A fantastic horseback safari in Botswana. This is a fast and exciting mobile tented safari in the "Land of the Giants". Here large herds of elephant roam and the "great, green, grey, greasy Limpopo" (in the words of Rudyard Kipling) meanders, where the mighty baobab stands tall and lions and hyena serenade you under the starry African night sky. For experienced and adventurous riders only. The Tuli Block is also home to a multitude of wildlife species and remains untouched by the invasion of man. The accommodation is luxurious in the base camp but consists of comfortable camping en route to give you the flavour of the real Africa.
Watch the live webcam at Pete's Pond watering hole in Mashatu Reserve. Peak activity is early morning and around sunset, the webcam is in GMT +2, so for the UK around 5am-9am or 4pm-6pm.
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 LB of Oberrieden on 01/05/2016
Upon arrival at the Pont Drift Border Post or Limpopo Valley Airfield, you will be met by a member of the Limpopo Horse Safaris team and transferred to our Reception area by the Stables. After a light lunch it’s time to head off to the stables to meet your horse for the week. You will embark on a short introductory ride to make sure that you and your horse are well suited(If time permits we will ride directly to Two Mashatus Camp otherwise back to the stables again). A refreshing drink at the stables, then you will head back to camp for a warm shower and a delicious dinner served in the Llala palm dining room of the Two Mashatus Camp.
The day begins at sunrise with tea/coffee brought to your tent, followed by a light breakfast. Mount up and head off in a northwesterly direction for Jwala Camp on the banks of the Jwala River. Six to seven hours are spent in the saddle enjoying the abundance of game and the magnificent scenery synonymous with the Land of the Giants. After arriving at Jwala Camp, lunch is the order of the day followed by a guided afternoon walk, examining the bush around you in detail. Dinner is prepared over an open fire by Martha or Grace – our truly brilliant chefs whose “bush cuisine” is renowned far and wide. Retire to your spacious tent where you will experience the “music” of the African bush as it gently serenades you to sleep.
An early wake up call heralds a new day and tea/coffee and a delicious light breakfast is served around the log fire. Test the amazingly sure-footed Boerperde as we cross over basalt ridges following age-old elephant trails and enjoy long sustained canters to make up for the lost time traversing the ridges. This ride will be about six to seven hours, arriving at Kgotla Camp for a late lunch. This is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The open-air traditional African enclosure is made of leadwood logs in the shade of a century old Mashatu tree. In the afternoon we have the option of visiting the local village to buy hand-crafted Llala palm curios, viewing Bushmen paintings and then enjoying a sundowner looking out over the Motloutse River. Back at the Kgotla, dinner is enjoyed around a large log fire after which the night is spent sleeping under the stars while listening in on the cacophony of sounds generated by the African bush orchestra.
We spend another night at Kgotla Camp, enjoying a full day exploring the sandstone formations including the famed Solomon’s Wall. Ancient civilizations harbored their wealth among these hills where two mighty rivers, the Limpopo and the Motloutse, meet. This days riding will be about four to five hours, leaving time in the afternoon to head to the archaeologically rich Mmamagwa hills where a 360 degree view of the reserve can be enjoyed as well as another beautiful African sunset.
Another early rise and a good breakfast around the log fire will set the morning off to a good start. Today you wind your way through the mopane bush before reaching the more open plains. This will probably be your longest day of riding of about seven hours. On arrival at Limpopo Camp you will be welcomed by a well-deserved drink and a refreshing lunch on the banks of the Limpopo river. Tonight is your opportunity to explore Mashatu from a game drive vehicle and try to locate the elusive leopard, wild dog, cheetah and lion the area is well known for.
This morning will begin a little slower as this day will be spent exploring the banks of the Mojale and Matabole Rivers, following their courses north towards the Zeederberg site before returning to Two Mashatus Camp. The day will offer riding up and down river banks, through riverine forest, game sightings and more fabulous photo opportunities. Today’s riding will be about five to six hours. Todays break is under the bows of an old Mashatu tree, where a century ago the Zeederberg transport riders had their midday break before finally reaching Fort Tuli. Spend the afternoon at leisure before you embark on a guided walk into the bush. The evening is enjoyed with sundowners around a log fire and a delicious meal to end another exhilarating and rewarding day.
Today’s ride is rich in history and offers a variety of interesting tales of the past. The open Pitsani plains, so characteristic of this area, are perfect for a faster ride, hopefully with zebra or wildebeest! You head in the direction of the Majale and Limpopo confluence where lunch awaits you upon return to the Two Mashatus camp. This ride is about five to six hours. Dinner is in the Llala palm rondavel. A dreamless sleep no doubt awaits you as the final day draws to a close.
Today is your last day in the bush and begins with your final early morning tea/coffee and breakfast snack over the open fire. The morning is spent riding along the Limpopo River. We head back to the stables where fond farewells are made to your steed. This is a shorter ride of about two hours, allowing you to get back to Two Mashatus with enough time to enjoy a hearty brunch and to get ready for departure. Then it’s off to Pont Drift in time for your return transfer to Johannesburg.
Accommodation on the Tuli Safari
Wilderness/Satellite Camps. Satellite campsites are set up in specific locations throughout the Mashatu Reserve. Accommodation is in A frame tents on comfortable beds with sheets and duvets. Facilities include a bucket shower and “bush-WC”. Meals are cooked over a camp fire.
The Kgotla. The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.
Two Mashatus Camp. Nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big A frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons.
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Tuli Safari Trail
The single supplement is 50% of the holiday price and is only charged if riders are not willing to share.
• Transfers to and from JHB International are by Road about 5.5 to 6 hours.
• The meeting point is in Terminal A, counter A65-A67 at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.
• Maximum of 8 guests and minimum of 2 guests
• Rate is inclusive of accommodation, riding, meals, teas and coffees, drinks, game drives , bush walks and laundry. Only transfers, tips and curios payable locally in cash.
• First and last two nights at the comfortable Two Mashatus camp
• Two nights at the Kgotla camp “sleeping under the stars”
• Two nights in different wilderness camps
• Elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah & wild dog country
• Starts and finishes on a Sunday
• Non riders welcome (game drives, cycling and walking available)
• For experienced riders only
• Children aged 12 and over are permitted providing they are travelling with an adult and are very competent 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.
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Naguar Fair, Rajastha - India
A combination of seeing rural India on horse back and visiting well know Fairs as well as including the sights of Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Delhi make these itineraries good all round visits to India.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Land Mammals of South Africa – Smithers
Okavango - Sea of Land, Land of Water - Anthony Bannister
Birds of Southern Africa - Ken Newman
Kalahari - Life's Variety in Dune and Delta – Michael Main
No1 Ladies Detective Agency series - Alexander McCall Smith
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.
The horses have been individually selected for their temperament and ride-ability. They have been carefully chosen from the various South African breeds which are well known for being of a tougher nature - able to cope under extreme conditions. These breeds include the Boerperd, the Basuto, Shire Cross Thoroughbreds, Appalosas, and the S.A. Warmblood. They range in size from 15h.h to 17 h.h, and are in an assortment of colours.
The schooling concentrates on classical English style, although they neck rein when in the bush. They are schooled to very high level and respond easily and lightly to the aids. Australian stock saddles, South African Mcllelans are used. In addition a selection of English saddles are available for those who prefer.
The riding is fast and exciting and at all paces, including a good fast gallop along sandy riverbeds, some jumps over fallen logs and steep descents. The terrain varies from sandy riverbeds, thick bush and rocky outcrops to vast open plains. Ideal for great riding!
For the Big Game safari riders should have a secure and independent seat and be in control of a horse at a walk, trot and canter. In addition riders should be fit enough to ride for 6 hours in a day and be able to trot and canter for 15 minute stretches. On this safari you will come face to face with Big Game such as elephant and buffalo which are present and riders should be able to beat a hasty retreat if necessary!
Children under the age of 16 years old are not permitted, unless they are experienced and competent riders, and the party they are with have reserved the safari exclusively. The children must be accompanied by a parent/adult with whom the responsibility for the child lies.
There is a weight limit of 15 stone / 95kg on this ride, exceptions may be made for experienced riders over 100kg, please enquire.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Two Mashatu's: This is situated close to the confluence of the Majale and Limpopo Rivers. A frame tents on teak platforms with ensuite enviro loo and shower under the stars with the view of the bush. A central rondavel is where you will dine.
Wilderness/ Satellite Camps: Satellite campsites are set up in specific locations throughout the Mashatu wilderness. Accommodation is in A Frame walk in tents on comfortable beds with sheets and duvets. Facilities include a bucket shower, and ensuite loo for most camps.
Meals are delicious and prepared on the open fire. The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre. Here you have hot running water for showers and a flushing loo!
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
The best time to visit Botswana is from April to October generally when the days are sunny and warm (25 celsius). Evening temperatures however drop sharply. Game viewing is good all year round. Temperatures begin to climb mid to late September. The rainy season begins in November, peaks in January and ends in March/April. Summer months are September to April. The rains can start in October, with the occasional thunder shower. December to February are the wettest months.
Winter is May to the end of August, it does not rain at all in winter although evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.
We strongly advise you to consult with your General Practitioner before travelling. The best medical advice regarding suitable immunisations and prophylaxis to enable you to travel safely requires knowledge of your medical history and therefore cannot be covered in this advice sheet. Recommendations are also subject to change and it is important to obtain the most up to date information available.
Anti-malaria precautions are not essential for this area since there is a very low risk in the area. If you do choose to take them they should be commenced prior to arrival in Botswana, for further details please see your local doctor or pharmacist. There may be other health risks, please contact your doctor regarding up to date vaccination advice prior to leaving. Full information for health requirements for visitors is also available from the Medical Advisory Service for Travelers Abroad who can be reached on 0113 238 7575 or at www.masta.org
There is electricity at the base camp of Two Mashatus, as well as WiFi and a USB camera recharging point is available. On the intervening nights there is no electricity, so bring any spare batteries you may need.
We recommend the use of neutral-coloured clothing (khaki, brown, beige and green) that blends in with the bush (no brightly coloured, or white clothing)
•Suitable riding gear.
•Jodhpurs or long trousers.
•Camera, film, binoculars.
•Long sleeved shirts or T-shirts.
•Walking shoes, hiking boots or ride/run boots.
•Half chaps recommended.
•Warm clothing (for winter, May to August).
•Waterproof raincoat(for Summer, from November to March).
•Sun hat that stays on.
Any personal toiletries that you require must be taken with you. Laundry can be done in camp. All bedrolls are complete with sheets, duvet and towels. A medical kit and snake bite kit are provided at camp.
Recognised riding hats are compulsory for any person under the age of 21
This programme is available April to October - the dry season in the Tuli Block for 8 days / 7 nights. This is to facilitate sleeping out along the trail. Other programmes available in November, February and March.
2017: 5, 12, 19, 26 Mar; 2, 9 16, 23, 30 (FULL) Apr; 7, 14, 21 (FULL), 28 May; 11, 18 Jun; 9, 16, 23 (FULL), 30 Jul; 6, 20, 27 Aug; 3 (FULL), 10 (FULL), 17, 24 (FULL) Sept; 1, 8 (FULL), 15, 22, 29 Oct; 5, 12, 19 Nov.
High Season: March 1 - April 30; July 1 - Jan 5
Low Season: May 1 - June 30; Jan 6 - Feb 29
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season||8d/7n||8||double pp||2,729|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season||8d/7n||8||double pp||2,325|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season||8d/7n||8||double pp||3,265|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season||8d/7n||8||double pp||2,775|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season||8d/7n||8||double pp||3,505|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season||8d/7n||8||double pp||2,979|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season||8d/7n||8||double pp||31,469|
|2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season||8d/7n||8||double pp||26,755|
Game is plentiful including elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, lechwe, reedbuck, bushbuck, steenbok, impala, roan antelope, duiker, waterbuck, tsesebe, bat-eared fox, sidestriped and black backed jackal, African wildcat, baboon, vervet monkey, honey badger, spotted hyena, mongoose, meerkat, warthog, tortoise and ostrich. Special nocturnal creatures – porcupine, aardwolf, aardvark, civet, genet, serval and spring hare. Water species – hippo, crocodile, cape clawless and spotted necked otter. Predators – leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog. Full safety instructions will be given and followed whilst viewing game.
Non riders can be accommodated on this ride - they will have their own guide for vehicle, walking and cycling game drives.
For riders guided walks and/or game drives are also done every afternoon from the camps.
Curios like T-shirts and caps small wooden animals etc are available to buy. Euros, pounds, USD or Rands are accepted. No credit cards - sorry!
Drinking Water - All water in the camps is filtered to the highest standards and is guaranteed perfectly safe for drinking
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.