We GUARANTEE you won't find the same horse riding holiday at a lower price through any other source... and if you do, we promise to refund the difference!
from £196 or €225
Suitable for beginners through to experienced riders. Non-riders can visit but Horizon is very much geared towards riding activities. Suitable for children too.
Rates are quoted per person sharing. NEW FOR 2024 – SIGNATURE SAFARI (running Sunday to Sunday this is a Horizons Safari Ranch stay to include a night at Bellevue Lodge in game reserve & night at luxury Bush Camp Davidson)
Includes – All the riding, accommodation, meals, drinks & alcohol.
Excludes – Flights, transfers & tips.
Suitable for intermediate through to experienced riders. This is a new option for 2024 and runs on select Sunday to Sundays..please ask. It includes 1 night ride out and overnight to Bellevue Plains game reserve and 1 night ride out and overnight to luxury Bush Camp Davidson. It’s a wonderful option for more experienced riders as offers great variety.
Includes – All the riding, group transfers, accommodation, meals, drinks & alcohol.
Excludes – Flights, optional Big 5 Safari game drive (£98) & tips.
Horizons Safari Ranch is a flexible holiday and you can book by the night. We recommend 7 nights to make the most of your trip. The 7 night Signature Safari is new for 2024 and runs on select Sunday to Sundays. It combines Horizons Safari Ranch with an outride and overnight at either Camp Davidson for a bush camp experience and/or add a night or two at neighbouring Bellevue Lodge with its vast herds of game. It is sometimes possible to book and pay for these extra overnights on spec at Horizons if you have not booked the Signature Safari but that depends on availability.
Signature Safari the Signature Safari is a fixed date safari which captures all the best elements of riding at Horizons. Spread over 7 nights, the safari not only covers a great deal of riding – over 150 km on horseback through truly spectacular landscapes, with regular sightings of a wide range of wildlife species – but also fun activities such as splashy canters, swimming with horses, mustering the horses at dawn, playing polocrosse and popping over a series of natural obstacles on the way to a spectacular sundowner spot. To cover these distances and enjoy all these activities, while maintaining the cohesiveness of the group, riders need to be of at least an intermediate level.
Guests will typically enjoy 2 riding activities a day – generally a longer ride in the morning and either a shorter ride or fun riding activity in the afternoon. Over the course of the safari, riders will get to see all parts of the 15,000-acre reserve using carefully planned routes which take into account all the game hotspots and interesting natural features. Given the diverse habitats- from wide open plains to savannah, rocky outcrops, wetlands and dense forest-like habitats – they are sure to encounter a wider range of wild animals than usually seen even on a trip to some of the most famous national parks in Africa. Species typically seen within this veritable Noah’s ark in the Waterberg include the following: giraffe, hippo, cape buffalo, eland, zebra, sable, roan, kudu, impala, waterbuck, red hartebeest, nyala, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, blesbuck, bushbuck, ostrich, baboon, vervet monkey, warthog and jackal. Occasionally seen are crocodile, brown hyena, serval, duiker, bush pig, steenbuck and reedbuck.
The safari allows guests to enjoy a range of accommodation types, from the well-known Horizon Lodge perched on the edge of a gorgeous lake and surrounded by horses, to glamping under canvas at Camp Davidson high on an isolated ridge, to enjoying safari chic at one of the Bellevue Plains lodges which look out over expansive plains filled with herds of wildlife.
International flight to Johannesburg.
A 3-4 hour transfer from Johannesburg airport. Group fixed time transfers available. Pick up time is 10.30am and therefore flights must arrive no later than 9.30am and departures are afternoons, therefore flights should be evening departures no earlier than 7.00pm.
Horizons Lodge open all year, arrive and depart any day
Signature Safari runs Sunday to Sunday
Horizons Safari Ranch has been personally vetted by Zara and her family who had a fabulous stay (as have all our Horse Riding Holidays South Africa). We do test every ride to ensure that the quality of the horse riding, accommodation, food and scenery combine to provide only the best Horse Riding Holidays in South Africa for our clients.
Don’t forget our Horse Riding Holidays GUARANTEE. You won’t find any of our Horse Riding Holidays in South Africa at a lower price through any other source… and if you do we will refund the difference
Laura and Shane Dowinton’s stunning Waterberg ranch offers a great horse riding holiday in South Africa coupled with a warm friendly, home from home atmosphere in a super comfortable lodge. All riding standards are catered for and there are over 90 horses in their herd, many trained following the method of natural horsemanship. This is the perfect destination for riders who want to experience riding in Africa with the absence of big dangerous game. During the holidays it is also a perfect family option too..
It is a flexible holiday with options to ride out on the reserve, play polocrosse, enjoy western games and for experienced riders some cross country jumping can be organised. The rides are organised in small groups so that experienced riders enjoy stimulating and fast rides, whilst novice riders are brought on at a pace comfortable to them.
Your Horizons Safari Ranch hosts Laura & Shane Dowinton are originally from the UK and have managed to create an informal yet highly professional atmosphere at this wonderful, genuine ranch. Year after year we have clients returning to Horizons because they have had one of the best holidays of their lives. Horizons Safari Ranch is by far one of the most popular, all round riding safari destinations we offer as part of our collection at Zara’s Planet.
Horses – Anglo-Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Boerperds and cross breeds, plus smaller ponies for children.
Level of Riding & Pace – Beginner to Advanced.
Tack – English style with South African McClellan saddles and some English saddles.
Weight Restriction – 16 stone / 102 kg / 224 lbs.
Group Size – Maximum 10.
Horizons Safari Ranch provides a very comfortable private lodge with a mixture of accommodation – there are ‘standard’ & ‘deluxe’ double rooms in the lodge and 4 large private rondavels (cottages) in the grounds. The lodge is set in a beautiful area, right on a lake with pretty gardens and a swimming pool. The accommodation is stylish and comfortable, with standard rooms in the lodge suited for single travellers and the larger, private rondavels close to the lodge and lakeside which are great for families or honeymoon couples.
Additional overnights for the Signature Safari are:
Stay in decked canvas tents nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy valleys. Each tent is appointed as it would have been in Ted’s day with classic items that would have been essential to the traveller accustomed to regular nights in the bush. The tents have beds, sheets and duvets. Each tent also has an en-suite bathroom area with bucket showers. There are jug and basin hand wash facilities and flushing toilets.
There is a nice small pool to cool off in after a days riding.
This lodge is stunning lodge and a real treat for guests. As well as enjoying the views and creature comforts, guests will see lots of game and enjoy some good riding.
Our horse riding holidays are thoroughly researched – we consider all the elements that go towards making our horse riding holidays collection the best in the world. We check the quality of the horses, if they are fit for the job, well produced and looked after. We make sure the riding terrain is good going, the countryside is interesting and, for example, on Classic Dressage horse riding holidays, the arenas are in good condition. We make sure the accommodation, whether it’s a five star hotel, a farmhouse or camping, is clean and comfortable, and offers a great night’s sleep. The food is all important too – we take the time to make sure we tell you if it’s cordon bleu, home cooked, or regional and locally sourced – above all it has to be delicious, plentiful and nourishing. Last but not least, we choose the horse riding holidays that have the best hosts, who are friendly, warm and welcoming.
Please Ask About
Example Horizons Safari Ranch Itinerary
The beauty of Horizons is there no set itinerary and the riding is tailored to suit you. The rides are kept small with rarely more than eight guests. Guests can also be taken out on their own if requested. On a typical day set out after breakfast on an early morning ride for 3-4 hours. Return to the lodge in time for lunch.
Early afternoon you may wish to relax, cool off in the pool or a go for a walk in the surrounding bushveld. Once the heat of the day has subsided, have afternoon tea and set off for a late afternoon ride. Rides depart early morning and late afternoon, following trails through the reserve. Wildlife you are likely to see on the private game reserve include species such as giraffe, zebra, hippo, impala, eland, kudu, caracal, jackal and warthog. There are also over 300 species of birds recorded in the area.
Depending on the presence of the hippo in the dam, there may be the chance to swim with your horse. On your departure day: You may have to vacate your room after breakfast so that it can be made ready for arriving guests.
Signature Safari Itinerary
DAY 1 – SUNDAY: Transfer from Airport and First Encounters – Introductory Ride
Guests will be personally met at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg by our sister company, Saddlebag Shuttles. The road trip up to Horizon Lodge in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve in Limpopo Province takes about three hours. After a light lunch in the gardens of the Lodge, and later a sumptuous tea, guests will be introduced to their horses. The first ride is a gentle introduction to the reserve and an excellent opportunity for first encounters with species such as zebra, giraffe and hippo. The riding ranges from purposeful walking to easy cantering along sandy tracks and culminates with sundowner drinks on the open plains.
Horizon takes great care to match horse to rider based on a guest’s riding experience and ability. Given that the first two nights of the safari are spent at the Horizon Lodge, the operational hub for Horizon’s herd of close to 100 horses, there is ample time to ensure that the most suitable horse is available for the long days in the saddle over the last five days of the safari.
DAY 2 – MONDAY: Open plains, swimming with horses and game galore
The ride this morning is generally sporty. The route follows the centre of an open valley which is home to species such as kudu, sable, reedbuck, red hartebeest, waterbuck and impala. The sandy tracks make for excellent going, and the route crosses open grassland and weaves through dense woodland. Dark red pedigree cattle bred on the property are often encountered on this route. When conditions are suitable, the last stretch of the ride involves splashy canters along the edge of the lake adjacent to Horizon Lodge. This is a great experience, but don’t expect to remain dry in the process! There is also the chance to cool off whilst experiencing the exhilaration of swimming on horseback. The afternoon ride heads east following the river past a series of dams where encounters with hippo are likely and returns across the open plains. At this time of day there is often much activity on the plains, with the herds mingling in the soft sunlight and different groups coming and going as they prepare for the night. It is a truly magical experience to be able to ride so close to these wild animals, which have become completely relaxed in the presence of the horses.
DAY 3 – TUESDAY: Ride to Bellevue Lodges and Hunting for Buffalo
An early start is needed for the long ride from the Horizon Lodge to either Savannah Lodge in the far south west of the reserve, or Seringa Lodge in the south east. The first part of the route covers country that riders will now be somewhat familiar with, but soon enters new terrain. In places the bush is thick but after a while the scenery opens up to grasslands with sweeping views to the south and west. Riding through this landscape gives riders a sense of the vastness of the African plains. The area boasts a very high concentration of game with herds of over 300 blesbuck, or 80 eland, often sighted. Other species which are home to the plains include red hartebeest, tsessebe and ostrich. There are plentiful zebra, wildebeest, impala and giraffe, and smaller groups of sable, roan and waterbuck. The final stretch to Savannah Lodge is along a wooded stream where kudu and bushbuck are likely to be seen.
After a relaxing time around the pool and within the sophisticated lodges, it is time to ride to the southern most areas of the reserve in search of Cape buffalo. These are members of Africa’s famous “Big Five” and deserve their formidable reputation. Riders therefore need to be alert and responsive to the guides’ instructions. This area is known for its spectacular sunsets as the sun sets over the distant headlands of the Waterberg escarpment – a fitting end to an eventful and memorable day in the African wilderness.
DAY 4 – WEDNESDAY: Return ride from Bellevue and “Big Five” game drive
Another long ride through game rich country returns riders to the heart of the operation, Horizon Lodge. The route taken is different from that on the outward leg, turning this part of the safari into an exciting journey passing through diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Game species typically prefer different habitats, with nyala and bushbuck for instance occupying dense forest-like sections of the reserve while blesbuck and hartebeest stick to the open plains, and waterbuck and reedbuck, unsurprisingly, are normally seen close to streams and other waterways. The route provides excellent opportunities to see giraffe, which is always a highlight.
After more than five hours in the saddle, the afternoon activity is a game drive in the nearby Entabeni or Welgevonden game reserves. Although this involves an hour or more of travel to reach these destinations, the opportunity to see lion, elephant and rhino in their natural environments make this excursion well worthwhile.
DAY 5 – THURSDAY: Bush breakfast and Camp Davidson
Horseback rides in a game reserve are always interesting because one never knows what animals will be encountered. The route on this day goes deep into the reserve to parts with a real wilderness quality. After about three hours in the saddle, riders arrive at a giant wild fig tree for a delicious bush breakfast prepared on an open fire. After this hearty meal the route back to the lodge passes through a dense forest area where some of the shyer species like to shelter. That afternoon guests leave Horizon Lodge and head towards Camp Davidson for an exciting night under canvas. The camp is perched high on a ridge overlooking a vast wilderness area to the east. This is not a long ride, but the route is exciting, following a narrow trail along the edge of the ridge. Wildlife often encountered in the area includes baboon, bushpig, kudu and klipspringer. Porcupines are frequent nocturnal visitors to the camp and leopard spoor outside the tents is not uncommon.
DAY 6 – FRIDAY: Sunset Lake, splashy canters, polocrosse and winetasting.
Today’s route covers the north eastern areas of the reserve, descending from the camp to cross a stream and open plain and then tracks through untouched bush to the upper reaches of Sunset Lake. This lake is a favourite haunt of the hippo on the reserve and home to crocodile, otter, fish eagle and other waterfowl, such as the beautiful African jacana. Guests ride along the water’s edge and must be constantly on the lookout for the hippo. These animals, while having a reputation for being some of the most dangerous in Africa, are not a threat during the day but will often honk and blow as they observe the riders go by. The route offers an opportunity for exciting splashy canters, which the likes of Esme and Laura Collett loved doing. Having left the lake, riders cross open plains with some quick riding back towards Horizon Lodge. After the morning’s exertions, guests can relax around the swimming pool and enjoy the beautiful unspoilt surroundings. The afternoon activity is polocrosse, an amalgam between polo and lacrosse. The game is highly addictive and is sure to bring out competitive passions! Horses which are used to playing the game are used and no previous experience of playing polocrosse is required. What is guaranteed is a great deal of fun. Tonight’s dinner starts with a wine tasting , each wine is paired with a complimenting amuse-bouche.
DAY 7 – SATURDAY: Long Buffels and jumping lane to sundowner spot
The route follows the valley down to eastern edge of the reserve, before crossing up to the highlands near Camp Davidson and then winding along game trails back to the lodge. There are places on this ride for extended canters, interspersed with off-piste riding with very scenic views across the highlands of the Waterberg. In the afternoon, riders follow a route interspersed with optional cross country jumps on the way to sundowners in a stunning spot with views over the rolling hills. A slow ride back to the Lodge at dusk completes the day’s adventure.
DAY 8 – SUNDAY: Final ride and Transfer to Airport
By now riders are well versed in all aspects of the safari experience, and in consultation with their guides can suggest a favourite ride for their final experience. This is a last opportunity to ride amongst Africa’s incredible antelope species through a beautiful environment on superb horses. Following lunch in the garden it is time to embark on the road transfer back to the airport in Johannesburg.
This holiday is often described as a dream riding experience. It is sure not to disappoint.
Zara’s Planet Horse Riding Holidays Guarantee:
All our horse riding holidays hold a price guarantee. We believe in your piece of mind on price when you book one of our horse riding holidays and will refund the difference should you find the same horse riding holiday elsewhere at a lower price.
If you are having trouble finding exactly the right horse riding holiday for you from our horse riding holidays collection, please contact us directly using the form below and tell us in your own words what you would like to do and we will use our extensive knowledge to make sure we find that perfect horse riding holiday.