Combine up close game viewing from horseback with gourmet food cooked right in front of you at 3 luxurious safari camps on the Karongwe and Makalili Reserves. This programme offers more relaxed riding than the full Big 5 itinerary. Again no more than 7 experienced riders on this luxury safari.
Riding out into the bush each day gives you exciting close encounters with game such as lions, giraffe, zebra, hyena, rhino and hippo. Most days start with a long ride in the morning and, after enjoying an extensive lunch, experience one of the other activities on offer in the afternoon: a game drive which allows you to get closer to predators, a guided walk, or simply relaxing by the pool.
During this holiday you will be served food prepared and cooked by Robin, who trained at Kiltzer’s Kitchen in Knysna. Watch Robin at work in the open kitchen and feel free to chat to him about his methods and the ingredients he is using to create some truly special delights for you and your fellow riders! The camps themselves are made up of luxury tents and chalets and each has it’s own unique aspect and character.
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You will be picked up at Hoedspruit airport by the transfer service (around a 1 hour drive.) On arrival a light lunch or afternoon tea and coffee awaits you. Philip, your guide, will introduce you to the safety procedures before going on your first safari. This orientation ride takes you through the area surrounding the camp as you unwind from your journey and forget yourself in the peace of the African bush. This is your chance to become accustomed to our horses and riding style. We might even see the first giraffe or zebra. Sundowners, looking out towards the Drakensberg mountains, are a perfect prelude to the generous 3 course dinner, accompanied by hand-picked South African wines, which await you in our beautiful dining area, furnished with antique African art. The first night, with all its fantastic sounds and noises, is probably the most exciting one. Accommodation for these first two nights is in luxury safari tents with en-suite bathrooms, mounted on platforms above the Makhutswe River.
We wake you with tea or coffee in the morning. After a light, continental breakfast we are ready to mount our horses and go on safari. The weather will create our day. But usually we ride for 3-4 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours in the afternoon. After we return from our morning ride a big lunch awaits us with homemade quiches, pizzas or pancakes, freshly baked bread and lots of green salads, meats and cheeses. After lunch the hardest time of the day has arrived, siesta. You can spend your well deserved rest in your room, or at the swimming pool or may be you would like to improve your knowledge about Africa by reading one of our books provided in our library. Afternoon tea and coffee strengthen us for our next adventure. Our afternoon ride ends at a beautiful sundowner spot where drink in hand we enjoy an often colourful sunset!
Another exciting day awaits you. The morning is similar to the one on day 2, but today we will go on an exciting drive to our buffalo project in the afternoon. Gerti will take you to the furthest northern corner of the reserve, all along the Makuthswe River to hopefully find the beautiful beast. Over lunchtime you are welcome to have a relaxing massage by our therapist. There is a well prepared massage sala where everything is there for your comfort. Today is also the chance to acquire some of our merchandise material. From fleeces, fleecy jackets and sweatshirts to shirts, T-shirts, golf tops, hats, beanies to beads there is a beautiful and fashionable selection of safari outfits available.
Today we pack our bags and ride to a new camp in the Greater Makalali Game Reserve. The luggage will be brought by vehicle, whilst you set off on horseback. The new camp is situated on an open plain in front of a waterhole which is regularly visited by the local wildlife including hyenas, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, black rhino, elephants and lions. After the morning’s ride you will arrive at the camp with a big open kitchen where you can watch Robin cooking special and delightful meals. Robin learned to cook at Kiltzer’s Kitchen in Knysna and is passionate about his trade. Over the next few days he and his wife Claudia will be your hosts, arranging excellent meals cooked around the bush including some spectacular locations. Specially selected wines and cocktails will add to the tasting experience. In the afternoon you will join Robin or Claudia for a game walk or drive around the camp.
Today you will set out for a long ride in the morning, building up an appetite for more of Robins excellent cooking. Enjoy a glass of wine and watch him cooking in the bush kitchen or have a chat with Claudia about life in the bush. After your meal you set out on another drive or walk to track the local wildlife. In the evening a sumptuous bush dinner will be served around the campfire.
Moving on again, today you will ride to XiDulu camp. The gently undulating roads in this area lend themselves to long easy canters. Giraffe, zebras or wildebeest may pick up the pace and run by your side, elegantly maneuvering through the veldt. Spectacular views over big distances show you the way to XiDulu, our next camp for the night. This brand new camp is definitely of a five star level. The camp is privately owned and not used for commercial tourists. Robin and Claudia continue to be excellent hosts for the next 2 nights at this camp.
Waking to the rich colours of the sunrise we revive the fire for coffee and breakfast before embarking on our morning ride. The afternoon siesta is followed by a game drive. An open top Landrover will follow the directions of your native tracker as he reads the signs left by the big cats during the day. The resident guide, Patson, is exceptional with the many safari clients who opt to do another game drive with him, instead of a ride, as he is so knowledgeable and enthusiastic. After a long, slow Gin, watching the sunset, the drive continues into the night, where, with luck, some of the nocturnal wildlife will show its face. Bushbabies, owls, maybe even a leopard, may complete your day’s excitement. Dinners are served either at the edge of a big dam, in the dining area or outside under the stars in a torch lit boma.
A long ride lies ahead of us, leaving the XiDulu camp behind us, riding back to Wait A Little. What will we see on our way? This is always open to the wildlife; tracks of elephant, lion, rhino, and giraffe determine Philip's path. At home the team eagerly awaits your exciting tales whilst we enjoy another one of Ana’s fantastic lunches.
After breakfast you mount up for one last day out on safari. Track the animals with the knowledge you have picked up, or ask the guides if there is anything missing from your checklist! You can spend the afternoon having a well-deserved rest in your room or at the swimming pool, having a massage or simply drinking in the sights and sounds of the camp. Our afternoon ride ends at a beautiful sundowner spot where, drink in hand, we enjoy a last African sunset! The last sundowner on Wait A Little's open plain will be sad, but beautiful, impressive and absolutely unique. The African fever might have caught you as well and the goodbye can be hard. For your farewell dinner Gerti will choose something special - perhaps game fillets like kudu or eland served on pasta with sherry sauce.
An early wake up will get us on the horses quickly, so we can enjoy a short, sporty ride to finish your horse riding holiday before the transfer service brings you to the airport.
Please note that there is one single room available at all camps for no extra charge, subject to availability on request at the time of booking. Otherwise there is no single supplement payable if guests are willing to share accommodation.
Transfer prices are subject to change due to fluctuations in fuel prices.
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.
On this ride the predominant breed is the ‘South African Boerperd’. A beautiful and elegant type of horse, sensitive, responsive, well tempered, forward going and very brave. Other breeds used are Arab, Appaloosa and the American Quarter Horse ranging from 14.3 to 17hh. They are all well schooled, responsive, even tempered and in excellent condition.
There is a suitable horse (43 horses) for the competitive rider as well as for the steady hack. Every effort is made to match horse and rider. All horses are trained in basic dressage in the riding arena to ensure that your horse is responsive, well mannered and fun to ride. The training loosens their backs and softens their mouths so the horse is more in balance when on trail. All horses are spirited and forward going, some obviously more than others.
Using the right saddle for the right horse is a difficult task and it has taken your hosts years to figure out the right saddle for their safaris. It has to fit the horse first, but also has to be comfortable for the rider.
A longer stirrup is better when spending many hours in the saddle and after trying many different saddles ended up with a simple Dressage Saddle made by Bates, Australia. This has been the saddle of choice as the saddle flaps are not too long not like with other dressage saddles, the knee roll not too thick and one really has the option of shorter or longer stirrups. The air cushion system is very comfortable for rider and horse and long distant rides in these saddles are a pleasure.
Another type of saddle has been discovered for 2018 - The Scout ATPR, made by Stubben. This saddle conveys an extremely pleasant feeling to the rider, and moreover, due to the new and patented long panel system, which will remove stress from the horse’s back when the rider sits down, offers a particularly horse-friendly fit. It is between a general purpose and dressage saddle.
There are also still some Leon Liversage Endurance saddles which are specifically designed for long distance rides. The saddle distributes the weight equally on the horses back and is in addition very comfortable for the rider.
Seat savers and sheepskins are offered for comfort.
Almost all horses go in a loose ring snaffle. Two or three stronger horses go in a rubber Pelham or Portuguese gag for their own comfort.
Minimum riding ability is to post/rising trot and canter for stretches of 10 minutes at a time, to be comfortable at all paces and to be able to gallop out of trouble. It is a great advantage if you are a fit and proficient rider.
Sporty and long canters require a good level of riding. Bushwhacking with little jumps is one of Philips specialities and with a good balance it is great fun.
The minimum age is 12 years old. Children must be competent riders and able to follow directions from the guides. Please discuss with your travel consultant if you have children under 16 interested in this ride before booking
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Base camp: Accommodation is in huge double-bedded canvas safari tents on platforms individually built and furnished in luxurious African safari style with private outside bathroom. From the decks you enjoy a magnificent view over the Makhutswe River. You can enjoy a drink at the bar or relax at the swimming pool. The main area is equipped with a library giving you the chance to read about the wildlife, flora and fauna of South Africa. Please note that one single room is provided at all camps for people who don’t want to share accommodation without paying supplement, according to availability.
XiDulu has 5 rooms; 3 chalets with king size beds, and a honeymoon suite which is just a little bit bigger and has got its own private sala and fireplace. All rooms have inside and outside showers with hot water, a bath, toilet, air-conditioning and a private veranda. There is another smaller room in the main area, with a queen bed, inside and outside shower, basin, toilet and air-conditioning which is used for the single option. The main area has two dining areas, one outside eating area, a bar, a barbecue and an infinity pool with a built-in jacuzzi at the edge of the dam.
The food is a real highlight of this tour with a highly trained and passionate chef travelling with you to the camps to cook wonderful bush food served with specially selected wines and cocktails.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your return date and has at least 3 blank pages. If Visa’s are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.
NEW RULES ON TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN - DEC 2019:
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are required will no longer have to carry supporting documents. This is because they would have been required to provide these during the visa application process.
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are not required may be asked to produce supporting documents upon entry. Even though producing supporting documents is no longer compulsory, travellers are strongly advised to carry the supporting documents.
In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be sufficient to establish the identity of the parents of the travelling minor.
General Entry Requirement Information:
A valid passport is required for travel to South Africa for U.K. or most other European nationals. Technically, your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport meets this requirement. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages if you require a visa to enter the country. If you do not need a visa, one blank page will be sufficient. If you are visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa. If you overstay, you are likely to be declared undesirable and denied entry into South Africa in future. The enforcement of these penalties is strict, and appeals can take many months to process. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0230/0233.
In South Africa the UK High Commission is at No.19 Parliament Street, Cape Town, 8001, Tel +27 21461 7220.
The High Commission for the Republic of South Africa in the U.K is at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP. Telephone: (020) 7451 7299. Email: email@example.com.
There is almost year-round sunshine, it can get rather hot in the summer month (October-March) averaging 32°C. Don’t be surprised to find your late afternoon growing heavy with pregnant clouds and being refereshed a short drenching thunderstorm. Winter (April-September) is a sunny season of chilly early mornings, warm to hot midday’s (25° C) and cool to cold nights (can get down to 5° C at night in June and July).
Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended and if travelling to an area of Malaria risk in season we recommend speaking to your doctor about antimalarial medication. Current Malaria areas are; North-eastern Kwazulu-Natal, low altitude areas of Mpumalanga and low altitude areas of Limpopo. Malaria season is in the summer or rainy season. All travellers should avoid insect and tick bites day and night by using insect repellent and should wear adequate sun protection during the day.
According to the 2018 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence is high among the general population at 18.9%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS; avoid contact with bodily fluids and keep any cuts or wounds properly clean and covered.
We advise speaking to your doctor at least 8 weeks before your trip, to check the latest country-specific health advice and to see if you need any additional vaccinations or precautions while travelling. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. There is no reciprocal health care agreement between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Health and medical facilities are generally of a good standard and readily available near larger centres. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/ medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.
It is recommended you start anti-malarial precuations before arriving in the South African lowveld, see your doctor for details.
The electricity supply requires a 3-holed, round pinned adapter. If you have a European two pinned adapter you can buy an adapter at Johannesburg Airport.
There is electricity and WiFi available at the base camp and some of the other camps to enable you to recharge your camera equipment. It is advisable to bring any film/batteries you need with you.
Cameras: There are saddle bags available that fit small to medium sized cameras. Big cameras are not advisable as difficult to handle. However if you have to bring one your camera bag might be fitted onto the saddle if possible. It is not allowed for people to wear any cameras or bumbags that contain cameras or anything hard around their body.
Smart Phones: Smart Phones take great pictures, but are not so easy to handle from horseback. You can get clips for iPhones and androids at the airport that make them safer to hold in one hand whilst riding. You will be asked to keep the phone on silent and in flight mode on safari.
GoPros: GoPros have become very popular and are a great device for outdoor sports. However they can be very disappointing on a horse safari as the videos mainly consist of people from behind and due to the wide angle lens it’s also difficult to make out the animals. It also distracts from the animal sightings. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.
Bring the riding gear you are the most comfortable in as you will be spending many hours in the saddle - probably more then you are used to. New riding gear needs to be worn in, it is not a good idea to do this on an 8 day horse safari where you can spend up to 6 hours in the saddle in a warm climate!
Pack some jods and riding shoes in your hand-luggage, a change of underwear and a toothbrush and whatever else you think is absolutely necessary. If your bag gets lost it is of great advantage to have your well-fitting riding gear in hand. The ride can help you out with leisure clothes, but your own riding gear (in particular your boots) just fit better!
We do recommend wearing helmets, however it is not compulsory on this safari. If you decide to ride with a helmet, a good ventilated helmet has its advantages. There is a small collection of helmets on safari, but again, your own fits better and will be safer!
You have to have medical/travel insurance. Most insurance companies won’t insure you unless you wear a helmet, so be aware of that.
Make sure you have your travel documents and in particular, your travel/medical insurance details close to you.
Suggested packing list:
Riding hat or wide brimmed hat for sun protection
Jodhpurs or any kind of riding trousers,
Half or full chaps (there is a small election to borrow from the lodge but it is recommended to take your own)
Light cotton trousers to wear under chaps or in the evenings
Shorts for the midday break
Long sleeved shirts that give protection from the sun while riding
Riding shoes - comfortable riding boots with thin tread and low heels
Casual evening clothes
Sweat shirt or jersey
Warm jacket in winter (May to August)
Sunglasses (best secured on string)
Camera plus films/batteries/charging equipment
Laundry can be done at base camp. Beds are complete with sheets, duvets and duvet covers. Towels are provided.
This 10 day/9 night programme is available most weeks all year round including Christmas and New Year.
2020: Available on request throughout the year (please enquire.)
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‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers; ‘Memories of a Game Ranger’ – Harry Wolhunter; ‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman; ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton, ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ – Fitzpatrick, ‘A Chain of Voices’ – Andre Brink, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – Nelson Mandela. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Game drives including a night drive can be enjoyed during your stay.
The reserve is situated near the Kruger National Park and this area offers many other activities and excursions. Trips in the Park, Blyde River Canyon, the beautiful mountains of Magkobaskloof, visit of the orphan animal project at Tshukudu Game Lodge, the Snake Park, Kapama Cheetah Project or Moholoholo Bird Sanctuary can be organised. Very exciting is to join a research game drive on the Reserve. All these activities are at extra cost.
Game is plentiful on the Reserves including elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, wild dog, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, bushbuck, steenbok, duiker, impala, waterbuck, blackbacked and sidestriped jackal, honey badger, baboon, vervet monkey, mongoose, warthog, bushpig, tortoise; special nocturnal creatures are porcupine, aardvark, civet, genet, caracal, serval, spring hare; water species are hippo, crocodile, otter and terrapins. Lot's of bird species are seen, especially at the big dams and along the rivers.
With the background of the Drakensberg mountains, Karongwe Game Reserve covers an area of 30000ha prime African bushveld. The reserve has various ecosystems ranging from open plains, woodlands, hills and kopies, to riverine and gullies. The three rivers that cross the reserve are the lifeline of the region and supports an impressive population of big trees, plants and wildlife such as hippo, crocodile, bushbuck, kudu, nyala, waterbuck and many different species of birds.
Safety on the trail:
All rides are lead by Philip, a FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) qualified guide and followed by a back-up rider. All camps and vehicles have radio contact, research teams are monitoring the big game and the guide carries a hand held radio. A safety briefing is held at the beginning of the safari, how to handle big game situations. A first aid kit is carried on each ride.
Clients will be ask to sign an indemnity before going on safari.
South Africa's land area is 1,228,376 km.2 (larger than The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy & Germany combined). It borders Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland & Zimbabwe to the north, and entirely surrounds Lesotho (a total land border of 4,750 km.) It has a coastline of 2,954 km, with few natural harbours.
The average day in South Africa starts early so the main work of the day is complete before the sun starts to really burn. Shops are open from around 07.30am and it is also acceptable to call people at that time.
South Africa is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country. With its post-apartheid identity still in the process of definition, there is undoubtedly an abundance of energy and sense of progress about the place. The infrastructure is constantly improving, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife.
The international dialing code for South Africa is +27 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 time zone is GMT plus two hours.
Always collect your luggage on arrival at any local airport and take it through customs. Most of the South African smaller airports don’t have customs clearance. Even if the airline tells you that your luggage can be checked through, it is not true.
At local airports there are a lot of porters who can be of great help if you are in a hurry to find your check in counter or your gate. However they sometimes ask for a lot of money. R 50,00 is more then enough to give them when they have been of great help, if they have only pushed the trolley, R 20,00 should be enough.
If you travel by car and police stop you for speeding or something else you might have done wrong, don’t give them any cash money, always ask for a ticket. If they persist, ask to speak to their supervisor. Also the toll gates don’t take international credit cards.