Combine 4 nights under canvas in the South African bushveld with 3 nights in the Tuli block, Botswana. This is a great combination, 2 countries in one equestrian adventure with a huge diversity of wildlife and landscapes, our top recommendation and the best value horseback riding safari available today! 
A new option with 3 nights in South Africa and 4 nights in Botswana is available from June 2024

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 command 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.  

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 AR of CHIPPENHAM on 06/09/2023

Ride Summary
Magical trip - something special every day
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Riding in South Africa was fast - a lot of canters which might not suit everyone
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
I was matched with great horses - steady but forward going
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Exactly as expected
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
I asked in advance about water bottles being provided each day. It was very dry and dusty so might be good to suggest people take a bandana/face mask for rides.
What could we do to improve this ride?
I think I would have preferred 3 days in SA and 4 in Botswana
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
There were fast canters, some bendy routes but maybe because our group were fairly advanced. Botswana ride more leisurely.
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
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?
YES
Any other comments:
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your feedback. Glad you had a great time! :)

There are two itinerary choices. The 3-nights in South Africa / 4-nights in Botswna options starts in June 2024

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


Day 1
Guests are met at O.R. Tambo International Airport (JNB) (Previously called Johannesburg International Airport) 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 sundowner 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
Set off from Camp Davidson for the final time and head south to the game conservancy which is home to Savanah Lodge. Traverse a wide wetland home to reedbuck and grass owls before entering a a beautiful woodland and on to open plains. After lunch at the lodge head out for an afternoon ride exploring the game rich area and watch the sun set over the African plains.  Last night in South Africa is spent in either the Savannah or Seringa Lodge. 

Day 5
The group departs the lodge early (by 6h00) and will enjoy an exhilarating ride back to Horizon Lodge in time to change before departing for Botswanan at 8h30 on the road transfer. Arrive in Mashatu, Botswana, in time for lunch.  After a short introductory ride to check you are suited to your new horse, set off for Mashatu game reserve and view the wildlife from horseback. This reserve is home to the larges number of wild free roaming elephants on private land in Africa. Spend the night in the unique 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 Botswanna.

Day 8
A good long morning ride from Two Mashatus ending back at the stables in time for lunch before flying out of Mashatu 
Please be aware that due to changes in weather and other unforeseen events all itineraries may be changed at the last minute.

New African Explorer Itinerary Outline: Three nights in South Africa and Four nights in Botswana, 

Day 1
Guests are personally met at OR Tambo Airport in South Africa by representatives of our sister company, Saddlebag Shuttles, and transported directly to Camp Davidson in the Waterberg. Settle in and enjoy a light lunch overlooking the vastness of the Waterberg plateau. This is followed by a safety briefing and an introduction to, and allocation of, the horses. The first ride is a gentle introduction to the reserve and an excellent opportunity for first encounters with species such as zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and kudu.  The riding ranges from purposeful walking to easy cantering along sandy tracks, and culminates with sundowner drinks on the open plains.

Day 2
Open plains, swimming with horses and game galore: This morning's ride is quite fast.  The route follows the centre of an open valley which is home to species such as sable, reedbuck, red hartebeest, waterbuck and impala.  The sandy tracks make for excellent going, and the route crosses open grassland and weaves through dense woodland.  Riders will also encounter prized dark red pedigree cattle that are bred on the property. When conditions are suitable, the last stretch of the ride involves splashy canters along the edge of the lake adjacent to Horizon Lodge.  This is a great experience, but don’t expect to remain dry!
The afternoon ride follows past a series of dams where encounters with hippo are likely, and returns across the open plains.  At this time of day there is often much activity on the plains, with the herds mingling in the soft sunlight and different groups coming and going as they prepare for the night.  It is an unforgettable experience to be able to ride so close to these wild animals, which have become completely relaxed in the presence of the horses.

Day 3
Ride to Bellevue Lodges and Searching for Buffalo: Set out early for the ride from Camp Davidson to either Savannah Lodge in the far southwest of the reserve, or Seringa Lodge in the southeast.  The first part of the route covers areas that the group has already ridden, but soon enters new terrain.  Maneuver thick bush before the scenery opens to grasslands with sweeping views to the south and west.  Riding through this landscape gives one a sense of the vastness of the African plains.  The area boasts a very high concentration of game with herds of 300+ blesbuck,  80+ eland are often sighted.  Other species include red hartebeest, tsessebe and ostrich.  There are plentiful zebra, wildebeest, impala and giraffe, and smaller groups of sable, roan and waterbuck.  The final stretch to Savannah Lodge is along a wooded stream where kudu and bushbuck are likely to be seen. After relaxing around the pool at the lodge it is time to ride to the southern most areas of the reserve in search of Cape buffalo.  These are members of Africa’s famous “big five” and deserve their formidable reputation.  Riders therefore need to be alert and responsive to the guides’ instructions.  This area is known for its spectacular sunsets over the distant headlands of the Waterberg escarpment – a fitting end to an eventful and memorable day in the African wilderness.

Day 4 
Morning: Return ride from Bellevue and road transfer to Botswana: After an early start, another long ride through game rich country returns riders to the heart of the operation, Horizon Lodge.  The route taken is different from the outward leg, making this part of the safari into an exciting journey passing through diverse landscapes and ecosystems.  Game species typically prefer different habitats, with nyala and bushbuck for instance occupying dense forest-like sections of the reserve, while blesbuck and hartebeest stick to the open plains, and waterbuck and reedbuck, unsurprisingly, are normally seen close to streams and other waterways.  The route provides excellent opportunities to see giraffe, which is always a highlight.  At the Horizon Lodge, guests embark on the road transfer to Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana with Saddlebag Shuttles. 

Afternoon: Ride into Tree Camp: Having crossed the mighty Limpopo River, the group arrive at the Horizon Horseback Mashatu Stables for a light lunch, receive a safety briefing, and meet the horses.  The afternoon route is from the Stables to Tree Camp. There are regular encounters with elephant, waterbuck, giraffe, impala, wildebeest and zebra.  Signs of the many predators that make these rich riverine environments their home are bountiful, and chance encounters possible.  The ride typically takes about two hours and is the perfect time to bond with the horses. Tree Camp is a truly beautiful place where one is enveloped by the exceptional qualities of Africa’s wilderness areas.

Day 5
Valley of the Elephants – Tree Camp to Kgotla: Wake up in nature to birdsong and the early morning light filtering through the trees.  After a quick breakfast, riders set off on the journey’s first long ride – up onto the edge of the mini-escarpment and then down, through the Valley of the Elephants, and on towards the distant sandstone citadels guarding the Limpopo and Motloutse Rivers.  The first part of the ride is relaxed as the horses wind along the well-worn elephant paths, past giant baobabs and the occasional shallow watering pan.  Soon the country opens up and the horses can start to stretch their legs along soft ground leading to the headwaters of a stream that flows off the ridge and down towards the Limpopo.  This is prime elephant country and the guides are always on the lookout, using all their sharpened senses.  
Once the path leaves the river the terrain is once again more open and the pace faster.  Follow a second river that leads to the veterinary control gate on the main road through Mashatu Game Reserve.  The route then follows the road for a short while before heading across flat country towards the intriguing Sacred Rock massif.  Here the mopane vegetation is short, and it is safe to ride quite fast across the plain.  Large herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala inhabit this area.  The guides plot their route using individual mashatu, leadwood and apple-leaf trees as their markers.
Soon riders reach the old leadwood enclosure. This was used in the past as a traditional law court of a Botswana village known as the ‘Kgotla’, and forms the perfect, secure camp for the night.  The camp is not far from the banks of the Motloutse River and, with high concentrations of game living along the river’s fertile floodplain, the area is home to large prides of lion and clans of hyena.  The sounds of these predators at night provide enduring memories!
In the afternoon, search for the area’s resident lion on a game drive, and draw the day’s adventures to a close with sundowners at the ancient “Amphitheatre” rocks. Whilst big cat sightings from horseback occasionally happen, Horizon Horseback follows a ride-away policy.  The best opportunities to approach lion, cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena occur whilst on game drives where the vehicle acts as a natural hide and is largely ignored by the predators.
Back at the Kgotla, enjoy dinner around a large fire. The night is spent with a ceiling of stars and Africa’s night-time melody to sing riders to sleep. This is a rare experience and about as far away from city life and the modern world as anyone can imagine.

Day 6
Sandstone Cathedrals – Exploring the Motloutse: Today the riding is more relaxed and tailored to the group. An interesting possible route to follow is first along the Motloutse River, stopping at well-known elephant drinking holes to watch the herds come and go before winding down towards the impressive Solomon’s Wall, a tall dolomite dyke which was breached by the river in ancient times.  This is the favourite haunt of troops of baboon, which are always fascinating to watch.  The trail then follows the banks of the river, flanked by giant mashatu and leadwood trees, towards the mighty Limpopo.  This area is renowned for its dramatic sandstone rock formations, steeped in colour and home to eland, klipspringer and kudu. 
The game drive in the afternoon takes the group to the foot of the impressive Mamagwa massif, a free-standing formation which was used by British troops as a defensive position against incursions from the Transvaal Boers at the end of the 19th century.  Sundowners are traditionally taken at the far western edge of the massif, with endless views over the wilderness landscape whilst watching the sun slowly slip over the horizon.  The drive back to Kgotla in the dark provides more excellent opportunities to spot lion, leopard, and hyena. 

Day 7
River Trails – Kgotla to Tree Camp: Today's route turns northeast and follows a series of river trails on the way back to the centre of the reserve.  Life in this arid environment is always concentrated near water, and the ride promises sightings of elephant, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest.  The route crosses the watershed and then winds along ancient paths adjacent to a stream flowing north towards the Majali River.  At these elevated heights the sweeping views reveal the true wilderness character of Mashatu Game Reserve.  The remainder of the day’s riding is a mixture of elephant trail trekking and canters across relatively open mopane veld.  The final stretch is along the Majali River itself, past rocky pools, cliff faces and ribbons of green grass.  Encounters with baboon, kudu, klipspringers and crocodile are likely.  Tree Camp is finally reached after 4-5 hours of riding.
In the afternoon riders leave their horses to a well-earned rest and either go on a guided bush walk or, if the group chooses, a game drive with the Mashatu Main Camp guides.  This opportunity, while provided at an extra cost, should not be missed as the near guaranteed sightings of lion and leopard, and sometimes of cheetah, are legendary.  The guides are very knowledgeable about the structure and whereabouts of the various prides and individuals, and failure to find them is very rare indeed.

Day 8
Tree Camp - Stables: After a quick breakfast, riders set off on the final ride of the safari.  The sweeping views to the east and south in early morning light is spectaculour. The trail continues along the edge of a ridge near the centre of the reserve.  The path then descends to a game rich area along the Majali River.  The deep river pools are the favourite haunt of baboon and impala.  Sooner or later the great herds of elephant come past for their daily drink, to play in the water, and enjoy a dust bath.
The final part of the ride is across open plains with some fast canters to the Stables.   Other notable sightings include Kori Bustard, the largest flying birds in Africa, bat eared foxes and ostrich.  
Once at the Stables, say goodbye to te horses. There is time for a shower and meal on the banks of the great river, and then a short journey to the Limpopo Valley Airfield for the flight to Johannesburg in South Africa.


 

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 £500 per person. Guests will need to meet at the information desk in the arrivals hall of O.R. Tambo airport (JNB) Please book flights that land before 9:30h 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.

Power banks: Only 1 per person and must be carried with you on your person and not be in any of your bags. This way any overheating Lithium ion batteries/powerbanks will be immediately identified and disposed of to avoid an inflight fire – this is a safety aspect.

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 2024
Please note some important information about transfer timing 

Arrival day
Clients to land at ORT by 09h30 latest. Meet info desk arrival hall at ORT. Arrive Camp Davidson 14h30 for a late lunch. If you choose a flight that arrives after 9.30am we can arrange for a private road transfer; 1 pax £250, 2 pax £175pp, 3 pax £100pp. This is over and above any transfer costs already paid. Alternatively you can arrange with your airline to arrive the day before and book a room at the airport hotel. Private transfers can be arranged for those missing the group transfer, but they will have a lengthy wait at the airport for a car to be arranged. Cost £324.00

Departure day
There is some flexibility and can arrange to get to OR Tambo in time for 18h30 flights. For flights departing between 17h30 and 18h30 we cab arrange for the flight to through OR Tambo, instead of Lanseria, with an escort through immigration at a cost of £200(for the service, not pp).

 

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 Mcclellan (similar to a stock saddle - comfortable for horse and rider) and they use Mcclellan’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 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 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

In South Africa the first 3 nights 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.



On night 4 in South Africa you will stay in either the Savannah Lodge or its sister lodge Seringa, situated on the southeastern side of the same game conservancy.  Both these luxury lodges are equally beautifully appointed with inside and outside dining and plunge pools and have access to the same riding through this beautiful and game rich area.



Two nights of 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 comfortable, 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. One night will also be spent at a unique Tree Camp in Botswana, this is usually reserved for the Tuli Safari.



A laundry service is offered on Day 3 in South Africa. You should bring enough clothes for 3 days. 



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. 



These are the Camps used on the New African Explorer:

Camp Davidson (Day 1-2): Camp Davidson was modelled on the old ‘outspan’ camps of E.A. Davidson (great grandfather to one of the founding partners of Horizon Horseback) when he was selling goods across the area from his wagon in the early 1900s. Horizon has captured the early camp atmosphere in Camp Davidson. Beautiful, decked canvas tents are nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy game filled valleys. Each luxury tent has an ensuite bathroom. The camp is completely run on solar energy and as a small swimming pool.

Bellevue Lodges (Savannah & Seringa) (Day 3): Savannah Lodge is on the southwestern side of the conservancy, while Seringa Lodge is on the southeastern side. Both lodges are tastefully decorated with a large comfortable living space and dining areas inside and outside. Both have a small pool which overlooks a plain where the wildlife frequent. 

Tree Camp (Day 4 & 7): Wrapped around the trunks of a giant mashatu and two ancient leadwood trees, Tree Camp perches several meters up, out of "elephant trunk’s reach" overlooking the banks of the Majale River and offers spectacular panoramic views of the adjacent cliffs and floodplain opposite where Mashatu's legendary herds roam.  Sleeping quarters are five beautiful and spacious canvas roofed areas with four-poster beds, each facing into the spacious dining and resting area.  The elevated platform offers a unique camp you will remember for years to come.     

The Kgotla (Day 6 & 7): The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community, which 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. There is hot running water, beautiful open-air showers and flushing toilets, the perfect combination of necessary comforts and an authentic bush experience. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which sits on a hearth in the center of the boma.  


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:

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 six months after your intended date of exit from South Africa has at least 3 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. CATEGORY SOUTH AFRICAN CHILD - FOREIGN VISA EXEMPT CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY BOTH PARENTS Valid passport Copy of a birth certificate / equivalent document or passport containing the details of the parent or parents of the child CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY ONE PARENT Valid passport Copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document Parental consent letter Copy of the passport / identity document of the absent parent Contact details of the absent parent where applicable- Copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child. Copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent • Valid passport CHILD TRAVELLING WITH PERSON WHO IS NOT HIS / HER BIOLOGICAL PARENT valid passport Copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document Parental consent letter(s) Copy of the passport(s)/ identity document(s) of the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) Contact details of the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) where applicable- Copy of a death certificate Copy of an adoption order Copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights / legal guardianship in respect of the child.

Valid passport EXEMPTIONS South African children travelling on South African passports may travel to South Africa without birth certificates. Supporting documents are not required where children are in direct transit at an international airport. A child presenting a passport which contains the details of his or her parent or parents is not required to produce a birth certificate/equivalent document.

Travelers coming from countries where yellow fever is prevalent need to present a certificate showing they have been vaccinated. No vaccinations are required for malaria as this is a low malaria risk area. 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: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-africa In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/SouthAfrica.html In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/south-africa


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

Health

There is currently a cholera outbreak in South Africa, so ask your doctor in vaccination is appropriate (if you are immune compromised).
The tap water is not safe to drink, we recommend bottled water.

Due to infrastructure problems, there are periodic blackouts called 'load shedding'. This means there is no power for up to 12 hours a day. This could have unforeseen consequences, such as interruption to the cold chain for food and medicines.

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.

Electricity

Also be aware that due to infrastructure problems, there is 'load shedding', meaning there is no power for up to 12 hours at a time. This could have unforeseen consequences, such as interruption to the cold chain for food and medicines. 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.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

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. If using a GoPro ensure to have the group's permission to be filmed.

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).

Power Banks: Only 1 per person and must be carried on your person and not in any of your bags. This way any overheating lithium ion batteries/powerbanks will be immediately identified and disposed of to avoid inflight fires. This is a safety aspect.

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
• A buff to cover your mouth when it is dusty
• 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

There is a laundry services included in the price, but please note, there is only one wash done during the week. It is taken from Camp Davidson on the morning of Day 3 and returned to you on the morning of Day 5 as you board the road transfer from South Africa to Botswana. We would recommend therefore, that you pack a minimum of three complete riding outfits.

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.

You will be equipped with 2 bottles for water which attach to the saddle and these will both be refilled each day to ensure you have enough water for the ride.

Programmes

This is an 8 day/7 night programme with riding on 8 days. There departures every Friday all year round.

Departure Dates

2024: Original African Explorer - Every Friday
Low Season: Jan, Feb, Mid Season: Mar, Apr, Dec
High Season: May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov
2025: Every Friday
Low Season 1 - 31 Jan; 6 - 12 Dec
High Season: 1 Feb - 5 Dec

2024: New African Explorer - Monday Departures
Low Season: 1-31 Jan; 3-31 Dec
Mid Season: 1 Feb - 28 Mar
High Season: 29 Mar - 2 Dec

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 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,119
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,059
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8double pp2,425
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,215
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp2,865
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,429
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp3,209
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,605
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,469
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,235
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8double pp2,859
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,429
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp3,379
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,689
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp3,735
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,869
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8double pp2,785
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8single supplement1,395
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8double pp3,185
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement1,595
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp3,765
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement1,879
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp4,215
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement2,109
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8double pp29,519
2024 -Original Explorer Low Season8d/7n8single supplement14,769
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8double pp33,799
2024 - Original Explorer Mid Season8d/7n8single supplement16,899
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp39,909
2024 - Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement19,955
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8double pp44,705
2025 -Original Explorer High Season8d/7n8single supplement22,355
Recommended Reading



 


Other Activities

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

Wildlife

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):
O.R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg (JNB)
Transfer:
2024: Road and charter flight transfer - approx. £520pp return (JNB-Camp Davidson-Tuli-JNB). Flights should arrive before 9:30am on day of arrival and depart no earlier than 20:00 on day of departure. (Subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London - Johannesburg (JNB) return £500 - £750. See below for flight info.
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