West
ellies
canter
campfire
lion
Rascal and tack
food
David
river-bed
riverbed
Frank
ellie in camp
bathroom on lodge ride
escarpment
wild dog
leopard
pool on lodge ride
lodge ride accommodation
kgotla
dinner at two mashatus
elephant
Liana camp
baobab tree
Walking in the river
Braveheart and Cor
The staff at a canter
Camping in comfort
Guide
sunset

A fantastic horseback safari in Botswana. This is a fast and exciting mobile tented safari in the "Land of the Giants". Here large herds of elephant roam and the "great, green, grey, greasy Limpopo" (in the words of Rudyard Kipling) meanders, where the mighty baobab stands tall and lions and hyena serenade you under the starry African night sky. For experienced and adventurous riders only. The Tuli Block is also home to a multitude of wildlife species and remains untouched by the invasion of man. The accommodation is luxurious in the base camp but consists of comfortable camping en route to give you the flavour of the real Africa.

Watch the live webcam at Pete's Pond watering hole in Mashatu Reserve. Peak activity is early morning and around sunset, the webcam is in GMT +2, so for the UK  around 5am-9am or 4pm-6pm.

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 LB of on 01/05/2016

Ride Summary
Fast riding with many canters. While not overly difficult terrain, riders need to be very secure and confident due to unpredictable situations with wildlife.
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Please explain why you scored it as you did Fast riding with many canters. While not overly difficult terrain, riders need to be very secure and confident due to unpredictable situations with wildlife.
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Day 1
Upon arrival at the Pont Drift Border Post or Limpopo Valley Airfield, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the reception area by the Stables. After a light lunch it’s time to head off to the stables to meet your horse for the week. You will embark on a short introductory ride to make sure that you and your horse are well suited, then ride directly to Two Mashatus Camp. A delicious dinner is served.

Day 2
The day begins at sunrise with tea/coffee brought to your tent, followed by a light breakfast. Mount up and head off along the Limpopo River towards the rocky hills on the edge of the valley. The riding today takes you through the home of one of the largest herds of free roaming elephants south of the Zambezi and you are almost guaranteed to see these majestic animals. You arrive at Majele River camp on the banks of the Majala River in time for lunch. After a rest (and a nap if you want) you can take a gentle guided walk to a nearby lookout spot known as ‘Majele Koppie’. Enjoy dinner looking out across the river.

Day 3
An early start is rewarded by riding in to the heart of Mashatu to ancient rock formations. Giant Baobab trees stand sentinel as they have across the ages, while ancient elephant trails are stamped around them. Open scrub land offers some great opportunities for long canters until you get to the banks of the Motloutse Ricer. Amongst the dense trees there is a ‘Kgotla’ where an old tribal court was once held, which makes a great place to spend the night. In the afternoon, you have the option to take a guided walk or ride to the ‘Ampitheatre’, an ancient and impressive rock formation, concluding with a sundowner looking out over the river. Dinner tonight is enjoyed around a large log fire. Secure in the traditional enclosure with a comfortable bed, you sleep under a star-strewn sky and have a unique experience of the bush at night time, up close and personal.

Day 4
Today you have a choice of rides. You could take the morning or afternoon to explore the incredible sandstone formations that include Solomon’s Wall. Home to some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa, the Mapungubwe is almost timeless. This is one of the best places to spot wildlife and offers an amazing riding experience. The other option is to take a ride in the morning and in the afternoon visit the nearby village of Lentswe le Moriti where you can see basket weavers, before a trip to the Mmamagwa hills. A short easy walk gives you panoramic views around the Tuli area, the perfect place to have a drink and watch the sun go down.

Day 5
Another early start today is supplemented by a heart breakfast in preparation for the longest day of riding. Winding through the Mopane bush keeping your eyes peeled for elephants you ride to the rich plains close to the Limpopo River. The camp is nestled in amongst giant Mashatu trees along the edge of Liana lagoon, and in the afternoon you take a break from the saddle to go on a game drive in search of the big cats that the area is known for including leopard, cheetah and lions.

Day 6
Your ride today meanders through the beautiful plains between the Mojali and Majele rivers, abundant with game and with spectacular views of the Limpopo River valley. With the feel of a successful explorer you end the ride back at your starting point, Two Mashatus, where you will have the opportunity to relax by the pool and enjoy the comfort of shady tents and en suite bathrooms. In afternoon you can ride to one of the nearby koppies for a sundown drink..

Day 7
Todays riding promises great game viewing from horseback as you explore the Pitsane river valley. A spring high in the hills provides drinking holes along its course to regularly draw thirsty herds. History has it there was a skirmish during the Boer war in the area and Bryces store, an old supply post, was destroyed. A picnic lunch is served in an area of shady Mashatu trees before exploring further in the afternoon along an old stage coach route. You will return to camp in the afternoon with time for a cooling drink around the pool. As the final day draws to a close you take to your tent for a peaceful and dreamy last night in the bush.

Day 8
Your last ride in the Limpopo valley is a great opportunity to snap one last picture of elephants and enjoy a long and winding canter through the scattered Mustard bush with your guides. Arrive back at the stables with plenty time to enjoy a hot shower and a tasty brunch, you say farewell to your safari companions and new found friends and continue on your journey.


Accommodation on the Tuli Safari

Wilderness/Satellite Camps. Satellite campsites are set up in specific locations throughout the Mashatu Reserve. Accommodation is in A frame tents on comfortable beds with sheets and duvets. Facilities include a bucket shower and “bush-WC”. Meals are cooked over a camp fire.

The Kgotla. The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.

Two Mashatus Camp. Nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big A frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons.

Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Tuli Safari Trail 


The single supplement is 50% of the holiday price and is only charged if riders are not willing to share.

Transfers
There are two transfer options for this ride: a light aircraft charter from ORT to Tuli or road transfer. The meeting point is in Terminal A, counter A65-A67 at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg.
Light Aircraft Charter: approx. 1hr. Guests should book flights to land before 09:30 to make the connection to the light aircraft. Guests landing at 09:40/09:50 will need to arrange a Menzies transit service, in which case easily identifiable, labelled luggage is recommended along with a photograph of the luggage. Guests will be met off the plane and accompanied to the new boarding gate while their luggage is collected for them. The cost for this service in 2018 is £30. Any guests arriving after this time will need to book a road transfer. Please note that all luggage on the charter flights must comply with hand luggage regulations i.e. no sharp objects, liquids over 100ml. ORT will confiscate any items that do not meet this criteria. Luggage must be under 15kg (plus 6kg of hand luggage) and in soft bags. On the final day arrival times at ORT cannot be guaranteed. The transfer may arrive to ORT any time between 15:30 and 18:00, therefore flights on the final day should be booked for after 20:00. If clients have booked earlier flights a private road transfer can be arranged at additional cost. Please note that on occasion the charter flight may be directed to land at Lanseria, in which case a road transfer (included in the cost) will take guests on to ORT for their return flights.
Road Transfer: approx. 6 hours. There will be comfort breaks along the way with opportunities to buy refreshments (South African Rand). Guests should try to book flights to arrive as early as possible (try for between 06:00 and 07:00, definitely no later than 08:00am). On departure day guests should book flights to leave by 20:00 or later. Special transfer rates may apply if you arrive/depart South Africa at any other times.

Additional Information 
• Maximum of 8 guests and minimum of 2 guests
• Rate is inclusive of accommodation, riding, meals, teas and coffees, drinks, game drives , bush walks and laundry. Only transfers, tips and curios payable locally in cash.
• First and last two nights at the comfortable Two Mashatus camp
• Two nights at the Kgotla camp “sleeping under the stars”
• Two nights in different wilderness camps
• Elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah & wild dog country
• Starts and finishes on a Sunday
• Non riders welcome (game drives, cycling and walking available)
• For experienced riders only
• Children aged 12 and over are permitted providing they are travelling with an adult and are very competent riders.

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.

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Reading List
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.

Land Mammals of South Africa – Smithers
Okavango - Sea of Land, Land of Water - Anthony Bannister
Birds of Southern Africa - Ken Newman
Kalahari - Life's Variety in Dune and Delta – Michael Main
No1 Ladies Detective Agency series - Alexander McCall Smith

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

The horses have been individually selected for their temperament and ride-ability. They have been carefully chosen from the various South African breeds which are well known for being of a tougher nature - able to cope under extreme conditions. These breeds include the Boerperd, the Basuto, Shire Cross Thoroughbreds, Appalosas, and the S.A. Warmblood. They range in size from 15h.h to 17 h.h, and are in an assortment of colours.


The schooling concentrates on classical English style, although they neck rein when in the bush. They are schooled to very high level and respond easily and lightly to the aids. Australian stock saddles, South African Mcllelans are used. In addition a selection of English saddles are available for those who prefer.


The riding is fast and exciting and at all paces, including a good fast gallop along sandy riverbeds, some jumps over fallen logs and steep descents. The terrain varies from sandy riverbeds, thick bush and rocky outcrops to vast open plains. Ideal for great riding!

Rider requirements

For the Big Game safari riders should have a secure and independent seat and be in control of a horse at a walk, trot and canter. 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 which are present and riders should be able to beat a hasty retreat if necessary!

Children under the age of 16 years old are not permitted, unless they are experienced and competent riders, and the party they are with have reserved the safari exclusively. The children must be accompanied by a parent/adult with whom the responsibility for the child lies.

There is a weight limit of 15 stone / 95kg on this ride, exceptions may be made for experienced riders over 100kg, please enquire.

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.

Wilderness/Satellite Camps. Satellite campsites are set up in specific locations throughout the Mashatu Reserve. Accommodation is in A frame tents on comfortable beds with sheets and duvets. Facilities include a bucket shower and “bush-WC”. Meals are cooked over a camp fire.



The Kgotla. The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre.



Two Mashatus Camp. Nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big A frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons.


Meals are delicious and prepared on the open fire. The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community that was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which blazes at the centre. Here you have hot running water for showers and a flushing loo!

Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Climate Summary

The best time to visit Botswana is from April to October generally when the days are sunny and warm (25 celsius). Evening temperatures however drop sharply. Game viewing is good all year round. Temperatures begin to climb mid to late September. The rainy season begins in November, peaks in January and ends in March/April. Summer months are September to April. 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, it does not rain at all in winter although evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.


Climate Chart


Health (ride specific)

Anti-malaria precautions are not essential for this area since there is a very low risk in the area. If you do choose to take them they should be commenced prior to arrival in Botswana, for further details please see your local doctor or pharmacist. There may be other health risks, please contact your doctor regarding up to date vaccination advice prior to leaving. Full information for health requirements for visitors is also available from the Medical Advisory Service for Travelers Abroad who can be reached on 0113 238 7575 or at www.masta.org

Film and Camera Equipment

There is electricity at the base camp of Two Mashatus, as well as WiFi and a USB camera recharging point is available. On the intervening nights there is no electricity, so bring any spare batteries you may need.

Packing List

We recommend the use of neutral-coloured clothing (khaki, brown, beige and green) that blends in with the bush (no brightly coloured, or white clothing)
•Suitable riding gear.
•Swimming costume.
•Jodhpurs or long trousers.
•Head lamp
•Camera, film, binoculars.
•Reading material.
•Lip balm
•Passport.
•Long sleeved shirts or T-shirts.
•Mosquito repellent.
•Walking shoes, hiking boots or ride/run boots.
•Half chaps recommended.
•Warm clothing (for winter, May to August).
•Sun block.
•Waterproof raincoat(for Summer, from November to March).
•Sun hat that stays on.

Any personal toiletries that you require must be taken with you. Laundry can be done in camp. All bedrolls are complete with sheets, duvet and towels. A medical kit and snake bite kit are provided at camp.
Recognised riding hats are compulsory for any person under the age of 21

Programmes

This programme is available April to October - the dry season in the Tuli Block for 8 days / 7 nights. This is to facilitate sleeping out along the trail. Other programmes available in November, February and March.

Departure Dates

2017: 5, 12, 19, 26 Mar; 2, 9 16, 23, 30 (FULL) Apr; 7*, 14*, 21* (FULL), 28* May; 11*, 18* Jun; 9, 16, 23 (FULL), 30 Jul; 6 (available for private group only), 20, 27 Aug; 3 (FULL), 10 (FULL), 17, 24 (FULL) Sept; 1, 8 (FULL), 15, 22, 29 Oct; 5, 12 Nov. (* denotes low season)
2018: 7*, 14*, 21*, 28* Jan; 4*, 11*, 18* Feb; 4, 11, 18, 25 Mar; 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Apr; 6*, 13*, 20*, 27* May; 3*, 10*, 24* Jun; 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Aug; 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 Sept; 7, 21, 28 Oct; 4, 11, 18, 25 Nov; 2, 9, 16, 23 Dec. (* denotes low season).

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 £
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season8d/7n8double pp2,729
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season8d/7n8double pp2,325
2018 low season8d/7n8double pp2,499
2018 high season8d/7n8double pp2,949
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season8d/7n8double pp3,095
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season8d/7n8double pp2,629
2018 low season8d/7n8double pp2,835
2018 high season8d/7n8double pp3,339
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season8d/7n8double pp3,699
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season8d/7n8double pp3,145
2018 low season8d/7n8double pp3,389
2018 high season8d/7n8double pp3,995
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- high season8d/7n8double pp29,469
2017 Tuli Mobile Safari- low season8d/7n8double pp25,055
2018 low season8d/7n8double pp26,975
2018 high season8d/7n8double pp31,815
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 black backed 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 and spring hare. Water species – hippo, crocodile, cape clawless and spotted necked otter. Predators – leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog. Full safety instructions will be given and followed whilst viewing game.

Other Activities

Non riders can be accommodated on this ride - they will have their own guide for vehicle, walking and cycling game drives.
For riders guided walks and/or game drives are also done every afternoon from the camps.

Other Information

Curios like T-shirts and caps small wooden animals etc are available to buy. Euros, pounds, USD or Rands are accepted. No credit cards - sorry!
Drinking Water - All water in the camps is filtered to the highest standards and is guaranteed perfectly safe for drinking

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):
OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (JNB)
Transfer:
2017: light aircraft transfer from JNB to Limpopo is available for flights arriving before (1 hour), otherwise a road transfer will take place (5 hrs) - £420 per person return (by road from £550 return). Please book flights to arrive before 09:30 for air transfer and 08:00 for road transfer.
2018: light aircraft (1 hour) £450pp return. Road transfer (5 hours) approx. £459 per car each way (4-8 pax). Please book flights to arrive before 09:30 for air transfer and 08:00 for road transfer.
Flight Guide:
London - Johannesburg return £500 - £750. Please see "getting there" for flight information
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