From the horse’s mouth
African Explorer Safari
African Explorer Safari
- 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 DAVIDSONFor your first full day of horse riding, you will explore the reserve tracking herds of giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, kudu and impala. The terrain lends itself to straying off the beaten track as your horse will lead you along game trails and narrow kloofs.
A saddlebag lunch is served at the riverside along a long abandoned wagon route used by the pioneers to congregate for church each Sunday. Riders can rest in the shade of the riverine forest during the heat of the day or take a dip in the clear flowing streams whilst the horses graze, before gradual meandering back through the plains in the fading afternoon light.
Dinner and night at Camp Davidson.
Day 4 4 : MATLAPENG RESERVE - 3-4 hours ridingCAMP DAVIDSONAn exciting option this morning: after an early start from the camp, you will take part in a game drive at a nearby Big Five private game reserve, with a chance to see rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard. This is payable locally (see dates en prices).
Those who decide not to take part in the game drive will enjoy a ride.
On the way back you will visit Beadle, a craft workshop on Triple B Ranch where the artisanal crafters specialise in beautiful handmade beadwork and leather products including riding chaps.
Lunch will be served by the pool at the Triple B Ranch, after which you will head back to camp by a sunset ride through the game reserve for your last night in South Africa.
Day 5 5 : BELLEVUE PLAINS - 4-5 hours ridingBellevue 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. On arrival you will enjoy lunch on the deck overlooking one of the plains and then have a chance to enjoy the pool whilst watching the antelope interact. In the afternoon, you will explore the reserve further, tracking giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, kudu, impala, hartebeest and ostrich. Sundowners will be poured whilst enjoying the incredible African sunset.
Day 6 6 : MASHATU RESERVE - 4-5 hours ridingTWO MASHATU CAMPTime to leave for Botswana! After a short ride back to the main lodge, you will depart from the lodge at 07:30 and be transferred to Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana (c. 3-4 hour drive).
On arrival at Pont Drift you will complete passport formalities before crossing the Limpopo river and entering Botswana. Here you will be met by your new guide and transferred the short distance to the stables.
After a light lunch, the introductory afternoon ride will familiarise you with your horse for this leg of the safari, arriving at the Two Mashatus camp in time to freshen up before supper.
Day 7 7 : MASHATU RESERVE - 6-7 hours ridingTWO MASHATU CAMPAn early wake-up with tea/coffee in your tent. You will have an early start each day to enjoy the freshness of the morning and to maximize game-viewing opportunities when the wildlife is most active. Undoubtedly you will come across the large herds of elephant for which the Tuli is renowned, as well as many different species of antelope; also giraffe, zebra, bat-eared fox, jackal, hyena and possibly even lion, leopard, wild dog and cheetah.
In the afternoon, you will ride along the Limpopo River, enjoying the rich birdlife, spotting crocodile in the pools and learning about the magnificent trees lining the banks. Alternatively, you have the option of doing a game drive, game walk or visiting the local village Mothabaneng to see the local ladies make baskets as well as viewing local bushmen's paintings.
Day 8 8 : MASHATU RESERVE - 6-7 hours ridingTWO MASHATU CAMPRiding out early, you will follow the movements of wildlife in the area and observe and interact with the world around you. The tempo of the ride will always be varied and dependent on the terrain - there are opportunities to enjoy the spirit and fitness of your horse at a faster pace, possibly even running alongside zebra or wildebeest.
You will head back to the camp for dinner around a large log fire under beautiful old Mashatu trees.
Day 9 9 : MASHATU RESERVE - JOHANNESBURG - 2 hours ridingYour final morning will be spent riding in "Nels Vlei". Those who wish may have a go over the rustic cross country fences made out of fallen trees. 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 £312 in 2020 (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 £567, based on a minimum of two riders.
- In the high season, and for group bookings, you can also opt for an air transfer back to Johannesburg. This means a road transfer from Johannesburg to Horizon, another from Horizon to the Tuli Block in Botswana, and then air transfer from the Tuli to Johannesburg. Please contact us for a personalised quotation.
- The game drive on Day 4 is not included and is payable locally: 600 rands for the game drive and 200 rands for the transfer (total around £40 per person). Subject to favourable weather conditions and availability.
- 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 2019. In 2020: £830 in Dec/Jan/Feb, £905 in March/April/June, and £1010 in May/July/Aug/Sept/Oct/Nov.
- 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
January - February 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 27/02/2020 07/03/2020 £1,810 Full
March - April 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 05/03/2020 14/03/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 12/03/2020 21/03/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 19/03/2020 28/03/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 26/03/2020 04/04/2020 £1,810 Full 02/04/2020 11/04/2020 £1,810 Open Book now 09/04/2020 18/04/2020 £1,810 Full 16/04/2020 25/04/2020 £1,810 Full 23/04/2020 02/05/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 30/04/2020 09/05/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now
May - June 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 07/05/2020 16/05/2020 £2,020 Full 14/05/2020 23/05/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 21/05/2020 30/05/2020 £2,020 Full 28/05/2020 06/06/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 04/06/2020 13/06/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 11/06/2020 20/06/2020 £1,810 Open Book now 18/06/2020 27/06/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now 25/06/2020 04/07/2020 £1,810 Guaranteed departure Book now
July - August 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 02/07/2020 11/07/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 09/07/2020 18/07/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 16/07/2020 25/07/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 23/07/2020 01/08/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 30/07/2020 08/08/2020 £2,020 Full 06/08/2020 15/08/2020 £2,020 Full 13/08/2020 22/08/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 20/08/2020 29/08/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 27/08/2020 05/09/2020 £2,020 Open Book now
September - October 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 03/09/2020 12/09/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 10/09/2020 19/09/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 17/09/2020 26/09/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 24/09/2020 03/10/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 01/10/2020 10/10/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 08/10/2020 17/10/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 15/10/2020 24/10/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 22/10/2020 31/10/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 29/10/2020 07/11/2020 £2,020 Open Book now
November - December 2020
Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status 05/11/2020 14/11/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 12/11/2020 21/11/2020 £2,020 Guaranteed departure Book now 19/11/2020 28/11/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 26/11/2020 05/12/2020 £2,020 Open Book now 03/12/2020 12/12/2020 £1,660 Open Book now 10/12/2020 19/12/2020 £1,660 Open Book now 17/12/2020 26/12/2020 £1,660 Guaranteed departure Book now 24/12/2020 02/01/2021 £1,660 Open Book now
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.
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 Lodge at Bellevue Plains is a beautiful, intimate lodge at the heart of a private reserve, a full-day ride away from Camp Davidson.
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
Visas are not required by British, Australian, Canadian, USA or other EU nationals for stays in Botswana of up to 90 days.
Visas are also not required by transit passengers, provided they are continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft, and do not leave the airport.
Nationals of countries not listed above are advised to contact the high commission/embassy to check visa requirements.
Those nationals who do require a visa for Botswana must include a copy of their travel itinerary with their application, along with a letter of support from their intended host and return visa or residence permit from his/her country of residence.
Travel to or from South Africa
If you are planning to enter South Africa before or after you visit Botswana, you should refer to the travel advice for South Africa.
Travelling with children
The Botswana government has introduced new immigration rules from 1 October 2016. Children (under 18 years of age) who are travelling into or through Botswana must provide a certified copy of their full unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport (an abridged (short) birth certificate won’t be accepted).
If the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren’t present will need to provide an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travel. For more information please contact the Botswana Embassy.
Travelling with children via South Africa
If you’re transiting through South Africa with children, see our South Africa travel advice page for information and advice about the documents you’ll need to carry.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana/entry-requirements
Addresses of consulates
- Botswana High Commission
6 Stratford Place
London W1C 1AY
Tél. : (020) 7499 0031
Fax : (020) 7647 1000
- Ambassade du Botswana
88 Avenue de Iéna
Tél. : 01.47.20.08.23
You should check with your doctor who has access to the most up-to-date information but the following vaccinations are usually recommended - Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) together with Hepatitis A and typhoid.
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 is prevalent in the country, but mainly during the warm and wet season and particularly in the northern half of the country. The south is generally considered lower risk. Don't underestimate this tropical disease and take precautions. Buy repellent (preferably with 50% DEET) and sleep under a net and speak to your doctor about anti-malarial medication.
Budget and money
Notes in denominations of P100, 50, 20 and 10.
Coins in denominations of P5, 2 and 1, and 50, 25, 10 and 5 thebe.
It is not necessary to change money into local currency for any of our Botswana rides - they accept GB Pounds, Euro, US Dollars and South African Rand.
Telephone and jetlag
Mobile phone roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone companies. Coverage is average in the major towns but you are unlikely to get any signal at all when in remote camps.
Time zone: GMT + 2hr
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 .