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 riders of all levels. Everyone leaves with their confidence boosted, there is a huge herd of top-quality horses.
Go for long rides at varied paces, exploring the furthest reaches of the ranch, gather beneath the eucalyptus trees to join an exciting game of polocrosse (Warning: this is addictive), ride with game such as giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, impala, kudu, hippo and many other species. Experience nights under African stars at their stunning luxury camp, 'Camp Davidson', telling stories around the campfire, 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 LT of Slough on 06/12/2019
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 you 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. You can also take a day ride to neighbouring ranch. Juan has a big reserve next to Horizon, it is only possible to cover around 30% in a day. As well as large quantities of game also on Horizon there is wildebeest, blesbok, ostrich and red hartebeest. 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. When combining a Camp Davidson stay with a safari at the Horizon Lodge there are two options;
1) The preferred option for most riders is the mid-week excursion. This allows riders to spend their first and last nights at Horizon lodge with everyone. Booking it this way does incur a small supplement on top of the Horizon lodge room rate, so the client would pay the normal lodge pppn rate plus a small per person per night supplement - this means that riders keep their Horizon lodge room and simply pack a small overnight bag to go to camp.
2) Alternatively riders can book the Camp nights at the start or end of their holiday. This way riders do not hold a Lodge room whilst at camp and then pay only the camp rate.
Camp is usually only available Tuesday to Friday but please enquire if you would like to do Friday to Tuesday.
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:
The 10.30 Group transfer: 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.
Alternative arrival transfer: this transfer is timed to meet you as you land if you arrive outside of the group transfer window. The hosts reserve the right to combine passengers from different bookings on these transfers if they are travelling on the same flight or flights landing within 30mins of each other. 2021: £206 (£222 in 2022) per car for 1-12 pax.
Private Transfer: the vehicle is reserved for your sole use and can be used for shopping en route if required. 2021: £270 (£292 in 2022) 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. You must be in possession of a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your return date and has at least 3 blank pages. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.
NEW RULES ON TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN - DEC 2019:
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are required will no longer have to carry supporting documents. This is because they would have been required to provide these during the visa application process.
Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are not required may be asked to produce supporting documents upon entry. Even though producing supporting documents is no longer compulsory, travellers are strongly advised to carry the supporting documents.
In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be sufficient to establish the identity of the parents of the travelling minor.
General Entry Requirement Information:
A valid passport is required for travel to South Africa for U.K. or most other European nationals. Technically, your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport meets this requirement. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages if you require a visa to enter the country. If you do not need a visa, one blank page will be sufficient. If you are visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa. If you overstay, you are likely to be declared undesirable and denied entry into South Africa in future. The enforcement of these penalties is strict, and appeals can take many months to process. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0230/0233.
In South Africa the UK High Commission is at No.19 Parliament Street, Cape Town, 8001, Tel +27 21461 7220.
The High Commission for the Republic of South Africa in the U.K is at South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP. Telephone: (020) 7451 7299. Email: email@example.com.
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.
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 antimalarial medication. Current Malaria areas are; North-eastern Kwazulu-Natal, low altitude areas of Mpumalanga and low altitude areas of Limpopo. Malaria season is in the summer or rainy season. All travellers should avoid insect and tick bites day and night by using insect repellent and should wear adequate sun protection during the day.
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.
We advise speaking to your doctor at least 8 weeks before your trip, to check the latest country-specific health advice and to see if you need any additional vaccinations or precautions while travelling. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. There is no reciprocal health care agreement between the United Kingdom and South Africa.
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.
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.
The electricity supply requires a 3-holed, round pinned adapter. If you have a European two pinned adapter you can buy an adapter at Johannesburg Airport.
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. You need a riding helmet and sunglasses with string. 2 pairs of riding trousers, half chaps are recommended, riding gloves, jersey, warm jacket (May-August), shorts, long sleeves shirts, T-shirts, sarong, swimsuit, raincoat (seasonal), sun block, insect repellent, camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt, plenty of film and batteries, binoculars, 2 pairs of lightweight riding boots or trainers.
Riding hats are compulsory and we strongly recommend that you take your own hat as there is only a very limited selection to borrow on site.
Horizon works with various projects in the area and are often asked what they would like in terms of donations. If you have any of the following taking up space at home, or would like to ask friends to make donations, they are collecting the following items:
Wool - the ladies make baby blankets and hats
Brightly coloured material offcuts - Horizon support a sewing project making table mats out of bottle tops and scrap material,
A spare pack of sanitary items is great as these are donated to the high school so girls don’t have to take time off school especially in exam times.
Any old clothes, shoes, blankets, books or stationary that you would otherwise throw away. Horizon is involved with local schools and creches and helps where possible with a local outreach project working with the very poor.
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.
2021 Low Season: 5 Jan - 12 Feb; 22 Feb - 31 Mar; 20 Apr - 20 Jul
2021 High Season: 13 - 21 Feb; 1 - 19 Apr; 21 Jul - 4 Jan 2022
2022 Low Season: 1 January - 30 June
2022 High Season: 1 July - 31 December
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||£|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||double pp||199|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||Single supplement - adult||99|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||205|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||305|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||205|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||229|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||175|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||199|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||44|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult pp||71|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||265|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||399|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||265|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||229|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||265|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||44|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult||71|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||double pp||235|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||Single supplement - adult||119|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||239|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||359|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||239|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||269|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||199|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||235|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||52|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult pp||84|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||309|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||469|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||309|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||265|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||309|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||52|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult||84|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||double pp||275|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||Single supplement - adult||139|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||279|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||419|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||279|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||319|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||239|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||279|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||61|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult pp||99|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||369|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||549|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||369|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||315|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||369|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||61|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult||99|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||double pp||2,395|
|2021 Camp Davidson||per night||1||Single supplement - adult||1,199|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||2,455|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||3,675|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||2,455|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - single per night||2,769|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||2,069|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||2,419|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||535|
|2021 Low Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult pp||859|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,205|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Luxury Lakeside Chalet - single per night||4,815|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Garden Chalet - double pp sharing per night||3,205|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - double pp sharing night||2,735|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Standard Room - single per night||3,205|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 1n adult pp||535|
|2021 High Season||per night||1||Mid stay Camp Davidson Supplement 2n adult||859|
‘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.
The average day in South Africa starts early so the main work of the day is complete before the sun starts to really burn. Shops are open from around 07.30am and it is also acceptable to call people at that time.
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.