Hippos on a horseback safari in South Africa
Africa

Riding safari and trail riding holidays in South Africa

Horseback riding safaris in South Africa are usually on large private reserves which are well-stocked with game. There are riding safaris in reserves with no dangerous game which suit all abilities, as well as horseback safaris in big game areas for experienced riders only. South Africa also offers fantastic beach riding along dramatic ocean coastlines, or trail rides through the world-renowned Cape Winelands region or Drakensburg mountains. Parts of South Africa are also malaria-free so it's an ideal destination for a family riding holiday.
See all our trips

From the horse’s mouth

  • African Explorer Safari
    Kara, aged 35, DENVER
    My friend and I have been on multiple riding treks and this trek exceeded our expectations! It was great to have combination of riding in S. Africa and then heading over to Botswana. Note that b/c our group was so small, we actually had 2 days in S. Africa with the remaining days in Botswana, which suited us just...
    More about this trip
  • African Explorer Safari
    Lorraine, aged 55, Dublin 6W
    I really enjoyed my trip. The guides and volunteers were excellent and the level of customer care was exceptional. The food was also delicious. Great holiday all round.
    More about this trip
  • Ants Lodges
    Roy Thomas, aged 73, retford
    Totally satisfied with all aspects of our trip. The organisation could not have been bettered from when we left Heathrow to when we returned having visited South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and the last few days in Zanzibar....a perfect experience. Well done and thank you.
    More about this trip
  • Ants Lodges
    Janet Yvonne, aged 65, BILBY, RETFORD
    Everthing was just perfect. The organisation involved in making this such a memorable trip could not have been bettered. All flights, transfers, taxis etc. worked like clockwork from Heathrow to South Africa then Botwana then Zimbabwe then Tanzania then Zanzibar and back to Heathrow. Our guides could not have been...
    More about this trip
  • Horizon ranch
    Mandy, aged 54, CHESHIRE
    Horizon is a very beautiful place for so many reasons.....I have ridden in many different countries and I don't think I have ever ridden anywhere so friendly. Shane and Laura and their team provide a genuinely warm welcome to all plus beautiful horses to suit riders of all abilities - there are over 80 horses and...
    More about this trip
  • Horseback riding safari in South Africa
    Meeting with the giraffes during a safari
  • Beach riding trail and safari in South Africa
    South Africa trail riding
  • Rhinos and horses in South Africa
    Meeting with the rhinos in the conservation
  • Horseback riding in South Africa
    Cape Winelands riding trails
  • Ranch riding holiday in South Africa
    Memories for a lifetime!
  • Horseback riding in South Africa
    Enjoy a long gallop on the beach!
  • Ranch riding holiday in South Africa
    Young rider and his horse swimming in the lake

Visa & Health

Formalities

To enter South Africa, a passport valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure is required by all UK, Australian, USA, Canadian and other EU nationals.
Passports must have at least two blank facing pages for entry stamps - visitors have been refused entry by airport immigration officials for flouting this regulation.
Yellow fever certificates are required if your journey starts from or passes through a country with yellow fever (such as Zambia/Victoria Falls).Visas for South Africa are not required by UK, Australian, USA, Canadian and other EU nationals for stays of up to 90 days except:
• Nationals of Cyprus, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, who may stay visa-free for up to 30 days.
• Nationals of Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia, who do require a visa.
Other passport holders are advised to contact the embassy/high commission for visa requirements.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION RE: TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
South Africa has relaxed its requirements for travelling with children under the age of 18. Visa exempt children (including UK Nationals visiting for tourism purposes) entering South Africa accompanied by an adult are required to present only a valid passport on arrival, regardless of whether the child is travelling with both parents, one parent, or an adult who is not a biological parent (for more information, please see the Immigration Act in conjunction with the advisory from the South African Department of Home Affairs). This includes children travelling as part of school groups.

Contact South African Immigration for what is required for other circumstances.

Addresses of consulates

  • South African High Commission
    South Africa House
    Trafalgar Square
    WC2N 5DP London
    Tél. : +44 (0) 20 7451 7299
    Fax : +44 (0) 20 7839 5670
  • Paris | Ambassade d’Afrique du sud
    59, Quai d’Orsay
    75343 Paris Cedex 07
    Tél. : 01.53.59.23.23
    Fax :
    info@afriquesud.net
  • Ambassade de France en Afrique du Sud
    250, Melk street
    New Muckleneuk
    0181 Pretoria
    Tél. : +27 (0) 12 425 1600
    Fax : +27 12 425 1609
    france@ambafrance-rsa.org

Health

We recommend that you talk to your doctor as they have access to the most up-to-date information.
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to South Africa, however, you need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country where that disease is widely prevalent, such as Zambia/Victoria Falls. So although Yellow Fever is not a problem in South Africa, you will need to carry a certificate of vaccination if you are arriving from an infected country.
Like with most countries, it's advisable to have general injections regarding diseases like Hepatitis A and typhoid. Most travellers are already vaccinated against DTP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Polio) and Hepatitis A, especially if you travelled already to countries outside the western world. If you are staying longer than 3 months or have a particular risk you might consider a rabies vaccination. Vaccination against Tuberculosis as well as Hepatitis B are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Malaria, although not prevalent in most of the country, is a serious disease which must not be underestimated. If you are travelling in the eastern quarter of the country (towards Kruger National Park), take anti-malarial medication such as Malarone, especially when travelling during the warmer and wetter summer season (October to April/May). Also wear long-sleeved shirts and use insect repelling containing DEET.
Very occasionally there are reports of African Tick Bite Fever in guests returning from South Africa. Cover up when riding/walking through the bush and check yourself for ticks. If you experience flu-like symptoms on return to the UK it is worth mentioning to your doctor that you have visited a rural part of Africa. The disease is easily treated with antibiotics.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Voltage

220/230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs have three fat round pins.

Budget and money

The currency of South Africa is the Rand, often called the 'buck', and it's divided into 100 cents. The sign for it is R and the financial code is ZAR. It was introduced in 1961 to coincide with the establishment of the Republic of South Africa, replacing the South African pound.
Notes come in R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200 denominations. Coins of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents exist, as well as R1, R2 and R5.

Telephone and jetlag

GMT +1
South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls).
Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies and coverage extends to most of the country except the very remote areas. GPRS for data coverage is also widespread. Airport kiosks can sell you a phone or local SIM card if you show some ID.
Internet cafes are common in towns throughout the country and wireless is available at airports and in up-market hotels. Most hotels charge for connectivity and it can be cheaper to find the nearest internet café.

Country information

Country ID

Capital: Cape Town (legislative); Pretoria (executive); Bloemfontein (judicial).
Area: 1,219,912 sq km (471,011 sq miles).
Population: 51,7 million (2015).
Population density: 39.9 per sq km.

Language: The official languages are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.
Religion: Around two thirds of South Africans are Christian of some form including Catholics, Anglicans, Dutch Reformed or African independent churches. Many Africans believe in traditional healers called sangomas, who give readings – including throwing the bones – and provide spiritual and emotional counselling and dispense African traditional medicines or muti. There are also significant Hindu, Muslim and Jewish communities.
Political regime: Republic. Gained partial independence from the UK in 1910 and was declared a republic in 1961. After the downfall of apartheid the first one-man-one vote elections were held in 1994
Head of state: President Jacob Zuma since 2009

Socio-economical data

South Africa’s biggest cities are very westernised and hold few cultural surprises for Europeans. Handshaking is the usual form of greeting, sometimes in a more elaborate African handshake that foreigners will pick up readily. Casual wear is widely acceptable, especially in less formal Cape Town. Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and on public transport.
The presence of so many diverse ethnic backgrounds certainly adds some spice outside of the main business centres. Rural areas most likely to be visited by travellers include Zulu land in KwaZulu Natal and the Transkei in the Eastern Cape, where communities are based in small traditional villages with round huts (rondevals) and a few hustling, bustling relatively poor towns.
The South African economy dominates Sub-Saharan Africa. Agriculture is strong enough for virtual self-sufficiency in foodstuffs: livestock is reared extensively, and large amounts of sugar, maize and cereals are produced. Wine and fruit are exported in large quantities.
The industrial sector has traditionally been based on mining as one of the world's largest exporters of gold, platinum and diamonds. It also has considerable deposits of coal, chromium, manganese and vanadium. The telecommunication networks have seen major improvements in recent years as undersea cables have brought international bandwidth in larger amounts at cheaper prices.
The official languages are Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Siswati, Tshivenda and Xitsonga.

History

There is evidence of human existence in South Africa as far back as 125,000 years ago. The Klasies River Caves in the Eastern Cape have revealed evidence of some of the oldest known homo sapien habitations in the world. The descendants of these nomadic Stone-Age people (the San bushmen) still lived in the Cape when the first Europeans arrived in 1487.
Although the Portugese rounded the Cape first, the Dutch were the first European nation to send out an envoy to South Africa in 1652. What followed was essentially a battle between colonial powers (Holland and Britain) and the indigenous people of the country for control over its resources. The colonial forces ultimately won and the unification of South Africa followed, as did white minority rule and the notorious implementation of apartheid.
It lasted a long and predictably damaging time, triggering decades of increasingly violent activism. The internal uprising – brutally quashed with callous efficiency - was crucially re-enforced by sanctions from countries around the world.
The combined pressure and increasing isolation heaped on South Africa eventually broke the system. The dismantling of Apartheid officially began in 1990 after negotiations between President FW De Klerk and the African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela, still in jail at the time on Robben Island.
The first historic one-man-one-vote elections in 1994 swept the ANC to power and Mandela became the country's iconic president. Mandela earned enormous international respect for leading South Africa into democracy with a message of forgiveness and reconciliation. The fears of white citizens that there would be blood in their rich suburban streets saw a stream of skilled but scared people abandon the country. Their fears proved largely unfounded, although the damage done by Apartheid is far from resolved.
Today South Africa’s financial systems are among the most sophisticated in the world and its constitution is hailed as one of the most liberal. The biggest problem left by Apartheid’s legacy is the lack of decent infrastructure for the majority of the population, with a mostly poor education system, no real healthcare system except for private healthcare schemes and massive unemployment with a population never trained for the information era.
Despite the problems, most South Africans still have optimism and an enthusiastic desire to make the country to live up to its promise as the Rainbow Nation.

Geography

The Republic of South Africa fills the southern tip of the continent and is lapped by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the Indian Ocean to the east, and a swirling mixture of the two at the very tip. It totally encloses the independent kingdom of Lesotho, and is bordered by Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland to the north.
A vast, interior plateau has sharp escarpments that rise above the lowland plains. Mountainous regions include the Drakensberg and Magaliesberg.
The west coast is arid, while the south and southeast coasts are semi-arid, with vegetation fringed by sandy beaches and rocky coves. In contrast, the subtropical northeast has lush wetlands and coastal forests. The wildlife viewing areas are scattered throughout the country, with the famous Kruger National Park so vast that it encloses a wide variety of eco-systems.
South Africa is also the only country in the world which has one of the six floral kingdoms entirely within its territory: the Cape floral kingdom, which stretches from Cape Town, east to just past Port Elizabeth and north to the Olifants river. It mainly contains fynbos (fine bush) - a shrubland/heathland type of vegetation with small narrow leaves and stem, which is protected within conservation areas such as the Table Mountain NP and Cape Peninsula.

People, culture and traditions

South Africa’s biggest cities are very westernised and hold few cultural surprises for Europeans. Handshaking is the usual form of greeting, sometimes in a more elaborate African handshake that foreigners will pick up readily. Casual wear is widely acceptable, especially in less formal Cape Town. Smoking is prohibited in public buildings and on public transport.
The presence of so many diverse ethnic backgrounds certainly adds some spice outside of the main business centres. Rural areas most likely to be visited by travellers include Zulu land in KwaZulu Natal where communities are based in small traditional villages with round huts (rondevals) and a few hustling, bustling relatively poor towns.
In Durban you’ll be entertained by beach-front Zulu dancers wearing full animal skin tribal regalia. A more modern form of culture is the now commercialised Gum Boot dance, performed in wellingtons and mining outfits and developed in men’s only mining hostels when entertainment was scarce.

Choosing the right riding holiday

Choosing the right riding holiday

South Africa is a horse lovers paradise - horseback safaris, trail rides through vineyards and some of the best beach riding in the world. You can choose from centre based rides or mobile trail rides - there's something for everyone.

HORSEBACK SAFARIS range from those suitable for all abilities, where there are plains game such as giraffe, zebra and antelope, to those for competent riders only, where you may encounter large game such as elephant or lion.

Suitable for all abilities: Ants Lodges or Horizon ranch. Both these riding safaris are in areas of non-dangerous game. 

Suitable for competent riders: Big Five Safari or African Explorer, where you can see big cats and elephants! 

TRAIL RIDES allow you to explore an area from the back of a horse, whether winding your way through vineyards or cantering along deserted beaches. You may return to base each night and set off in a different direction each day, or move accommodation to explore new areas.

The best beach ride in the world: Wild Coast Trail

The best wine-tasting ride: Cape Winelands

RIDING HOLIDAYS offer you a mixture of different riding activities. Ride with game one day and along a beach the next, or try your hand at Polocrosse or swimming your horse. Kick back, relax and take things at your own pace!

For a completely flexible stay: Horizon ranch