The Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape is named for the sudden storms, wild winds and heavy seas with the occasional freak wave that have haunted mariners throughout the ages and led to plenty of shipwrecks over the years. Many rivers cut deep into the land on their journey towards the sea and the surrounding plains are rich with fresh green plant life. The coast itself stretches out for miles in long white sandy beaches. This area is also the home of the Xhosa tribe whose most famous son, Nelson Mandela, was born here. To a great extent, rural life continues unchanged in the interior.
This is an exhilarating point-to-point equestrian vacation for intermediate and advanced horseback riders, from beach to beach, from surf to savannah, and past shipwrecks while spotting whales and dolphins in the Indian Ocean. Cross the mighty Kei River on a pontoon with the horses and head into the Transkei to experience rural Africa on horseback. The equestrian trail takes in a long stretch of coastline with accommodation in remote traditional hotels in beautiful settings.
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 MM of okehampton on 02/03/2023
On arrival at East London airport, guests will be transferred to Kei Mouth Guest Lodge for a light lunch before changing into riding clothes and taken up to the beach paddock. There is a short introductory ride around the local area in the afternoon. It gives riders the opportunity to blow away those travelling cobwebs and get to know the horses before the week's adventure. A relaxed, friendly evening meal awaits back at the guesthouse where riders relax before a comfortable night’s sleep. Overnight at Kei Mouth Guest Lodge (or similar)
The adventure starts now! After a light breakfast, it’s back up to the paddocks and a short ride down to the Kei River to cross by ferry to ride over rocky headlands and long stretches of beach. The trail leads to hidden waterfalls where the group enjoy a picnic lunch and a swim. Then it’s to Trennerys or Seagulls Hotel (both quaint, authentic hotels that give guests a real taste of traditional South African holidaying). Unwind with a walk on the beach or maybe a been over a game of pool before enjoying a great dinner, and time with your riding group. The itinerary is relaxed and there is plenty of time to explore the area. Overnight at Trennerys or Seagulls Hotel.
Awake to the sound of the sea. Today's ride covers 40km. Heading out from the hotel, the group continue up the coast, traversing rolling hills and sandy beaches and passing through rural settlements. Cross a number of inland river drifts before the ride veers back to the sea for a breakfast, or lunchtime picnic on the beach. Tides permitting, the rest of the day is a breath-taking ride on long, endless beaches, which means faster riding and the thrill of a good horse in a great location. Another traditional beach hotel, Mazeppa Bay (or similar), is the next stop. Exploring the secluded beach leads to a suspension bridge onto one of the only islands along the coast. A pleasant evening spent soaking up the relaxed atmosphere gives riders the opportunity to unwind after a challenging day in the saddle. Overnight at Mazeppa Bay Hotel or similar.
The next leg of the adventure is “The Gorge”. This route leads through a beautiful river ravine and over some tricky terrain. Once through the rocky river bed, the ride heads back to the sea through valleys and along winding cattle tracks before reaching the next destination – Kob Inn (or similar). Arrive just in time for lunch. Relax in the afternoon and soak up the laid back hospitality of another coastal treasure. With a pub on the rocks overlooking the wild seas and sheltered private beaches on either side, this is an exquisite location to kick back and truly embrace ‘Africa time’. Overnight at Kob Inn Hotel or similar.
Today is a full day in the saddle. The tides dictate the day's schedule which will takes riders about 20kms up the coast along sheltered beaches, hidden coves and beautiful lagoons. The guide will select a suitable for a picnic lunch and a swim in the lagoon before heading back to Kob Inn (or similar) for an evening of delicious dining and maybe a few cocktails! Overnight at Kob Inn Hotel or similar.
It’s time to head back down the coast again. Once more, the timing of the day’s riding will be dependent on the tides as there are rivers to cross, hills to climb, and beaches to canter along on the way to Wavecrest Hotel (or similar). After a +/- 30km ride, riders can relax in the afternoon. Indulge in a little pampering at the Wavecrest spa, or maybe explore the rare mangrove forests by boat or canoe. More South African coastal hospitality awaits, thanks to the Wavecrest team. Overnight at Wavecrest Hotel or similar.
From Wavecrest, if the tide is right, the ride back to Kei Mouth will be fast-paced and along the beach before having a late lunch at the country club. Alternatively, in the case of an inland start, the group will stop for lunch en route and hit the beaches at low tide for some fast canters in the afternoon before arriving back in Kei Mouth. The last night of trail is spent, once again, at the home and guest lodge of the hosts. Enjoy a typical South African braai (BBQ); finishing off a week of unforgettable riding with the warm hospitality.
The shuttle will collect guests for the transfer back to the airport at 1pm. There will probably be an opportunity to enjoy one last ride and meet the other horses at the farm; either on a ride through the indigenous bush or maybe in the school to do some jumping and swim with the horse in the farm dam before it’s time to say goodbye to the horses and head home- or onto a new horsey adventure.
All riding and itineraries are subject to change due to variations in local conditions, hotel accommodation availability, rider’s abilities, the weather & the influences of the sea tides and during the rainy season the conditions of the rivers.
Please note that it is compulsory for all riders to wear a protective hard hat when mounted. There are a selection of hats available at Kei Mouth, however it is advised that riders take their own where possible.
TRANSFERS FROM and RETURN TO EAST LONDON
All transfers are paid in cash in South African Rand direct to the driver. Transfers can be booked on your behalf or you can book direct - please note that prices quoted are subject to change without notice and are not guaranteed, payable on site to the driver in ZAR only (preferably cash but card payments might also be possible, please enquire). Transfer time is approx 1 hour. Price guide: shared between the number of passengers, and is on a sliding scale; it starts at 1 person at (2023) R1150.00 up to 9 people at R1400.00 per trip.
There is no charge for single room occupancy, but single rooms are subject to availability.
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.
There is a large selection of horses to choose from including Arab crosses, Anglo Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Boerperds and Percheron crosses. They all stand between 14.2hh and 16hh and mostly ridden in snaffles. The horses are selected and trained for trail riding with great care; they are the other half of the team that makes your holiday a fantastic experience. Just as your guides are professional and know the area in which they operate, so the horses are familiar with the environment and conditions in which they are ridden. Each horse is handpicked and trained for trail riding. They are sturdy, comfortable to ride, beautiful, forgiving, easy to ride and control, yet lively at command and enjoy their work.
The saddles are especially designed for trail riding by Leon Liversage. The saddle distributes the weight equally on the horses back and is very comfortable for the rider. The design with a high pommel and cantle makes one sit straight automatically and is therefore better for you and the horse. Each horse has its own saddle to ensure a comfortable-and perfect fit. Each saddle is equipped with a splash-proof saddlebag carrying 2 water bottles and can hold a camera and other essentials while out riding for the day. The tack and equipment is scrupulously maintained.
The trail pace varies from walking through the game reserve to enable good game viewing, long trots and canters on open plains, to optional fast gallops down the beaches
Strong intermediate or advanced riders who are comfortable at walk, trot and canter and happy to gallop on the beach. The horses are fit and forward going but gentle and reliable enough for the holiday rider, and also of such a standard that the more experienced rider will have a good time. The trail pace varies from walking through the game reserve to enable good game viewing, long trots and canters on open plains, to fast gallops down the beaches. Riding fitness is helpful in order to enjoy the 30-40km days.
Children can be accepted on the trails as long as they are confident advanced riders who ride regularly and are 12 years and older. There are several excellent ponies available. Riders are required to wear a hard hat on this ride.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
The current accommodation venues are:
Meals - Breakfast: A variety of cereals, farm yogurt, toast, home made jams & preserves, homemade butter, free range eggs, home made sausage, bacon, tomatoes, fruit juice and filter coffee and tea. So you can choose between a traditional English breakfast and the continental equivalent. Breakfast is buffet style.
Lunch: A variety of cold meats, cheese, salads, fresh bread, pudding, fresh fruit juice and fresh fruit are available. Some days we enjoy a pub lunch at one of the local hotels whilst others are a saddlebag picnic. In the late afternoon we savor the last glow of the day while enjoying a selection of wine and malt available. This gives you the perfect opportunity to relax and relive the day's events.
Dinner: At the restaurants there will be a variety of entrees to choose from, including fresh seafood. Dinners are 3 or 4 courses long and a sociable affair! Usually on one evening there will be a traditional South African "braai” or “potjie" with all its trappings. Sizzling tender farm-style beef, venison steaks and mussels bubbling on the coals satisfy a hungry rider after a long day in the saddle and in South Africa many friendships are made around the campfire. Dinners will be accompanied by a selection of good South African wines to complement the meal and finish with a nightcap of local liqueurs.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.
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, as of 2023 there were no Covid restrictions in SA.
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
CHILD ACCOMPANIED BY BOTH PARENTS
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
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
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.
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
January / February: It’s summer, and the weather is hot & humid with afternoon thunder showers, we have to be aware of flooding rivers! While riding, one cools of by swimming the horses in the sea and lagoons.
March: Days are long and warm, still some chances of rain as the wet season tapers off. The riding is good and the sun is not as harsh.
April / May : Autumn, with warm days and blue skies. Good riding weather.
June. July / August: Winter days are dry and warm, with cool nights. The sun sets early, but the weather is so fine you can be out on your horse all day. Good riding weather.
September: The end of winter. It can be windy and wet.
October / November / December: Lovely time of year, everything is green and fresh as the spring rains bring relief to the parched earth. Riding is mostly fine during the day, with late afternoon rainstorms and we have to watch the river crossings. The temperatures are pleasant until around mid-December when the summer heat kicks in.
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.
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.
Film and batteries can be purchased at East London before you arrive at the Wild coast but we do recommend to stock up before you travel. 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.
• Jodhpurs or riding pants.
• Riding chaps or long boots.
• Own riding hat.
• 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. Jeans will do.
• 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!
• A good warm rain proof coat.
• Light weight rain jacket/wind breaker that can be tied to your saddle.
• Sun block. Factor 50 is recommended!
• Swimming costume and swimming towel.
• A torch (flashlight)
• A camera and binoculars (battery charger).
• South African plug adaptor!
• Reading material
• Other items of a personal nature.
8 days / 7 nights / 6 riding days on set dates. For groups of 2 or more it may be possible to arrange other dates, please enquire.
2023: 1 (FULL), 29 Jul; 26 Aug; 16 Sept; 14, 28 Oct; 11, 25 Nov.
2024: 10 (FULL), 24 (FULL) Feb, 6 (FULL) Apr; 4, 18 May, 1, 22 June, 20 July; 17 Aug, 14 Sep; 12 Oct; 9, 30 Nov;
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OTHER ACTIVITIES AND RECOMMENDED EXTENTIONS:
• Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve
• Miarestate Hotel & Spa
• Morgan Bay Hotel & Spa
• Big 5 game drive & elephant interaction
• Township Tours
• Golf & Tennis
• Hikes & walks – mountain bike trails
The flora rejoices in a vast array of indigenous coastal forest, prehistoric Cycads, tree orchids, Kiepersol, Sneezewood and Yellowwood. Lush vegetation with plentiful water, forest and fruit trees provides a beautiful environment for over 250 species of birds. Inland, coastal and sea birds rub shoulders and compete for sky space. Above it all, the regal Fish Eagle can be heard to shriek his haunting cry
Julie-Anne was born into the hospitality trade - her parents were hoteliers. She has ridden horses since she was a small child, competed in show jumping and has now progressed to Endurance and trail riding. She has completed over 3000 km of competitive long distance rides, represented the Eastern Cape 4 times at the South African National Championships, completed several 100 milers and was short listed for the South African National Endurance Riding Team in 2003. Her experience, organizational talent, knowledge and love of horses and cheerful nature make her the perfect trail master and hostess.
Julie-Anne's philosophy reflects her way of life. "We give our guests fabulous horses and ride in the middle of what I regard as paradise. We only take small groups to allow an extremely high level of individual care and has a low impact on our precious environment."
Clint has a degree in agriculture. Together with Julie-Anne he owns a cattle ranch with approx. 200 head of cattle, which is run along holistic principles. Clint is an active conservationist and his knowledge of the African bush is immense. This attitude to nature, his qualifications and his knowledge of the bush and animals makes him an appreciated advisor and guest at nature reserves.
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