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