Cantering in the Okavango Delta flood plains
Riding through deep watger in the Okavango Delta
Elephants in the Okavango Delta water
Riders in the vastness of the Okavango Delta
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
Mokoro transporting the camp to a new location
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 1000th 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 AH of Carmarthan on 29/05/2017

Ride Summary
The Okavango was serenely beautiful and tranquil: the landscape is a vision of changing light and colour with a picture perfect night sky complete with shooting stars. The days are spent tracking and looking for game and seeing a plethora of birds along the way.
For this ride you do need to be a competent rider, though it is not technically difficult.
The glamping was excellent; the food exceptional, and I would like to thank David, Robyn, and their team who were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable throughout.
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)     (   ) 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     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) 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     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Additional Comments

Horses and Tack
Condition of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Condition of Tack     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Performance of Horses     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Additional Comments
one horse was very keen at canter.
Meals
Meal Quantity     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Quality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Meal Punctuality     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Accommodation
Camping Equipment     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (   ) N/A
Hotels/Lodges/Inns     (   ) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor     (X) N/A
Hygiene standards     (X) Excellent     (   ) Good     (   ) Fair     (   ) Poor
Miscellaneous
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:
You ride on eight days not six.
Was there anything you should have known and were not told?     (X) NO     (   ) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

What could we do to improve this ride?
Make sure that people pack in wet bags inside their cases as the luggage is transferred by mekoro and may get wet, and emphasize the benefit of taking a pair of binoculars.
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
4
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
You need to be a competent rider at all paces incase the need arises to move quickly at speed.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Please give more details to explain your response:

May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
    (   ) NO     (X) YES
Any other comments:

Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

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 Makgadikgadi Pans 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.

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, 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. Light weight 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 15 st/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, 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 ned.

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.

NEW RULES ON TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN:
From July parents will have to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children.
In addition, South Africans and foreigners will have to provide details of the child's father and mother. This will apply even when both parents are travelling with their children.
When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel.
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

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

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)

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

Electricity

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

There no is electricity onsite 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.

Packing List

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 handluggage as luggage sometimes gets delayed. We can lend you half chaps – long leather boots are impractical. They do not have riding hats to lend to riders so you must bring 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.

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

2018:
Low season: 8, 15, 28 Sept; 13 Oct; 3, 17 Nov.
Mid season: 1 Jul
High season: 15 Jul; 3 (FULL), 12, 20, 31 Aug.
Shorter stays available all year round on request.
For shorter stays low season is 1 Jan - 31 Mar and 1 Oct - 31 Dec; mid season is 1 Apr - 30 Jun; high season is 1 Jul - 30 Sept.

2019:
Low season: 5, 23 Jan; 9 Feb; 11, 23 Mar; 17 Nov; 1, 14, 22 Dec.
Mid season: 31 Mar; 10 Apr; 10, 24 May; 2, 21 Jun; 7 Jul
High season: 19, 26 Jul; 11, 23 Aug; 7, 15 Sep; 3, 11, 19 Oct.

Shorter stays available all year round on request.
For shorter stays low season is 1 Jan - 31 Mar and 16 Nov - 31 Dec; mid season is 1 Apr - 15 Jul and 1-15 Nov; high season is 15 Jul - 31 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 £
2018 7 nights low season8d/7n6double pp2,785
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1double pp435
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1single supplement57
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1double pp489
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1single supplement57
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6double pp3,195
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6single supplement395
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1double pp549
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1single supplement57
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6double pp3,609
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6single supplement395
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2018 7 nights low season8d/7n6double pp3,109
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1double pp485
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1single supplement63
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1double pp549
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1single supplement63
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6double pp3,569
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6single supplement439
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1double pp615
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1single supplement63
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6double pp4,029
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6single supplement439
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2018 7 nights low season8d/7n6double pp3,549
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1double pp549
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1single supplement72
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1double pp625
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1single supplement72
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6double pp4,075
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6single supplement499
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1double pp699
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1single supplement72
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6double pp4,599
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6single supplement499
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2018 7 nights low season8d/7n6double pp32,269
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1double pp4,999
2018 Per Night low seasonper night1single supplement649
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1double pp5,685
2018 Per Night mid seasonper night1single supplement649
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6double pp37,045
2018 7 nights mid season8d/7n6single supplement4,545
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1double pp6,365
2018 Per Night high seasonper night1single supplement649
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6double pp41,815
2018 7 nights high season8d/7n6single supplement4,545
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 Activities

Mokoro rides and game walks.

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:
2018/2019: Included from Maun airport for 7 night ride. For nightly stays transfers are 21 GBP per person return. Transfers are 30 minutes from Maun to the start of the ride.
Flight Guide:
London - Maun return £830 - £1,000. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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