Horseback safari South Africa
Horse riding holiday South Africa
Horseback vacation South Africa
Faster riding safari
Luxury horseback safari South Africa
Luxury horse riding safari South Africa
Faster horseback safari
Big 5 horse riding safari
Big 5 horseback safari
Horse riding safari South Africa
Horse riding holiday South Africa
Horseback vacation South Africa
Big 5 horse riding safari
Big 5 horseback safari
Luxury horseback safari
Luxury horse riding safari
Gourmet horse riding safari
Gourmet horseback safari

Combine up-close game viewing from horseback with gourmet food cooked in front of you at 3 luxurious safari camps on the Karongwe and Makalili Reserves. This program offers more relaxed horseback riding than the full Big-5 itinerary. Again, no more than 7 experienced riders at a time on this luxury safari.  

Horseback riding into the bush each day gives riders some exciting, close encounters with game such as lions, giraffe, zebra, hyena, rhino and hippo. Most days start with a long horseback ride in the morning and, after enjoying an extensive  lunch, experience one of the other activities on offer in the afternoon: a game drive which allows a closer view of predators, a guided walk, or simply relaxing by the pool.  

During this equestrian vacation, guests are served food prepared and cooked by an expert chef. Watch Robin at work in the open kitchen and feel free to chat to him about his methods and the ingredients he is using to create some truly special delights for the group! The camps themselves are made up of luxury tents and chalets and each has it’s own unique aspect and character.

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Day 1
Guests are picked up at Hoedspruit airport by the transfer service (around a 1 hour drive.) On arrival, a light lunch or afternoon tea and coffee awaits guests. Philip, the guide, will introduce the safety procedures before going on the first safari. This orientation ride takes riders through the area surrounding the camp and is the perfect way to unwind from the journey in the peace of the African bush, and become accustomed to the horses and riding style. Keep an eye open for the first sighting of giraffe or zebra. Sundowners, looking out towards the Drakensberg mountains, is a perfect prelude to the generous 3-course dinner, accompanied by hand-picked South African wines, which awaits in the beautiful dining area, furnished with antique African art. The first night, with all its fantastic sounds and noises, is probably the most exciting one. Accommodation for these first two nights is in luxury safari tents with en-suite bathrooms, mounted on platforms above the Makhutswe River.

Day 2
Wake up with tea or coffee, and after a light continental breakfast, saddle up and head out on safari. The weather will dictate the day, but there is normally a 3-4 hour ride in the morning, and 2-3 hours in the afternoon. After returning from the morning ride, enjoy a lunch including homemade quiches, pizzas or pancakes, freshly baked bread and lots of green salads, meats and cheeses. Relax with a siesta after lunch just relaxing or enjoying a dip in the swimming pool. Maybe settle with a book from the camp library., After afternoon tea the group head out on the next adventure. The afternoon ride ends at a beautiful sundowner spot where, drink in hand, guests can enjoy the sunset!

Day 3
The morning is similar to day 2, and the afternoon is spent on a drive to the buffalo project. Gerti takes guests to the furthest northern corner of the reserve, along the Makuthswe River in search of these beautiful beasts. After lunch, enjoy a relaxing massage by our therapist in the well-prepared massage sala. The camp shop stocks our branded fleeces, jackets and sweatshirts, shirts, T-shirts, golf tops, hats, beanies, beads and accessories. 

Day 4
After packing bags for the next part of the adventure, the group ride to a new camp in the Greater Makalali Game Reserve. The luggage will be brought by vehicle. The new camp is situated on an open plain in front of a waterhole which is regularly visited by the local wildlife including hyenas, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, black rhino, elephants and lions. Arrive at camp after the morning’s ride. The big open kitchen is where Robin cooks up special and delightful meals. Over the next few days, he and his wife Claudia will be the hosts, arranging excellent meals in different spots in the bush, including some spectacular locations. Specially selected wines and cocktails will add to the tasting experience. Join Robin or Claudia in the afternoon for a game walk or drive around the camp.

Day 5
Today the group set out for a long morning ride, building up an appetite for more of Robins excellent cooking. Relax while chatting to Robin and Claudia about life in the bush. After the meal, set out on another drive or walk to track the local wildlife. In the evening enjoy a bush dinner served around the campfire.

Day 6
Today the group ride to XiDulu camp, the camp for the night. The gently undulating roads in this area lend themselves to long easy canters. Giraffe, zebras or wildebeest may pick up the pace and run alongside the horses, elegantly maneuvering through the veldt. Spectacular views over huge distances show the way to XiDulu. This brand new camp is of a five star level, is privately owned and not used for commercial tourists. Robin and Claudia continue to play hosts during the stay at XiDulu.

Day 7
Wake to the rich colours of sunrise and revive the fire for coffee and breakfast before embarking on the morning ride. The afternoon siesta is followed by a game drive. An open top Landrover will follow the directions of the tracker as he reads the tracks and spoor left by the big cats during the day. The resident guide, Patson, is exceptional, and guests often choose to do another game drive with him instead of a ride. Watch the sunset, drink in hand, as the drive continues into the night, where, with luck, some of the nocturnal wildlife will show its face. Bushbabies, owls, maybe even a leopard, may complete the day’s excitement. Dinners are served either at the edge of a big dam, in the dining area, or outside under the stars in a torch-lit boma.

Day 8
Leave the XiDulu camp behind on the long ride back to Wait A Little. The route home will depend on any tracks of elephant, lion, rhino, and giraffe that Philip may see along the way. The home team will be waiting for the riders and eager to hear stories of the latest sightings and adventures in the bush.

Day 9
After breakfast, mount up for the last day on safari. Spot the animal tracks with new gained knowledge. Spend the afternoon having a well-deserved rest or a dip in the swimming pool, have a massage, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of the camp. The afternoon ride ends at a beautiful sundowner spot where, drink in hand, the group enjoy a last African sunset! The last sundowner is often a sad, but beautiful, moment of the holiday. For the farewell dinner Gerti will choose something special - perhaps game fillets like kudu or eland served on pasta with sherry sauce.

Day 10
An early wake-up and a quick, sporty ride to finish this  horse riding holiday before the transfer service arrives to take guests to the airport.

Please note that there is one single room available at all camps for no extra charge, subject to availability on request at the time of booking. Otherwise there is no single supplement payable if guests are willing to share accommodation.

Transfer prices are subject to change due to fluctuations in fuel prices.

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

On this ride the predominant breed is the ‘South African Boerperd’. A beautiful and elegant type of horse, sensitive, responsive, well tempered, forward going and very brave. Other breeds used are Arab, Appaloosa and the American Quarter Horse ranging from 14.3 to 17hh. They are all well schooled, responsive, even tempered and in excellent condition.



There is a suitable horse (43 horses) for the competitive rider as well as for the steady hack. Every effort is made to match horse and rider. All horses are trained in basic dressage in the riding arena to ensure that your horse is responsive, well mannered and fun to ride. The training loosens their backs and softens their mouths so the horse is more in balance when on trail. All horses are spirited and forward going, some obviously more than others.



Saddles: A longer stirrup is better when spending many hours in the saddle and, after trying many different saddles, ended up with a simple Dressage Saddle made by Bates, Australia. This has been the saddle of choice as the saddle flaps are not too long not like with other dressage saddles, the knee roll not too thick and one really has the option of shorter or longer stirrups. The air cushion system is very comfortable for rider and horse and long distant rides in these saddles are a pleasure. There are also still some Leon Liversage Endurance saddles which are specifically designed for long distance rides. The saddle distributes the weight equally on the horses back and is in addition very comfortable for the rider.



Seat savers and sheepskins are offered for comfort.



Almost all horses go in a loose ring snaffle. Two or three stronger horses go in a rubber Pelham or Portuguese gag for their own comfort.


Rider requirements

Minimum riding ability is to post/rising trot and canter for stretches of 10 minutes at a time, to be comfortable at all paces and to be able to gallop out of trouble. It is a great advantage if you are a fit and proficient rider.

Sporty and long canters require a good level of riding. Bushwhacking with little jumps is one of Philips specialities and with a good balance it is great fun.

The minimum age is 12 years old. Children must be competent riders and able to follow directions from the guides. Please discuss with your travel consultant if you have children under 16 interested in this ride before booking

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

Base camp: Accommodation is in huge double-bedded canvas safari tents on platforms individually built and furnished in luxurious African safari style with private outside bathroom. From the decks, guests enjoy a magnificent view over the Makhutswe River. Enjoy a drink at the bar or relax at the swimming pool. The main area is equipped with a librarystocked with books about the wildlife, flora and fauna of South Africa. Please note that one single room is provided at all camps for people who don’t want to share accommodation without paying supplement, according to availability.



XiDulu has 5 rooms; 3 chalets with king size beds, and a honeymoon suite which is just a little bit bigger and has got its own private sala and fireplace. All rooms have inside and outside showers with hot water, a bath, toilet, air-conditioning and a private veranda. There is another smaller room in the main area, with a queen bed, inside and outside shower, basin, toilet and air-conditioning which is used for the single option. The main area has two dining areas, one outside eating area, a bar, a barbecue and an infinity pool with a built-in jacuzzi at the edge of the dam.



The food is a real highlight of this tour with a highly trained and passionate chef travelling with you to the camps to cook wonderful bush food served with specially selected wines and cocktails.


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

There is almost year-round sunshine, it can get rather hot in the summer month (October-March) averaging 32°C. Don’t be surprised to find your late afternoon growing heavy with pregnant clouds and being refereshed a short drenching thunderstorm. Winter (April-September) is a sunny season of chilly early mornings, warm to hot midday’s (25° C) and cool to cold nights (can get down to 5° C at night in June and July).

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)

It is recommended you start anti-malarial precuations before arriving in the South African lowveld, see your doctor for details.

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

There is electricity and WiFi available at the base camp and some of the other camps to enable you to recharge your camera equipment. It is advisable to bring any film/batteries you need with you.

Cameras: There are saddle bags available that fit small to medium sized cameras. Big cameras are not advisable as difficult to handle. However if you have to bring one your camera bag might be fitted onto the saddle if possible. It is not allowed for people to wear any cameras or bumbags that contain cameras or anything hard around their body.

Smart Phones: Smart Phones take great pictures, but are not so easy to handle from horseback. You can get clips for iPhones and androids at the airport that make them safer to hold in one hand whilst riding. You will be asked to keep the phone on silent and in flight mode on safari.

GoPros: GoPros have become very popular and are a great device for outdoor sports. However they can be very disappointing on a horse safari as the videos mainly consist of people from behind and due to the wide angle lens it’s also difficult to make out the animals. It also distracts from the animal sightings. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

Bring the riding gear you are the most comfortable in as you will be spending many hours in the saddle - probably more then you are used to. New riding gear needs to be worn in, it is not a good idea to do this on an 8 day horse safari where you can spend up to 6 hours in the saddle in a warm climate!

Pack some jods and riding boots in your hand-luggage, a change of underwear and a toothbrush and whatever else you think is absolutely necessary. If your bag gets lost during your travels it is of great advantage to have your well fitting riding gear in hand. We can help you out with leisure clothes, chaps, and helmets, but it is good to have some comfortable riding gear (in particular your boots)!

We do recommend wearing helmets, however it is not compulsory on this safari. If you decide to ride with a helmet, a good ventilated helmet has its advantages. There is a small collection of helmets on safari, but again, your own fits better and will be safer!

You have to have medical/travel insurance. Most insurance companies won’t insure you unless you wear a helmet, so be aware of that.

Make sure you have your travel documents and in particular, your travel/medical insurance details close to you.

Suggested packing list:

Riding hat or wide brimmed hat for sun protection
Jodhpurs or any kind of riding trousers,
Half or full chaps (there is a small election to borrow from the lodge but it is recommended to take your own)
Light cotton trousers to wear under chaps or in the evenings
Shorts for the midday break
Long sleeved shirts that give protection from the sun while riding
T-shirts
Swimming costume
Rubber flip-flops
Riding shoes - comfortable riding boots with thin tread and low heels
Casual evening clothes
Sweat shirt or jersey
Warm jacket in winter (May to August)
Hat
Suncream
Sunglasses (best secured on string)
Riding gloves
Torch
Insect repellent
Antihistamine Cream
Camera plus films/batteries/charging equipment
Binoculars
Laundry can be done at base camp. Beds are complete with sheets, duvets and duvet covers. Towels are provided.

Before you travel:
In case of lost luggage, give your host' address at the counter NOT your transfer provider'. Correct address to give at the airport lost luggage counter:
Wait A Little Big Five Horse Safaris (this is on Google maps)
Karongwe Private Game Reserve
Harmony 140, Portion 54
Hoedspruit 1380
Tel.: 0027832739788

Programmes

This 10 day/9 night programme is available most weeks all year round including Christmas and New Year.

Departure Dates

2024/5: Available on request throughout the year (please enquire.)

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 £
202410d/9n10double pp4,859
202410d/9n10single supplement2,429
202410d/9n10child 10-163,889
2025 10d/9n10double pp5,039
2025 10d/9n10single supplement2,519
2025 10d/9n10child 10-164,035
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
202410d/9n10double pp5,735
202410d/9n10single supplement2,869
202410d/9n10child 10-164,589
2025 10d/9n10double pp5,945
2025 10d/9n10single supplement2,975
2025 10d/9n10child 10-164,759
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
202410d/9n10double pp6,389
202410d/9n10single supplement3,195
202410d/9n10child 10-165,109
2025 10d/9n10double pp6,625
2025 10d/9n10single supplement3,315
2025 10d/9n10child 10-165,299
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
202410d/9n10double pp67,765
202410d/9n10single supplement33,885
202410d/9n10child 10-1654,215
2025 10d/9n10double pp70,275
2025 10d/9n10single supplement35,139
2025 10d/9n10child 10-1656,219
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Other Activities

Game drives including a night drive can be enjoyed during your stay.
The reserve is situated near the Kruger National Park and this area offers many other activities and excursions. Trips in the Park, Blyde River Canyon, the beautiful mountains of Magkobaskloof, visit of the orphan animal project at Tshukudu Game Lodge, the Snake Park, Kapama Cheetah Project or Moholoholo Bird Sanctuary can be organised. Very exciting is to join a research game drive on the Reserve. All these activities are at extra cost.

Wildlife

Game is plentiful on the Reserves including elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, wild dog, cheetah, spotted and brown hyena, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, bushbuck, steenbok, duiker, impala, waterbuck, blackbacked and sidestriped jackal, honey badger, baboon, vervet monkey, mongoose, warthog, bushpig, tortoise; special nocturnal creatures are porcupine, aardvark, civet, genet, caracal, serval, spring hare; water species are hippo, crocodile, otter and terrapins. Lot's of bird species are seen, especially at the big dams and along the rivers.

With the background of the Drakensberg mountains, Karongwe Game Reserve covers an area of 30000ha prime African bushveld. The reserve has various ecosystems ranging from open plains, woodlands, hills and kopies, to riverine and gullies. The three rivers that cross the reserve are the lifeline of the region and supports an impressive population of big trees, plants and wildlife such as hippo, crocodile, bushbuck, kudu, nyala, waterbuck and many different species of birds.

Other Information

Safety on the trail:
All rides are lead by Philip, a FGASA (Field Guide Association of South Africa) qualified guide and followed by a back-up rider. All camps and vehicles have radio contact, research teams are monitoring the big game and the guide carries a hand held radio. A safety briefing is held at the beginning of the safari, how to handle big game situations. A first aid kit is carried on each ride.
Clients will be ask to sign an indemnity before going on safari.

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):
Hoedspruit (HDS) Airport, South Africa
Transfer:
2024: from Hoedspruit £45pp each way for 1-2pax, £35pp for 3pax, £30pp for 4 or more pax. Private transfers from Johannesburg £280 per vehicle each way for 1-3pax, £380 for 4-7pax, £440 for 8 pax. Please note that transfer costs may vary due to fluctuating fuel costs
Flight Guide:
London - Hoedspruit return from £980pp return.
London - Johannesburg return from £650pp return
Johannesburg - Hoedspruit from £185pp return
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