Set only 25 minutes from Maun on the edge of the Okavango Delta this safari is based in the luxurious Royal Tree Lodge and caters for riders of all levels including families with children. Operating throughout the year one can ride amongst the wildlife of the reserve and enjoy close encounters with giraffe, zebra and numerous species of antelope before exploring the picturesque Thamalakane and Boteti Rivers.
Long fast canters for riders, or more gentle rides for beginners take you through the endless acacia woodlands and past the local cattle posts before stopping for a sumptuous picnic breakfast under the magnificent jackal berry trees overlooking the river. Soaking water rides keep us cool on the way home.
The Thamalakane River was in full flow in 2012 after many years of drought as the exceptional flood waters of the Okavango Delta spilt over and inundated the land. As a result of this aquatic lifeline flowing through the dry Kalahari sands, a riding paradise was created. Towering riverine woodlands line the riverbanks, rich in bird life as kingfishers hover, storks probe the reed beds and the magnificent fish eagles’ cry pierces the tranquility.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from JH of Tetbury on 02/09/2012
The Thamalakane River Ride operates from the Royal Tree Lodge, a small, intimate lodge with luxurious accommodation. The lodge nestles in 400 acres of riverine trees and acacia woodland on the edge of the Thamalakane River. It is only a 25 minute drive from Maun but feels as if it is deep in the bush.
The eight en suite safari tents are stylishly appointed and superb meals are served in the main dining area or on an expansive shady deck under the majestic leadwood and bird plum trees. A refreshing swimming pool allows you to cool off in the heat of the day. A large variety of wildlife roams the reserve including giraffe, zebra, kudu, oryx, eland, springbok, impala, blesbok and duiker. The area is rich in birdlife with a large number of ostrich.
Mornings and afternoons are spent riding within the environs of the reserve where the resident wildlife have become relaxed with the horses presence allowing for close encounters and great photographic opportunities. Longer rides extend out of the reserve through the widespread acacia woodlands and along the exquisite Thamalakane River. Here opportunities for exciting canters, passing local cattle posts and jumping the odd fallen log, present themselves. The birdlife along the river is prolific and for the adventurous a water canter or a swim with the horses is a possibility.
Guided walks and birdwatching walks are available for those not wishing to ride and game drives in the Moremi Reserve or scenic flights over the Okavango Delta can be booked (and paid for) on site. Some mornings break the ride at a beautiful spot on the river’s edge and enjoy a sumptuous picnic breakfast before riding home and in the evening there is no better way to end the day than enjoying a sundowner on the river whilst listening to the chorus of the reed frogs.
The Thamalakane River Ride is suitable for riders of all abilities and families will find it particularly appealing. A minimum of two to three nights is recommended.
SAMPLE ITINERARY for a 3 night stay:
On arrival in Maun a short road transfer takes you to the Royal Tree Lodge. Once settled into your comfortable accommodation and having had lunch or afternoon tea you will join your guide for a safety briefing before being introduced to the horses. As the day cools down we set off for a fun afternoon ride around the environs of the reserve where the wildlife is wonderfully relaxed in the presence of the horses allowing for close encounters and great photographic opportunities. We arrive back before dark and enjoy a sundowner at the lodge followed by a delicious dinner.
Up with the dawn for a long morning ride. After a shorter stint with the wildlife we leave the Reserve and head off into the back country for some lovely long canters through the endless acacia woodlands with a choice of fallen logs to jump if you wish. We will be passing the occasional cattle posts and will have the opportunity to learn how the local Motswana live with their vast free roaming cattle herds. As the morning warms up we head for the cool riverine woodlands of the Thamalakane River where a sumptuous breakfast set up in the shade of the jackalberry trees has been prepared. With appetites duly satiated a leisurely ride takes us along the river whilst enjoying the
numerous waterbirds and of course some splashing canters through the shallow waters!
Lunch back at the lodge will be followed by a pleasant siesta and in the afternoon a short walk to the river’s edge where we alight a boat for an afternoon on the water with wonderful bird watching, fishing and of course our favourite sundowners!
Up with the dawn and breakfast before mounting up for an all day ride to explore further afield, hopefully reaching the “junction” where the Thamalakane River splits into two – the Nhabe heading west to Lake Ngami and the Boteti heading east to the
Makgadikgadi. These rivers were the lifeline that allowed the early explorers, hunters and traders to penetrate deep into this area with David Livingstone being the first European to see the famous Lake Ngami having spent many thirsty days crossing the Kalahari before reaching the Boteti. Picnic lunch is in the shade of the evergreen mangosteen trees and for some there may be a temptation to have a swim. The river will guide us home and if the water levels are low enough we may cross the river and ride back on the north bank looking out for the resident hippos as they become more active with the setting sun.
A last early morning ride through the Reserve followed by a welcome hearty breakfast before heading on to your next exciting destination.
Please note: This itinerary only serves as a guide; all scenarios are dependent on the season and local conditions. At times it may not be possible to go on fly camps and during cooler months one longer ride may replace the normal morning and evening rides. Local weather conditions may also affect game movements.
The Thamalakane River ride can be added on to a number of safaris including the Makgadikgadi Pans ride or any Botswana/South Africa/Namibia riding holiday. The Thamalakane River ride can be booked for any length and is eminently suitable for families and less confident riders as there is no dangerous game present and the pace can be adapted to suit the wishes of the riders.
Why not spoil yourself with a few days on a tropical beach after your safari? We recommend one of our Mozambiquan Beach Extensions as an ideal way to round off a safari.
Riders who booked this ride also considered:
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are 22 horses to choose from - A suitable well cared for horse will be chosen from a stable of some 20 horses made up of cross breeds which include Shire/TB, Boerperd/TB, Friesian/BP, Arab crosses, Quarter horse crosses. They range in size from 14.3h to 16.2h. There is a choice of well fitted English (Wintec) saddles and trail saddles. Each saddle has specially designed holders to carry 2 water bottles per rider. Guests are welcome to bring their own personal seat saver of choice. Light weight riding helmets are compulsory for all children. Adults must adhere to the requirements of their insurance cover.
Riding is for all levels. Riding hats are compulsory for children. The minimum riding age for this holiday is 10 years.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The Thamalakane River part of the ride operates from the Royal Tree Lodge, a small, intimate lodge with luxurious accommodation. The lodge nestles in 400 acres of riverine trees and acacia woodland on the edge of the Thamalakane River. It is only a 25 minute drive from Maun but feels as if it is deep in the bush. The eight en suite safari tents and chalets are stylishly appointed and superb meals are served in the main dining area or on an expansive shady deck under the majestic leadwood and bird plum trees. A refreshing swimming pool allows you to cool off in the heat of the day. A large variety of wildlife roams the reserve including giraffe, zebra, kudu, oryx, eland, springbok, impala, blesbok and duiker. The area is rich in birdlife with a large number of ostrich. It is renowned for menus that emphasise fresh tastes and originality. Please inform Reservations of any dietary requirements prior to travel – and confirm upon arrival.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
You should commence anti-malarial precautions before arrival, please see your doctor for details.
There is electricity onsite to charge video and camera equipment. Please take all batteries and and film you may need with you.
We recommend a light-weight riding hat.
A shade hat with strap.
Two pairs of light-weight riding shoes or 1 pair and 1 pair of long rubber boots for the flood season (May to end of August).
Sunglasses on string, riding gloves and bandana.
Bush colour riding clothes (not white which scares game or black which attracts insects):
* 2 pairs of cotton riding trousers.
* 2 long sleeved shirts.
* 1 jersey, fleece or multi- pocketed waistcoat.
* 1 light weight waterproof windbreaker jacket.
Shorts, T shirts, sarong, bathing costume and sandals.
Sun block, lip salve, insect repellant, talcum powder and malaria pills (consult your doctor).
Torch and binoculars.
Film and a camera on a strong shoulder strap, preferably in a waterproof pouch to be secured to your belt. Otherwise a strong zip lock plastic bag.
We recommend that you wear your riding clothes and boots on the plane to Maun and bring your hat and washbag as handluggage as luggage sometimes gets delayed. They can lend you half chaps – long leather boots are impractical. They do not have riding hats to lend to riders so you must bring your own.
There is a daily laundry service in the camp.
Saddlebags and water bottles are provided.
Any day arrival, open all year round; min stay 3 nights.
All year round (high season 1 Jul - 31 Oct).
Single supplements are only payable in high season (July-October inclusive) and for those unwilling to share a room.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||345|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||single supplement||72|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||285|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||379|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||72|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||359|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||299|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||395|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||95|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||Child under 12||325|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||379|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||single supplement||79|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||315|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||415|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||79|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||395|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||325|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||429|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||105|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||Child under 12||355|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||435|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||single supplement||90|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||359|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||475|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||90|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||455|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||375|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||495|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||119|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||Child under 12||409|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||3,635|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||single supplement||755|
|2017 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||3,009|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||3,969|
|2017 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||755|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||per person per night||3,805|
|2018 - Low Season||per night||1||Child under 12||3,135|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||per person per night||4,139|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||single supplement||995|
|2018 - High Season||per night||1||Child under 12||3,425|
Thamalakane River - A large variety of wildlife roams the reserve including giraffe, zebra, kudu, oryx, eland, springbok, impala, blesbok and duiker. The area is rich in birdlife with a large number of ostrich and attracts a good number of waterbirds such as Greyheaded Gull, African Darter and White Pelican along with a variety of Ducks and Herons as well as the unmistakeable African Fish Eagle. The Riverine woodland along the river is home to, among others, African Green Pigeon, Golden Weaver and Hartlaub's Babbler as well as Barn Owl, Pearlspotted Owlet and African Scops-Owl which can be heard calling at night.
The Thamalakane River is a river located in Botswana, Africa, at the southern end of the Okavango Delta. It has no well defined beginning (spring) and no clear end (delta). It is the result of the Thamalakane fault - which began to form about two million years ago by the geological process of rifting that is currently splitting Africa apart along the Great Rift Valley.
Botswana is a landlocked country situated in southern Africa. The climate ranges from semi-arid to sub-tropical. The Kalahari Desert dominates southern and western Botswana; the extreme south-west experiences near desert conditions, while eastern Botswana, though prone to drought, has adequate rainfall to support arable farming.
Beyond the narrow eastern corridor where the majority of the population is concentrated, Botswana is a largely roadless wilderness of savannas, deserts, wetlands and salt pans. Wildlife and livestock can make driving hazardous so driving at night should be avioded.
Botswana is two hours ahead of GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code for Botswana is +267.