This is a luxury horseback safari in Botswana, Africa. The Okavanga Delta is one of the premier wild life conservation areas in the world. The mighty Okavango River empties into the Kalahari desert and sinks into the ground there. It creates a watery paradise in the desert and is home to a huge diversity of game and bird species. There is permanent water and seasonal floods create large flood plains made for galloping on! Fishing, mokoro (dugout canoe) rides, walking and game drives are all possible here. To protect this unique environment the Botswanan government has adopted a policy of minimal infrastructure and limited numbers of visitors. With no roads and lots of water, horses are the ideal way of getting around.
PJ and Barney have built up a large stable of excellent horses and the quality of riding is superb on this ride. On this ride you have the opportunity to spend time in 3 different camps covering different areas of the Okavango Delta when staying for 5 or more nights, affording a more in depth view of the Delta compared to other destinations.
***No single supplement charge***
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 MP of London on 18/08/2019
5 NIGHT ITINERARY
A 5-night itinerary may take place on the first five nights of a 7 night itinerary. Guests would depart on day 6 after breakfast from Mokolwane or Kujwana camp (see transfer information below).
7 NIGHT ITINERARY
A 7-night itinerary starts on Saturday to Saturday, or Tuesday to Tuesday. The safari would ride between 2 camps, giving guests the opportunity to explore these areas.
10 NIGHT ITINERARY
A 10-night safari is for the adventurous traveller. The first 7 nights are the same as a the 7 night itinerary. Day 8 and 9 are spent in one of the fly camps. All these camps are well situated in big game areas. They are chosen for the variety of terrain & species that favour particular areas.
This is a sample itinerary which may vary according to water levels and game movements:
Day 1: Kujwana Camp
We will meet you at Maun airport and transfer you into camp. Options on transfers are available; fixed wing and helicopter shuttle is highly recommended. Flying into the delta is a special experience and the view from the helicopter is the finest way to start you safari. We serve lunch and given an introduction talk on safety and game viewing from horseback. This is followed by an orientation ride lasting 1-2 hours.
Day 2: Kujwana Camp
The wake up time each day is 1 hour before dawn to ensure the best game viewing. After breakfast, a morning game ride in the Xudum area. Wade through lush green malapos that lead you from island to island. Surprise a timid reedbuck out of its dense cover on a heavily wooded island or enjoy herds of lechwe and zebra moving through the open spaces. This area forms seasonal marshlands and hosts a variety of exceptional birdlife. Return to camp for lunch and a siesta followed by an afternoon game drive with sunset drinks and an evening night drive with a spot light to end, returning to camp for a three course candlelit meal.
Day 3: Mokolowane Camp
Ride from Kujwana to Mokolowane Camp. This is approximately 30km ride heading northwest. The route takes us through open floodplains and scattered islands towards the Matsebe river system, where we will see a wide variety of game. A picnic lunch is served on a shady island followed by siesta with camp beds, maybe a swim and then a further 2 hours ride to Mokolowane Camp. Arrive at sunset and enjoy a refreshing drink as you admire the stunning views over the floodplain. The open skylines of Mokolowane camp give a great opportunity for star gazing.
Day 4: Mokolowane Camp
A morning game drive. This camp is located on the Matsebe river system and features wide open floodplains interspersed with Mokolowane palms, favourite food of elephant and baboon. It is also a good area for plains' game. Alternatively you can take a peaceful mokoro trip up the river and enjoy the tranquility of the delta from our dugout canoes.
Day 5: Kujwana Camp
A full day's ride from Mokolowane to Kujwana with a picnic lunch along the way. The ride covers around 35 km, with 4 hours ridden in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. This ride goes trough variety of game areas fording the Xudum River at numerous hippo channels. Picinic lunch en route, arriving at Kujwana at sunset.
Day 6: Kujwana Camp
A morning ride around the East of Kujwana camp. Shady rain pans and thick riverine forest make this ride an an ideal opportunity to track a breeding herd of elephants. Snack break on the edge of a hippo pool before we ride into more open areas with a chance of catching a herd of buffalo moving through. Afternoon mokoro trip allows to relax whilst being poled through the wilderness surrounding Kujwana.
Day 7: Kujwana Camp
A full morning ride exploring the western Baobab area. Small islands linked by numerous hippo channels eventually lead you to Baobab Island. A good habitat for Cheetah and breading grounds for Carmine Bee eaters, our summer visitor. Baobab Island has thick riverine forest and is a good area for general game viewing (and the unexpected).
Day 8 Fly Camp
A morning ride east towards Beacon and Lion Island. These are two very large islands in the area, which are seperated from Kujwana by the Qwaapu River. The area is criss-crossed with game paths leading you through a chain of rain pans. This is an interesting contrast to the open floodplains. Mopane forests and acacia woodlands offer a good variety of food for elephant, kudu and giraffe. Breeding herds of elephant enjoy the security of the dense fores and should the pans be holding water, zebra, wildebeest and buffalo can also be found. Animal tracks abound telling you what has been and gone - or what you might still find. Afternoon bird walk gives the opportunity to learn more about the traditional use of the plants and trees in the area. We will finish the day in our fly camp set up under the stars in a true wilderness. We will arrive at the fly camp as the sun sets just in time for a three course bush dinner before spending the night with nothing but a mosquito net between you and the starts, drifting off to the sounds of the bush around you.
Day 9: Fly Camp
Start your day with the sunrise and enjoy a game drive back to Kujwana. After a hearty lunch there will be a 2 hour evening ride followed by sunset drinks on one of the floodplains. A lovely way to end an active day.
Day 10: Kujwana Camp
For your final day we head out for a morning ride to the pans. A hot spot for game, you can hope to find elephant, giraffe and large herds of zebra. Back in time for lunch and an afternoon powerboat trip up the river to look for the allusive Pels fishing owl or throw in a line and catch a delicious bream for dinner.
Day 11: Kujwana Camp
Early morning game ride out of Kujwana Camp if flight times allow. Guests leave after breafast. 1 hour's game drive to the nearest airstrip for transfer by light aircraft to Maun or a 20 min helicopter ride.
NB. Mokoros (dugout Canoes) are offered as an activity depending on water levels.
10 night itinerary - on day 6 the horses are sometimes rested & other activities are offered, i.e. Mokoro with picnic lunch, game drive or bird walk.
Please note: This itinerary is given for your guidance only and it may be altered in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
Kujwana camp is situated on the Xudum river south west of Chiefs Island in the Okavango Delta. The camp accommodates a maximum of 8 guests in spacious safari tents each with bathrooms en-suite.There's a small swimming pool too.
Fixed departure dates are published with a 5, 7 and 10 night safari offering the opportunity to explore the three main river systems in this area, the Xudum, Matsebi and the Kiri River. An area of over 2500 sq. km it is rich in wildlife and variety of fauna and flora. The areas between the three rivers contrast greatly and support different species of game and birds.
Mokolowane camp is north west of Kujwana on the Matsebi River. This camp is situated in the open flood plains, which receive floodwater 3 weeks earlier than Kujwana camp. The vegetation consists of smaller palm islands and wide-open spaces. Mokolowane is also an 8-bedded camp. The tree houses (accommodation) are 10 feet off the ground boasting superb views, each with private bathroom.
The Matsibe River is the main feeder for Lake Ngami
There are two spacious Riverside suites with spectacular views built on the river. The Hippo Cradle or The Elephant Wallow can be booked on request, depending on availability
Although the weight limit for this ride is 14 stone/90kg/200lbs, any riders weighing over 14 stone/90kg/200lbs will be charged a supplement of 50% for a second horse. A special programme may be available for clients over the weight limit, which offers shorter rides, game drives and walks.
Non-riders are welcome at Kujwana Camp and will enjoy their own personal safari game viewing on foot and by jeep with their own driver and guide, meeting up with the riders when possible. Please get in touch for a sample non-rider itinerary.
Option 1: Helicopter transfer - the helicopter transfer is a 25 minute scenic flight. This brings you directly from Maun to land on the camp island with plenty of time for afternoon activities. It offers a fantastic opportunity to view the Delta from tree top level and is the perfect way to start your safari. 2020 cost £275 per person one-way.
Option 2: Fixed Wing and Boat transfer to/from Maun Via Xaranna - please note that this option is only available seasonally, depending on water levels. 2020 cost: £210 per person one-way. Flight is 20mins, from the airstrip into camp takes 1 hour.
Option 3: Road and Boat transfer Maun to/from OHS - this is a 4 hour overland transfer, no activities on day of arrival or day of departure. 2020 cost: £100 per person one-way.
Transfers are for a minimum of 2 people, a supplement may apply for 1 person. Transfers to or from Maun should co-ordinate with Air Botswana's flight BP211 and BP212 and SAAir Link JNB to Maun & Maun to JNB.
It is possible to fly from OHS to Kasane for onward travel to Victoria Falls. This transfer is either fixed wing and heli or fixed wing and boat along with road transfers between Kasane and accommodation in Victoria Falls. Please enquire for cost and possible extensions which we can arrange.
5 night itinerary transfers
The 5 night suggested itinerary either departs from Mokolowane on the final morning, or from Kujwana. If transfers are out of Mokolowane there will be an extra helicopter transfer cost of £100 per person based on 2 people. Guests can also transfer via light aircraft from the Pom Pom airstrip for no extra transfer supplement. There is no extra transfer supplement for transfers out of Kujwana.
See the Okavango in action on BBC iplayer, as featured on Nature's Great Events
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. The Victoria Falls, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans or Chobe Park are all great extensions.
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.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
There are over 60 horses to choose from and all are lovingly looked after by Barney and her talented team. All are carefully selected and very well schooled. They have regular rest times and are grazed on the open plains up to twice a day. The horses also have time set aside for schooling by experienced riders to ensure they do not pick up bad habits from many different riders. The horses are often thoroughbred and cross with some Anglo Arab, pure Arab, American Saddle Bred crosses and Boerperds. They range in size from 14 to 17 hands high. The tack is English style and each saddle has a Heather Moffatt seatsaver for comfort. Australian Wintec and an assortment of leather saddles are used - Barnsby and Kieffer. Tack is of high quality and kept in immaculate condition. All horses go in snaffle bridles. PJ and Barney have a well-established reputation for the quality of both horses and tack. You are carefully matched to a horse and will be allocated a new horse every few days throughout your stay. This is to ensure the horses remain fresh as riding through water is very tiring. Depending on the height of the flood water there may be the opportunity to swim with your horse which is a fantastic experience! Expect to spend between 4-6 hours in the saddle a day. This is broken by refreshment stops en-route as well as a long lunch with siesta time! There is usually around a 10 minute walk for every two hours spent in the saddle which eases up the rider using different muscles, and helps the horse from constant pressure of the rider’s weight. The terrain has been described as a water meadow. The Okavango is a Delta not a swamp. Enjoy 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. Your dedicated and knowledgeable guides are not only qualified to lead the rides but they also have a keen interest in the flora and fauna of the Okavango Delta having grown up in the surrounding areas. As well as the bird-life you will also learn about the traditional uses of plants and trees of the Delta and what part they play in this very special eco-system.
For the safari riders should have a secure and independent seat and be in control of a horse at a walk, trot and canter and be able to gallop out of trouble. 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 and riders should be able to beat a hasty retreat if necessary!
You will be asked to dismount and walk short distances next to your horse occasionally to give them a rest and stretch your legs – not more than 10 minutes and over easy ground.
Although the weight limit for this ride is 15 stone/95kg/210lbs, any riders weighing over 14 stone/90kg/200lbs will be charged a supplement of 50% for a second horse. A special program is available for clients over the weight limit which offers shorter rides and game drives. Please note that guests who are over the weight limit or do not have sufficient riding skills will not be permitted to ride for their own safety and the safety of the group.
Children are accepted but they must be strong, competent riders, ideally holding a Pony Club certificate or similar. There is no adjustment in price for children.
The weight limit for this ride is 198 lb/90 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The Kujwana "base camp" is the permanent home of PJ and Barney and their horses and is set along the banks of the Xudum river, south west of Chief's Island. The camp consists of 6 very spacious and comfortable walk-in A frame tents with en-suite bathroom on decking equipped with hot water and solar power. Two are double and four have twin beds. There is also decking with tables and chairs to the front of the tents with views over the river. Your tent will contain fresh drinking water everyday as well as bug spray, a torch and soap and body lotion. A daily laundry service is available apart from on camp moving days. As all laundry is done by hand, washing powder is supplied in your tent for washing your underwear. The social area at Kujwana Camp boasts a stylish and comfortable dining area where guests can enjoy their meals all sat around the dining table together. There are also sofa's and a well-stocked bar area where there is always someone on hand to make you a drink. Iced soft drinks are available along with beer, cider, bottled water, and an assortment of spirits, all locally sourced. Cordials, tea and coffee are also freely available and house wine is served with dinner. Outside the dining area is an inviting campfire where riders meet for all meals and the all important sundowners and pre and post dinner drinks! Overlooking the campfire area and river is a treehouse which also comes complete with a comfortable seating area, coffee-table books and a bookcase containing gifts such as caps, t-shirts, postcards and books. There's a small swimming pool too. There is solar powered lighting all over camp and cameras and phones can be charged in the tree-house; they helpfully have a number of different plug adapters available to use. The second camp, Moklowane Camp (also known as 'Mok') is situated north west of Kujwana on the Matsebi river. This camp consists of tree houses 10 ft off the ground with superb views over the flood plains. Each treehouse comes complete with en-suite shower and toilet and decking areas with chairs and a coffee table. The treehouses are open-sided giving you a real sense of nature and the outdoors and the views are superb! Mosquito nets are provided. Again there is a central dining area, bar and campfire area. On the 10 night safaris if there are 4+ riders you will ride to the Fly Camp: a beautifully set up 'rustic' camp. Bedrolls with mosquito nets will be ready and set up in individual locations with private wash stands and bush loos. Bucket and pulley showers are serviced by cheerful staff with plenty of hot water. Whilst on safari a fantastic cook prepares 3 meals a day from whichever camp is being used. There may also be saddlebag picnic breakfasts and vehicle support picnic lunches. Emphasis is made on fresh vegetables and salads. Fresh bread is baked every day. Breakfasts are buffet style and you can choose from cereals, fresh bread and muffins, fruit, yoghurt, boiled eggs, juices, coffee, teas and water. Lunches at camp are usually 2 or 3 courses and the well-prepared food is usually served buffet style. This can be cold meats, salads, fresh bread and pasta. Dinners are served by candle light at the dining table where the wine and conversation flows. Each course is announced by the cook and the food is plentiful and varied.
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. 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.
1st OCTOBER 2016 - RULES ON TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN:
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.
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.
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 can start in October, with the occasional thunder shower. December to February are the wettest months.
Winter is May to the end of August. No rain. Evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.
The flood waters (different from rain) tend to arrive in May and recede by end September. This can vary considerably from year to year and depends on the timing and amount of rain which falls 4 months earlier in the catchment area over Angola. There are also large flood plains after heavy summer rains so mokoros can be operational in December/January/February/March too. Again this is heavily dependent on local rainfall and nto as reliable as the flood waters.
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.
It is strongly recommended you take anti malarial precautions when travelling to the Okavango Delta. Please see your doctor for details.
The area is Bilharzia free. The water in the tap comes from a well point in the river bed. Iced, boiled water is provided in the flask in your tent.
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.
There is solar electricity in camp with a generator back up so they can charge photographic equipment (and other electricals) in the main area during the day but only during sunlight hours. Adapter plugs are provided in the treehouse but if you wish to take your own then a South African adapter plug is needed.
There is no mobile phone reception in the Okavango Delta.
Please Note: Air Transfers are in light aircraft and there is a luggage weight restriction of 10 - 12 kg per person. Luggage must be packed in soft hold-all type bags. Any extra luggage can be left with their office in Maun.
Jodpurs - At least two pairs
Leather Chaps - Alternative to Jodpurs (or Half chaps)
Light Cotton Trousers - To wear under chaps
Shorts - For the midday break
Long sleeve shirt - Protection from the sun while riding
Socks - 2 changes per day
Rubber Flip Flops - 1 pair
Riding Shoes - 1 pair
Trainers - 1 pair or shoes to wear when not riding
Tracksuit/comfortable clothes - For evenings
Warm Jacket - Winter (April to September)
Hat Hard - for riding if preferred, wide brim / straw for shade
Plastic Poncho - Rainy season
All clothes should be neutral, khaki or bush coloured.
Antihistamine cream and pills
Camera, film, binoculars
Laundry can be done in camp.
Medical kit and snake bite kit
In each tent there is shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, liquid soap and a small soap
There are some hard hats to borrow, but to ensure a really good fit, it's best to bring your own
There are 3 programmes available - 5 or 10 nights or 7 nights. Each camp is situated to explore a different riverine system/area of the Delta. If you have the time a 10 night stay is highly recommended.
Arrivals/Departures on Saturday or Tuesday
2021 Low season: TBC
2021 Mid season: TBC
2021 High season: TBC
‘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).
Although the priority is riding, they offer alternative activities during the afternoons that are not day rides. A six hour morning ride can be tiring so afternoons are spent at leisurely pace with evening bird walks, mokoros (traditional dugout canoe), fishing (water levels permitting), game drives with sundowners and night drives.
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.
Non-riding partners can easily be accommodated. The itinerary is tailored to the individuals needs and would consist of game drives, bird walks and mokoro (canoe) rides. Please enquire for more details.
Clients will be asked to sign an indemnity in camp before they ride.
Clients are given personal attention and every detail is thought of. A demonstration is given at the beginning of the safari with a talk on how to handle big game situations. A limited assortment of half chaps and riding gloves are kept in the camp.
It is strongly recommended you take anti malarial precautions when travelling to the Okavango Delta. Please see your doctor for details. A medical kit is kept in the camp.
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.