation and camping fee payments, then you'll be back on your horse for a ride into the park. Sometimes you'll game drive deeper into the park before meeting your horse and riding to the first campsite.

Overnight at camp with sundowners, hot showers and dining under the stars

Day 4

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today is another early start, although your wake-up time varies according to the seasons. Mid-year is very cold first thing in the morning and so you'll start a bit later, around 07:00, whereas the peak heat of October, November and December requires a 05:00 start.

There are no set routes to your rides and each day depends on what was heard during the night, what animal tracks your guide has found and what the weather conditions are like, as well as many other factors. It may be a half day or a full day ride with a picnic lunch near a waterhole for wildlife viewing. If lunch is at camp then the afternoon can be a bush walk or game drive. There are other waterholes which are recommended for a visit if guests are interested in birding or photography.

Sometimes your guide may decide that an early morning walk or drive is going to be better and may then switch the day around so that the morning is non-riding and the afternoon is a ride instead. Sometimes the horses need to rest before a long day the following day and that is also factored in.

Whatever happens you'll enjoy an exciting day on safari followed by cold drinks around the campfire and a delicious dinner.

Day 5

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today you ride from Camp Baikiaea for a full day out to Kennedy Camp. This is a ride of around 30-40km through Zambezi teak and acacia woodlands and by waterholes (which may be dry!), stopping for a picnic lunch en-route.

In the afternoon you'll arrive to Camp Kennedy and settle in for sundowners and hot showers before dinner.

Day 6

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

Today is spent in the Kennedy 2 area of the park, exploring some beautiful Acacia groves. The camp is located along the Kennedy Vlei which is a renowned area for wildlife viewing. Morning activities could be riding, walking or a safari drive, depending on the wildlife sightings and activity and the time of year.

A good option is to take a game drive to the Ngweshla area which isn't far, as this is usually very active for wildlife and often has a resident pride of lions.

Day 7

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Final early morning wake-up to enjoy the dawn in the African bush around the fire. After a light breakfast you'll be back onto the horses for a ride between 14 - 25km, depending on wildlife activity, to a point where the horse truck will meet you. This is the end of the ride and the horses will be loaded up. You'll enjoy a game drive out of the park and back to Iganyana for the night

Sundowners tonight are a special affair, reminiscing on the past few days of being in the real African bush on fine mounts, enjoying the amazing wildlife and open spaces.

Day 8

Riding: No riding.

Depending on departure times, there may be time for a short walk to stretch the legs before a sumptuous final breakfast. Then it's time for transfer back to Victoria Falls airport or wherever you are headed. Sad farewells to the camp but knowing that a return to Hwange is definite!


Five nights semi-mobile camping in Meru style tents (with proper beds and good linen) and two nights at 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.

Experience Experienced

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.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

April 20, 2024 - April 27, 2024

May 4, 2024 - May 11, 2024

May 18, 2024 - May 25, 2024

June 1, 2024 - June 8, 2024

June 15, 2024 - June 22, 2024

July 6, 2024 - July 13, 2024

July 20, 2024 - July 27, 2024

Aug. 3, 2024 - Aug. 10, 2024

Aug. 17, 2024 - Aug. 24, 2024

Sept. 7, 2024 - Sept. 14, 2024

Sept. 21, 2024 - Sept. 28, 2024

Oct. 5, 2024 - Oct. 12, 2024

Oct. 19, 2024 - Oct. 26, 2024

Nov. 2, 2024 - Nov. 9, 2024

Nov. 16, 2024 - Nov. 23, 2024

Dec. 7, 2024 - Dec. 14, 2024


Per person, sharing (July - December 2024)
£4235 $5390 €4975
Per person, sharing (January to June 2024)
£3270 $4165 €3845
Included 7 nights accommodation (5 nights mobile safari & 2 nights Iganyana Tented Camp), all activities, full board meals, local drinks including beer, wine and spirits.
Not included Flights, airport transfers, premium drinks (champagne etc), travel insurance, tips, conservation and camping fees for Hwange (payable locally in cash) & other personal expenses.


2024 - Hwange Conservation and Camping Fees $200
Paid locally
To be paid in cash at the Hwange gate, using USD small denomination notes. Subject to change without notice.
2024 - Single Supplement £1100 $1400 €1290
Paid to Far and Ride
Single supplement (July-December) payable if not willing to share and/or no sharer. Waived Jan-June.
2024 - Victoria Falls Airport Transfer £151 $192 €177
Paid to Far and Ride
Return road transfers from Victoria Falls airport, minimum of 2 pax. May be subject to change/fuel surcharge.
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.