Okavango Horse Safaris ride summary
These riding safaris take place in the beautiful Okavango Delta, a unique inland delta extending to some 18,000 square kilometres, fed by the arrival every May or June of floodwaters from Angola to the north. Before the rains arrive in the early part of the season the game is very concentrated, however it disperses as the water moves southwards across the plains. The Delta supports large populations of elephant, buffalo, lions and other game species, some of which is endemic to the area. All rides are lead by either PJ or Barney Bestalink, a husband and wife team with extensive knowledge of the African bush. For many PJ is the ultimate bushman, and his recollections of years in the wilderness a highlight of these safaris.
Riding safaris can be tailored to the requirements of a small group, however the normal format is for guests to join a set departure safari on either 5 or 10 night itineraries. Guests are based at the delightful Kudjwana, a permanent campsite located besides the Xudum River, from which they explore the surrounding landscape on long morning rides that begin shortly after daybreak. Itineraries are kept deliberately flexible so as to allow for the movement of game around the concession, but most include a day long ride out to a second permanent camp, or a mobile fly camp in the northern quarter, which act as bases for two or three night stays before a return to Kudjwana. On non moving days the afternoons are given over to mokoro trips, bush walks, fishing expeditions and game drives, depending upon the time of year and the inclinations of the guests.
Please do contact us to discuss the detail of Okavango Horse Safari’s programme – we will be delighted to assist in the planning of your adventure, and having ridden through the Delta with Okavango Horse Safaris, are eminently qualified to advise and help.
Wild and Exotic sample itinerary for Okavango Horse Safaris in Botswana
The itinerary shown below is a sample only – the activities and sights described vary according to the water levels, weather and movements of the game. Guests should check with Wild and Exotic to establish likely water levels. Guests can choose between a full 10 night itinerary as shown, or a 5 night itinerary, which starts day 6 of the 10 night itinerary.
Day 1: You are met at Maun Airport by an OHS representative, and transferred by light aircraft to the nearest airstrip to Kujwana, a 25-minute flight. You are transferred into camp by vehicle, a journey of approximately one hour during which you will gain the first sightings of game. Kujwana is the comfortable base camp situated in a delightful setting besides the Xudum River. After an introductory talk and welcome there is the opportunity to enjoy a short ride in the cool of late afternoon.
Day 2: You will be woken just before dawn to ensure best game viewing on a morning ride in the Xudum area. As you wade through lush green malapos that separate the numerous palm islands you may surprise a timid bushbuck watching the ride through eyes that glint in the morning sun, or watch large herds of lechwe and Zebra moving through the open spaces. After a ride of several hours we return to camp by swimming across the Xudum River – tack is removed and taken across by mokoro, and guests enjoy the exhilarating experience of holding onto their horses mane as it swims through the crystal clear waters. Mokoro can ferry anyone who prefers not to experience this sensation across. On return to Kujwana enjoy a delicious freshly prepared lunch in the shade, followed by a relaxing siesta. In the afternoon venture out for a game drive in the camp’s four wheel drive vehicle before returning to a three course dinner.
Day 3: This morning you ride east towards Beacon and Lion Island, two large islands separated from Kujwana by the Xwaapa river. The area is criss-crossed with game paths that meander through a chain of rain pans, a different terrain to the open flood plains of yesterday. The mopane forests and acacia woodlands offer a variety of food for species such as buffalo, kudu and giraffe, and tracks of wild animals litter the sandy soil. Breeding herds of elephant also enjoy the security of the dense forest, and there may be the chance to ride up so close to a herd of bull elephants that you can discern the crease in their leathery hide, and their eyes blinking as they establish who is watching them. Return to campsite in time for a lunch, perhaps preceded by a refreshing swim in the Xudum River, and in the afternoon enjoy a walk through the bush to observe the fascinating bird life and plants that abound in the area surrounding Kujwana.
Day 4: Today you ride northeast towards Moremi game reserve, through a landscape that forms seasonal marshland and hosts a variety of exceptional bird life, including large numbers of wattled cranes, open billed storks and a variety of waders. Large herd of buffalo and elephant move freely to and from the National Park. You are almost certain to encounter lions at some stage during your ride through the Delta, and often the first indication is your horse backing nervously away – then the sudden appearance of a stealthy yellow shape rising from its resting place in the shade and stalking unhurriedly into the surrounding bush, or perhaps a whole pride stretched out asleep with stomachs taut and full from a recent kill concealed close by. Today you will ride north east towards Moremi game reserve. This area forms seasonal marsh land and hosts a rich diversity of bird life. Wildlife moves freely to and from the national park. This area is home to many elephant and buffalo. In the afternoon there is opportunity for game drives. After drinks at sunset there will be an evening night drive with a spot light.
Day 5: A full days ride moving from Kiri/Xwaapu to Kujwana camp.This area is on the edge of the permanent water with papyrus beds & deep lagoons. Good area for hippo & lechwe. A picnic lunch is set up on a shady island.Return to Kujwana camp in the cool of the late afternoon.
Day 6: A rest day for the guests riding for 10 days. There is the option to game drive, walk, mokoro or view a water hole from the hide. Afternoon ride. Dawn game ride 2 hours for the guests riding for 5 days. Return to camp for breakfast. Guests joining the safari do an orientation ride in the cool of the afternoon as the wildlife stirs from the heat of the day. 2 hours ride.
Day 7: A full morning ride exploring the western Baobab area. Small islands linked by numorous hippo channels eventually lead you onto Boabab Island. A good habitate for Cheetah and breeding grounds for Carmine Bee eaters, our Summer visitor. Boabab Island has thick riverine forest and is a good area for elephant and buffalo (and the unexpected). Afternoon game/night drive
Day 8: Move from Kujwana to Moklowane camp. This is approximately 30km ride heading North West. The route moves through open floodplains and scattered islands towards the Matsebe river system. A picnic lunch is served on a shady island 2 hours ride from Moklowane camp. Arrive sunset.
Day 9: Leave Moklowane camp early for an exciting ride across the Matsebe river system of wide open flood plains interspersed with Moklowane palms, which are a favourite food of elephant and baboon. Maybe you will discover buffalo tracks, and follow their path through the bush until you come upon a herd of several hundred grazing buffalo, that circle nervously as riders approach and sniff the warm air with moist black noses. Return to Mokowane for lunch. In the afternoon enjoy gliding through the reedy waterways in a native Mokoro, and watch a procession of elephants wading between islands in the distance. Glance a few feet from your canoe and notice a tiny painted reed frog clinging to a reedy stem.
Day 10: Today you ride back to Kujwana Camp, a long day in the saddle broken for a picnic lunch. The ride takes around six hours, and there is no telling what adventures you may experience along the way, or what game and wildlife the ride might encounter during its 40 kms of richly varied terrain, which includes numerous river crossings as it heads southwest towards the Khurunxaraga before swinging south to the Xudum River. You will arrive back to the comforts of Kujwana base camp in time to sip a cocktail as the sun sets over the Delta.
Day 11: Early morning game ride out of Kujwana camp if flight times permit. Guests leave after breakfast for the hour long game drive to the airstrip and flight back to Maun or another lodge in the Delta.
Okavango Horse Safaris reserves the right to alter the itinerary according to water levels and game movements. The itinerary may change due to game movements and water levels.
Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.
Wild and Exotic fact sheet for Okavango Horse Safaris in Botswana
Accommodation: Kujwana camp offers spacious safari tents with shower en suite (flush toilet). There are two double-bedded tents and four twin bedded tents complete with attractive furnishings, bedside tables, hanging cupboard, luggage rack, floor rug, and chairs. Moklowane has similar tents with bucket and pulley showers and safari toilets. Fly camp has dome tents with camp beds, bedrolls with cotton sheets, duvet and towels. Long drop loos for each tent and bucket and pulley showers with hot water. A tent personnel is on hand at all times.
(Kujwana camp): Situated on the Xudum river south west of Chiefs Island in the Okavango Delta. The camp accommodates a maximum of 8 to 10 guests in spacious safari tent each with bathrooms en-suite (bush style). Fixed departure dates are published with a 5 and 10 night safari offering the opportunity to explore the three main river systems in this area, the Xudum, Matsebi and Kiri Rivers. An area of over 2500 sq. km, it is rich in wildlife and variety of fauna and flora. The areas between the three rivers contrast greatly and support different species of game and birds.
(Moklowane Camp): Situated north west of Kujwana on the Matsebi River. This camp is situated in the open flood plains, which receive floodwater 3 weeks earlier than Kujwana camp. The vegetation consists of smaller palm island and wide-open spaces. Mokolwane is also an 8-bedded tented camp.
(Kiri Fly Camp): Kiri Fly Camp is north east of Kujwana camp in the permanent water line of the delta. This camp is temporary and the site moves according to access with water levels. Deep lagoons and papyrus beds this is a good area for hippo and lechwe, as well as buffalo and other big game. The camp consists of walk in dome tents, private loos, and mess tent.
Activities: Although our priority is riding, we offer alternative activities during the afternoons that are not day rides. A 6 hour morning can be tiring so afternoons are spent at leisure with evening bird walks or mokoro rides (a mokoro is a native designed canoe that can be used when water levels permit). Afternoon game drives and night spotting are also offered.
Children: We do accept children but they must be strong competent riders.
Clothing: Clothes list will be sent with all booking forms. Laundry can be done in camp. Light Aircraft transfers have a weight restriction of 15kg. Any extra luggage can be left with the OHS office in Maun. Luggage for light Aircraft should be soft holdall type.
Drinks: Iced drinks are available. Beer, bottled water, an assortment of cool drinks and limited choice of spirits. Cordials, tea and coffee are freely available and house wine is served with dinner. Guests can choose between an all inclusive rate, or paying for drinks as they go.
Game Viewing: Okavango Horse Safaris operate in a private concession, and guests are most unlikely to encounter any other tourists during their stay. Game is plentiful, including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, lechwe, reedbuck, bushbuck, steenbok, impala, roan antelope, duiker, waterbuck, tsesebe, bat-eared fox, sidestriped and blackbacked jackal, African wildcat, baboon, vervet monkey, honey badger, spotted hyena, mongoose, meerkat, warthog, tortoise and ostrich; special nocturnal creatures – porcupine, aardwolf, aardvark, civet, genet, serval, spring hare; water species – hippo, crocodile, cape clawless and spotted necked otter; predators – leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog. Safety precautions are taken when viewing any dangerous game.
How to Get There: Air Botswana fly from Johannesburg, Gaborone or Victoria Falls to Maun and Air Namibia from Windhoek into Maun. Guests are met on arrival in Maun and escorted to a private charter plane waiting to whisk them across the Delta to Okavango Horse Safaris airstrip. Please note that internal transfer light aircraft have a luggage weight restriction of 10-12 kgs. Wild and Exotic are licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (license number 6445) to sell the international flights necessary for this itinerary. Please contact us for further details and our recommended airlines. In addition to international flights to Maun you will require a private air transfers from Maun to Okavango Horse Safaris airstrip, which costs from £300 per person.
Indemnity: Guests will be asked to sign an indemnity in camp before they ride.
Insurance: Adequate travel insurance is compulsory. Wild and Exotic can arrange cover if requested.
Length of the Ride: Between 4-6 hours in the saddle a day. This is broken by refreshment stops – picnic breakfast or lunch and a 10-minute walk for every two hours spent in the saddle. (This eases up the rider using different muscles, and helps the horse from constant pressure of the rider’s weight).
Meals: Safari cook prepares 3 meals a day plus saddlebag picnic breakfasts and vehicle support picnic lunches. Emphasis is made on fresh vegetables and salads. Fresh bread is baked every day. Vegetarians can be catered for. Light lunches, cold meats, salads and 3 course dinners served by candle light at the dining table near the campfire.
Medical: A medical kit is kept in the camp. Clients should take Malaria tablets.
Other: Guests are given personal attention and attention is paid to detail. A demonstration is given at the beginning of the safari with a talk on how to handle big game situations.
Riding Ability: Minimum riding ability required is mastery of the basic aids, ability to post to the trot for stretches of 10 minutes at a time, to be comfortable at all paces and to be able to gallop out of trouble. It is a great advantage if you are a fit and a proficient rider.
Safety: All rides are lead by qualified profession guides. A 375 rifle is carried on all the rides. All camps and vehicles have radio communication and guides ride with a hand held radios. A demonstration is given at the beginning of the safari with a talk on how to handle big game situations.
Single Supplement: This is only payable if a single guest prefers not to share accommodation.
Size of the Rides: Maximum of 8 guests.
Tack: Tack is English Style and each saddle has a seat saver for comfort. Tack is of high quality and kept in good condition. Well known makes such as Barnsby, Ideal, Kiefer and Wintecs are used.
Terrain: The Okavango is a Delta not a swamp, and features palm islands, grassy flood plains, mopane forests and clear streams. Highest water is normally between May to September, when many of the flood plains are full, and the horses wade through from island to island. The going is normally quite good along the edges of the islands allowing the ride to move on at a trot and canter.
Type of Horse: Full and part Thoroughbred, Pure Arab, Anglo Arab, American Saddle Bred. Between 14 and 17 hands, well schooled, responsive and even temperament. There is a wide range of horses (total 50) suitable for the competition rider to a steady hack. Every effort is made to match horse and rider.
Visas: UK citizens do not require a visa in Botswana. Please note Non-UK residents do require a South African transit visa to travel to Botswana.
Weather Conditions: Summer months are September to April. October, November and February are the hottest months, with temperatures varying from 12 degrees C to 38 degrees C at midday. The rains can start in October, with the occasional thundershower. December to February are the wettest months. Winter is May to the end of August. No rain. Evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.
Weight Limit: Maximum weight is 200 lbs for a novice rider and 210 lbs for an advanced rider (15 stone or 95 kg)., a supplement may occur for anyone over the weight limit. Guests may be required to step on the scales. A special program is available for guests over our weight limit, which offers shorter rides, game drives & walks.
Botswana general information and map
Getting there: Visitors to Botswana usually fly into Maun (for the Okavango Delta) via Johannesburg in South Africa, or Kasane via Livingstone in Zambia. The flying time to Johannesburg is approximately 11 hours from London and from Johannesburg to Maun is approximately 1 hour 40 minutes.
Time: GMT plus two hours
Try not to miss: Chobe National Park for huge herds of elephant, the Okavango Delta for diverse wildlife and unique 17,000 square km ecosystem, the Selinda Reserve for hippo eating lions, the Kalahari Desert for interaction with the San bush people and the Makgadikgadi salt pans for rare desert wildlife, quad biking and sleeping beneath the stars.
Visas: No visa is required for UK citizens visiting for up to 90 days. Non-UK residents do require a South African transit visas to travel to Botswana.
“Our trip to Okavango went very well, and everybody was very happy. P.J. was an excellent host and guide, and the horses were very good. The camps are well organized, with a variety of setting, and people were very friendly and efficient. The weather was perfect, warm but not too hot. We had several impressive encounters with elephants and a few with buffalos, and saw a lot of giraffes. My son even had to face an elephant in the camp on the path leading to his tent in the evening!”
“We have had the most amazing holiday. Fairlawns was the most beautiful hotel with delightful and helpful staff. Our transfers were always on time and the whole Johannesburg bit was great. Okavango Horse Safaris was one of the best weeks we have ever had. It is a beautifully run operation, PJ, Barney and Sarah are very efficient, very nice and good fun. The horses are beautifully cared for and the general standards of food, rooms and cleanliness are very high. The staff are polite and friendly and very good at what they do. We really had a great time and saw lots of different animals as well as having a near-lion encounter! Such an exciting holiday and an added bonus was that we didn’t seem to ache too much after all the riding! Thanks so much for all you did, it is certainly a holiday we will remember for a long time.”