African Horseback Safaris summary
African Horseback Safaris was establised in 1995 by Sarah Jane Gullick, who draws on her passion for horses and years of experience to organise riding safaris that are as adrenalin packed as they are comfortable. African Horseback Safaris is now managed by John Sobey.
Guests are based at the luxurious Macatoo tented permanent camp, located on the western side of the Okavango Delta in a 500,000-hectare private concession. Mornings are devoted to exploring the game rich Delta landscape, with shorter rides, walks and mokoro expeditions available after a lunchtime siesta.
These safaris offer the added excitement of a day long ride out to the magical tree house where you will have the option to spend the night out, sleeping high up in the tree tops under the stars. To be out in the wilderness so freely in the Okavango bush like this is a wonderful experience and one that few people experience.
We are sure you will never forget the true sense of freedom which you will experience on your horse with African Horseback Safaris in the Okavango Delta in Africa. Please click on the picture below to watch a short film clip and to get an insight into what a fantastic time you will have on an African Horseback Safari.
Wild and Exotic sample itinerary for African Horseback Safaris
Day 1: On arrival in Maun you will be met and transferred by plane and a game drive to camp, which overlooks a seasonal flood plain lagoon. After lunch under the trees, there is time for a rest before the evening ride where you can get to know your horse. We return, as every evening, to a candle-lit dinner.
Day 2: Awoken by a cup of tea or coffee in bed, followed by a light breakfast we then ride westwards following elephant trails from one palm island to another through seas of grass into the backcountry. After lunch and a siesta we ride out into the plains, later enjoying a drink while the sun goes down.
Day 3: We leave camp early to investigate fresh game tracks, joining semi-aquatic red lechwe as they thunder through the water meadows. A champagne breakfast is waiting for us under a large baobab tree. The evening ride is spent exploring the lower flood plains where elephant often gather at a pool. As dusk closes in we have drinks around the fire.
Day 4: We ride through different country, making our way through clouds of bushman hair grass to plains with fig trees. We might encounter giraffe or shyer antelope while passing through mopane woodlands. Our pace increases as we break out onto the flood plains, often disturbing troops of baboons. Returning to the camp for an afternoon spent at leisure and later a night drive by spotlight.
Day 5: This morning we will ride deeper into the heart of the delta, along some of the high palm islands which offer great sweeping views of the Delta plains. After tea we will do a slower ride to the magical tree house where we will have the option to spend the night out, sleeping high up in the tree tops under the stars. To be out in the wilderness so freely in the Okavango bush like this is a wonderful experience and one that few people experience
Day 6: After waking up amongst the trees to the call of the African Fish Eagle, we will splash through water on the vast open plains, home to blue wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra. The riding may be fast as we approach deep reedy areas full of bird life including open-billed storks, squacco herons, slaty egrets, egyptian geese and many more. We will return to Macatoo along the myriad of waterways lined with large trees.
Day 7: For our last full day we ride through the shallow flood plains admiring the deeper pools of lilies. Here the buffalo gather in numbers and we have to creep up to them using islands for cover. The evening offers a last quiet ride with memorable smells of sage as the sun goes down.
Day 8: For your final ride we will go along some of the high palm islands which offer great vistas. We’ll maybe take a final exhilarating gallop and run with the game before returning to camp to prepare for your onward journey.
This itinerary only serves as a guide; all scenarios are dependent on the season and levels of the Okavango flood. At times it may not be possible to go on fly camps and during cooler months one longer ride may replace the normal morning and evening rides. AHS reserves the right to alter the itinerary in any way and leaves this to the discretion of the guides. Local weather conditions may also affect game movements.
Please note this horse riding safari is exciting but not strenuous.
Rates are per person per night and are fully inclusive of all activities, accommodation, meals, beverages and concession fees and taxes. Rates exclude visas, travel and medical insurance – which is essential, transport from your home to Maun and return, charter flight from Maun to camp, gratuities for camp staff and guides, purchases from the “bush boutique” such as caps, shirts and toiletries
Charter flight and game drive transfer from Maun: £360 return inclusive of airport taxes and meet and greet in Maun. This is a 30 minute flight from Maun to Abu over the remote Western side of the Delta followed by a 1 – 2 hour game drive in an open vehicle to Macatoo camp, depending on water levels. An extra airstrip transfer fee of £35 per trip will be charged for self booked charter flights.
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 African Horseback Safaris
Accommodation: “Macatoo” camp which is situated on the western side of the Okavango Delta, features large twin bedded tents, each with their own en-suite shower and toilet. These provide you with the creature comforts of life while allowing you to experience the wild beauty of the African bush. Centrally there is a large furnished mess tent and discreet private pool. On the longer safaris guests have the opportunity to experience riding out to a a magical tree house, where the night can be spent in the treetops under the stars.
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 (water levels permitting). Afternoon game drives and night spotting are also offered. Seasonal boating, canoeing and fishing are also available.
Children: We do accept children of 12 years and over but they must be strong competent riders. No adjustment in price of children.
Clothing: A separate clothing list will be sent with all booking forms. Laundry can be done in camp. Light aircraft transfers have a weight restriction of 13kg. Any extra luggage can be left with our office in Maun. Luggage for light Aircraft should be soft holdall type. Riding clothes & clothes of bush colours are important (not white). You must bring your own hard hat as they are NOT supplied.
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.
Game viewing: African Horseback Safaris operate in a private concession. Game is plentiful, including Elephant, Buffalo, Giraffe, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Kudu, Red Lechwe, Bushbuck, Reedbuck, Steenbok, Impala, Roan Antelope, Duiker, Bat-eared fox, Sidestriped and Blackbacked Jackal, African Wildcat, Baboon, Vervet Monkey, Honey Badger, Spotted Hyena, Mongoose, Meerkat, Warthog, Pangolin, Python, 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. Guests are given a high level of personal attention. A demonstration is given at the beginning of the safari with a talk on how to handle big game situations.
How to get there: 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. We arrange transfer by light aircraft from Maun to the nearest airstrip. Guests are collected from the airstrip and transferred by 4×4 vehicle to base camp. Please remember that internal transfer light aircraft have a luggage weight restriction of 13 kgs.
Indemnity: Guests will be asked to sign an indemnity form in camp before they ride.
Insurance: Guests must take out medical travel insurance.
Length of the ride: Between 4-6 hours in the saddle a day. This is broken up by refreshment stops of picnic breakfasts or lunch.
Meals: Safari cook prepares 3 meals a day plus saddlebag picnic breakfasts and vehicle support picnic lunches. Champagne breakfasts sometimes await you after an early start. 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.
Riding ability: Minimum riding ability required is mastery of the basic aids and to be comfortable at all paces; rising to the trot and controlling your horse at the canter. You may also be required 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 rifle is carried on all the rides. All camps and vehicles have radio communication and guides ride with 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 enforced when the guest will not share a tent. Otherwise an additional 50% of the rate will be added.
Size of the Rides: Maximum of 8 guests.
Tack: There are good quality English and Western Style trail saddles, each with their own water bottle.
Terrain: Has been described as a water meadow. The Okavango is a Delta not a swamp. Palm islands, grassy flood plains, mopane forests and clear streams. Highest water is normally between May to September. Many of the flood plains are full at this time and the horses wade through from island to island. The going is normally quite good and firm along the edges of the islands allowing the ride to move on at a trot and canter.
Type of horse: A variety of Thoroughbreds, Namibian Hanoverians, Arabs and Kalahari-Arab crossbreeds. They range from 14 to 16.2 hands high. Every effort is made to match horse and rider. The horses are much loved, well mannered and in excellent condition.
Visas: UK citizens do not require visas in Botswana. Non – UK residents do require a South African transit visa to travel to Botswana.
Weather Conditions: The flood waters normally arrive in May-June (this varies each year) and recede in early October. From May to August it rarely rains, days are clear and sunny but it is winter and early mornings and evenings can be cold. Daily temperatures range from 8 – 24 degrees Celsius. In summer months from November to March temperatures will range from 12 – 38 degrees Celsius with rain at all times. Please see “The best time to go” below for more in depth information on the weather.
Weight Limit: Maximum weight is strictly 210 lbs for both novice and experienced riders (15 stone or 95 kg). Over this and you will need to enquire, but only if you are an advanced rider.
Wild and Exotic Exclusive Salt and Spray Botswana itinerary
Wild and Exotic have teamed up with two of the best riding safari operators in Africa to create a unique 10 day riding safari in two of Southern Africa’s most precious and beautiful ecosystems. The rides combines three nights at a camp in the Kalahari Desert, two nights fly camping on the Makgadikgadi Saltpans followed by four nights in the luscious Okavango Delta.
The ride begins with adventures in the southern Saltpans that are home to a diverse array of wildlife including habituated meerkats, bat eared foxes, honey badgers and black mained Kalahari lion as well as plains game. In addition to riding through this pristine wilderness environment you will have the chance to spend time with native Bushmen, before being transferred by private charter flight across Botswana to the luxurious Macatoo camp, located within a 500,000 hectare private concession on the western side of the Okavango Delta. Mornings are devoted to exploring the game rich Delta landscape, with shorter rides, walks and mokoro expeditions available after a lunchtime siesta.
Day 1: On arrival into Johannesburg we will have plenty of time to check into our flight to Maun. On arrival into Maun we will be met and transferred by private charter flight to Camp Kalahari, where we will be met by our host and guide David Foot. Camp Kalahari s located amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island, on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park.
The camp is refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for hot Kalahari days. There are 10 spacious Meru tents: 7 twin tents, 2 double tents and a family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom. All have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, crunchy cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter.
After tea in the beautiful afternoon light, we will head out for an introductory ride – primarily to match horse and rider but also our first opportunity to experience the beauty of this magical area. After our ride we will return to camp for sundowners followed by dinner and to kraal the horses close by (put them in a pen), before the lions of the Kalahari commence their nightly prowling.
Day 2: This morning we will rise with the dawn and enjoy a light breakfast followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lake bed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness. During the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich and the attendant predators. The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses but if there has been heavy rain many of these areas will be full of water and possibly full of thousands of flamingos feeding on invisible brine shrimp. We will return to camp for lunch and rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees or cool off in the camp swimming pool.
After tea, we will head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyena; these consummate desert specialists survive in arid areas where both food and water are scarce. The brown hyena is a timid nocturnal, solitary forager, rarely seen by humans, but in spite of this, they are very social animals, living in clans of up to 10-12 hyenas. We will enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and with the aid of a spot light, look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers and perhaps even a black maned Kalahari Lion. On arrival back to camp we will be served a delicious dinner.
Day 3: Today is a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so an early start is imperative. Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey will take you away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters. Whilst the area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species; there is also a chance that you will sight kudu and the odd elephant bull.
Passing by the massive Chapmans Baobab, by lunchtime you will reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road, traversed by David Livingstone on his journeys northwards. The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travellers dating back some 150 years thus providing a living testimony to the rich history of this area. You will stop for lunch at the adjacent Gutsa Pan under a stand of palm trees where you may find Stone Age artefacts and the hunting blinds used over millennium by the Bushmen. After a rest and siesta in the midday heat and tea you will continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp.
Xau Xai fly camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mess tent, loos and bucket showers. On arrival we will enjoy a long cool drink as we watch the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.
Day 4: This morning you will wake to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. Thanks to an ongoing habituation programme it’s possible for you to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Remember, they are not tame – just used to our non-threatening presence. On chilly mornings, you might well find a meerkat snuggling up to us for warmth. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post. By spending quality time with these incredibly social, superbly adapted animals, you will see how they interact with each other and their environment. You also get the chance to see the desert through the eyes of a meerkat – which, despite the fact that it’s only a foot off the ground, is a pretty spectacular vantage point, and definitely one of the most special and memorable game experiences you will encounter in Botswana. As the day warms up, you will leave the meerkats to continue foraging, remount your horses and follow trails leading to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes. You will return to Xau Xai for lunch, a refreshing shower and a siesta in the shade of the mess tent.
In the late afternoon you will ride straight out into the middle of an ancient lakebed, until all that can be seen is the vast flatness stretching in every direction. This is one of the only places in the world where the silence is so complete you can hear the blood circulating through your ears. There is not one visual landmark to be seen on 16,000 square kilometres of baking soda void that is home to countless millions of brine shrimp. You will camp for the night here, sleeping on bedrolls under the silence of a star studded sky having watched a spectacular sunset.
Day 5: This morning will be like waking up on the moon as dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear, you will ride across the Pans back to Camp Kalahari, we may be lucky enough to see the unusual sight of ostrich deep in the Pans and then from a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab. Also known as the Seven Sisters, measuring 25 metres around its trunk, this tree is acknowledged to be one of the largest in Africa, and was the campsite used by early explorers such as Livingstone and Selous when they pioneered through the area.
We arrive back at camp for a late lunch and a well earned rest. In the late afternoon we may go for a gentle walk and as the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades, we will be sure to dwell on these amazing past few days. Incredible scenery, memorable wildlife encounters and above all superb riding!
Day 6: Early this morning the horses are loaded and transported back to their home base in Maun. A non riding day commences with an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers of the Western Kalahari. The Bushmen will demonstrate how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behaviour and survival skills. After this fascinating experience lunch awaits at Camp Kalahari before we board a private charter flights straight to the watery Okavango Delta, approximately one hour’s flight to the north. On arrival at African Horseback Safari’s Macatoo Camp we will be met and offered refreshments before an evening ride where we can get to know our horses, before returning to a to a candle-lit dinner.
Day 7: After being woken by a cup of tea or coffee in bed, followed by a light breakfast with homemade toast and muesli, we will a ride out from camp to stretch our legs and explore this magical area. As the water levels will be high this may involve some galloping, swimming through the flood waters or pushing-on through seas of tall grass following giraffe, zebra, antelope, elephant and buffalo. We will return to camp for a brilliant open air lunch with the guides and there’s usually some wine to encourage a little nap before tea. This evening ride is deliberately slower-paced and is a good opportunity to ask questions and take photographs. Leopard sightings are not infrequent, the bird-life is some of the best in the world and towards sunset there is often elephant or hippo interaction to enjoy. We will enjoy a sun downer out in the bush before riding back to camp to freshen up. There’s no guarantee that dinner is always eaten in the same place…
Day 8: This morning we will leave camp early to investigate fresh game tracks, joining semi-aquatic red lechwe as they thunder through the water meadows. The water in the delta is at its highest levels so there will be plenty of opportunities to ride through the water. A champagne breakfast is waiting for us under a large baobab tree. The evening ride is spent exploring the lower flood plains where elephant often gather at a pool, large herds of lechwe are forming in the wetlands and perhaps there maybe hippo and crocodile in the area. There is also a good potential of buffalo sightings with impala, tsessebe and kudu moving inland onto the islands. As dusk closes in we will gather for drinks around the fire before dinner.
Day 9: This morning we will ride deeper into the heart of the delta, along some of the high palm islands which offer great sweeping views of the Delta plains. After tea we will do a slower ride to the magical tree house where we will have the option to spend the night out, sleeping high up in the tree tops under the stars. To be out in the wilderness so freely in the Okavango bush like this is a wonderful experience and one that few people experience.
Day 10: After waking up amongst the trees to the call of the African Fish Eagle, we will splash through water on the vast open plains, home to blue wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra. The riding may be fast as we approach deep reedy areas full of bird life including open-billed storks, squacco herons, slaty egrets, egyptian geese and many more. We will return to Macatoo along the myriad of waterways lined with large trees to prepare for our onward private charter flight back to Maun. On arrival into Maun we will check in to our flight to Johannesburg. On arrival into Johannesburg you will have plenty of time to check into your lfight home. End of Wild and Exotic services.
The price of this itinerary is on a full board basis based on two people sharing accommodation and inclusive of all 3 private charter flights. A single supplement may apply to anyone who does not wish to share accommodation.
The price is inclusive of all activities described and all transfers as per the itinerary.
The price does not include international flights to Johannesburg, flights from Johannesburg to Maun, items of a personal nature, gratuities, and visa fees.
There are no set departures for this ride, as it is a tailor made holiday specifically arranged at the request of the Client. Please contact the office to enquire further. firstname.lastname@example.org
As ATOL license holders (#6445) we can book seats on most major airlines at competitive prices. We are able to make the booking (and fix the best price, less taxes and fuel charges) up to a year in advance with payment not normally due until 8 weeks before departure – this means that we can release your seats at anytime up until payment is due without penalty.
Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason. UK citizens currently do not require a visa for South Africa and Botswana. Please note a South African transit visa is required for non UK clients travelling to Botswana.
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 on the general information tab.
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.
“The Okavango Delta was a complete and marvellous contrast with horses and riding to die for.”
“Everything was just perfect and we had the most amazing time. We were looked after exceptionally well by everyone at Macatoo and had great fun with our fellow travellers. Many, many thanks for your and Adrian’s help in organising this super trip.”
“Our holiday exceeded all our expectations and was really fantastic. Many thanks for organising it all, everything worked like clockwork.”
“I had a lovely time and the riding was incredible. All the horses were great – very reliable and responsive and knew their job very well. We saw a lot of wildlife; I don’t think there was a single day we went out and didn’t see something exciting! Likewise the staff were friendly and I was very well looked after. I’d love to go back some time when I get the chance. Thank you very much for helping me pull this trip together – I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an unforgettable horseback safari.”
“Well what a holiday! Absolutely fantastic in every imaginable way. The riding was superb, the staff were all fantastic but Neil and I both thought the two main guides Secongo and Bongwei were the making of the place – fantastic bushmen, absolutely fascinating to listen to, amazing knack of instilling confidence in ‘big game’ situations and brilliant hosts too in the evenings. We will certainly be recommending you and AHS to lots of friends. We would love to go back again some day.”
“I did indeed have a wonderful time in Botswana. Although its a huge cliche, the only way I can describe it was ‘life-changing’. The facilities at the camp were faultless, the food was great and drinks were on hand at all times. The riding was sublime, even without the wildlife, it would have been fantastic.”
The service and accommodations at Macatoo were excellent, and the guides went out of their way to make your stay great.
“I had the holiday of a lifetime with African Horseback Safaris. The, setting, the people, the animals and the landscape were superb – exactly what I wanted. I enjoyed every minute of it…..We saw elephant every day, zebra (we galloped side by side with them on one occasion), wildebeest, buffalo, giraffe, red letchwe, bushbuck and a just a glimpse of a cheetah, plus birds of every kind…..All your arrangements worked liked clockwork. Everyone was helpful and accommodating and I couldn’t have asked for more. Thanks again.”
“The trip was fantastic. Accommodations were great. The tents are very comfy. Nightly visits by elephants exciting. Food was tasty. Fabulous lunches set up in the bush were superb and dinners under candelabra beautiful. Horses were well cared for. Wildlife spotting was unbelievable. So many elephants. Fantastic. I felt very well looked after in all aspects in the saddle and at the camp. Lovely vacation. Thanks.”
“Had a simply fab time! Wonderful riding and lots of laughs!”