Cantering in the Okavango Delta flood plains
Okavango Delta Ride
Delta Water Canter Okavango Delta Ride
Campsite Okavango Delta Ride
Okavango Delta Ride
Delta Water Canter Okavango Delta Ride
Tent Interior Okavango Delta Ride
Lunch at Xai Xai - Okavango Delta Ride
Riding through deep watger in the Okavango Delta
Splash! Okavango Delta Ride
Okavango Delta Ride
Elephants in the Okavango Delta water
Riding under large trees on an island in the Okavango Delta
Elepephant viewing from horseback in the Okavango Delta
Giraffe from horseback in the Okavango Delta
Horse at the lunch picnic table
Kudu in the early morning light
Mokoros with provisions being piloted in the Okavango Delta
Riding on plam islands in the Okavango Delta
Horses walking through deep water in the Okavango Delta
Crossong a deep channel on horseback in the Okavango Delta
Elephants at the lunch table on Okavango horse ride

Recently declared the 1,000th World Heritage Site, the unique Okavango Delta is a horseback 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 equestrian adventure 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 horseback riding and the horses are excellent, the wildlife is plentiful, and the food (cooked over a log fire) is delicious. 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 horseback 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 AC of New York on 17/01/2023

Ride Summary
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Horses and Tack

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Meals

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Miscellaneous

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There is no set itinerary for this ride.

From Maun Airport it is only a 30-45 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 mokoros 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 guests 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 with a plentiful choice of shady tree-lined 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. 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.

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.

Horses & Riding

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.


Rider requirements

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.

Weight Limit

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 within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling. Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. If travelling with children under 18-years-old be sure to check if an unabridged birth certificate is required.

Immigration arrival: Please make sure that your passport is stamped with a normal visitor’s visa for South Africa – NOT an “in-transit” stamp – as you will be entering South Africa. VISA: Please check if you are required to apply visas for both South Africa & Botswana (not applicable to UK, US citizens & Most EU countries – a visitor’s visa is given on arrival FOC). If one is required, it should be a multiple entry visa for RSA, as guests will be entering South Africa from Botswana, through customs and immigration to check-in for their outbound international flight. If guests are traveling with a child under the age of 18, there are strict entry requirements for children arriving from certain countries.

Please contact us should you require any further information on this. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/botswana In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Botswana.html In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/botswana


Climate Summary

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.

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

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.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Botswana and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Health (ride specific)

You should commence anti-malarial precautions before arrival, please see your doctor for details.

Electricity

In Botswana the standard voltage is 230 V and the frequency is 50 Hz. You can use your electric appliances in Botswana, if the standard voltage in your country is in between 220 - 240 V (as is in the UK, Europe, Australia and most of Asia and Africa).

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

We recommend that you bring:
* A light-weight riding hat
* A shade hat with strap
* Light-weight riding shoes (2 pairs)
* Sunglasses on string, riding gloves and bandana
* Bush colour riding clothes (not white)
* Jodhpurs or long trousers and chaps (2 pairs)
* Long sleeved cotton shirts
* Jersey, fleece or multi- pocketed waistcoat
* Light weight waterproof windbreaker jacket
* 4 x sets of socks and underwear (we recommend unpadded cycling shorts for men)
* Shorts, T shirts, sarong, swimwear and sandals
* Sun block, lip salve, insect repellent
* Head Torch (compulsory)
* Waterproof camera
* Solar Charging Bank (to charge camera equipment as there is no electricity on this
safari)
* Binoculars
* A good book for lazy siestas

All clothing should be neutral colored to blend in with the bush (shades of khaki, brown, beige or green) and light weight cottons are advisable. Please take into consideration the time of year when you are travelling before making your final packing decisions.

Towels and other basic amenities are provided.

A first aid kit is available in camp but please make sure to bring any prescription medication with you. Please consult your doctor regarding anti-malarial advice and inoculations

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.

Luggage is strictly limited to 15kgs per person, including hand luggage. All luggage should be in soft bags and we highly recommend these are waterproof as they are carried on a Mekoro Flotilla in to the Okavango Delta or in the low flood season by Pack Donkey. Additional bags can be stored, by arrangement, at your hosts' offices in Maun if need be. There will be limited opportunities to do laundry, washing powder is available but there is no ironing.

Saddlebags and water bottles are provided.

Programmes

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.

Departure Dates

2024: Low Season: 7 Feb; 12, 25 Mar; 24 Dec
2024: Mid Season: 7, 16 Apr; 9, 18 May; 5, 14, 23 June, 10 Nov
2024 High Season: 6, 15 July: 7, 16, 25 Aug; 6,15,24 Sep; 9,18 Oct

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1double pp549
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1single supplement99
2024 7 nights low season Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec 8d/7n6double pp3,949
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1double pp655
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1single supplement99
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1double pp735
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1single supplement99
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6double pp5,219
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6single supplement695
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1double pp649
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1single supplement115
2024 7 nights low season Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec 8d/7n6double pp4,659
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1double pp769
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1single supplement115
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1double pp869
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1single supplement115
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6double pp6,155
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6single supplement805
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1double pp725
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1single supplement125
2024 7 nights low season Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec 8d/7n6double pp5,189
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1double pp859
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1single supplement125
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1double pp969
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1single supplement125
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6double pp6,859
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6single supplement875
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1double pp7,665
2024 Per Night low season Jan Feb Mar Decper night1single supplement1,345
2024 7 nights low season Jan, Feb, Mar, Dec 8d/7n6double pp55,065
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1double pp9,095
2024 Per Night mid season Apr, May, Jun, Nov per night1single supplement1,345
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1double pp10,255
2024 Per Night high season July, Aug, Sep, Octper night1single supplement1,345
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6double pp72,755
2024 7 nights high season Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct8d/7n6single supplement9,405
Recommended Reading


Other Activities

Mokoro rides and game walks.

Wildlife

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 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 Airport, Botswana (MUB)
Transfer:
2024: Included for 7 night program, $90pp return road transfers (45min) for tailored programs.
Flight Guide:
London - Maun return from £840pp Please see "getting there" for flight information
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