Combine 4 nights under canvas in the South African bushveld with 3 nights in the Tuli block, Botswana.  

Starting at Camp Davidson on the Horizon ranch in South Africa, the safari tents are on platforms nestled in the heart of the wooded mountains of the Waterberg and commands a panoramic view of the central highlands of the Waterberg massif. Camp Davidson has captured that early explorer camp atmosphere beautifully. After our riding and game viewing in the Waterberg, we take a 5 hr drive to the vast Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block of south eastern Botswana.  

The Tuli Block is an area of great diversity, magnificent vistas, ancient civilizations and dramatic rock formations bordered by the great Limpopo River in the south. Aptly named the "Land of the Giants" for its baobab studded plains and large herds of elephant, the land remains largely untouched by man and is home to a wide variety of wildlife species including lion, cheetah, leopard, African wild dog, a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe, as well as over 350 species of birds. Accommodation throughout is in tented sites with en suite facilities.  

A great combination, 2 countries in one ride with a huge diversity of wildlife and landscapes, our top recommendation and the best value safari available today. 

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 EP of Placerville on 21/12/2022

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Absolutely excellent, we would have liked a little less fast cantering and more animal watching though
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments



Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Lots of fast cantering around and through obstacles, trees and overhead branches
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your comments and glad you had a great trip!

Sample Itinerary:


Friday - Camp Davidson (South Africa)
Saturday - Camp Davidson (South Africa)
Sunday - One of the stunning Bellevue lodges (South Africa)
Monday - Camp Davidson (South Africa)
Tuesday - Depart 6am and first night in Tree Camp (Botswana0
Wednesday - Two Mashatus (Botswana)
Thursday - Two Mashatus (Botswana)
Friday - Departure

Detailed Itinerary:
Day 1

Guests are met at Johannesburg International Airport (ORT) at 11h10 and transferred to Horizon Horseback’s Camp Davidson in time for a late lunch. That afternoon riders are introduced to their safari horses. We will ensure to match to a horse that suits the rider's ability and experience before heading off on a ride. This first introductory ride is a relaxed affair, giving riders the opportunity to settle into their new surroundings. Crossing the plains, enjoy the first close encounter with wildlife on horseback. A stunning lookout spot for sundower drinks is a welcome moment to take in a taste of Africa after a long journey. A three course supper is served at Camp Davidson that evening.

Day 2
Today’s ride sets off from the high country overlooking a beautiful wilderness area to the east, and heads south, winding along the banks of Sunset Lake with its resident pod of hippos and the odd sly crocodile, followed by a visit to one of the Horizon dams for a swim with the horses before getting back to camp in time for lunch. Guests can then relax by the pool, before a shorter afternoon ride. 

Day 3
The ride heads south to the Game Conservancy which is home to the Bellevue Lodges and traverses a wide wetland, home to reedbuck and grass owls, before entering dense woodland dotted with wild fig trees and large fruited bushwillows. Here it crosses the watershed and descends through open grasslands with sweeping views to the upper reaches of the Conservancy’s main water system. The trail continues past the favoured habitat of waterbuck and Cape buffalo. The open plains that follow are aptly known as “Little Serengeti”; large herds of blesbuck, eland, wildebeest and kudu are all on view, as are groups of elegant sable, swift red hartebeest and impressive journeys of giraffe and Cape buffalo. After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, closing with sundowners overlooking the African plains.

Day 4
A morning ride in search of buffalo before returning to the lodge for lunch and a chance to relax and enjoy this fabulous setting before riding back to the Horizon lodge where we say our goodbye to our horses before heading up to camp for a last night at Camp Davidson.

Day 5
The group departs the camp early (by 6h00) with a picnic for the road, the aim is to clear the Botswanan border by 9h00. Arrive in Mashatu, Botswana, in time for lunch and a chance to change before the afternoon ride to Tree Camp.

Day 6
A morning ride from Tree Camp exploring the center of the reserve and the game-rich Pitsane river area, before arriving at Two Mashatus Camp for lunch and a chance to relax by the pool. In the afternoon there is the option of another ride or a game drive in the Kgotla area with sundowners on the Mmagwa hills.  

Day 7
Full morning ride from Two Mashatus camp.

The afternoon brings the chance to choose between a bush walk, afternoon ride or possibly a game drive with Mashatu looking for cats (subject to availability and an additional charge of USD 65 per person). Return to Two Mashatu camp for your last night in Africa.

Day 8
A good long morning ride from Two Mashatus ending back at the stables in time for lunch and a shower before flying out of Mashatu at 14h30. 

Please be aware that due to changes in weather and other unforeseen events all itineraries may be changed at the last minute.


Botswana riding test
When you arrive in Botswana you will be asked to complete an independent riding test to ensure you are experienced enough for the riding to come. You will need to be comfortable and balanced in rising trot, light-seat canter and gallop, as well as being able to do small jumps. You must also be able to control a horse independent of the group at all paces. Your guides in South Africa will have a good idea of your riding ability from the first few days of the ride and will be able to advise you if they think you will not be able to ride in Botswana. If this is the case, you will be given the choice of going to Botswana on an adapted programme, or if space allows to stay at Horizon Ranch for the remainder of the trip and continue riding here. The adapted programme would include bush walks and when available morning rides from the stables in the area surrounding while the rest of the group rides in the open reserve. If you have any queries regarding your riding abilities and suitability for this ride please contact us, we will be happy to discuss this with you.

Transfers 2023 Return transfer cost approximately £490 per person. Guests will need to meet at the information desk in the arrivals hall of OR Tambo airport at 11h00 on arrival day.

OR Tambo to Camp Davidson 3 hrs - Please book flights that land on your arrival day by no later 09h30

Camp Davidson to Mashatu via Groblersbrug 5.5/6 hrs  (plus border time)

Mashatu to OR Tambo Charter flight 1.5hrs  (The private charter flight from Mashatu to OR Tambo will be booked on your behalf by us) -  on departure day  you need to book a flight that departs no earlier than 20h00. Please see luggage limitations below:

i.e.. 2 Bags == 1 for Checked luggage and 1 carry-on – Both must be soft bags.
Helmets they can be carried on as a separate item to the carry-on bag… Clients can also have their small handbags with them - but please to limit the size of them and not try to squash extra clothing/equipment inside them. The charter planes are much smaller than normal planes and thus have limited space.

VISA: Please remember to check if you need a visa for South Africa & Botswana. It should be a multiple entry visa for RSA, as they will be entering South Africa through customs and immigration to check-in for their outbound international flight.

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.

Transfers 2023
Please note some improtant information about transfer timing in 2023:

Arrival day
Clients to land at ORT by 09h30 latest

Meet info desk arrival hall at ORT 11h00

Arrive Camp Davidson 14h30 for a late lunch

Day 5
Depart Bellevue 06h30 on the horses and ride to the Horizon lodge

Depart Horizon lodge 9h30

Arrive Botswana 13h00 for lunch

Departure day
Depart LVA 12h30

Arrive Lanseria 14h05

Arrive ORT by 14h50

Please book flights departing after 20h00 to allow for 2 hours check in and extra time in case of bad weather meaning the flight to Lanseria will be replaced by a road transfer.

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, and have been carefully chosen from the various South African breeds (mainly boerperd) which are well known for being of a tougher nature - able to cope under extreme conditions. These breeds include the Boerperd, the Basuto and the S.A. Warmblood. They range in size from 14.3h.h to 16.2 h.h, and are an assortment of colours.

The safari prides itself on horses that have been selected with the same stringent criteria as those selected for two day events. The saddles utilised on this ride are McLellan (similar to a stock saddle - comfortable for horse and rider) and they use McLellan’s or English saddles for jumping. The horses are ridden in snaffles and English bits.

The South African Boerperd originated from horses that survived the Anglo Boer war 1899. Other bloodlines, like Arabs and later even Thoroughbreds were introduced to the breed for extra size and speed. In the beginning of the 20th century, the Namib desert horse was included as the 7th bloodline to the Boerperd. Today the breed is strong, forward going and agile with a good resistance to the African diseases. It is well mannered and suited to the climate.

Rider requirements

For this safari riders should have a secure and independent seat and be in control of a horse at all paces. 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. Riders should be comfortable galloping and jumping small jumps where necessary. On this safari you will come face to face with Big Game such as elephant and buffalo are present and riders should be able to beat a hasty retreat if necessary!

When you arrive in Botswana you will be asked to complete an independent riding test to ensure you are experienced enough for the riding to come. Your guides in South Africa will have a good idea of your riding ability from the first few days of the ride and will be able to advise you if they think you will not be able to ride in Botswana. If this is the case, you will be given the choice of going to Botswana on an adapted programme, or if space allows to stay at Horizon Lodge for the remainder of the trip and continue riding here.
If you have any queries regarding your riding abilities and suitability for this ride please contact us, we will be happy to discuss this with you.
Hard hats are compulsory. There are a limited few to borrow if needed.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

In South Africa all accommodation is at the Camp Davidson tented camp, high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng valley. It offers the opportunity to explore from a base camp nestled in the heart of the wooded mountains of the Waterberg. The camp commands a wonderful panoramic view of the central highlands of the Waterberg massif, while overlooking the picturesque Sunset Lake at the eastern boundary of Horizon Ranch.

In the late 19th century, Ted Davidson, one of the first members of the Baber family to settle in the Waterberg, was a young man trading by ox wagon to remote cattle outposts of a young ranching area. A good days travelling may have been only five miles or so by rugged track, and so an itinerant life in the Waterberg meant a life by the campfire. That early camp atmosphere is captured in Camp Davidson, with beautiful decked canvas tents nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy game filled valleys. Each tent is appointed as it would have been in Ted’s day with classic items that would have been essential to the traveller accustomed to regular nights in the bush.

The Botswana part of the safari is done as a static camp using the Two Mashatus camp with the added comforts this provides. The Two Mashatus camps are 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, simple but comforatble, A frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower, hot water is limited in the mornings but more plentiful in the evening after a days riding. Each private tent provides 2 beds, a nightstand and a shelf for luggage, and is positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons.

The wilderness / satellite camp sites 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. Please note, there is no WIFI during the camp part of the trip and electricity is not available all day but phones and batteries can be charged while out riding.

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.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures

Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. As of 2022 there are 52 countries with visa-free travel to SA including UK, EU, USA and Canada.

You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa has at least 2 blank pages if you need a visa, otherwise 1 blank page is sufficient.

Travelling with Children to South Africa:
Adults traveling with minors under the age of 18 need to show the child’s birth certificate which shows the details of both parents. If the child is traveling with one parent, it is also necessary to present a parental consent affidavit signed by the other parent. Since 2019 carrying these supporting documents is no longer compulsory but is advised.

Travelers coming from countries where yellow fever is prevalent need to present a certificate showing they have been vaccinated.

Passport and Visa 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 should you need a visa.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice:

In the US:

In Canada:

Climate Summary

Dry season is during the winter: May – October. It is dry and sunny but can be cold at night even with some frost though temperatures may reach 20C during the day. The Summer is hot, sunny with lush and green surroundings. There is the likelihood of thunderstorm showers so waterproofs are advisable.

Climate Chart


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

You should always bring any regular prescription drugs you may need with you.

Awareness of Malaria risk and bite avoidance is recommended and if travelling to an area of Malaria risk in season we recommend speaking to your doctor about anti-malarial medication

According to the 2018 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, with 7.1 million people living with HIV. HIV prevalence is high among the general population at 18.9%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS; avoid contact with bodily fluids and keep any cuts or wounds properly clean and covered.

Health and medical facilities are generally of a good standard and readily available near larger centres. If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/ medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

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

Health (ride specific)

There have been a few isolated confirmed cases of malaria in the Waterberg area. We recommend taking mosquito repellent and taking preventative measures. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns.


In South Africa the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Film and Camera Equipment

In each tent in both locations there is a small solar charger that can charge most mobile phones with a USB port. There is limited WiFi service in both locations and mobile phone coverage is usually good in South Africa but patchy in Botswana. If you want to buy a local sim on arrival the one to buy would be MTN.

Packing List

Please bring a maximum of 15kgs luggage in soft bags, not hard cases (this weight limit applies only to the Botswana section of the ride, if you have extra luggage it can be left in South Africa and arranged to meet you at the airport on departure).

Khaki, green and bush colours; please avoid wearing white as this scares wild life or black as it tends to attract insects.

Advised things to bring:
• Your own well-fitting hard hat - Hard hats are mandatory (we can supply if needed)
• Comfortable riding clothes, this is not the place to test out brand new boots, wear everything a couple of times before bringing it on safari. Neutral colours such as khaki, brown, navy, and green are preferable. Light-coloured garments such as whites and creams should be avoided
• Short boots and half chaps, ride/walk book are perfect. Long leather boots are also good but long rubber boots are not advised.
• Bum bag
• Lip salve, hand cream, and moisturiser (it’s dry here!)
• Strong sun protection cream factor 30 or higher
• Mosquito repellent
• Hiking boots or sneakers
• Swimming costume.
• Light weight long sleeved shirts.
• Camera, memory cards and spare camera batteries
• If you ever suffer from regular bouts of illness e.g. cystitis, sinusitis, eczema, asthma, allergies etc please bring your preferred medication its best to have whatever you may need with you.
• Ibuprofen and deep heat are also useful items, especially if you aren’t used to long hours in the saddle
• In our Winter, mornings can be chilly and days hot so bring layers, a vest, shirt fleece and body warmer are ideal winter wear.
• In summer pack a lightweight rain coat
• Books for when you are relaxing between rides
• For Botswana we also recommend a power bank and high lumen torch or head torch

Full laundry service is included when packing do bear in mind the fact that you host offer a free of charge laundry service. They can normally turn laundry around within 24 – 48 hours.

This may sound strange but if you would like to purchase a spare pack of sanitary items to donate, please do, we donate them to local schools, many girls cannot afford them and have to miss school and exams also if you have any old clothes, shoes, blankets, books or stationary that you would otherwise throw away and have some room in your luggage please do bring it with you. Horizon is involved with local schools and creches and helps where possible with a local outreach project working with the very poor. As such we have lots of people who are grateful for any old clothing. Please do not feel you have to now go out and buy items to bring, - it is not by any means expected - it is just that over the years so many people have expressed regret at not knowing how useful that item they threw away last week would have been to someone here.
A free laundry service is available at both locations.

Liquid restrictions on light aircraft chartered flights: perfume - 50ml; Eau de Toilette – 250 ml; non-flammable and non-alcoholic liquids – 500ml per container. A combined total of no more than 2L in checked bags. Pocket knives/Leatherman’s and other sharp objects: these need to be packed into passengers checked bags and will not be allowed in carry-on bags. Please note there is a strict 15kg weight limit on hold bags and 6kg on hand luggage. Luggage must also be packed into soft bags.


This is an 8 day/7 night programme with riding on 8 days. There are set dates available from February to November.

Departure Dates

2023: Low Season: Jan, Feb
Mid Season: Mar, Apr, Dec
High Season: May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov

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   
Riding days Product item description £
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,035
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,019
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8double pp2,255
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,129
2023 - High Season8d/7n8double pp2,505
2023 - High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,249
No of   
Riding days Product item description
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,315
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,159
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8double pp2,565
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,285
2023 - High Season8d/7n8double pp2,845
2023 - High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,425
No of   
Riding days Product item description US $
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,549
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,275
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8double pp2,825
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,415
2023 - High Season8d/7n8double pp3,135
2023 - High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,569
No of   
Riding days Product item description SEK
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8double pp25,985
2023 - Low Season8d/7n8single supplement12,995
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8double pp28,785
2023 - Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement14,395
2023 - High Season8d/7n8double pp31,949
2023 - High Season8d/7n8single supplement15,975
Recommended Reading

‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers; ‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman; ‘Memories of a Game Ranger’ – Harry Wolhunter; ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton, ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ – Fitzpatrick, ‘A Chain of Voices’ – Andre Brink, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – Nelson Mandela. A range of interesting and inspiring equestrian travel books can be purchased from (part of the Long Rider’s Guild).

Other Activities

Game drives (including a night drive) and guided walks are all possible on this ride.


In the Waterberg the Safaris are based on private reserves in the heart of this UNESCO biosphere reserve, one of the last true wilderness areas of South Africa. Species to be seen include rhino, hippo, buffalo, giraffe, ostrich and zebra, brown hyena, hippo. In addition riders will encounter a wide variety of antelope, including the impressive eland and sable and the exquisite steenbuck.

In Botswana game is plentiful including elephant, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, lechwe, reedbuck, bushbuck, steenbok, impala, duiker, waterbuck, 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 – 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 Information

Light Aircraft Flights:
Liquid restrictions on light aircraft chartered flights: perfume- 50ml; Eau de Toilette – 250 ml; non-flammable and non-alcoholic liquids – 500ml per container. A combined total of no more than 2L in checked bags. Pocket knives/Leatherman’s and other sharp objects: these need to be packed into passengers checked bags and will not be allowed in carry-on bags. Please note there is a strict 15kg weight limit on hold bags and 6kg on hand luggage. Luggage must also be packed into soft bags.

Other Country Information

South Africa's land area is 1,228,376 km.2 (larger than The Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy & Germany combined). It borders Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland & Zimbabwe to the north, and entirely surrounds Lesotho (a total land border of 4,750 km.) It has a coastline of 2,954 km, with few natural harbours.

South Africa is an exhilarating, spectacular and complex country. With its post-apartheid identity still in the process of definition, there is undoubtedly an abundance of energy and sense of progress about the place. The infrastructure is constantly improving, the climate is kind and there are few better places to see Africa's wildlife.

The international dialing code for South Africa is +27 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 time zone is GMT plus two hours.

Always collect your luggage on arrival at any local airport and take it through customs. Most of the South African smaller airports don’t have customs clearance. Even if the airline tells you that your luggage can be checked through, it is not true.

At local airports there are a lot of porters who can be of great help if you are in a hurry to find your check in counter or your gate. However they sometimes ask for a lot of money. R 50,00 is more then enough to give them when they have been of great help, if they have only pushed the trolley, R 20,00 should be enough.

If you travel by car and police stop you for speeding or something else you might have done wrong, don’t give them any cash money, always ask for a ticket. If they persist, ask to speak to their supervisor. Also the toll gates don’t take international credit cards.

South Africa has a high rate of crime including carjacking and robberies. Be cautious when visiting popular tourist attractions and destinations and in and around transport hubs, including airports. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations is generally low

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (JNB)
Road and charter flight transfer - approx £490pp return JNB-Camp Davidson-Tuli-JNB.
Flight Guide:
London - Johannesburg (JNB) return £500 - £750. See below for flight info.
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