Recently declared the 1,000th World Heritage Site, the unique Okavango Delta is a horse rider’s Eden: as the floodwaters spread down into the Kalahari sands, the herds and birdlife follow and horseback is the perfect place from which to observe them.
This Delta Ride is unlike any other. Rather than a permanent riding camp, a lightweight mobile camp is transported by a flotilla of mekoros (traditional dugout canoes) poled by members of the local community, who live on the fringes of the Delta and know it intimately. When the water levels are too low for the mekoros to navigate, a train of pack donkeys takes over. This camp is set up in variety of beautiful locations, how often camp is moved depends on the length of ride and game movements/weather.
The emphasis is on the experience, the loveliness of the Okavango, and top-level guiding. The riding and the horses are excellent, the wildlife is plentiful and the food (cooked over a log fire) is excellent. The camp is extremely comfortable: lightweight tents with standing room, fully made up stretcher beds, bucket showers and short drop loos.
An ideal ride for intermediate and experienced riders looking for an adventure.
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 JH of Arapiles on 29/11/2019
There is no set itinerary for this ride.
From Maun Airport it is only a 30 minute drive to the southern end of the Okavango where the safari begins at the so-called “buffalo fence”. Here, the horses are waiting; luggage is loaded onto mekoros and transported to camp whilst guests mount up and venture on horseback into the Delta.
Exploring this water wilderness on horseback is absolutely exhilarating, in particular a first encounter with elephants - an experience very different from viewing them from a vehicle.
Before the sun sets each night we ride into a secluded camp on a beautiful, remote island. There is no set itinerary, with the location of the camp dependent on water levels, wildlife movements and the length of the safari (the longer the safari the more likely the camp is to move). However every location is exquisite, there being a plentiful choice of shady treelined islands.
A typical day starts with an early wake-up call and a light breakfast around the camp fire as dawn breaks. The morning is spent on horseback, following ancient elephant trails, searching for a variety of wildlife, enjoying the prolific birdlife, and cantering through the recently flooded plains.
Herds of buffalo may be in the vicinity, giraffe often saunter by and red lechwe splash through the water alongside, whilst kudu peer out from the thickets. We return to camp for lunch and siesta in the dense shade of the giant jackalberry or leadwood trees. A meditative evening ride is spent listening to the sounds of the bush and the snorting and splashing of the horses, before returning to camp for dinner under the stars.
Occasionally guests (and horses) may wish to rest, which is the perfect opportunity for a tranquil ride in a mokoro, the traditional way of traversing the glittering, lily-lined lagoons and waterways. It is a chance too, to venture out on foot to appreciate the smaller creatures that inhabit the bush - or to learn some rudimentary tracking skills. No two days are the same, but every day is astonishing and it is a privilege to ride in this unique and untouched wilderness.
The Okavango Delta Ride can be added on to a number of safaris including the Kalahari Zebra Migration ride or any Botswana/South Africa/Namibia riding holiday. The Thamalakane River ride is ideal for the odd days between safaris in Botswana.
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.
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 22 horses to choose from - a suitable, well cared for horse will be chosen from a stable of some 20 horses made up of cross breeds which include Shire/TB, Boerperd/TB, Friesian/BP, Arab crosses and Quarter horse crosses. They range in size from 14.3h to 16.2h. There is a choice of well fitted English (Wintec) saddles and trail saddles. Each saddle has specially designed holders to carry 2 water bottles per rider. Guests are welcome to bring their own personal seat saver of choice. Lightweight riding helmets are compulsory for all children. Adults must adhere to the requirements of their insurance cover.
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!
Children are accepted but they must be strong, competent riders and over 12 years old. There is no adjustment in price for children.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The camp will be transported by a flotilla of mekoros poled by members of the local community bordering the Delta (and when the water levels are too low for this mode of transport we will instead use a train of pack donkeys with their handlers, again from the local community). There will be no vehicles involved and this along with working in partnership with the local community offers a genuinely “green” experience.
The camp is extremely comfortable: lightweight tents with standing room with fully made up stretcher beds. There is one bucket shower and one short drop toilet per 4 guests.
There is no single supplement for the first 2 riders in a group booking alone. After that the single supplement is applicable.
Meals are served around a table seated on chairs in the open. Food is cooked over a log fire often in front of the guests and is fabulous:
Standard light breakfast of cereals, fruit, toast. Healthy lunches with cold meats, cheeses and fresh salads. Three course dinner – wholesome safari food with soups, main courses and desserts.
As we try to travel as light as possible, please let us know your drinks preference and approximate daily consumption before departure so we only have to carry what we need.
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.
You should commence anti-malarial precautions before arrival, 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.
There no is electricity on-site to charge video and camera equipment. Please take all batteries and and film you may need with you. Personal solar chargers are recommended for charging cameras.
We recommend a light-weight riding hat.
A shade hat with strap.
Two pairs of light-weight riding shoes or 1 pair and 1 pair of long rubber boots for the flood season (May to September).
Sunglasses on string, riding gloves and bandana.
Bush colour riding clothes (not white which scares game or black which attracts insects):
* 2 pairs of cotton riding trousers.
* 2 long sleeved shirts.
* 1 jersey, fleece or multi- pocketed waistcoat.
* 1 light weight waterproof windbreaker jacket.
Shorts, T shirts, sarong, bathing costume and sandals.
Sun block, lip salve, insect repellant, talcum powder and malaria pills (consult your doctor).
Torch and binoculars (head torch strongly recommended).
Film and a camera on a strong shoulder strap, preferably in a waterproof pouch to be secured to your belt. Otherwise a strong zip lock plastic bag. There is no electricity available during the ride so bring spare batteries or a solar charger.
We recommend that you wear your riding clothes and boots on the plane to Maun and bring your hat and washbag as hand luggage as luggage sometimes gets delayed. We can lend you half chaps – long leather boots are impractical. Riding hats cannot be supplied so you must take your own.
Please use ONLY soft bags for luggage. The maximum weight for luggage is 15kg. There will be limited opportunities to do laundry, washing powder is available but there is no ironing.
Saddlebags and water bottles are provided.
There are set date 8 day/ 7 night programmes and also on request daily availability for groups of 2 or more with a minimum stay of 3 nights. Open all year round.
2021 Low season: 16 Jan; 2, 16 Feb; 1, 16 (FULL), 29 Mar; 2 Dec.
2021 Mid season: 11 Apr; 8, 16 May; 5, 23 Jun; 13, 21 Nov.
2021 High season: 3, 11, 28 (FULL) Jul; 7, 28 Aug; 18, 26 Sept; 16, 24 Oct.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||529|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||75|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||double pp||395|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||single supplement||75|
|2021 7 nights low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||2,795|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||double pp||465|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||single supplement||75|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||3,295|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||525|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||529|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||75|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||double pp||3,739|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||525|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||609|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||87|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||double pp||455|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||single supplement||87|
|2021 7 nights low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||3,229|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||double pp||539|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||single supplement||87|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||3,805|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||609|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||609|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||87|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||double pp||4,319|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||609|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||705|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||99|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||double pp||525|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||single supplement||99|
|2021 7 nights low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||3,729|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||double pp||619|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||single supplement||99|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||4,395|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||699|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||705|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||99|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||double pp||4,989|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||699|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||6,259|
|2020 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||889|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||double pp||4,659|
|2021 Per Night low season||per night||1||single supplement||889|
|2021 7 nights low season||8d/7n||6||double pp||33,105|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||double pp||5,505|
|2021 Per Night mid season||per night||1||single supplement||889|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||double pp||39,009|
|2021 7 nights mid season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||6,215|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||double pp||6,259|
|2021 Per Night high season||per night||1||single supplement||889|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||double pp||44,289|
|2021 7 nights high season||8d/7n||6||single supplement||6,215|
Mokoro rides and game walks.
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.
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.