This horse riding holiday is on a private game reserve situated high up in the rolling hills, far above the sugar cane fields near to the St Lucia Wetlands Reserve. The exclusive five star lodge has sweeping views in all directions. There are only 8 magnificent accommodations, spacious and beautifully appointed with quality interiors and large private balconies. The food is truly gourmet and the view from the restaurant is magnificent. The stables are a few kilometres downhill from the reserve and have approximately 21 Arab and cross horses. All levels of rider from beginners to advanced will find a lovely match here. The owner breeds Arab horses and the horses are in prime condition.

Plentiful plains game including the elusive Nyala antelope, giraffe, zebras, kudu, waterbuck, gnu, impala, warthogs etc are all present on the reserve and you may even be lucky and spot the elusive leopard. None of the species present are considered dangerous so it is possible to walk freely along the many self guided trails on the reserve although a bush guide is also on site and is highly recommended. When on horseback you will marvel at how close you can get to the game even beginners. After riding take a dip in the glorious swimming pool. Several excursions are possible - the big 5 including elephant, lion and rhino can be seen on a large neighbouring reserve from a vehicle and another excursion is a lovely relaxing river trip.

Read a personal ride review of this ride.

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 SP of Wilmington on 01/11/2019

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
The trip went beyond my fondest expectations!
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments



Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
Please give more details to explain your response:
This trip was one of the most diversified riding trips I've even been on. There aren't enough "excellent!" responses to accurately describe Zululand Private Game Reserve.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Nothing and please don't change a thing - it's perfect.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
The ride accommodated every level of rider and preference
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
Please give more details to explain your response:
Unicorn Trails did what they said they would. When I was unsure, the representatives were extremely helpful in finding exactly what suited my interests.
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
Any other comments:
I can't wait to go back. Africa stole my heart and it was because of the excellent, warm welcome followed up with exception professional hospitality. I can't say enough nice things.
Unicorn comments: Wow... it sound like you had the most amazing time and wonderful that your non riding husband enjoyed it as much as you did.

Tailor-made Programmes:
On the tailor-made programme you can choose how long you want to stay and which activities you would like to do each day. You can pick two activities each day including horse riding, game drives, guided bush walks, archery, target shooting with air rifles, and clay target/rifle shooting (additional cost). Horse riding for children under 10 is by prior arrangement only, babysitting services are available on-site.
Out-rides include cantering along sandy paths that criss-cross the stunning reserve stopiing only to watch zebra grazing or giraffe browsing the treetops. Back to the lodge for a dip in the pool or an afternoon activity after lunch. Some rides will take place in the early morning to avoid the heat before returning for a sumptious breakfast on the veranda.

2020: Ride, Relax and Big 5
This 7 night programme consists of 6 nights staying at the Private Game Reserve, giving you the time to relax, ride and soak up the cool South African vibe. 10 out-rides are included as part of the package as well as the usual numerous activities such as archery, hiking and target shooting. During the week you will then get the opportunity to stay at a nearby luxurious Big 5 Reserve (Amakhosi Lodge or Mkuze Falls Game Reserve) for 1 night, enjoying both an early morning and afternoon guided vehicle game drive to see the animals. Return transfers between the 2 lodges are included.

BIG 5 SAFARI & INDIAN OCEAN 14 June – 21 June 2020
Saturday, 13 June 2020: Depart United Kingdom on BA41 at 15h55 12-hour flight directly to Durban

Sunday, 14 June 2020: Arrive at King Shaka Airport in Durban at 05h30
Transfer by car to Pakamisa Lodge, 4 hours’ drive
Check in and lunch, afternoon Game drive & walk combination, meet the horses! The stables are a 4km drive away from the Lodge.
Drinks in the Bar and Dinner. 1. Night.

Monday, 15 June 2020:
After breakfast, drive to the stables, 2 hours horse ride in the private Pakamisa Reserve. Meet all kind of antelopes, warthogs, wildebeest and giraffes on your daily rides.
Lunch at the lodge, afternoon ride (1,5 hours), Dinner. 2. Night.

Tuesday, 16 June 2020: as Monday. 3. Night.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020:
07h30am: drive to the stables, 3 hours morning ride with a Bush breakfast
Lunch at Pakamisa Lodge, afternoon walk over the Pakamisa mountain and finishing up the day with the traditional Sundowner Drink! Dinner. 4. Night.

Thursday, 18 June 2020: as Monday. 5. Night.

Friday, 19 June 2020:
Early one hour ride, followed by breakfast. Check out of Pakamisa Lodge.
11h30: Depart by car to Thanda Tented Camp. 1h45 min drive.
Check in, lunch and depart for your first Game Drive in the Thanda BIG5 Reserve. Dinner and overnight in tents. 6. Night.

Saturday, 20 June 2020:
Early morning Game Drive, breakfast and check out around 11h30 am.
Drive to Umdloti, approx. 3 hours by car. Overnight in a B&B in Umdloti, a small idyllic village at the Indian Ocean, close to the King Shaka airport. Afternoon free for walking on beach and explore the village.
Dinner on own account, many nice restaurants along the Sea Promenade, safe area. 7. Night.

Sunday, 21 June 2020:
The BA flight departs at 07h40, we will organize your in-time transfer to be in time at the airport in order to catch your flight.

5 nights at Pakamisa Lodge, 1 night at Thanda Tented Game Reserve, 1 night in Umdloti
7 nights with 8 horse rides in the Pakamisa Reserve. Does NOT include international flights or transfers. Transfer costs will be calculated on how many participants. Min. of 4 riders and max of 6 riders.
Transfer costs for 4: R3500 per person, per 5: R2800 per person, per 6 people: 2400 per person.

Single Supplements
Paying the supplement guarantees a room to yourself. In the months of May, June and July the reserve is less busy and riders can often have a single room at no extra charge. At other times again no supplement will be charged if the reserve is not busy but this is most unlikely.

- Children under the age of 10 will usually be able to ride with prior arrangement, please enquire. 
- Under 4 years free of charge, sharing  parents room
- 4 to 12 years - applicable child rate, sharing parents room. Children 13-16 sharing with parents will be charged 3rd person rate, or the full adult rate if in a separate room.

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 this safari.

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.

Horses & Riding

Horse lovers will be impressed by the Zululand Arabian Stud. The Arabian horses were originally born and bred in Andalusia, Spain, by Isabella von Stepski who is renowned internationally as an Arabian expert. Isabella transported her entire stud from Spain to this special corner of Africa where these noble horses are thriving well. The first generation of the African-born Arabians are already galloping across the endless pastures.

All horses are worked under saddle and the proud breeder is only too happy to arrange riding excursions with the entire herd for guests with equestrian interest. The horses are ridden in English tack and are trained English way, all with snaffle mouths. They are well-schooled and responsive, yet calm. Sizes are from 14.3hh – 16hh with some Boerperd crosses, a South-African breed of sure footed bush horse.

An elegant but comfortable lounge and veranda at the Zululand Stables invite riders and their friends to enjoy pre-ride drinks and snacks as well as a delicious dinner in a very special setting at the end of a day in the saddle.

Rider requirements

•Any age or level of experience can be accommodated.
•Itineraries are flexible according to your abilities and requirements.
•Children accepted - riding for children under 10 years only by prior arrangement.
•The minimum age for the Safari Week is 12 years

Weight limit: 198 pounds (90 kg)
Hard hats can be borrowed.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

All buildings are of an almost palatial style and decorated to a very high standard with original art works and quality materials. There is a main lodge with reception lobby, large and well stocked library, living room with a huge fire place, lovely views and large veranda with cane furniture. There is a dining lodge with lobby, a large indoor dining are and fire place and large veranda with wonderful views.

There are 6 accommodation suites. Each has an entrance lobby, large bathroom with double basin, shower, bath tub, toilet and bidet. All finished to a very high standard. The bedroom area is slightly raised with king-size or twin beds. Up to two extra beds can be added to the rooms. Down a few steps is a sitting area with sofas, a well stocked mini-bar, coffee and tea making facilities, fresh biscuits and cakes, fresh fruit and double doors onto a private balcony with views over the bushveld. There is cane furniture on balcony.

A full size swimming pool and sun loungers are available for relaxtion and to take in the stunning views. The elegant El Prado restaurant with its reputation for pleasing the most fastidious gourmet strives for perfection in hospitality, entertainment and fine dining. This is five star dining. From a sumptuous full breakfast up to a light lunch with salads, quiches, home baked breads, afternoon tea and sundowners, romantic alfresco four course dining on the covered veranda, gala dinner with concert entertainment on occasion all in a stylish but comfortable atmosphere. The cuisine, as well as the wines and liquors from the cellar, are of the highest international standards.

Or a perfect day can be rounded off around a crackling campfire under the stars enjoying the natural nocturne of the African night. There is Wifi in all the rooms and main building.

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

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.

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:

Climate Summary

The best time to visit South Africa is from April to October generally when the days are sunny and warm (25 Celsius). Evening temperatures however drop sharply. This is also the best time for game viewing as animals gather around watering holes and the bush is dry and sparse. 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. October, November and February are the hottest months, with temperatures varying from 12 degrees C to 38 degrees C at midday. The rains usually start November, with the occasional thunder shower. December to February are the wettest months. Winter is May to the end of August with no rain. Evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.
In the hottest months, the rides will be early in the morning or a shorter afternoon ride.

Climate Chart


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.

Health (ride specific)

They do not have mosquito nets in the rooms, but do offer repellent in the room. They are a very low risk area for malaria.


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.

Film and Camera Equipment

It is recommended you bring plenty of film and batteries with you, however there will be some supplies available but they may not be exactly what you need.

Packing List

Khaki, green and bush colours – avoid white which scares the animals, and black attracts insects.
Riding hat or broad brimmed hat which stays firmly on your head- hard hats can be borrowed.
Riding pants - jeans or breeches 2 pairs
Riding boots, paddock boots or Riding sneakers (with heel) 2 pairs recommended
Half chaps (recommended) or full chaps
Riding gloves
Swimsuit and sarong
Lipbalm with sunscreen
Antihistamine cream/pills
Insect repellent
Sunglasses with string
Jumper or Jersey
Warm Jacket (May – August)
Plastic bags for wet clothing
T-shirts and shorts
Long sleeved shirts
Lightweight rainwear
Raincoat (seasonal)
Informal wear for evenings
Rubber flip flops
Mobile phone
Camera on strap with pouch and film & batteries
Binoculars (recommended)
Copy of your passport


This ride is available all year round and can be booked for any length of stay.

Departure Dates

2021 Tailor-made: all year round, any day arrival or departure.
2021 BIG 5 Safari & Indian Ocean TBC
2021 Ride, Relax and Big 5: TBC
Low Season: TBC
High Season: TBC

No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.

Paying the supplement guarantees a room to yourself. In the months of May, June and July the reserve is less busy and riders can often have a single room at no extra charge. At other times again no supplement will be charged if the reserve is not busy but this is most unlikely.

Recommended Reading

‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers;
‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman;
‘Kalahari – Life’s Variety in Dune and Delta’ – Michael Main.
‘Memories of a Game Ranger’ – Harry Wolhunter;
‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton,
‘Jock of the Bushveld’ – Fitzpatrick,
‘A Chain of Voices’ – Andre Brink,
‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – Nelson Mandela.
‘Over The Rainbow’ –Gavin Bell.
A range of interesting and inspiring equestrian travel books can be purchased from (part of the Long Rider’s Guild).

Other Activities

GAME DRIVE - Accompanied by an experienced game ranger, guests may traverse the entire reserve in an open safari vehicle. Your guide will explain the often-fascinating life cycles of everything from insects, plants and trees to the behaviour patterns of the mammals and birds, giving you a chance to experience at first hand the magic of the African wild.

GUIDED WALKS - Rejuvenate your spirit on long walks through the unspoiled bushveld. The numerous Bush walks are the best way to work up an appetite, these range from stalking trips with camera and binoculars to a comfortable stroll to a shaded picnic spot, where you will be surprised by a creative prepared Bush meal. Since none of the larger and more dangerous mammals roam the Private Game Reserve and access is restricted, you can look out for your own little corner of paradise.

BIRDWATCHING - More than 200 species have been recorded in the Zululand Game Reserve with many more occasional visitors and seasonal migrants. From soaring eagles overhead to the vivid sunbirds flitting through the shrubs, the area offers birdwatchers constant excitement.

BOTANICAL SEMINARS - With its wealth of plant life, Zululand can offer study tours and on-site botanical lectures conduct ed by local experts.

BIG FIVE PHOTOSAFARIS - Day-long excursions into the nearby national game reserves where guests may encounter and obtain close-up photographs of Africa's famous "Big Five" elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard.

GOLF – The reserve can arrange transport to the small but challenging nine-hole golf course in Pongola, a 40-minute drive from Zululand. Visitors are assured of a warm welcome on this well-maintained course.

Cultural tours to the nearby centers of the proud and colourful history of the Zulu people, including conducted tours of the famous battlefields of the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer wars.
St. Lucia World Heritage Site - wildlife observation and boat cruise through this vast coastal wetland.
Visits to local traditional Zulu villages, Zulu dancing and traditional Zulu arts and crafts.

FISHING - Expeditions to the nearby Jozini Dam (approximately one hour's drive) can be arranged for anglers seeking the legendary, hard-fighting Tiger fish and other freshwater species. The Jozini Dam, one of the largest in the region, is in a beautiful setting and an abundance of wildlife visits its shores. Our team will drive you there and back and organise everything you need for a memorable day's fishing.

SHOOTING - Zululand Paradise boasts its own shooting range in a fascinating mountain location (far removed from the hotel itself to avoid noise disturbance). Here a modern clay target FITASC-parcours as well as two target ranges (50 m and 100 m) are available for a thorough training session or, occasionally, for an exiting competition for "The Zululand Cup". Guns may be rented on-site and an experienced instructor is on hand to help throughout the shoots.
The end of a shooting session can be celebrated in the cosy clubhouse at the range where all can enjoy barbecues and happy hours.

CULINARY SPECIALITIES - The national dishes and drinks of specific countries are featured in turn.

SMALL-TALK AT THE POOLSIDE - The Rock Pool, sundecks and pool bar await your visit.

IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE - In winter weather, no better place than the roaring log fires in the magnificent Trophy Hall in the Main House.

AROUND THE CAMPFIRE - End your day under the brilliant star-lit African sky, surrounded by the incomparable symphony of wilderness' night music.

SPA TREATMENTS - Spa treatments are available at a local spa, which overlooks the breathtaking Pongola River. You can choose from of a variety of professional treatments while enjoying the wildlife and nature. Please enquire for a treatment and price list.

Please not that activities detailed in your itinerary are included in the cost; other activities mentioned above are available for an extra cost on-site.


On the reserve guests can expect to see leopard, giraffe, zebra, waterbuck, red hartebeest, warthog, bushpig, kudu, nyala, impala, bushbuck, common reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, grey and red duiker, steenbuck, klipspringer, baboon as well as many smaller mammals, predators and reptiles. The bird life, too, is prolific and varied.

Other Information

South Africa is a really diverse country. Zululand is situated not far from the Indian Ocean (50 km as the crow flies), about 30 km south west of the little town Pongola. Please have a look at the map below. This corner of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, the mountainous region at the border to the Kingdom of Swaziland, is scarcely populated and is counted amongst the most scenic regions of South Africa. The close proximity of the coast results in a moderate and temperate climate. Because there are no centers of industry or high density population, there is neither pollution nor social or political conflict.

A babysitting service is available.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Johannesburg (JNB)
2020: From Johannesburg R5800 for 1-4 people, approx. 5.5 hours. From Durban R4900 per vehicle for 1-4 people, approx. 4 hours. All prices each way. Please arrive before midday for transfers.
Flight Guide:
London - Johannesburg return £500 - £850.
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