Horse volunteering in Zimbabwe

From wild savannahs to untouched bushland, Zimbabwe retains the true essence of Africa. Our working holiday in Zimbabwe offers riders the chance to learn and work alongside professional safari guide James Varden and his competent, friendly horse safari team. This is a great choice for horse and wildlife lovers looking for a holiday with a purpose – you will experience a horse riding safari in a completely different light as you get involved “behind the scenes”.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Working holidays
15 days - or more
From £2,225
Family holidays
from 14 y.o

Itinerary

Highlights

- This is a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in a riding safari with a purpose
- Enjoy all benefits of being a full safari guest on a very affordable budget
- You will learn from ride operator James Varden, one of Zimbabwe’s leading Professional Guides and a walking encyclopaedia on wildlife, birds, trees, grasses, insects – anything that is in the bush, he’ll know about! Spending time with James in the bush is a privilege and learning experience.
- Small intimate groups of a maximum of 4 volunteers at any one time (unless a family).
  • Day 1 1 : EUROPE - VICTORIA FALLS

    Arrive in Victoria Falls (overnight flight from Europe). You will likely require a connection in Johannesburg (South Africa) or Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). Transfer to camp where you will meet the team.

    Flights are not included in our rates but can be booked upon request.
  • Day 2 2-14 : VOLUNTEERING

    The safari operators, James and Janine Varden, are proud to run one of the best safari operations in Zimbabwe. Their work ethos allows them to contribute to the local community and offer a sustainable safari experience to guests from all over the world. For every 4th volunteer, they will also sponsor a local Zimbabwean on the program.

    On this working holiday in Zimbabwe, every day is different but you can expect the following:
    - Proficient riders will have the opportunity to work horses and be involved as much or as little as they like with horse care and all that goes with keeping a team of horses in Zimbabwe in tip top condition
    - Intermediate riders can improve their riding skills.
    - When possible, you will have the opportunity to join in on game drives.
    - Riders will be able to participate in snare patrols on horseback with the team, as a part of their ongoing antipoaching patrols.
    - There are many opportunities to get involved with community projects like a building a nutrition garden, helping make the camp more ecologically sound, or perhaps you have a special skill you can pass onto to the staff.
  • Day 3 15: DEPARTURE

    You will be transferred to Victoria Falls airport in time for your flight home.

Dates & prices

Price details

- Flights are not included but we can assist with this on request (to Victoria Falls). Rates are per person based on two riders sharing a twin or double tent.

- Rates are per person, based on staying in a mobile Meru tent. Upgrades to a luxury tent at Igananya tented camp are charged at $90.00 per night (free upgrades for families of 4).

- Dates are flexible and you can arrive/depart on any day and stay for as long as you like.

- The usual group size is a minimum of 2 and a usual maximum of 5 international volunteers.

- Return transfers from Victoria Falls International airport are not included. These are $180/€150/£135 return rate per person (minimum 2 guests).

- If riding inside Hwange National Park: Conservation fees are not included and payable locally if riding into the park (count about $50 for a week). Subject to change without notice.

- You must be aged 18 or over to join this volunteering opportunity. Accompanied minors aged 12+ can join as part of a family booking if they can ride well - this can be reviewed on a case-by-case situation.

- Riders over 90kg must contact us before booking.

It is a requirement and pre-requisite that guests must have purchased fully comprehensive accident and emergency evacuation insurance cover
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 safari guide and back up guide

Logistics

1 cook

Accommodation

Accommodation in Meru safari tents

Meals

Full board during your holiday from your arrival day to your departure day

Price doesn't include

Transport

Visa fees
International flights

Extras

Tips to the local team
Camping and park fees - see dates and prices

Insurance

Personal purchase
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

Optional

Transportation

Airpoirt transfers
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    07/08/2021 21/08/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    14/08/2021 28/08/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    21/08/2021 04/09/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    28/08/2021 11/09/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    04/09/2021 18/09/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    11/09/2021 25/09/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    18/09/2021 02/10/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    25/09/2021 09/10/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    02/10/2021 16/10/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    09/10/2021 23/10/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    16/10/2021 30/10/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    23/10/2021 06/11/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    30/10/2021 13/11/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
  • Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    06/11/2021 20/11/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    13/11/2021 27/11/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    20/11/2021 04/12/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    27/11/2021 11/12/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now
    04/12/2021 18/12/2021 £2,225 €2,620 $3,048 Open Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

A large herd of mostly homebred horses, all accustomed to riding in areas of wild animals and chosen or bred with horseback safaris in mind. Breeds include Boerperd, Shire crosses, TB crosses, and Friesian crosses. They are especially selected for their good temperaments and all are well schooled. They range in height from 15hh to 16,3hh. The team use natural horsemanship methods to start all their horses.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You must have at least an intermediate level, capable and in control in all paces. Due to the presence of dangerous game it is important that you can stay on your horse if you need to react quickly and gallop out of danger. Most importantly, you must love horses and be keen to learn.
Rider weight limit: 90 kilos / 14,1 st / 198 lbs

Pace

On safari, you will experience all three paces throughout your trip. All observations are done at a walking pace - there will be no galloping around/ with the wildlife. The terrain is flat and open, ideally suited for a riding safari. Anti-poaching patrols are at a slower pace in order to focus your attention on your surroundings.

Tacking ability and participation

You are welcome to contribute to all sorts of riding and yard chores and take part in various equestrian and community projects. Please look at the itinerary to see what is requested of you as a horse volunteer in Zimbabwe.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

Guests must be willing to learn and to contribute.
Families are welcome.

Equestrian equipment

Tack is of excellent quality and include a range of saddles from English leather to Australian stock saddles and Leon Liversage Trailmaster. Most horses are ridden in a snaffle.
Riding helmets are mandatory. We recommend our riders to wear a helmet to the correct standard and you should bring your own to ensure a proper fit.
Small saddlebags are provided.

Travel info

Comfort

Volunteers stay at camp and have their own large Meru style tent with ensuite hot bucket showers and long drop loo. Full bedding is provided.

The camp is run on solar with a backup generator. There are plug points in the rooms and in the main living area. Everything is within walking distance: stables, main area and tents! No hairdryers allowed as this puts too much strain on the solar system. Please make sure to bring spare batteries or portable solar charger if you plan on using your camera/gopro a lot.

Single travellers will have their own tent and there is no single supplement charge.

WiFi is available at the main camp. There is cell signal in most areas of the camp.

Meals

Meals are taken at camp, except for some picnic rides on certain occasions. Drinks are excluded and can be purchased at main camp.

Climate

November and December:
The summer months are warmer and wetter with continuous rains or thunderstorms in the afternoon ending before the safari starts. Mosquitoes and other insects are also more present during this time of the year compared to the winter months of June, July and August (seasons are in reverse in the Southern Hemisphere).

From January to March:
These months are normally drier with very hot days. Mosquitoes and other insects are more present at this time of the year than in the winter months.

April:
The vegetation begins to change, the green bush becomes sparse and brown during this period of autumn. Temperatures drop during the night but it is still warm during the day with possible thunderstorms in the afternoon.

May to June:
Temperatures are low during the night and early in the morning during the winter months. The vegetation becomes brown and the trees lose their leaves. Visibility is increased by sparse vegetation.

From July to September:
This period is very dry in the bush, with very cold nights, it is also cool during the morning and late afternoon excursions.

From October to November:
Spring is the peak of the dry season with warm winds and sparse vegetation. The first rains arrive at the end of the month

Guide and local team

James Varden has been guiding safaris for over 25 years. James is renowned for his incredible knowledge of Africa (he travelled extensively through the continent) and the local wildlife, with a particular love for birds! James works closely with his wife Janine. Janine grew up with horses in Australia and worked for many years as a jillaroo on a sheep- and cattle-station in Victoria, and then at Werribee Open Range Zoo in Melbourne as a keeper specialising in African mammals. Janine’s animal-husbandry background is well-utilised, and the care and upkeep of the horses is her responsibility. Janine also has a strong interest in conservation and rural community issues in Zimbabwe.

Tips

These are not compulsory but appreciated. If you wish to give a gratuity please give the total to the senior member of staff in the presence of the other staff members. The staff has its own resolution on gratuity disbursement.

Packing list


Head
- A riding helmet is compulsory and we recommend that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. Helmet makers (GPA, HKM, LAS Helmets, Lamicell, Troxel, Equithème) now offer horse-riding helmets that are ventilated, strong, light and comfortable. You also have the option of buying protective shells to go under your hats (Ranch & Rider, Lexington Safety Products) or western hat helmets (Troxel).
Head
- 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 dust
- T-shirts
- Fleece, jumper or jacket - the evenings can be cold
- Waterproof jacket - the rains can be difficult to foresee in the wet season and it's better to be prepared. Layering is key to cope with the fluctuations in temperature between day and night
- Casual clothes for the evening

Legs
- 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
- Bathing suit
- Casual clothes for the evening

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps as long chaps/long boots can get very hot.
- Sandals, flip-flops or trainers for moving around at night.
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun whilst riding/

Nightwear
- Thermals are a good option for sleeping in in the colder months, or a t-shirt and shorts for warmer nights

Other useful items
- Water bottle (1.5 litre or two x 1 litre)
- Hand sanitiser
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Binoculars

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.
- Small penknife

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
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Rehydration sachets (dioralyte or similar)
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Ear plugs, particularly if you are a light sleeper

Our Recommendations
- 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!
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals

Visa & Health

Formalities

You’ll need a visa to visit Zimbabwe. You can get a visa from the Zimbabwean Embassy in London or on arrival in Zimbabwe. Most tourists use the visa on arrival service; take enough cash with you in small notes to pay for your visa at the airport. You can also apply for a visa online before travel. Make sure you travel with the correct documentation otherwise you risk arrest and deportation.

Visitors are currently being given entry permission for anything up to 90 days but you should check that the number of days given at the port of entry covers your intended period of stay. You can apply to have this period renewed and extended if required. It’s illegal to give a false statement in support of a visa.

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months and have three blank pages left in it to enable you to enter Zimbabwe and exit via one of the neighbouring countries, if leaving at short notice becomes necessary.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION RE: TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
From 1st June 2015, South Africa have introduced tough rulings for anyone travelling with children, including passengers transitting South Africa to another destination.
- Two parents travelling with children will need to show the childs Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC)
- One parent travelling with a child will need to show the UBC plus either: a Parental Consent Affidavit (PAC) from the parent not travelling OR a letter of special circumstance.
- Widowed parents will need to show the UBC and a death certificate for the deceased parent
- Children travelling with family friends will need a UBC, PCA, copies of the parents passports and contact details for the parents.
For more information click this link: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/621-updated-advisory-new-requirements-for-children-travelling-through-south-african-ports-of-entry
Contact South African Immigration for what is required for other circumstances.

Source and more information: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/zimbabwe/entry-requirements

Addresses of consulates

  • Ambassade du Zimbabwe en France
    10 Rue Jacques Bingen
    75017 Paris
    Tél. : 01 56 88 16 00
    Fax :

Health

Visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

• Courses or boosters usually advised: Hepatitis A; Tetanus.
• Other vaccines to consider: Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Rabies; Typhoid.
• Selectively advised vaccines - only for those individuals at highest risk: Cholera.
• Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.

Malaria is present throughout the country. You should consider anti-malarial medication, especially if travelling through humid regions (Lake Kariba, Zambeze valley including Victoria Falls).
Schistosomiasis is another health risk in Zimbabwe. It is a parasitic infection (also known as bilharzia) that is transmitted to humans through contact with fresh water. The parasite enters humans through the skin and prevention is dependant on avoidance of swimming, bathing or paddling in fresh water lakes and streams. Avoid walking barefoot and do not drink tap water.
Following an outbreak first reported in October 2017, there are continuing reports of typhoid fever in a number of areas. You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre

Source and for more information: https://www.service-public.fr/
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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

In Zimbabwe the standard voltage is 220 V and the frequency is 50 Hz.

Budget and money

Zimbabwe’s economic situation remains unpredictable. Whilst the primary legal tender in Zimbabwe is the “Zimbabwe Dollar”, it currently possible for tourists to transact using the US Dollar at the official exchange rate. There are some bureaux de change which will accept and change foreign currency, particularly US dollars. The exchange rate is currently unpredictable.

Prices and transactions will mainly be in Zimbabwean (RTGS) dollars but US dollars may be accepted in some businesses. You should check before making a transaction whether the price quoted is in Zimbabwean (RTGS) or US dollars as the symbol for both is $. It is recommended to check exchange rates prior to any transaction. You should check in advance what payment methods a restaurant, hotel or tour operator will accept. Some businesses, including some medical providers, may not accept payment by credit or debit card.

Zimbabwe is currently experiencing a shortage of cash. Cash withdrawals can be made at some ATMs and bank branches with an international bank card but availability cannot always be guaranteed. . Credit and debit cards are increasingly being used for transactions. You should always ensure that you are being charged in the correct currency. There are also some challenges with international transfers from outside of Zimbabwe

It’s illegal to leave Zimbabwe with more than USD $2,000 (or equivalent) in cash, unless it is left over from funds which you have brought in yourself and declared on arrival. You should keep the proof of declaration to avoid problems with officials on exit. It’s illegal to exchange foreign currency anywhere other than at officially licensed dealers (eg banks or bureau de change). Carry small denomination notes as change is rarely available in smaller businesses.


Source: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/zimbabwe/money

Telephone and jetlag

GMT/UTC + 2h
Phone code: + 263