Rider and antelope in the background with early morning mists

Hwange Elephant safari

A unique riding safari in the heart of Zimbabwe. Hwange National Park is the largest reserve in Zimbabwe and one of the country's prime locations for wildlife watching. The Park boasts an incredible selection of wildlife, including some of the world's largest populations of elephants. Most of Big Five species can be seen, making this one of the most exciting horseback safaris in Africa. This itinerant safari combines five nights in a mobile bush camp and two nights at a fully serviced fixed camp - the itinerary is flexible and will very much depend on local conditions and the movements of the wildlife... Adventure awaits at every corner!
Book now Print the details for this ride
Horseback Safari
10 days (6 days riding)
From £2,830
Family holidays
from 14 y.o
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  • Elephants and horseback riders in Hwange, Zimbabwe
    Hwange is known for its big game, including elephants.
  • Riders in Hwange at sun set
    Enjoy a safari in the purest African tradition
  • Riders and horses at camp in Zimbabwe during a horse safari
    An authentic safari adventure in Hwange, Zimbabwe
  • James and Janine Varden in Zimbabwe
    Your hosts, James and Janine, in Hwange
  • Riders enjoying sundowners in Hwange, Zimbabwe
    An unforgettable riding safari in Africa
  • Lioness drinking in Hwange Park, Zimbabwe
    Spot a variety of wildlife, including big cats
  • Horseback riding in Hwange, Zimbabwe
    Explore the African bush on horseback
  • Horseback rider watching a group of elephants on horseback
    Watching elephant from horseback is an incredible adventure
  • Kudus in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
    You will see a variety of plains game - here, kudus.
  • Rider and antelope in the background with early morning mists
    Experience the magic of a riding safari in Africa



- Discover one of Africa's best reserves on horseback: the park hosts over 100 mammal and 400 bird species and is home to the Big Five species (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo).
- Wildlife likely to be seen: elephant, lion zebra, giraffe, impala, kudu, warthog, eland, duiker, buffalo, wildebeest, jackal, ostrich, waterbuck, hyena and baboons. Possible to be seen: roan and sable antelope, lion, bat eared fox, cheetah, leopard, hippo, painted dog, serval, gamsbok, bushbuck, honey badger.
- The only fully mobile safari in a Big Game reserve in Zimbabwe. Immerse yourself in the atmosphere of wild camping and evenings around the campfire.
- Janine and James Varden firmly believe in the benefit of community involvement and the importance of ecologically sustainable camps.

    Fly to Victoria Falls (overnight flight from Europe). Flights are not included in our rates but can be booked upon request. You will likely require a connection in Johannesburg (South Africa) or Addis Ababa (Ethiopia): please note that your transfer on Day 2 is scheduled for 14:30. We recommend flights arriving before 13:00.
  • Day 2 2 : VICTORIA FALLS - HWANGE MAIN CAMP - 2 hours riding

    Iganyana camp
    Arrive in Victoria Falls for your transfer scheduled for 14:30. You will arrive at your permanent tented camp at around 16:00, just in time for afternoon tea! This is followed by an important safety briefing before you get in the saddle for your first introduction ride, to make sure you are comfortable with your horse and tack.

    You will be back in camp in time for sundowners and a shower. Dinner is a delicious 3 course meal paired with lovely wines, surrounded by the night sounds of the African wilderness - the distant yowl of the jackal, the grunt of a leopard... The bush is never quiet in Africa!

    Overnight at camp.
  • Day 3 3 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 5-6 hours riding

    Hwange mobile camp
    An early morning wake up call with a light breakfast around the morning campfire. Being part of the Kalahari Desert system, the temperatures at Hwange can drop quite low during the nights and early morning during the winter (May - August).

    After breakfast, you will set out for your first full-day riding safari in Hwange National Park. Ride off into the wilderness to explore the area around Caterpillar camp. There are no set routes or paths, which gives riders the luxury to explore an area seldom market by hoof beats and to be truly in tune with nature: you will ride according to the weather and wildlife movements. Every day is an adventure! This morning, you can expect 3-4 hours in the saddle, perhaps following ancient elephant trails that wind their way through the bush. As you ride along, your guide James will tell you about the intricacies of the wild African Bush: how every blade of grass, lead, root and tree have an important part to play in the delicate Circle of Life.

    Back to camp for a lunch and siesta. After high tea, you meet the horses again for an afternoon ride.

    Dinner after the stars and night at camp.
  • Day 4 4 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 5-6 hours riding

    Hwange mobile camp
    Today you will ride out the entire day, taking a packed lunch so as not to disturb your pioneering explorations while the back-up staff prepare your camp in an exciting new location. Once again, there is no set route - you will ride according to local conditions. You never know what adventures wait around the corner.

    As you arrive at your new camp in the late afternoon, the horses are unsaddled, fed and watered to enjoy a well-deserved rest. You too get to enjoy a hot shower and cold sundowners as the sun dips below the horizon. African sunsets are truly glorious - it is an experience that will stay with you forever.

    Another sumptuous 3 course dinner awaits as you dine under the stars.
    Night at camp.
  • Day 5 5 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 5-6 hours riding

    Hwange mobile camp
    Rise and shine! It is time to explore this new area after the morning bush routine of tea and a light breakfast around the campfire. The Kennedy 2 area is your playground for the next three nights. You will explore numerous waterhole areas where wildlife abunds, and the extensive Acacia woodlands in search of the game.

    Dinner and overnight at camp.
  • Day 6 6 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 5-6 hours riding

    Hwange mobile camp
    Today will be either two rides out or a full-day ride, and may even include exploration of the Kennedy Pan area. It is not uncommon to see large herds of elephant and buffalo taking a refreshing drink there. Hwange is renowned for its large herds of elephant: meeting such majestic creatures on horseback is a fantastic experience. Plenty of other game can be seen, including the other Big Five species (rhino, leopard, lion and buffalo) and plains game such as giraffe, zebra, antelopes... And much more.

    Ride back to camp in the evening to relax before dinner.
    Overnight at camp.
  • Day 7 7 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 5-6 hours riding

    Hwange mobile camp
    Another day in the saddle in Hwange. Today is your last full day riding in Hwange from the mobile camp.
  • Day 8 8 : HWANGE RIDING SAFARI - 2h riding

    Iganyana camp
    You will set out on your last ride, meeting the horse truck and transfer vehicle in the bush. After saying your goodbyes, you will jump in the jeeps for a game drive on your way back to Iganyana for your last night.

    Dinner and overnight at the permanent camp.

    Transfer after breakfast back to Victoria Falls Airport. You will be taken to the airport by 11:00 for your departure time.

    Depending on departure times, we may sneak in a short game drive or walking safari before your transfer.

    Why not continue your trip to on to Zimbabwe (your game James organises wonderful walking safaris in Mana Pools - great for active guests), or South Africa, Victoria Falls or Mozambique ... Contact us for further details.
  • Day 10 10 : EUROPE

    You should arrive back home before midday.

Dates & prices

Price details

No departure for this destination. Please contact our travel advisers for more information.
- Flights are not included but we can assist with this on request. Rates are per person based on two riders sharing a twin or double tent.

- The usual group size is a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 international riders plus guides.

- Return transfers from Victoria Falls International airport are included. Please note these are set times transfers (see full itinerary).

- Single supplement: from $1050/£815/€895. This supplement is not applied to solo riders willing to share with another rider except in the high season (1st May - 31st October / 20th December - 5th January)

- Conservation fees and camping fees are not included and payable locally: $50 park fees and $115 camping fees. Subject to change without notice.

- Depending on availability, additional dates can be open for groups of 2+ riders. Please contact us. Please note that December, January and March are very wet with heavy rains - there will be no safaris in February.

- Non-riders catered for in Iganyana and on the mobile part of the safari with game drives. It is possible to have a separate walking guide but this will be an additional cost.

- Riders must be 14 year old or older, as long as they are proficient riders.

- 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
Groom(s) to help look after the horses


1 cook

Inland transport

Airport transfers


Mobile safari tent for 2 people on 5 nights, fixed safari tents on 2 nights at a permanent camp


Full board from dinner on day 2 to breakfast on day 9, including beverages

Price doesn't include


Visa fees
International flights


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


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



Single 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


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.

IMPORTANT: Riders over 90kg must contact us before booking.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You must be a competent rider, 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. You may also be required to jump small obstacles such as branches dislodged by elephants (although it is often possible to go around these).


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.

Tacking ability and participation

An English-speaking staff take care of all of the horses' needs.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

Riders must be in good physical condition and previous experience of a trail ride over several days is a considerable plus. Riders who do not ride regularly should get riding fit before departure.

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


Accommodation is provided in traditional safari tents. The first five nights of this riding safari are spent in a fully mobile camp, moved according to the game movement. On the last two nights guests are accommodated at Iganyana Tented Camp

Mobile camp: safari tents with camp beds and mattresses, all en-suite. Full bedding is provided. There is no electricity at camp, please make sure to bring spare batteries or portable solar charger. As Hwange is home to a healthy lion population, security is provided by a working electric fence surrounding camp at night. Important: depending on the local conditions, it is possible the camp will not move around as often as initially planned. Your guides will make their decisions with your best interests in mind.

Iganyana Tented Camp: a small, intimate camp. All tents are en-suite with flush toilets and hot showers. No electricity in the rooms but charging facilities are available in the main area.

Wi-Fi is not available.


Breakfast includes eggs, bacon, toast and sausage.
Lunch includes cold meat, salad, tomato, cucumber and cheese.
Dinner will consist of meat, vegetables and rice/potato/pasta.
All drinks are included in your package including soft drinks, gin, vodka, scotch, local beers and South African wines. Premium or imported drinks are not included.


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.

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! Each safari is led of James and supported by a back-up guide. First aid kit and satellite phones are carried at all times.


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

When you go on a horseback safari, it is best to wear clothes of a neutral colour (green, brown, beige or grey) that will blend in to the countryside. Please note that this list is a recommendation only and should be adapted depending on the season. If in doubt, please contact your adviser.

- A riding helmet is mandatory and you must take your own. 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).
- Sunhat for lunch break and game drives
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun, wind or rain

Upper body
- Polo shirts or long-sleeved shirts (to protect against the sun)
- 1 or 2 long-sleeved shirts for the evening
- 1 lightweight fleece or jumper (from September to June)
- 1 warm fleece or jumper (from May to September during the winter)
- 1 lightweight or warm waterproof jacket (depending on the season). It is always a good idea to wear a coat with a multitude of pockets to keep your cameras, snacks, other items in.

- 2 pairs of lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs in cotton with either mini or long chaps in leather or other synthetic materials - this will help to protect you against the long vegetation. We recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)
- Non-irritant cotton or synthetic underwear

Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half-chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite leather boots in case they get damaged
- Lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera - see below, lip balm etc)
- For your cameras, we strongly recommend keeping them in a dust-proof pouch, that can be attached to you whilst riding. It should be easily accessible and not take more than 2 seconds to take out of the pouch. Keeping your camera in your saddle bag is not ideal as by the time you have extracted the camera, you can be sure that whatever you wanted to take a picture of will have moved away!
- Sunscreen can be carried in saddlebags
- A soothing cream may be useful to treat areas irritated by long hours in the saddle

Photos & Extras
- We recommend bringing a camera with a zoom capacity of 200 or 300 mm to take photos of the animals on the plains and large panorama images of the countryside
- Bring a change of batteries. We recommend you bring a change of batteries and multiple memory cards
- A pair of binoculars can come in handy
- Before taking a photo of a person, you must always ask permission of the people concerned. You must consider the feelings/ opinions/ respect due to the possible subjects of your photos
-Throughout the world, and particularly in Africa, it is forbidden to take photos on or of administrative or military installations

Other useful items
- Travel bag 70-100 litres (hold luggage)
- Travel bag 25-30 litres (cabin bag)
- Water bottle (1.5 litres or 2 equivalent)
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Toiletries
- Swiss army knife or equivalent (in checked-in luggage!!)
- Small plastic bags for your rubbish
- Ear plugs (may be useful)

Medical kit
Make sure any allergies (to medication or otherwise) and clearly stated in your medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Anti-malaria pills
- Painkillers
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhea medication
- Vitamin C tablets
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Eye drops
- Hydrating/ soothing cream
- Plasters
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc..
- 10cm wide bandage
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

In your hold luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant over 100 ml and all bottles can be decanted into small, clear, plastic Ziplock bags. We recommend biodegradable washing products where possible.
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- In your hand luggage carry any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- If you wish to travel 'light' and wash your clothes throughout the ride, please bring with you laundry detergent that is biodegradable
- All waste that could be considered toxic (batteries, aerosols, batteries, empty cream tubes, film) needs to be kept with you and transported back to the UK, where recycling is done well and efficiently. Avoid, wherever possible, to bring with you unnecessary packaging

Visa & Health


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.

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 :


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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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.


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

Did you know?

On the blog

In August 2019, we were delighted to have Louise Carelsen escort one of our new rides: a riding safari in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Louise is not only a professional rider and horse trainer, she is also an expert in riding safaris and well used to navigating the bush. We couldn't have hoped for a better trail leader on this trip, alongside our superstar guide James Varden and his wife Janine, who together run our Zimbabwe safaris. Louise was kind enough to share an account of her adventures with us on the blog.