Rider watching zebra from horseback on safari

Horizon ranch

The ultimate riding holiday for those who love horses and riding. Based on one of the oldest family farms in this area of outstanding natural beauty you can join trail rides, horseback safaris or game drives to see the local wildlife, play polocrosse or even swim with your horse. This riding safari is perfect for all ages and abilities and is one of the best family riding holidays in Africa. Shane, Laura, Kirsty and their team will welcome you with open arms and make you feel at home... Welcome to Horizon Ranch!
Book now Print the details for this ride
Horseback Safari
10 days / 7 riding
From £1,876
Family holidays
from 4 y.o
Open to non-riders

From the horse’s mouth

  • Horizon ranch
    October 2022 Gabriella aged 23
    I went to Horizon on a solo trip and had the best time. All the people and the horses were great and the flow of each day was so well executed and thought through. The reserve was big and there was so much to see, not just animals but the NATURE and the VIEWS. I will hold this experience and this place close to my... Read all
  • Horizon ranch
    January 2015 Mandy aged 54
    Horizon is a very beautiful place for so many reasons.....I have ridden in many different countries and I don't think I have ever ridden anywhere so friendly. Shane and Laura and their team provide a genuinely warm welcome to all plus beautiful horses to suit riders of all abilities - there are over 80 horses and... Read all
  • Horizon horses by the lake
    Horizon is home to a large herd of horses, all safe and fun to ride
  • Rider on a horseback safari watching hippos
    Watching hippos on a riding safari in South Africa
  • Riders watching giraffe on horseback
    Riding with giraffe at Horizon!
  • Horizon horses by the lake
    Horizon is home to a large herd of horses, all safe and fun to ride
  • Riders riding into the Horizon lake
    Take the horses for a swim in the Horizon lake!
  • Polocross players at Horizon
    Playing polocross is an exciting addition to your safari
  • A family riding together in South Africa
    One of our finest family riding holidays in Africa
  • Hippo at Horizon lodge
    The Horizon lakes are home to pods of hippos
  • Camp Davidson in South Africa
    Camp Davidson, up on the escarpment
  • Rider jumping over a jump at Horizon safaris
    Experienced riders can have a go at the cross-country course
  • Aerial view of Horizon Lodge
    The rugged and simple beauty of Horizon Ranch

Itinerary

Highlights

- A horse lover's paradise with over 80 horses suitable for all abilities
- Rides are split into groups so that experienced riders can canter, whilst novice riders can take it slower
- Plenty of flexibility - you can arrive/depart on any day, stay as long as you like and ride as much or as little as you like. The rides are tailor-made to suit all guests and the team try to be as flexible as possible.
- The Waterbeg area is non-malarial and so it is not necessary to take anti-malarial medication
- Off-site visits to Big Five reserves can be arranged (at an extra cost - payable locally)
- Non-riders are welcome and riders of all abilities can be catered for
- Children are welcome and there are suitable ponies available whatever their ability. There are plenty of activities to keep children interested, such as a variety of mounted games and polocrosse
- Some local wildlife make their home on the farm - so you may see hippo, giraffe, zebra and various types of antelope
- You can combine your stay at the main lodge with a couple of nights in the tented Camp Davidson which is situated on the farm and only a short ride away
  • Day 1 1 : OVERNIGHT FLIGHT TO JOHANNESBURG

    International flight overnight to Johannesburg, arriving on Day 2
    .
  • Day 2 2 : JOHANNESBURG - WATERBERG

    Ranch Waterberg
    On your arrival, you will be met at Johannesburg airport and transferred to the ranch in the middle of the Waterberg plateau (c. 3.5 hours drive). You must arrive in the early morning to avail of the group transfer (please see dates and prices).A private transfer can be arranged at a different time for an extra cost if the listed flight times wouldn't suit your travel plans.

    You should arrive at the ranch in time for lunch and a chance to unpack and relax before your first afternoon ride. You will head out and have your first chance to explore the plains in search of game such as giraffe and zebra. Your evening will end with sundowners and dinner on the verandah.

    IMPORTANT : the following itinerary is just an example - the actual itinerary is flexible and will depend on your preferences and those of the group. Every night, your guide will talk you through the following day's programme.
  • Day 3 3 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    After breakfast, you will head out on horseback around the ranch, making the most of the long sandy tracks and looking out for zebra, giraffe, antelope and other game. Guests ride across an area of approximately 21,000 acres. The terrain is mostly sandy tracks through the bush and open plain areas. The going is easy on the horses and riders and most of the horses are unshod.

    The rides are tailor-made to suit all guests and the team try to be as flexible as possible.

    In the afternoon, you may choose to join a vehicle safari on a neighbouring reserve (at an extra cost, payable locally) to try to spot some of the 'Big 5' - large cats and elephants.

    You will head back to Horizon lodge for dinner in the evening.

    Please note: itinerary for the following days is given for indicative purposes only. You can do as much or as little as you like, and you only can decide what your day will look like!
  • Day 4 4 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    The group may be split into adults and children, or split according to ability as each group follows a programme of activities suited to their level.

    The youngsters can go off to try western games whilst the adults ride to the ranch owner’s homestead at Boschdraai for a tour of the farm, school and crèche.

    After lunch those interested can take the staff on at baseball, basketball or volleyball. Others can simply enjoy the joys of an African siesta, or perhaps a ride around the hippo pools.
  • Day 5 5 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    This morning you may opt to take a ride exploring more of the vast ranch lands, or relax by the pool at the lodge. Non-riding activities are possible and include guided bush walks, cycling, or fishing. Additional off-site activities can be booked on request at an extra cost (game drives in a nearby Big 5 reserve, night-sky safaris, zipline, elephant rides, massages etc)

    After lunch there will be an opportunity to have a go at polocrosse - a cross between polo and lacrosse, this fun and addictive game can be enjoyed by riders of all levels and ages. Splitting the group into teams of three, you will be taught the rules and aims of the game before launching right into a match!

    This may then be followed by a cooling swim with the horses in the dam before sundowners and dinner on the veranda.
  • Day 6 6 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    This morning, you may decide to go on a full day ride west of the lodge, taking you to the conservancy game reserve. This ride offers lovely long canters on sandy tracks and great game viewing opportunities on large plains, populated by a plethora of game: large herds of wildebeest, hartebeest, sable, eland and blesbok and impressive journeys of giraffe. Buffalo, ostrich, kudu, zebra, waterbuck and impala are also encountered.

    After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, riding back to Horizon in time for sundowners. Guests can choose to do as a day ride or overnight at one of the lodges within the conservancy, at an additional cost.
  • Day 7 7 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    Another morning where you get to decide what you would like to do: you may go on a full day ride west of the lodge, taking you to the conservancy game reserve. This ride offers lovely long canters on sandy tracks and great game viewing opportunities on large plains, populated by a plethora of game: large herds of wildebeest, hartebeest, sable, eland and blesbok and impressive journeys of giraffe. Buffalo, ostrich, kudu, zebra, waterbuck and impala are also encountered.

    After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, riding back to Horizon in time for sundowners. Guests can choose to do as a day ride or overnight at one of the lodges within the conservancy, at an additional cost.
  • Day 8 8 : WATERBERG RANCH

    Ranch Waterberg
    Today you may enjoy the pool or go for a ride in the surrounding area. There are also other non-riding activities available. Additional off-site activities can be booked on request at an extra cost (game drives in a nearby Big 5 reserve, night-sky safaris, zipline, elephant rides, massages etc)

    After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, riding back to Horizon in time for sundowners. Guests can choose to do as a day ride or overnight at one of the lodges within the conservancy, at an additional cost.
  • Day 9 9 : WATERBERG - JOHANNESBURG

    Early in the morning, you will have time for a final short ride before saying a fond farewell to your horse and the team.

    After lunch, at approx. 14:00 you will be transferred to Johannesburg airport for your flight home, which should be booked in the late evening - see dates and prices.
  • Day 10 10 : Home

    You will arrive in home during the early hours of the morning.

Dates & prices

Price details

PLEASE NOTE - AVAILABILITY AT HORIZON RANCH CAN CHANGE ON A DAILY BASIS. If no rooms are available over the listed dates, we may offer slightly different arrival/departure dates or offer rooms of a different standard. Please contact us for an accurate quotation.

- Flights to your destination are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- The rates above correspond to a 7 night stay in the lodge, per person sharing a standard twin room. Other room options are available and we will provide you with an accurate quote depending on room availability when you enquire. Please note that if the standard rooms are no longer available, a supplement applies for premium rooms.

- You can arrive and depart on any day and stay for as long as you like. The above dates are a guide only - please enquire for dates which suit you. We recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights, and you can stay up to 10 nights if you wish - you will not be bored!

- Airport transfers are at extra cost and currently approx. £138/$170/€155 per person, each way. These transfers are available at specific times:
> Departing Johannesburg - you will need a flight arriving by 9:30 a.m. latest
> Departing Horizon after lunch, for flights departing Johannesburg after 19:30 earliest.

If you require transfers outside of these timings, then private transfers are possible at extra cost:
> Private transfers: £324/$400/€365
If you require a transfer to/from Johannesburg city centre rather than the airport then a supplement is payable.

- Single supplements are payable for those who end up in a single room. Single supplements vary depending on which room type you stay in - please contact us. On certain weeks a single room is available on a first-come, first-served basis at no extra cost. Please contact us for details.

- There are discounts for children under 16 years of age if they are sharing a room with their parents

There are a number of alternative activities available which are payable locally. These activities also have a transport charge paid on site, vehicle charge is split between all guests (subject to change, please contact us for rates upon booking)

Entabeni Big Five Game Drive: GBP 40 (transfer included)
Adventure with Elephants: GBP 25 – GBP 50 (transfer not included)
Zipline: GBP 15 (transfer not included)
Town trip: FOC
Bush walk: FOC
African Culture Talk: GBP10
Star gazing: GBP 15 – GBP 20


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 assistant horse guide
1 English-speaking tour leader

Logistics

Team at the lodge (around 10 people - including your hosts and cooking staff)

Accommodation

single, double or 4 person room in lodge (depending on needs/ availablity and quoted accordingly)

Meals

Full-board from lunch on day 2 to lunch on day 9, drinks included

Equestrian Activities

Horseback rides on the ranch and neighbouring ranchers' land

Polocrosse (a game combining polo and lacrosse - suitable for all levels)
Swimming with the horses
Riding tuition for beginners (trail riding or dressage)

Price doesn't include

Meals

Personal extras

Transports

International flights
Airport Transfers (see price details for more information)

Extra

Tips to local team

Insurance

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

Accommodation

Single room supplement (if applicable - depending on the room)

Extras

Trip extensions or additional activities
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Equestrian info

Horses

Good selection of horses, of which approximately 65 are suitable for guests: Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Boerperds, Welsh ponies and various crossbreeds. There is a horse to suit everyone, from calm and sensible to instill confidence in nervous riders up to more spirited mounts for those who prefer it.
All are ridden in McLellan saddles which are South African trail saddles and comfortable for long hours in the saddle.
Hard hats are compulsory and we recommend you take your own to ensure the best fit.

Guide & local team

There are always at least two guides in each riding group - a lead guide who always speaks English and a back-up guide.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

All abilities can be catered for and groups are usually split according to ability, with experienced riders going on faster rides and novice riders taking it more steadily. However, groups can choose to ride together if they wish but the pace will be set by the weakest rider.

Only those with prior jumping experience (and a body protector) will be permitted on the small cross country course.

Hard hats are compulsory and we recommend that you take your own to ensure the best fit.

Non-riders are welcome but non-riding children under 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Rider weight limit: 85 kilos, 187 lbs, 13.3 st.

Pace

Game viewing is normally at a walk so as not to startle the animals, but there are opportunities for faster riding for those with the experience and desire. Two riding groups can set out each day so that those wishing for faster riding can do so, whilst those wanting a leisurely ride can enjoy the African landscape at their own pace.

Longer rides (up to 3-4 hours) are scheduled for morning rides, with afternoon rides being shorter (1-2 hours).

Tacking ability and participation

The horses are tacked up for you by the staff but you will be asked to untack and assist with turning your horse into the paddock at the end of the day.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

No special experiences required - suitable for all and riders ride out in groups of similar ability.

If you wish to jump then you need to be physically fit enough and have sufficient cover on your insurance. Apart from this there are no special requirements on this ride.

Equestrian equipment

McClellan trail rider saddles. These are specifically designed for long hours in the saddle. They are comfortable for the horses and rider on long distances. English saddles will only be used when jumping. The majority of the horses are ridden in snaffles.

Saddlebags are supplied.

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.
Body protectors are not supplied and if you wish to go cross-country jumping you must bring your own.

Travel info

Comfort

The lodge overlooks a beautiful lake and the large colonial verandah is the perfect spot to take in the beauty of South Africa.
You can choose between the double/twin ensuite rooms in the main house or upgrade to the luxurious, en-suite thatched rondavels, each set slightly away from the main house offering a private and cosy place to relax in after a long day in the saddle.
A pool enables guests to cool off after a hot African summer day.

Note: Power cuts are frequent in South Africa and we recommend all guests bring a high lumen torch or head torch.

Meals

Breakfast consists of cereal, fruit, eggs, toast, tea and coffee.
Lunch is usually light such as quiche and salad or lasagne or salad.
Afternoon tea with a selection of drinks and freshly baked cakes.
Dinner comprises three courses and there are plenty of vegetables on offer.
All drinks are included.

Meals are prepared on-site using fresh, local ingredients wherever possible. Vegetarians and special diets can be catered for with advance notice.

Climate

From November to December, the summer months become hotter and more humid with either continual rain or storms in the afternoon, on these days, you will head out to ride once the rains have stopped. At this time of year, mosquitoes and other insects are also more numerous and present in comparison to the winter months.

From January to March, the weather is usually drier and the days are very hot. Your morning rides finish earlier in order to avoid this heat. At this time of year, mosquitoes and other insects are also more present and numerous in comparison to the winter months.

In April, the vegetation starts to change, the green bush becomes brown and sparse throughout this period of autumn. The temperatures will drop during the night, however during the day it will still be hot with the possibility of storms in the afternoon.

In May and June, the winter months, the temperature lowers significantly at night and early in the morning. The vegetation becomes browner still and the tress lose their leaves. Due to the sparseness of the vegetation, visibility through the bush is improved.

From July to September, the weather is extremely dry with very cold nights. The temperature is also quite cool during your morning and end-of-afternoon excursions.

From October to November, the spring is at its peak dryness with hot winds and sparse vegetation. The first rains arrive at the end of October.

Tips

Tips are not expected but if you wish to leave a tip then we recommend c. £10 per guest per day for the entire local team - this can be given to your hosts to share out equally. You can tip in any currency (GBP, Euro, USD or Rand) by cash or card.

Packing list

This may sound strange but if you have any old clothes, shoes, or blankets that you would otherwise throw away and have some room in your luggage please do take it with you. Horizon is involved with local schools and creches and helps where possible with the Waterberg Welfare Society and its aids orphan program. As such they have lots of people who are grateful for any old clothing. Please do not feel you have to now go out and buy something to bring, or have to empty all your cupboards - it is not by any means expected - it is just that over the years so many people have expressed regret at not knowing how useful that item they threw away last week would have been to someone else.

Head
- Hard hats are compulsory and we recommend 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
- Waterproof jacket - particularly during the summer months (October - April) when there can be rain or thunderstorms
- 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
- 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

Nightwear

Other useful items
- A high lumen torch or head torch
- Swimsuit - for the pool or swimming your horse in the dam
- Binoculars for viewing game
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding

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

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...

Our Recommendations
- 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!
- A laundry service is available, which may mean that you can pack light

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?

There are a few different accommodation options when choosing a riding holiday at Horizon in South Africa.

You can either choose to stay at the main lodge, or to stay at their tented Camp Davidson, or to combine both and spend a few nights at each.

Camp Davidson comprises large canvas tents built onto wooden platforms, with private ensuite showers and toilets at the back. The camp is built on an escarpment with beautiful views across the valley. From Camp Davidson you ride out each morning in search of plains game such as antelope, zebra and giraffe. Dine out under the stars and experience the excitement of a bush camp. You ride the horses up to the camp on your first day and then they stay at camp with you each night in a corral.

The main lodge is built besides a dam, and this is where most of the herd live too. There are three accommodation options at the lodge. For couples or friends travelling together there are Rondavels - round cottages with thatched roofs and private bathrooms. At the front of the lodge and overlooking the dam are the two lakeside chalets. At the back of the main lodge are two garden chalets - these have an inter-linking verandah so are ideal for families, or singles. In the main house there are a couple of double rooms with private bathrooms - these rooms are smaller and generally reserved for single travellers as they incur no single supplement.

When staying at the main lodge there are many riding options. You can ride out across the ranch lands in search of game, or just enjoy the wide open spaces; or have a go at playing Polocrosse - fun and highly addictive! There are mounted Western games for adults and children alike or you can swim your horse in the dam, provided the hippo aren't in residence!

Each of the different room options is a different price, so ask us for a quote depending on your preferences and we will tailor-make your riding holiday in South Africa to suit you.

Customer reviews

Customer reviews

All of our reviews are real, honest opinions from riders who have recently travelled with us. Upon their return, our riders will receive an email inviting them to share their experiences from their trip. Good or bad, each review will be published on our website, provided that they respect our editorial guidelines.
  • Gabriella aged 23 Malmö 1 trip
    October 2022
    I went to Horizon on a solo trip and had the best time. All the people and the horses were great and the flow of each day was so well executed and thought through. The reserve was big and there was so much to see, not just animals but the NATURE and the VIEWS. I will hold this experience and this place close to my... Read all
    • Horses
    • Programme
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide
  • Mandy aged 54 CHESHIRE 2 trips
    January 2015
    Horizon is a very beautiful place for so many reasons.....I have ridden in many different countries and I don't think I have ever ridden anywhere so friendly. Shane and Laura and their team provide a genuinely warm welcome to all plus beautiful horses to suit riders of all abilities - there are over 80 horses and... Read all
    • Horses
    • Accommodation
    • Local guide