A must do horse riding holiday! This 22,000 acre ranch with some game is set deep within Waterberg Mountains and offers varied and exciting riding for all levels. Everyone leaves with their confidence boosted, there is a huge herd of top-quality horses.
Enjoy long rides at varied paces, exploring the furthest reaches of the ranch before gathering beneath the eucalyptus trees to join an exciting game of polocrosse (Warning: this is addictive). Ride with game like giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, impala, kudu, hippo and many other species. Experience nights under African stars at the stunning luxury 'Camp Davidson' (extra cost), while telling stories around the campfire and picking up tips from the most savvy horsemen around.
Horizon is most well-known for its relaxed atmosphere and sunny hospitality; everyone feels welcome and at home in the shortest time and almost everyone returns.
|Read a personal review of this trip.|
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 HW of Tewkesbury on 04/01/2023
The Riding Options
In order to meet individual preferences, the ranch does not run to a set itinerary for this riding holiday. They offer guidelines as to what they think the guests will enjoy each day, but the daily activities are organised to meet each client’s specific requirements. Rides are organised into small groups so that experienced riders can enjoy stimulating and fast rides, whilst novice riders are brought on at a pace comfortable to them. Individual requests for private rides, flatwork coaching, cross country lessons or round pen demonstrating, can also be easily accommodated. A number of non-riding activities are always on offer for those feeling saddle weary.
The Ranch is superb riding country. The going is easy, the horses run unshod on perfect sandy soil, and though the bushveld is thick in places, most of the countryside is open and flat and perfect for extended canters. Rocky koppies provide an ideal vantage point from which to appreciate the vastness of the Waterberg plateau. Swimming the horses in one of the many dams is an excellent way to cool down after a long morning ride. Leisurely viewing of the resident hippo family, either sunbathing in the winter sun or wallowing in the dam, has proved to be a popular interlude during a ride. One can also take a day ride to neighbouring ranch.; Juan has a big reserve next to Horizon and it it is only possible to cover around 30% in a day. As well as large quantities of game there are also wildebeest, blesbok, ostrich and red hartebeest on Horizon . Lunch is taken at Windsong Cottages.
Camp Davidson Luxury tented camp
Horizon have set up a static luxury wilderness camp with A-frame walk-in tents and proper beds - a fantastic way to experience the night sounds and noctural happenings of the African bushveld. Take a dip in the pool after a fantastic day's riding, tell tales round the campfire, enjoy a South African braai and watch the sun go down with a cool crisp glass of wine. A great addition to any stay at Horizon. Camp Davidson is categorised as an Intermediate and above level of ride. Exceptions will be made for Camp Davidson exclusive bookings where the ride will be taken at the lowest level of rider.
Camp Davidson makes for a wonderful combination when combined with a stay at Horizon itself.
This is generally booked on site as a mid-week excursion there is a small supplement on top of the Horizon lodge room rate for this option, this means that riders keep their Horizon lodge room and simply pack a small overnight bag to go to camp.
Camp can be booked and paid for locally and runs with a minimum of 4 pax.
An amalgam of polo and lacrosse, polocrosse is easy to learn and one of the most exhilarating sports on horseback. To guests who have never played before we introduce the game slowly, running through the basic rules and showing the tricks of the trade when it comes to stick work. Then it is- “in at the deep end” – with a full game. One chukka is usually all it takes to bring out the competitive spirit!
There are several jumps lanes around the reserve that can be added in as part of general rides or as part of a jumping session. These are small jumps (max 50cms) and are ideal for those who want to enjoy some not to challenging natural obstacles. For riders with cross country experience there is a course of a dozen jumps ranging from 50-100cm; those wanting to do the cross country course will be required to take a show jump test before tackling the cross country course.
Those interested in yet another challenge can join in the fun of western games. Barrel racing and pole bending are fun ways of schooling yourself in the art of light commands and quick responses.
Those staying at the lodge can enjoy leisurely rides within the ranch's private reserve throughout their visit. The reserve borders the homestead and offers the opportunity of riding with plains game such as giraffe, zebra, kudu, impala, hartebeest, hippo, eland, waterbuck, wildebeest and bushbuck and many of the smaller mammals such as duiker, steenbok and black-backed jackal, baboons, vervet monkey and warthog. As the Melk River forms the eastern boundry of the reserve, regular sightings of hippos are also possible.
When out of the saddle, why not take the opportunity to enjoy a guided bush walk. Guests are also encouraged to meet the locals from the nearby village and to visit their children at the farm crèche and school. The children love to see foreign faces and they may even sing for you! Fishing is available at Sunset Lake. Alternatively spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun by the pool with a good book. A trip into the local town of Vaalwater is always on offer for shopping and an insight into bushveld retail therapy! Beadles is a shop close to Horizon Ranch which offers lots of beautiful bead and leather items which make great gifts, or Black Mamba in town is treasure-trove of curios if you would like to get some mementos of your stay. There is also an excellent full time onsite masseuse to ease the aches of the riding day. Approximate prices: Head/neck and shoulder massage of 30min is R300, Full body of 1 hr is R450, foot massage or Indian Head Massage R250 per 30min.
You may also wish to enjoy a game drive (approx. R520pp for a half day) and visit Entabeni game reserve to see lion, cheetah, elephant and if you are lucky, the elusive leopard! Minimum age is 6 years old. It is also possible to take an exhilarating helicopter flight over the dramatic escarpment to see all corners of the enormous reserve. Other activities which can be booked on-site are elephant-back safaris, walking with Wild Dogs, ziplining and cycling on a nearby reserve.
Every night the milky way is visible! The stars are amazing from Horizon. A professor who know all about the stars can come and give a talk with a laser pointer (R1,500 per evening) or even bring a telescope and do a more detailed astronomy evening (R5,000 per evening)
An amazing horse riding holiday with so much to take in, you'll want to come back for more!
Transfer time is approximately 3 hrs. There are 3 different options regarding the transfers to Horizon Ranch:
Group transfers 10.30am on arrival, after 19.00 on departure: Landing before 9.30 departing ORT at 10.30am Departing the lodge at 2pm. Please report to the info desk in the arrivals hall as you land. If you are the only one landing that day, or if everyone is landing early, the transfer will depart the airport early. Cost in 2023 approx £128 pp each way.
The +60 Transfer Per Booking: Landing between 6.55am - 10.55am Possible wait a maximum of 60mins and will share with guests arriving at similar time. Cost in 2023 approx £255 per car.
Private Transfer Per Booking: 1 – 12 pax (Not sharing and travel anytime for early or late departures). Cost in 2023 approx £300 each way.
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.
The horses used are primarily local South African Boerperd, crosses and some Thoroughbreds. 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.
The saddles utilised on this ride are McLellan (similar to a stock saddle - comfortable for horse and rider) and they use McLellan’s or English for jumping. The horses are ridden in English bridles with snaffle bits.
There is plenty of different types of riding on the ranch to suit the needs of every rider and their ability - choose from trail riding in the surrounding reserve, cattle mustering, swimming in the Dam on your horse, Western Games, private flatwork and cross-country jumping lessons from skilled instructors to the highly addictive game of Polocrosse which is guaranteed to get your excitement levels pumping!
Any level of experience can be accommodated. Itineraries are flexible according to your abilities and requirements. Riding hats are compulsory (there are a limited few to borrow if needed). There is no minimum riding age for this holiday.
Weight limit: 95 kg (15 stone) for beginners, higher for experienced riders.
The weight limit for this ride is 210 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The lodge overlooks a beautiful lake. The large colonial verandah is the perfect spot to take in the beauty of South Africa while listening to hippo and jackal calls. With no TV and no newspapers, it is the ideal place to get away from it all.
Guests are accommodated in double rooms in the main house (all en-suite) or traditional thatched rondavels. A lovely swimming pool overlooking the dam is the perfect spot to wile away an afternoon in between riding. The atmosphere is very relaxed and guests are encouraged to help themselves to drinks from the fridge whenever they want and all meals are taken around the dining table like one big family.
Food is this ranch’s second love. Before an early morning ride, guests are offered a light breakfast. After working up an appetite on your ride, lunch is served under the giant Syringa tree in the garden, followed by afternoon tea and cake at about 3pm. Dinner is a sociable and sumptuous affair, during which the day's adventures, or misadventures, are recounted with great delight. The carefully planned three-course menus are accompanied by a selection of fine South African wines. Fresh vegetables and home-grown herbs are used in all recipes, with the homemade bread and cakes freshly baked on a daily basis. Special diets can be accommodated with ease.
There is WiFi available at the ranch and mobile reception is usually available. Baby-sitting can be arranged, payable on site.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.
NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures
Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country. As of 2022 there are 52 countries with visa-free travel to SA including UK, EU, USA and Canada.
You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa has at least 2 blank pages if you need a visa, otherwise 1 blank page is sufficient.
Travelling with Children to South Africa:
Adults traveling with minors under the age of 18 need to show the child’s birth certificate which shows the details of both parents. If the child is traveling with one parent, it is also necessary to present a parental consent affidavit signed by the other parent. Since 2019 carrying these supporting documents is no longer compulsory but is advised.
Travelers coming from countries where yellow fever is prevalent need to present a certificate showing they have been vaccinated.
Passport and Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.
Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: 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
The best time to visit South Africa is from April to September generally when the days are sunny and warm (25 Celsius). Evening temperatures however drop sharply. This is also the best time for game viewing as animals gather around watering holes. Temperatures begin to climb mid to late September. The rainy season begins in November, peaks in January and ends in March/April. This is when the young are starting to be born, again, great game viewing. Summer months are September to April. October, November and February are the hottest months, with temperatures varying from 12 degrees C to 38 degrees C at midday. The rains can start in October, with the occasional thunder shower. December to February are the wettest months. Winter is May to the end of August with no rain. Evening and early mornings are cold. Temperature varies from 8 degrees C to 24 degrees C at midday.
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.
There have been a few isolated confirmed cases of malaria in the Waterberg area. We recommend taking mosquito repellent and taking preventative measures. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
In South Africa the supply voltage is 230V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 230V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.
It is recommended you bring plenty of film and batteries with you, however there will be some supplies available but they may not be exactly what you need. There is WiFi available at the ranch and mobile reception is usually available.
Khaki, green and bush colours; please avoid wearing white as this scares wild life or black as it tends to attract insects.
Advised things to bring:
• Your own well-fitting hard hat - Hard hats are mandatory (we can supply if needed)
• Comfortable riding clothes, this is not the place to test out brand new boots, wear everything a couple of times before bringing it on safari. Neutral colours such as khaki, brown, navy, and green are preferable. Light-coloured garments such as whites and creams should be avoided
• Short boots and half chaps, ride/walk book are perfect. Long leather boots are also good but long rubber boots are not advised.
• Bum bag
• Lip salve, hand cream, and moisturiser (it’s dry here!)
• Strong sun protection cream factor 30 or higher
• Mosquito repellent
• Hiking boots or sneakers
• Swimming costume.
• Light weight long sleeved shirts.
• Camera, memory cards and spare camera batteries
• If you ever suffer from regular bouts of illness e.g. cystitis, sinusitis, eczema, asthma, allergies etc please bring your preferred medication its best to have whatever you may need with you.
• Ibuprofen and deep heat are also useful items, especially if you aren’t used to long hours in the saddle
• In our Winter, mornings can be chilly and days hot so bring layers, a vest, shirt fleece and body warmer are ideal winter wear.
• In summer pack a lightweight rain coat
• Books for when you are relaxing between rides
• For Botswana we also recommend a power bank and high lumen torch or head torch
Full laundry service is included when packing do bear in mind the fact that you host offer a free of charge laundry service. They can normally turn laundry around within 24 – 48 hours.
This may sound strange but if you would like to purchase a spare pack of sanitary items to donate, please do, we donate them to local schools, many girls cannot afford them and have to miss school and exams also if you have any old clothes, shoes, blankets, books or stationary that you would otherwise throw away and have some room in your luggage please do bring it with you. Horizon is involved with local schools and creches and helps where possible with a local outreach project working with the very poor. As such we have lots of people who are grateful for any old clothing. Please do not feel you have to now go out and buy items to bring, - it is not by any means expected - it is just that over the years so many people have expressed regret at not knowing how useful that item they threw away last week would have been to someone here.
This holiday is offered all year around; please see the climate summary for the best times to visit. Stays can vary from a minimum of 3 nights.
2023 Low Season: Jan, Feb.
2023 Mid Season: Mar, Apr, May, Jun.
2023 High Season: Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.
Please see "sample itinerary" below for details
Child prices available please speak to your Travel Advisor
It is possible to have a third person in a room - check with your Travel Advisor
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||235|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||349|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||235|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||265|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||199|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||235|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||255|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||385|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||255|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||285|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||219|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||255|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||299|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||449|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||299|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||259|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||299|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||265|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||395|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||265|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||299|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||225|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||265|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||289|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||435|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||289|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||319|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||249|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||289|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||345|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||515|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||345|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||295|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||345|
|Riding days||Product item description||US $|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||295|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||439|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||295|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||329|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||245|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||295|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||319|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||479|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||319|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||355|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||275|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||319|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||379|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||565|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||379|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||329|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||379|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||2,965|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||4,445|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||2,965|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||3,349|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||2,505|
|2023 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||2,965|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,259|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||4,895|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,259|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||3,589|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||2,775|
|2023 Mid Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||3,259|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,835|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||5,749|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,835|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||3,325|
|2023 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||3,835|
‘Land Mammals of Southern Africa’ – Smithers; ‘Memories of a Game Ranger’ – Harry Wolhunter; ‘Birds of Southern Africa’ – Ken Newman; ‘Cry, The Beloved Country’ – Alan Paton, ‘Jock of the Bushveld’ – Fitzpatrick, ‘A Chain of Voices’ – Andre Brink, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ – Nelson Mandela. ‘Over The Rainbow’ –Gavin Bell. For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com
Extra activities to do whilst staying at the ranch include;
Game drives on other private reserves such as Entabeni and Welgevonden.
A massage by the pool
Telekeshi Mountain hike
Afternoon at the local soup kitchen
Church visits on Sundays
Cycling on Lindane
Night sky safaris
Walking with Wild Dogs
These extra activites incur an extra charge payable and bookable on site.
Game is plentiful both on the ranch and in surrounding reserves, including rhino, elephant, buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, reedbuck, bushbuck, steenbok, impala, roan antelope, duiker, waterbuck, tsesebe, bat-eared fox, side striped and black backed jackal, African wildcat, baboon, vervet monkey, honey badger, spotted hyena, mongoose, meerkat, warthog, tortoise and ostrich. Special nocturnal creatures – porcupine, aardwolf, aardvark, civet, genet, serval and spring hare. Water species – hippo, crocodile. Predators – leopard, lion, cheetah and wild dog. Full safety instructions will be given and followed whilst viewing game
The tap water is drinkable.
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