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Horse Safaris South Africa

Most horse riders and lovers across the globe love the idea of riding amongst South Africa’s big five. Even for those who do not consider themselves to be terribly strong riders, many horse safaris in South Africa provide one of the ultimate game-viewing experiences to be had in the country. Few other game-viewing options provide a way of getting off the road and into the bush where you can quietly snap photographs of game only meters away. There are many South African horse safaris available across the country. If you can ride or enjoy the company of these exquisite animals, we suggest you get in contact with your travel agent to make arrangements.

As horses are animals, most wildlife pay little, if any, attention to them. This means you can get really close to a large number of animals without much more than some slight tension. Of course, human voices and noises would raise alarm in most wild animals so it is best to keep this to a minimum if you intend on seeing any game. Many South African’s would not even dream of venturing so close to Africa’s game on foot – knowing full well the dangers that even herbivores can unleash on an unsuspecting victim. However, from the height of a horses back, with those powerful legs beneath you, all this changes. Not only can you see game more easily, but you possible dangers in the long grass long before they become a threat. It also provides you with an instant top speed of anywhere between 50 – 70 km per hour so you can escape dangers much quicker than if you were on foot. Then of course there is the ultimate experience of sharing the wonders of nature with one of man’s most endearing companions.

The various horse trails and safari rides available in South Africa usually cater to a variety of riding skills. Trails which allow you to see the Big Five will usually only cater to experienced riders and trail guides have the authority to stop the trail or change it if they deem one or more riders unfit to handle the task at hand. Visitors should keep in mind that this is for your own safety – the last thing you would want to fall from your horse as he shies from a leopard or buffalo or to hinder his movements while he is attempting to flee from danger. Calmer trails may not feature such impressive animals, but they will usually allow you to see plenty of game which is just as rewarding. It is also a good idea to pay strict attention to your guide and follow his rules as he is in the best position to keep you safe and make your horse safari ride more enjoyable.

Many of the horses used on South African horse safaris or trail rides are locally bred for their ruggedness and good temperaments. Boerperds are popular, as are Basuto ponies. However, you will often find that other breeds such as Dutch Warmbloods, Arabs, and Thoroughbreds may be used. The majority of horse safari companies invest in Mclallan saddles as they are cheap and effective though not always very comfortable. Stock saddles, English general purpose saddles and sometimes western saddles may also be used. Since comfort for horse and rider are a top priority, some of the more expensive horse safari companies make extensive use of a locally made trail saddle which is built on request to fit each specific horse. Saddles often come with a sheepskin bumnah to provide added comfort for long hours in the saddle, though they can be quite hot.

Trails may vary from a few hours to a few days. You can enjoy a multi-day safari ride in complete luxury or you can rough-it in the African wilds. Not all companies provide protective clothing and your own clothing usually fits better than any which may be available for guests. You can use comfortable jeans or specialised riding pants, half or full chaps, a rigid, protective riding hat or a wide-brimmed soft hat, gloves or no gloves, and shoes with a small, safe heel. It is good to remember a high-factor sun cream as many riders suffer from sunburn. Insect repellent is also recommended. A small number of top-notch horse safari companies have been listed below but there are many others available. If your travel agent is unable to locate a suitable company on your behalf, you might try contacting the largest reserve available in the region that you will be visiting as these usually offer game viewing experiences from horseback.


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