Riding on the beach in South Africa
Cantering along the beach
On the coast, Indian Ocean
Riding through the surf
Riding on the sandunes
On the beach
Beachside accommodation
Double room
Horseriding sunshine coast
Sunshine coast riding

Experience everything that South Africa is known for on this unforgettable week-long trail; clean, deserted beaches that stretch on for miles, rocky outcrops to explore by horseback and rivers to swim through on responsive horses. Each day, you'll be covering between 10-20 miles riding along the stunning beaches of the Indian Ocean. This is a ride to suit intermediate riders onwards, part of the trail includes crossing rivers on horseback, which will involve riding bareback. Once you've had your fill of creek crossings and beach gallops you can explore a game reserve on horseback with the chance of seeing elephant, buffalo and giraffe.

In addition to the thrilling riding on offer at this destination you'll also be taken on a river boat trip (also in a Big 5 area) and you'll spend many evenings sitting on the rocky outcrops with a cold drink watching the sun go down. Accommodation along the trail is in twin or double rooms at beach-side guesthouses and cottages, varying from comfortable to rustic - you can relax listening to the waves from the comfort of your room. This week-long stay includes all meals and you can expect home-made food with picnic lunches and multi-course dinners. The horses are Arabian crosses and your ride leader is is an experienced endurance rider with a passion for maintaining and preserving the wildlife of this region. This is a thrilling and affordable trail for intermediate riders onwards who want beach riding, swimming, wildlife spotting rolled into one action-packed week.

Read about Rachel's trip here

 

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 MS of Bonn on 15/12/2022

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
Varied from the sample itinerary
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
No WiFi and electricity at camp, detailed program of the day.
What could we do to improve this ride?
More transparency of daily program
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
3
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
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. We are updating the itinerary accordingly but Jono did arrange upgraded accommodation for you due to the usual options being fully booked. Glad you enjoyed the ride overall :)

Sample Itinery: 

Day 1
Meet at  Port Elizabeth airport around midday on Saturday and transfer to Kenton (a two hour drive) where we check into your tented camp on the riverside. After changing into riding gear and we head off for a short river ride followed by snacks and drinks. The evening meal is usually fresh fish.

Day 2
After an English breakfast we drive by bus to the start of our trail at Port Alfred. The scenery is spectacular and the beaches often deserted. We have a pack lunch at the rocky outcrops of "Ship Rock".  After lunch more beach riding, often with long canters in the surf as the tide pushes in. Overnight at Kasuga. (Riding: 5-6 hours)

Day 3
After breakfast we ride towards Kenton-on-Sea on beautiful, remote beaches with long canters. It may be an early or late start, as we try to ride with a low tide. It is normally a highlight of the trail and the beaches are like the previous day. After 25km, swim bareback across the Kariega River and then picnic on the riverbank. After lunch, we head upriver to our luxury tented camp. Sit with sundowners and snacks on the deck, with the horses nearby and wait for dinner, which is usually a barbecue.

Day 4
Today we head off to ride in the nearby game reserve and ride among 4 of the “Big 5”. The views are breathtaking and we ride over a large area with the chance of seeing elephant, rhino, buffalo, zebra and giraffe and other game. It’s mostly slow riding with limited cantering in the reserve. We start heading back to the tented camp by about 3pm, then weather depending, swim and sundowners on the beach. 

Day 5
Today is a non-riding day but it is a welcome rest from three hard riding days. We spend the day in the Addo Elephant National Park touring in private vehicles. This is an amazing opportunity to see elephants up close in their natural habitat as well as the possibility of seeing any of the Big Five: lion, elephant, buffalo, zebra and many others. Overnight at the tented camp.

Day 6
After an English breakfast we head off to Cannon Rocks. You'll have to swim the Bushman’s River at low tide and this is always a popular adventure. It is a slower pace of riding and we can explore the coves and outcrops on horseback. Look out for stone-age pottery in the ancient human middens (stone-age rubbish dumps!) left behind by the Khoi San who were the original inhabitants of the area. We picnic at the famous Diaz Cross, so named by the first European to sail around the tip of Africa. The coastline here is spectacular and you'll spend the night in a beach house with lovely views.

Day 7
In the morning we ride on beach and enjoy remote coastline, where it might be possible to gallop, getting back to the tented camp for lunch. In the afternoon, we'll take a boat trip up the tranquil Kariega River and maybe have a relaxing swim. In the evening there will be a braai and drinks round the campfire.


Day 8
You'll be able to enjoy a last short ride in the morning (depending on departure times) and then be transported back to the airport for your afternoon flight.

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 here are a hardy mix of Arabian crosses. They are safe, well mannered and are very lively when needed but also happy to plod along with less experienced riders. The saddles provided are comfortable trail riding saddles and soft bits are used on all the horses. Guests can assist with grooming and tacking up their horse but help is available to do this.



The riding is a mix of paces to suit the different terrain and is fast in places. You need to be confident riding in open spaces and in control at a fast pace. This trail is not suitable for very nervous or novice riders. You'll be riding in trail saddles, made locally, designed for the comfort of both horse and rider alike. We recommend you wear half or full chaps with comfortable riding boots and a light weight riding helmet, preferably with good ventilation. There are a limited number of chaps and helmets at the stables, but we recommend that you bring your own for a good fit. The bareback part of the ride is ridden at a walk.


Rider requirements

To make the most of this trail, we recommend that riders are healthy and have a relatively good level of fitness (although you'll get fitter while on the ride!). This trail needs a degree of physical fitness, as these rides are not recommended for inexperienced or unfit riders. This trail includes different types of riding including long canters on sand, to relaxed walks with the wildlife we encounter along the way. We also swim with our horses through two rivers and do a few shallow crossings so you need to be happy doing this and riding bareback (in-between river crossings) for short periods.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 231 lb/105 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

It’s important to spend the evenings in comfortable accommodation after long days in the saddle. You will stay each night in a variety of  accomodation including beach houses, guest houses, beach hostels, a luxury campsite and a quaint farm cottage. Accommodation is in twin or double rooms with private bathrooms, on some nights there may be single rooms available but this is not guaranteed and depends on availability. All the accommodation is either on the beach or very close to it and many of the rooms have sea views. The first nights accommodation has a swimming pool for those who want to take a refreshing dip after the days ride. The tents during the 3 camping nights are quite private but close together each with two comfortable beds in. The bathrooms are rustic but comfortable with hot water, flush toilets, a bath and a shower.



You'll be able to enjoy homecooked or restaurant meals while on this trail. Breakfast is usually served around 8am, lunch is usually a packed lunch or picnic around 12.30 and dinner is normally around 6.30pm. You can expect a varied menu which could be a barbecue with salads, pizza at a local restauran or a speciality potato bake followed by a home-made carrot cake for dessert.


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. In 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: 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

Overall, the Eastern Cape region's climate is typically Mediterranean, with warm, dry summers and mild, moist winters and low summer rainfall. Near the coast, summer’s temperature rises from a pleasant low of 15º C to a heart warming 27º C. Inland temperatures are some 3-5º C higher. Coastal winters see the mercury dropping to a mild 7º C at night and rising to a comfortable 18º C by day. Away from the beach, morning wakens to an invigorating 5º C and midday peaks at 22º C. To many, March and April signal idyllic weather. Summer's heat subsides, the wind settles and autumn casts its brightly coloured mantle, generating red, burnished colours spreading from the mountain tops to the sea. In keeping with its sunny, tranquil character, a temperate climate with gentle, intermittent precipitation complements the warm summers and mild winters.

Climate Chart

Climate chart for Kenton

Health

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.

Electricity

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

There is electricity available on all nights and most of the accommodations do also have wifi, however this cannot be guaranteed as it varies from place to place.

Packing List

• Jodhpurs or riding pants.
• Riding chaps or long boots.
• Riding hat (available to borrow)
• Shorts for walking and hiking.
• Walking shoes or boots to ride in.
• Flip flops or sandals.
• A couple of light long sleeved shirts with collars to protect you from the sun while riding.
• T shirts and tops.
• Light long trousers.
• Something comfortable to wear to dinner in the evenings.
• Warm clothing 1 x jersey (jumper/fleece) to ride in and a nice one for the evenings!
• Light weight rain jacket/wind breaker that can be tied to your saddle.
• Sun block. Factor 50 is recommended!
• Swimming costume and swimming towel.
• Tick repellent (there's potential of tick bites)
• A torch (flashlight)
• A camera
• South African plug adaptor

Programmes

This is an 8 day / 7 night programme on set dates available year round. Departures are usually the first Saturday of each month.

Departure Dates

2023: 13, 28 Jan; 10, 24 Feb; 10, 24 Mar; 7, 21 Apr; 6, 20 May; 3, 17 Jun, 1, 15, 29 Jul; 11, 25 Aug; 8, 22 Sept; 6, 20 Oct; 3, 17 (FULL) Nov; 1 Dec
Short breaks can be organised on request, please enquire.

Pricing
A single room can be booked for no extra supplement when available.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2023 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,319
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2023 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,549
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2023 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp1,779
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2023 - 7 nights8d/7n6double pp18,255
Other Activities

A boat ride up a river at sunset is included in the tour.

Wildlife

This ride includes a a day at the Addo Elephant National Park as well as riding in the Sibuya Game Reserve. You can see elephants here in their natural habitat as well as the possibility of seeing any of the big 5. Animals that can be seen are lion, elephant, buffalo, zebra and many others.

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):
Port Elizabeth (PLZ) Airport, South Africa
Transfer:
Transfer from/to Port Elizabeth Airport is included. A 2 hour drive.
Flight Guide:
London to Port Elizabeth (PLZ) from £650 return
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