Riding with herds of zebra in Botswana on a riding safari

The Kalahari Ride

An amazing horseback safari set within the Makgadikgadi salt pans of the Kalahari desert and offering the unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the first Botswanan explorers and to meet local bushmen. Get up close and personal to the endearing meerkats and marvel at the moon-like landscape of the pans. Huge skies, desert-adapted wildlife and the opportunity to sleep out under the stars: a magical riding safari for experienced riders.
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Horseback Safari
8 days / 5 riding -
From £0
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- A recognized horse safari guide - David Foot - who has over 25 years experience guiding in southern Africa
- The chance to interact with a tame family of fascinating meerkats
- Meet with the Bushmen of the Kalahari desert and learn their survival habits
- Explore the unusual vegetation found in the Kalahari, with its baobabs, rare fauna, and wildlife such as the brown hyena
- Experience the second largest annual migration of zebra and wildebeest in the world (during the wet season, January - May)
- Gallop across the salt pans (during the dry season, from June to September)
- Opportunity to ride across the pans by moonlight during the full moon

    You will take an international flight overnight to Johannesburg. If booking your own flight, then you need to depart London for instance at c. 19:00 so that you arrive in Johannesburg at c. 07:00 tomorrow (day 2) in time to check-in for your next flight to Maun, which will be due to arrive at c. 14:00.

    These flights are not included but we can book them for you on request.
  • Day 2 2 : JOHANNESBURG - KALAHARI DESERT - 2 hours riding

    Kalahari camp
    You will be met on arrival at Maun airport by someone holding a sign saying Ride Botswana, who will introduce you to your pilot for your flight into the pans.

    Your camp (Camp Kalahari) is nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms, adjacent to the Makgadikgadi-Nxai Pans National Park in Botswana. It’s refreshingly simple, yet comfortable.

    Heading out after tea into the beautiful afternoon light, for an introductory ride – primarily to match horse and rider but also this will be your first opportunity to experience the beauty of this magical area. Return to the camp for sundowners followed by dinner and to corral the horses close by, before the lions of the Kalahari commence their nightly prowling.

    Please note the following itinerary can vary depending if you are going on the wet or dry season.
  • Day 3 3 : KALAHARI DESERT - 4 hours riding

    Kalahari camp
    Up with the dawn, a light breakfast will be followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness. At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich and predators! The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent going for the horses. Returning to the camp for lunch, rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees.
    After tea, head off by vehicle to see some unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyaena. 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... and perhaps a black maned Kalahari Lion.
    Arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for dinner.
  • Day 4 4 : KALAHARI DESERT - 6-7 hours riding

    Xau Xai fly camp
    Today is a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp. Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey takes you through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters. The area is rich in birds of prey, bustards, korhaans and numerous other dry woodland bird species.
    By lunchtime you will reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road. The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travelers dating back some 150 years. Break for lunch at the adjacent Gutsa Pan where you may find Stone Age artifacts and then continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp.
    Camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mess tent, loos and bucket showers. Enjoy the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.
  • Day 5 5 : KALAHARI DESERT - 5-6 hours riding

    Xau Xai fly camp
    Wake up to a steaming hot cup of coffee, before heading off on your horses in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. With your horses tethered you will proceed on foot in to the midst of the group. It is possible for you to get up close and personal with these captivating creatures. Or, in the absence of a termite mound or tree, using your head as a sentry lookout post…
    Mount up and follow the well-worn trails that lead to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater.

    Return to Xau Xai for lunch . Set off in the late afternoon for one of the greatest adventures imaginable - a ride straight out into the middle of the ancient lakebed! Eventually all that can be seen is the vast flatness stretching in every direction. Watch the sun set and the stars rise and if the phase of the moon is right continue riding in the moonlight.
    Sleep on bedrolls under the silence of a star studded sky!


    - During the dry season (May-September), temperatures are quite cool and the former salt lakes completely dries out. This allows for an uncommon and exhilarating adventure: riding to the bottom of a dried-out lake! At night, enjoy the peaceful quietness of a night sleeping under the stars. An unforgettable experience.
    - During the wet season when the pans are full of water it is not possible to sleep out on the pans. You will spend a second night and Xau Xai fly camp.
  • Day 6 6 : KALAHARI DESERT - 6 hours riding

    Kalahari camp
    Wake up on the moon! As the dawn greets this extraordinary landscape, mount up and head homewards at a fast pace directly across the Pans to Camp Kalahari. You may be lucky enough to see the extraordinary sight of ostrich deep in the middle of the Pans and then from a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab. Also known as the Seven Sisters, it is acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa, measuring 25metres around its girth.
    It is near here that you break for lunch before your final ride back across the grasslands and into camp. As the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades you arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for a refreshing shower and a final lamp lit dinner.
  • Day 7 7 : KALAHARI-MAUN-JOHANNESBURG - Walking safari

    A non-riding morning commences with an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers. Uncharted Africa has pioneered and passionately supported cultural tourism in Botswana since the company’s inception. Offering a window into the past, they will teach you how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behavior and survival skills.
    Time for one more Camp Kalahari lunch before you bid farewell to Camp Kalahari in preparation for your onward journey.
    Transfer to the airstrip for your light aircraft transfer to Maun (included in the price), then flight to Johannesburg and connection to London (not included in the price) or beginning of your extension (please consult us, different possibilities exist such as a journey to Victoria falls).

Dates & prices

Price details

No departure for this destination. Please contact our travel advisers for more information.
- Flights to your destination (Maun) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double tent during the ride. 

- Groups are composed of a minimum of 2 riders and a maximum of 8 international riders, plus guides.

- Transfers: you can either get a scenic flight into camp (50 mins each way) or opt for the road transfers (3 hours each way).
> Air transfers from Maun to camp are £670/€780/$790 in 2022 and 2023.
> Road transfers are £280/€295/$350 based on two riders (£560 for single travellers) in 2022, or £380/€445/$450 (£760 for single travellers) in 2023.

- There is no single supplement if you are willing to share a room/tent with another guest of the same sex. To guarantee your own tent there is a single supplement of between approximately $1355-$1775 in 2022, or $2000-$2200 in 2023 - please contact us for the exact supplement for your favourite week.

- It is possible to do a shortened itinerary of 3 nights based at Camp Kalahari with no fly camping. Please enquire for more details.
- Non riders can accompany the safari subject to availability and at the our discretion. An itinerary will then be proposed and costed on enquiry.

- IMPORTANT : the usual weight limit is 95kg but please enquire if you weigh more than this as there may be one or two horses capable of carrying up to 105kg.
Please Note
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.

Price includes

Support Team

1 english speaking horseback safari guide
1 back-up guide


1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle
1 support vehicle


Double/twin safari tent in Camp Kalahari
2 person tents at fly camp


Full board
All drinks


Park fees

Price doesn't include


Meals outside of the ride (during days of travel) are not included.


Light air or road transfers from Maun to camp


Tips to local team


Cancellation and travel insurance are not included in the above listed price. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend taking out an insurance policy as soon as your trip is booked to cover you in case of cancellation



Single room/tent supplement
We are currently updating our dates and prices they will be online soon. If you want details of this holiday, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Equestrian info


Ride from a mixed stable including Arabs, Kalahari-Arabs, Hanovariens, Trakehners and Appaloosas. All are forward going but sensible, always keen to gallop and comfortable around the game. They range in size from 14.1h to 16.2h.

Guide & local team

Your guide, David Foot, grew up in Malawi and has run riding safaris there before moving to Botswana with his family. He is very knowledgeable about the landscape, history and wildlife in the Makgadikgadi pans.

All rides will be led by a professional experienced guide armed with a rifle. He will be accompanied by an assistant back up guide. Guides will be up to date on their first aid training and will carry a basic first aid kit on all rides. A GPS and a handheld radio or satellite phone are also carried in the event of an emergency.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You need to be a competent and confident rider. This is an area of dangerous game and so you should be secure in the saddle and able to stay on if you need to gallop out of danger.

IMPORTANT : the usual weight limit is 95kg but please enquire if you weigh more than this as there may be one or two horses capable of carrying up to 105kg.


The pace is mixed ot include all three paces. There are plenty of opportunities for long canters on the dry islands or across the salt pans, particularly during the dry season (May - September).

On average, between 4-7 hours will be spent in the saddle each day. The longest days will be on the “move” days. This is when you move to your fly camp.

Tacking ability and participation

A team of grooms will feed, care for and saddle your horses. You can help with untacking if you wish, but this is not expected.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

This is a desert and so days can be hot and nights cold. You need to be prepared with appropriate lightweight clothing and sunscreen for the day and warmer layers for the evenings.
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.

Equestrian equipment

South African trail saddles.
Water bottles holders are provided on each saddle (enough space for two saddles). Saddle bags are available.

We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.

Travel info


Camp Kalahari has 10 spacious Meru tents : 7 Twin tents, 2 Double tents and 1 Family tent consisting of 2 adjacent tents, accommodating 2 guests in each with an inter-leading bathroom. All tents have en-suite outdoor bathrooms, flush loos, hot and cold running water, along with comfy beds, fresh cotton sheets, stripy African blankets and hot water bottles in winter. A common space with library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for those hot Kalahari days.

Xau Xai Fly Camp: 3m x 3m canvas Dome Tents are used for the Fly Camp section of the safari. The is a traditional warm bucket shower
and bush loo for every second tent. During the dry season (May – October) there may be an opportunity for guests to
spend one of the fly camp nights out on the Pans. This is made up stretcher beds with fully made up bedrolls out under
the stars.

A laundry service is included. There are camera charging facilities in the camp but not at Fly Camp.


Breakfast is usually taken very early (before dawn) and is therefore light, consisting of cereals, fruit and rusks with tea or coffee.
Lunch is also light and may be quiche and salad or a variety of salads with cold meats.
Dinner is three courses. Wine is served with the meals and a selection of drinks are available.

Drinks are included and there is a well-stocked bar and fridge with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Vegetarians and special diets can be catered for with advance notice.


The seasons are the reverse of the UK, with winter (June - Sept) being dry with no rain and clear skies. Daytime temperatures are pleasant and the nights are cool.
Summer (Nov - March) is hot and there is the chance of dramatic thunderstorms.


We recommend tipping between 15-20 USD per day which is split between the entire team. If you wish to tip your guide separately then you can do so but this is not expected.

- Guide: US$ 10 per day per guest
- Stable Staff: US$ 5 per day per guest
- Camp Staff: US$ 5 per day per guest

Packing list

Specific Recommendations
- Please don't take a hard sided suitcase. Your luggage should be soft sided, particularly for light air transfers. There is usually a luggage limit of 20kgs including hand luggage.
- 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!

- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you 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

Upper body
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun and thorns
- T-shirts
- 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 during the months of 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

Medical kit
- 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)

Sustainable tourism

  1. Travel light. It's a little known fact, but the lighter you pack, the better for the environment as heavy bags will produce higher emissions (when flying a plane or driving a car!).
  2. Reduce plastic waste. Take your favorite reusable bottle with you. Avoid single-use bags, cups, or straws.
  3. Preserve nature. Always take your rubbish with you during the ride and recycle them. Leave all the flowers or plants as you found them, and never get too close when observing wildlife. Make sure to use eco-friendly products such as body wash or laundry detergent (if camping) to protect both your skin and the environment.
  4. Choose your experiences carefully. Respect animal life by not participating in any activities that abuse wild animals (shows, elephant rides, etc.).
  5. Support local populations. Buy local handicrafts, be respectful of customs, and learn about the culture of local communities.
  6. Share! Raise awareness among your family and friends about sustainable tourism.

For more information please see this page.

Did you know?

Did you know?

The meerkats

They are little carnivorous mammals that live in colonies of 20 to 30 members.

In order to find their food, they have to dig deep into the ground, sometimes deep enough that they have their head buried in the sand and can't hear predators. Meerkat "Guards" have a role within the colony to warn others of the presence of predators by specific cries. They have identified 30 different cries according to the type of risk (terrestrial or aerial) and their distance away. An unbroken cry indicates that everything is going well. If there is danger, the guard barks or whistles very loudly. Then the group run back to their holes.

During your riding safari in the Kalahari, you will likely come across a lot of meercats and will be geared up to recognise their cries.

On the blog

A riding safari in Africa is an unforgettable experience. Really, nothing quite compares to watching giraffe on horseback, race with a herd of zebra or coming face to face with elephant. Horseback safaris are amongst our most exciting riding holidays and we are pleased to have a fantastic selection of options to suit novice and experienced riders alike. We have written the following guide to help you select your safari based on what wildlife you want to see. See more on the blog.