water gallop
quick break
Boat safari
Elephant crossing water
Incredible bird life
Elephant herd
Sable antelope
guided walk
Lounge tent
View from tent
common room
mess tent
swimming pool
dinner is served
aerial view

Motswiri Camp offer personalised Riding and Walking safaris which are ideal for groups of mixed riders and non-riders. There is absolutely no need for non-riders to feel like second class citizens here as many guests don't ride. Riders have access to excellent quality horses and can enjoy game viewing and galloping through the famous water and sand island paradise of the Okavango Delta and participate in the walking, mokoro and boat safaris as they wish. The riding is not for beginners due to the big game present in the Okavango Delta.

You are based in the remote and beautiful north of the Okavango Delta at Motswiri Camp. Seasonally (April to October) there is the option of one or more nights out in an even more remote fly camp. Motswiri camp was completely renovated in 2010, and incorporates the latest in comfort and environmental standards - luxurious walk in tents with real beds and wardrobes, en suite hot showers and flush toilets - this is not roughing it by any stretch of the imagination. The camp is staffed by a team with more than 50 years' experience of hosting low impact safaris in Botswana.

The reserve's diverse vegetation results in superb birding, and it is home to giraffe, zebra, tsessebe, lion, leopard, cheetah and the rare roan antelope, sable and wild dog. Many large herds of elephant and buffalo migrate through the reserve during the year. The area is unusual in its clear definition between floodplains and permanently dry areas, making it uniquely suited to both riding and walking safaris. Whether you wish to spend your whole safari on a horse or on foot, or to mix the two, this destination has all the options. Videos of a ride briefing (how to ride with Big Game), elephant viewing and a gallop in the water are below. For more videos visit our You Tube Channel and select the Botswana Motswiri playlist.

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 JC of London on 03/03/2015

Ride Summary
For safety you need to be able to gallop from a start, potentially away from lions , elephants and buffalos . This was an extraordinary location - vaste savannah stretching away to the ever changing horizon . The camp was run immaculately and imaginatively with great charm
What was your overall impression of the holiday

Unicorn Trails sales staff
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Friendliness     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Speed of response     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Efficiency     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Knowledge     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Other(please specify) food and drink     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Riding tour leader
Professionalism     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Horsemanship     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Pacing of Ride     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (X) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern for Safety     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Leadership     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Friendliness/availability     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Culture     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Knowledge of local Flora/Fauna     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Concern with Environment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Language skills     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Additional Comments
You need to make it clear that this is a an advanced riding skills location if going for a horse riding holiday. My intermediate status as a rider was not good enough for long trail canters and gallops over many KMs. For safety you need to be able to gallop from a start, potentially away from lions , elephants and buffalos . Hence my 'fair' rating for the pace of riding above . I was 'relegated' to the game rides -which was fine and actually very productive as we saw animals closer( lions ) and were closer to the ground than is possible with riding. But horse riders need to be good.
Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (   ) Excellent     (X) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
only 2 days experience
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Camping Equipment     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Transfer arrangements     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Other office staff     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Other ride staff     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Weather     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
    (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
see riders competence comment . Also because of the drought there was no water/river there at all ! It did not matter but the idea of canoe/ river trips are dependent on a lot more floods and rain.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
see riders competence
What could we do to improve this ride?
make riding competence clear - but game drives and walking were very interesting
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:
see above - safety in escape from charging animals !
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
This was an extraordinary location - vaste savannah stretching away to the ever changing horizon . The location in the veld means that all sorts of wild animals visit the area at night . One night a scuffling in the bush by my tent showed a small elephant muching bushes in my torch light, 10 m away ! And lions , wild dog and hyena wander through regularly . Wonderful and no sense of fear -just watchfulness. The camp was run immaculately and imaginatively with great charm - set Dinner out in the veld or by their pool as a change for example; the local staff singing to us ( very good African harmonies) when I arrived and at my last dinner . The local guide , James, was very in tune with his environment and culture. Daphne the manager was very in charge - immaculate, gentle control and the horses were like babies to Carmen the wrangler .
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:
It was v. hot and it takes time to accustom oneself to 5.30 start! They have lunch at 11am after the first ride /drive.I would have thought coffee and biscuits and then lunch at the proper time of 12.30 -1pm . Then the last ride at 4.30 pm and dinner at 8pm . I asked themn to do this for me on my last 2 days and it suited the rhythm of the day perfectly .
Unicorn comments:

Day 1:
On arrival in Maun you are met and transferred by light aircraft to Motswiri Camp. The flight is approximately 40 minutes. On arrival at the airstrip, you are met and transferred to Motswiri Camp which is only a short drive away. Depending on your time of arrival, we will have a light lunch or tea with time to settle in before getting ready for the evening ride where you can get to know your horse. After the ride, we will return for a three course, candlelit dinner.

Day 2:
Awoken by a cup of tea or coffee in bed, followed by a light breakfast we then ride out for a longer ride along the spillway where we hope to see elephant, giraffe and if we are lucky, the rare and beautiful roan and sable antelope. We return back to camp for lunch then a well earned siesta and then off again for a gentle evening ride.

Day 3:
We leave camp early to head out again on a ride where you will explore more of this untouched and pristine bush, covering some 120,000 of uninhabited wilderness. En-route, there is a brunch waiting in a shady spot. The evening ride is spent exploring the Delta region to the East of camp. Later on, drinks and dinner are served again at camp.

Day 4:
We ride through different country, making our way through the majestic riverine forest along the Selinda Spillway where we may encounter giraffe or zebra while riding through the mopane woodlands. We return to camp for an afternoon relaxing, either on the viewing platform at camp or around the pool. Later on you will be given the choice to try out our canoes in camp or to go for a bush walk. You are more than welcome to ride again if you wish!

Day 5:
While staff pack up we leave for our fly camp riding West along the Selinda Spillway. On reaching ‘Little Motswiri’ we find our fly camp overlooking a breathtaking pool with superb birdlife. Here we stay for the night. The afternoon may be spent swimming or walking. Fires are lit at night to create a strong human presence to keep watch.

Day 6:
Having kept watch under the stars the next morning we splash through water along the false spillway to the North of the Selinda Spilway which is home to the elusive roan and sable antelope. En route, we are likely to see elephant, giraffe, zebra and impala. We head back to Motswiri camp for lunch.

Day 7:
For our last full day, depending on what we have seen over the past few days, we ride out to the East of Motswiri camp and towards the huge flood plains along the boundary of the concession area. The evening offers a last quiet ride with a surprise sundowner on your ride back to Motswiri.

Day 8:
For your final ride we will decide which route to take depending on what we have come across over the past few days. We will make sure that we get you back in plenty of time to get ready for your onward flight out of Motswiri.

Please note this horse riding safari is exciting but not strenuous. This itinerary only serves as a guide; all scenarios are dependent on the season and levels of the Okavango flood. 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. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary in any way and this is left to the discretion of the guides. Local weather conditions may also affect game movements.

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

We have between twenty and twenty four horses, ranging from Thoroughbreds to Boerperds, Arabs and Kalahari crosses, large to small. All are well schooled, well fed and cared for, well turned out and acclimatised to the area and to the game that you will encounter. We aim to offer a choice of English or trail saddles. Rides will not normally comprise more than six guests, and each ride is lead by a guide and accompanied by a back up. The terrain has been described as a water meadow. The Okavango is a Delta not a swamp. Palm islands, grassy flood plains, mopane forests and clear streams. Highest water is normally between May to September. Many of the flood plains are full at this time and the horses wade through from island to island. The going is normally quite good and firm along the edges of the islands allowing the ride to move on at a trot and canter. Depending on the group the ride can be at all paces and this ride offers some of the best riding in the world.

Rider requirements

You will need to feel confident about keeping up with the group, capable of riding at all paces.
You must be able to rise to the trot, and control your horse at all speeds including gallop. We endeavour to match the riding ability of those on the rides so that all travel at a pace that matches riding ability. You may also be required to gallop out of trouble. For these reasons the riding is for strong intermediate to advanced riders only.
Full medical and travel insurance is mandatory if you wish to ride whilst you are with us
The minimum riding age for this holiday is 12 years.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Motswiri is a small and personal camp, stylishly and comfortably rebuilt in 2010. It meets the latest, exacting environmental standards and is largely solar powered. We pride ourselves on our personal service, attention to detail and ability to tailor activities to suit individual ambitions and interests. Motswiri Camp offers 5 spacious safari tents with shower en-suite (flush toilet). There is a specially designed family unit with 2 bathrooms adjoined as well as a honeymoon tent with additional outside shower. All of the tents are attractively furnished with bedside tables, hanging cupboards, luggage rack, floor rugs, curtains, a desk and chairs. There is also a swimming pool and large mess area for relaxing in camp. The central mess area boasts a large, comfortable sitting area with separate dining. It has wonderful views of the spillway and the wildlife that is attracted to it to drink. There is a discreet sunbathing area with its own plunge pool to jump into when the going gets a bit too hot! Sited on the raised banks of the Spillway, the five tents are airy, spaced well apart and each has its own self-contained shower, loo and large decked veranda, and can be configured for double bed or twin accommodation. The communal areas and one of the five tents are specifically designed to cater for disabled guests. Three wholesome meals are provided per day using locally sourced ingredients including fresh meat, salad and vegetables. Lunches are often out of camp in a shady viewing spot, whilst dinners are candle-lit, three course affairs. Fly camp is a more rustic affair, though tents and beds are perfectly comfortable, with ample space to stand up and move about. Each tent is equipped with a long drop loo and bucket shower. A trip to fly camp enables access to the more remote areas of the reserve, where you will encounter differing landscapes and game viewing experiences. Fly camp closes during the rainy season, typically from December to March each year, though the precise beginning and end of the rainy season do vary.

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. 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.

Parents will have to provide an unabridged birth certificate for all travelling minors (children under 18yrs).
Minors travelling through Botswana's borders will be required to produce certified copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to their valid passports. In the event that one parent is not travelling with the child, the other parent's affidavit consenting to such travel should be presented.

Unabridged birth certificate applications can take up to eight weeks to complete. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents.

General information:

At the time of going to print visas are not required for UK passport holders and citizens of the Irish Republic, but please check before you depart.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0230/ 0233 or www.fco.gov.uk

In Botswana the UK High commission is at Queens Rd, The Mall, Gabarone Private Bag 0023 (tel 352841).

The Botswana High Commission in the U.K can be found at 6 Stratford Place, London W1C 1AY. Telephone: (020) 7499 0031.

Climate Summary

Botswana is a dry, landlocked country. The Delta's average annual rainfall is 450mm, most of it falling between December and March in the form of heavy afternoon thunderstorms.

December to February are hot wet months with daytime temperatures as high as 40°C, warm nights, and humidity levels fluctuating between 50 and 80%. From March to May the temperature becomes far more comfortable with a maximum of 30°C during the day and mild to cool nights. The rains quickly dry up leading into the dry, cold winter months of June to August. Daytime temperatures at this time of year are mild to warm but the temperatures begin to fall after sunset. Nights can be surprisingly cold in the Delta with temperatures barely above freezing.

September to November sees the heat and atmospheric pressure build up once more as the dry season slides into the rainy season. October is the most challenging month for visitors - daytime temperatures often push past 40C and the dryness is only occasionally broken by a sudden cloudburst.

Climate Chart
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg max temp°C 32 32 31 30 28 25 25 28 33 35 34 33
Avg max temp°F 90 90 88 87 82 77 77 82 91 95 93 91
Avg min temp°C 19 19 17 14 9 6 5 8 13 17 19 19
Avg min temp°F 66 66 63 58 48 43 42 47 55 63 66 66
Avg rainfall mm 108 98 72 25 6 1 0 0 3 17 48 83

Malaria exists in the northern parts of Botswana including the Okavango Delta. Southern Botswana has a low risk Malaria and mosquitoes are prevalent. Anyone intending to camp or walk in the bush should be cautious of tick bites.

Health care in Botswana is good but medical facilities and communications are limited outside urban areas. For serious medical treatment, medical evacuation to the UK or South Africa may be necessary. Private hospitals will not treat patients unless you can pay and health care may be expensive. Outpatients must pay cash before receiving treatment. Emergency patients will only be accepted if you have full insurance cover.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org. Or contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis.

Health (ride specific)

It is strongly recommended you take anti malarial precautions when travelling to the Okavango Delta. Please see your doctor for details.


The electricity supply is the same as in Euope - 220 volt and most appliances can be plugged in with appropriate adaptors which are widely available for purchase at airports.

Film and Camera Equipment

Take along plenty of spare films and batteries. There is no electricity in camp so you should bring everything you need with you.

Packing List

Luggage must be limited to a weight limit of 12kg (26lbs) per person, packed into soft holdall type bags, so as to fit into the light aircraft. Excess baggage can be stored in our Maun office.

We recommend that you bring the following:

Walking/Boating Riding
1 warm jersey or fleece
A shade hat with strap
1 lightweight waterproof windbreaker jacket
Two pairs of lightweight walking shoes
4 pr socks and underwear
2 prs Shorts, T-shirts
Bathing costume, flip flops/sandals
3 sets of bush colour clothes (not white or red)
Sun block, lip salve, medication
Torch and binoculars
Spare camera batteries

Riders only:
Lightweight riding hat
Riding chaps
2 pairs of riding breeches

We suggest bringing a spare set of camera batteries so one can be on charge whilst the other is in use. We provide a fully complimentary same day laundry service, but suggest you do not bring your favourite clothing on safari due to the risk of bleaching in the sun whilst drying after being washed. We advocate a waterproof camera for riding due to the risk of splashing and/or submersion in the delta - this risk is lower if you are walking or boating.


This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 8 days riding available to start on any date throughout the year. Other length stays available on request.

Departure Dates

2019 Low Season: 1 Dec - 31 March
2019 Mid Season: 1 Apr - 30 June; 1 - 30 Nov
2019 High Season: 1 Jul - 31 Oct

A single room can be booked for no extra supplement when available.
No of   
Riding days Product item description £
2019 Low Season per nightper night1double pp485
2019 Low Season per nightper night1Child under 12245
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1double pp649
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1Child under 12325
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1double pp729
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1Child under 12365
2019 Special Offerper night1double pp245
No of   
Riding days Product item description
2019 Low Season per nightper night1double pp545
2019 Low Season per nightper night1Child under 12275
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1double pp729
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1Child under 12365
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1double pp825
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1Child under 12409
2019 Special Offerper night1double pp275
No of   
Riding days Product item description $
2019 Low Season per nightper night1double pp615
2019 Low Season per nightper night1Child under 12309
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1double pp819
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1Child under 12409
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1double pp925
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1Child under 12465
2019 Special Offerper night1double pp325
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
2019 Low Season per nightper night1double pp5,965
2019 Low Season per nightper night1Child under 122,985
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1double pp7,975
2019 Mid Season per nightper night1Child under 123,985
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1double pp8,975
2019 Peak Season per nightper night1Child under 124,489
2019 Special Offerper night1double pp2,999
Recommended Reading

‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers; ‘Okavango – Sea of Land of Water’ – Anthony Bannister; ‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman; ‘Kalahari – Life’s Variety in Dune and Delta’ – Michael Main. A range of interesting and inspiring equestrian travel books can be purchased from www.horsetravelbooks.com (part of the Long Rider’s Guild).

Other Activities

We are fully equipped to welcome non-riders who will be looked after by a separate guide and be able to enjoy walking, mekoros, motor boating and game drives (water levels permitting).
Bring a good book for siesta periods. We can swim in spots that are' safe' but this depends on water levels & wildlife.


The safari operates in a private concession. 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 blackbacked 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, spring hare; water species - hippo, crocodile, cape clawless and spotted necked otter; predators - leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog.

Other Information

The Okavango delta is the largest inland delta in the world, flooding from April to October each year (varies by season). Summer rainfall from the Angolan highlands flows 1200 km in about a month and drains into the delta - approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water floods an area of some 15,000 square kilometres. The high temperature of the delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in a cycle of rising and falling water level. The flood peaks between June and August, during the dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from kilometres around and creating one of Africa's greatest concentrations of wildlife.
Raw Botswana supports and upholds the principles of sustainability and responsible eco-tourism. Our camp is constructed in accordance with the latest exacting environmental standards, and being constructed from canvas and timber has a lower footprint than many others. The camp is largely powered by solar energy and uses low energy bulbs. We support the local economy by sourcing our consumables locally where possible, and we remove all waste products from the reserve for recycling in Maun. Our safaris, being primarily horse or foot based, have a significantly lower impact on the environment through reduced vehicle use, reduced damage to roads and we believe that our low-volume photographic safaris are the most viable way to provide local employment opportunities whilst conserving the remote, wild Okavango Delta region.

Other Country Information

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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Maun, Botswana
2019: Light aircraft transfer from Maun into a private air strip in the Delta $315pp each way. Light aircraft transfer from Kasane into a private air strip in the Delta $390pp each way (a single supplement of 50% applies when only 1 traveller is on the flight)
Flight Guide:
London - Maun return £850 - £1200.
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