- South Africa offers the ideal introduction to Africa with plenty of plains game to view - zebra, giraffe, antelope, hippo
- Botswana offers a vast, unfenced wilderness and the chance to ride with big game such as elephant, lion and leopard
- Exceptional horses selected for their temperament and ridability. Small groups of 8 riders maximum!
- High standard of camping with proper beds and en-suite showers and toilets. Camp Davidson in South Africa has recently been built (2013) and both camps have new pools.
Day 1 1 : EUROPE - JOHANNESBURGInternational flight overnight to Johannesburg - Flights are not included but we can assist with this on request.
If flying out from the UK, please note that you need to depart from London before 21:00 so that you arrive in Johannesburg before 09:00 in time to meet the transfer vehicle.
Day 2 2 : JOHANNESBURG - CAMP DAVIDSON - 3 hours ridingCamp DavidsonOn arrival at Johannesburg International Airport, you will be met by your driver and transferred to Camp Davidson on the Horizon ranch (c. 3 hour drive). The transfer usually departs at 10:30. (If you book a flight which arrives after 09:00 then you may need to pay extra for a private transfer to the ranch).
You will arrive at Camp Davidson in time for lunch and to meet your guide and the team. In the afternoon you will be matched with a horse suited to your ability and experience before heading off on your first ride through the Matlapeng reserve. You will stop for sundowners at the Red Lake, where you are likely to encounter a pod of resident hippo, before climbing the ridge back to Camp Davidson.
Day 3 3 : MATLAPENG RESERVE - 5 hours ridingCamp DavidsonToday’s ride sets off from the high country overlooking a beautiful wilderness area to the east, and heads south, winding along the banks of Sunset Lake with its resident pod of hippos and the odd sly crocodile, before trekking upstream to an adjoining reserve. The lake itself is rich in birdlife, including the impressive Fish Eagles, dainty Dabchicks, elegant Jacanas and a variety of geese. Later, riding through the open savannah, wildebeest and zebra can be encountered. The riding is varied, from canters along sandy tracks to winding through rocky outcrops and densely wooded areas. The ride then crosses the reserve and returns to Camp Davidson in time for lunch. You can then relax by the pool, before a shorter afternoon ride.
In the evening there is the option of a night sky safari with a local astronomer, Dr Calcott, who will guide you through the amazing constellations (subject to weather conditions and availability). Additional cost R300 pp, Min. 4 pax.
Dinner and night at Camp Davidson.
Day 4 4 : MATLAPENG RESERVE - 3-4 hours ridingCamp DavidsonSetting off in a westerly direction, this ride tracks past a brown hyena den, skirts past the upper reaches of the Horizon dam before crossing a wide grassy valley. At one point the ride enters into dense woodland, home to shy species such as kudu, bushbuck and Vervet monkeys. Emerging from the woods, the horses have a chance to stretch their legs along open sandy tracks. Finally the ride swings back to the north, through mixed bushveld and fascinating rock formations. Two highlights of this ride are the jumping lanes and the chance for riders to swim their horses bareback in the Horizon dam next to the main lodge. For many guests, this is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.
Once dried off and back in the saddle, the ride climb back up to Camp Davidson is particularly intriguing, as it follows a mountain pass cut through boulders and outcrops. After lunch, enjoy a sundowner ride across the plains on the reserve. Horizon are very fortunate to have a large herd zebra. Over the years, the herd has become quite habituated to the horses and it is now possible to ride really close and experience being part of the zebra herd. A wonderful way to watch the foals frollick.
Day 5 5 : BELLEVUE PLAINS - 4-5 hours ridingSavannah Plains LodgePack up and leave Camp Davidson after breakfast - your bags will go ahead whilst you make your way to Bellevue Plains Lodge on horseback.
The ride traverses a wide wetland, home to reedbuck and grass owls, before entering dense woodland dotted with wild fig trees and large fruited bushwillows. Here it crosses the watershed and descends through open grasslands with sweeping views to the upper reaches of the Conservancy’s main water system. The route passes the favoured habitat of waterbuck and Cape buffalo. The open plains that follow are aptly known as “Little Serengeti”; large herds of blesbuck, eland, wildebeest and kudu are all on view, as are groups of elegant sable, swift red hartebeest and impressive journeys of giraffe and Cape buffalo. After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, closing with sundowners overlooking the African plains.
Day 6 6 : MASHATU RESERVE - 4-5 hours ridingTwo Mashatu CampWe depart the lodge early and enjoy an exhilarating ride back to Horizon Lodge in time to change before departing for Botswana at 09:30 am. You arrive in Botswana in time for a light lunch. Enjoy an introductory ride to check you are suited to your horse and comfortable enough in the saddle to ride in a big game area, before embarking on your first ride out to our Two Mashatus Camp. This will be your first opportunity to experience the beauty of the Mashatu Game Reserve and view the wildlife on horseback. Mashatu Game Reserve is home to the largest herd of wild free-roaming elephants on private land in Africa, and, although not a guarantee, it is almost assured that there will be great viewing of these incredible creatures. As evening falls at Two Mashatus Camp, relax in the cool of the thatched lounge and dining areas, before enjoying a three-course dinner.
Day 7 7 : MASHATU RESERVE - 6-7 hours ridingTwo Mashatu CampSunrise, the dawn chorus and tea or coffee which is brought to your tent, sounds the start of your first day. After breakfast, it’s time to mount and depart from the dense woodland that hugs the Limpopo River and head towards the rocky hills that delineate the edges of the great river valley. As the ride traverses the heartland of Mashatu, you will encounter plentiful game: plains game, many giraffe and herds of elephants. You will arrive back at Two Mashatus Camp in time for lunch and a cooling afternoon rest in the shady camp or lazing by the pool. That afternoon the group has the choice of an afternoon ride or a game drive to the south western side of the reserve. This is an area not reached on horseback during the African Explorer safari. It is rich in game with a resident pride of lion. The highlight of the the drive is a sundowner in the ancient landscape of rock formations or the Mmamagwa hills, which vast vistas into the setting sun.
Day 8 8 : MASHATU RESERVE - 6-7 hours ridingTwo Mashatu CampRide out following the movements of wildlife in the area. The tempo of the rides is always varied and depending on the terrain, there are opportunities to enjoy the spirit and fitness of the horses. The afternoon brings a chance to again choose between another ride or a bush walk in the northern area of Mashatu Game Reserve and enjoy the rich birdlife, spot crocodile in the pools and learn about the magnificent trees lining the banks.
Day 9 9 : MASHATU RESERVE - JOHANNESBURG - 2 hours ridingThe last ride in the Limpopo Valley is a great opportunity to take one last picture of elephants and enjoy a long and winding canter through the scattered Mustard bush with your guides. Once back at the stables, there will be time for a quick shower and brunch at the reception area before saying farewell to your horse and the team.
At c.11.00, you will be transferred back to Johannesburg International via the Pont Drift border post (c. 6.5 hours drive). Your flight back to London should depart in the evening around 20:30 or later, to allow time for this transfer.
If you opt in for the aircraft transfer (2 people min), this transfer will be by plane, allowing you to enjoy one last ride with the horses and your group.
Day 10 10 : EUROPEArrival back in the Europe.
Dates & prices
- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double room.
- The usual group size is a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 riders.
- Group transfers are an additional £324 in 2021 and £350 in 2022 (road transfers from Johannesburg to Camp Davidson; Camp Davidson to Limpopo and Limpopo to Johannesburg). Private transfers are possible if your flight plans do not match the group transfers. It is also possible to organise a flight transfer back to Johannesburg at the end the safari, in which case all transfers (as above and one way flight back from Limpopo to Johannesburg) is £494 in 2021 and £509 in 2022, based on a minimum of two riders - prices subject to change.
- With effect from the 1st of January 2019, all Mashatu visitors will attract a conservation levy of $10 per person per night payable on site. This is $30 per person for the African Explorer as only 3 nights are spent in Botswana.
- There is no single supplement if you are willing to share a tent with another rider of the same sex. To guarantee your own tent there is a single supplement of 50%.
> In 2021: £864 in Dec/Jan/Feb, £942 in March/April/June, and £1052 in May/July/Aug/Sept/Oct/Nov.
> In 2022: £933 in Dec/Jan/Feb, £1017 in March/April/May/June, and £1136 in July/Aug/Sept/Oct/Nov.
On certain weeks a single tent is available on a first-come, first-served basis at no extra cost. Please contact us for details.
- For this ride, there is a maximum rider weight of 90kg/ 14st 2lbs/198 lbs. If you weigh more than this and wish to ride, please contact us and we will advise on a case-by-case basis.
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.
A full horse stable team
Snacks and beverages (including wine and alcoholic beverages)
Price doesn't include
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In South Africa you ride on - The usual weight limit is 95 kg although it may be possible to accept one or two heavier riders - please enquire.
Trail saddles which are comfortable for long hours in the saddle, whilst in Botswana you ride on traditional English GP saddles.
There is a maximum weight limit of 90 kgs / 15 stones. Heavier riders please contact us.
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
The riding in South Africa is very safe, as the Waterberg is home to non-dangerous game such as zebra and giraffe. In Botswana, you are riding in an area of dangerous game (Mashatu is famous for its elephants). It is therefore of utmost importance that you are a confident rider, and secure in the saddle. Please note that there will be a short assessment ride on your arrival at Two Mashatu Camp in Botswana. The guides in South Africa will be able to assess your riding skills and will advise on your suitability to ride in Botswana. Should they deem you not able to ride in Botswana you will be given the choice of going to Botswana as a non-rider or if space allows you can stay at the South African lodge for the three days and carry on with the safari riding.
For this ride, there is a maximum rider weight of 90kg/ 14st 2lbs/198 lbs. If you weigh more than this and wish to ride, please contact us and we will advise on a case-by-case basis.
Tacking ability and participation
Trip conditions and Requested experience
Guests who do not ride regularly are requested to get fit prior to the ride. It is of particular importance to ensure you are comfortable and balanced when riding at speed across rough terrain and open spaces. If the guides feel that you are unsafe on horseback, then you will be offered non-riding activities in Botswana. The riding in South Africa is less strenuous.
Helmets are compulsory. You should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.
- Camp Davidson has recently been built high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng valley. The camp commands a wonderful panoramic view of the central highlands of the Waterberg massif, whilst overlooking the picturesque Sunset Lake on the eastern boundary of Horizon's Triple B Ranch. Camp Davidson has the atmosphere of early settlers, with beautiful decked canvas tents nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy game-filled valleys. Each A-frame tent has proper beds and an en-suite flushing toilet and bucket shower. Meals are taken around the fire or on a beautiful deck overlooking the valley. There is a small refreshing pool.
- The Savannah Lodge is a beautiful, intimate lodge at the heart of a private reserve, a full-day ride away from Camp Davidson. No Wifi.
Botswana : Two Mashatus camp is situated close to the Limpopo river. Large walk-in tents are pitched on teak platforms with ensuite flush toilets and hot showers. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons. Traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. There is a newly-built pool in this camp too for guests to enjoy after the ride.
Lunch is also light and may be quiche and salad or a variety of salads with cold meats.
Afternoon tea with a selection of drinks and freshly baked cakes.
Dinner is three courses. Wine is served with the meals and a selection of drinks are available.
Vegetarians and special diets can be catered for with advance notice
Summer (Nov - March) is hot and there is the chance of dramatic thunderstorms.
It is generally hotter and drier in Botswana than in South Africa, and the altitude in the Waterberg makes the temperatures particularly pleasant, even in summer.
Guide and local team
If you wish to tip your guide in addition then you can do this separately.
If availing of the aircraft transfer, bags have to be soft bags and weight is limited to 15kg per bag plus 6 kg hand luggage. For people travelling on in Africa before or after their safari we can arrange for the storage of luggage with the airline.
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided and we recommend travelling light as your luggage may have to be moved between camps.
- Wherever possible you should wear neutral colours, such as beige, brown or natural bush colours for riding as bright colours, such as red, yellow or white can startle the wildlife and they will see you long before you've seen them
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- You will be required to wear a hard hat when riding and you should take your own to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and thorns
- Fleece, jumper or jacket - the evenings can be cold, particularly June - August
- Waterproof jacket - the rains can be difficult to foresee and it's better to be prepared. Rain is more likely Oct-April
- Casual clothes for the evening
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Shorts for lazy lunchtimes
- Casual clothes for the evening
Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps to protect against thorns. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged.
- Sandals, flip-flops or trainers for moving around the lodge and camp
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun whilst riding
Other useful items
- Swimsuit - for plunge pools
- Binoculars for viewing game
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night
In your luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag. Some toiletries are provided by the camp so you can pack lighter.
In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat
- Sunscreen and lip balm - must be high factor
- Insect repellent, preferably containing deet
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Anti malarial tablets and Yellow Fever Certificate if required (check with your doctor)
Please note: in the case of a light aircraft transfer, please note that planes don't necessarily have a separate luggage compartments, and carry-on regulations may apply. Remember that safari camps provide shampoo and soap, as well as alcohol, so make sure to pack accordingly.
Luggage type and weight: strictly 15 kg (33lb) + 6 kg (13lb) carry on, soft bags only!
Eau de Toilette – (250 ml)
Non-flammable and Non-alcoholic liquids – 500ml per container. A combined total of no more than 2l in checked bags.
Pocket knifes/Leatherman’s and other sharp objects:
These need to be packed into passengers checked bags and will not be allowed in carry-on bags.
Visa & Health
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
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
- Ambassade de France en Afrique du Sud
250, Melk street
Tél. : +27 (0) 12 425 1600
Fax : +27 12 425 1609
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.
Budget and money
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
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.
Did you know?
Did you know?
The "Small Five"
Now this is a challenge when you are on your horse safari in South Africa. Few people have heard of the " Little Five".
These five small animals are a must to add to your list for a successful safari. They are difficult to find due to their minimal size.
Look out for the elephant mouse, the leopard tortoise , rhinoceros beetle, the ant lion and buffalo weaver bird .