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South Africa & Botswana
African Explorer safari riding in 2 countries

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Horse Riding Holidays South Africa & Botswana – African Explorer Safari

PRICES & DATES top

Here is a lovely video of the African Explorer ride to give you a feel of what to expect. Enjoy!

 

African Explorer – South Africa and Botswana: Prices 2024

Suitable for intermediate plus riders. During the Botswana section of the ride you are riding with big dangerous game and must be secure and confident in the saddle at all paces. Rates are quoted per person sharing.

(combining 3 nights at Camp Davidson, 1 Night Savannah Lodge (South Africa) and 3 nights in Botswana)

GBP, £ EUR, € USD, $
Choose your currency

  • High Season (May, June, July, August, September, October, November)
    7 nights – $3,634
    • GBP: 2,860
    • EUR: 3,334
  • Mid Season (March, April, December)
    7 nights – $3,081
    • GBP: 2,425
    • EUR: 2,827
  • Low Season (January, February)
    7 nights – $2,694
    • GBP: 2,120
    • EUR: 2,471

Single SupplementThere is no Single Supplement if willing to share, otherwise it is a 50% supplement.

Note: Rates are subject to daily exchange rate fluctuations, please refer to our ‘Terms & Conditions’ for full details.

Includes – All the riding, accommodation, meals, drinks & alcohol.

Excludes – Flights, transfers, $60 to enter Botswana game park, $75 optional game drive in Botswana & tips.

African Explorer – South Africa and Botswana: Dates 2024

This safari runs Friday-Friday all year round.

Getting There
International flight to Johannesburg.

Transfers
A 3-4 hour transfer from Johannesburg airport to your initial camp in South Africa. It is then a 4-5 hour private road transfer to Botswana on day 5. On your final day we organise a flight out of Botswana back to Johannesburg airport.

Shared road transfers from Johannesburg to Camp Davidson, Camp Davidson to Limpopo and a charter flight from Botswana to Johannesburg are £520 per person. To avail of shared transfers you must arrive into Johannesburg before 9.30am and depart after 8pm. Pre-booked private transfers cost £250 for 1 person in the car,  £175 between 2 for the car, £100 between 3 people for the car.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We do recommend flying in the night before to avoid any stress of delayed flights. If you miss your transfer we will organise a private one at the ADDITIONAL cost of £324 and note there may be a waiting time.

If you would like to avoid the flight transfer from Limpopo back to Johannesburg you can take a road transfer, please ask us for a quote.

We can arrange also arrange private transfers for some parts if you wish.

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.

African Explorer – South Africa and Botswana: Prices 2025

Suitable for intermediate plus riders. During the Botswana section of the ride you are riding with big dangerous game and must be secure and confident in the saddle at all paces. Rates are quoted per person sharing.

(combining 3 nights at Camp Davidson, 1 Night Savannah Lodge (South Africa) and 3 nights in Botswana)

GBP, £ EUR, € USD, $
Choose your currency

  • Low Season (January & December)
    7 nights – $3,196
    • GBP: 2,515
    • EUR: 2,932
  • High Season (February to November)
    7 nights – $4,079
    • GBP: 3,210
    • EUR: 3,742

Single SupplementThere is no Single Supplement if willing to share, otherwise it is a 50% supplement.

Note: Rates are subject to daily exchange rate fluctuations, please refer to our ‘Terms & Conditions’ for full details.

Includes – All the riding, accommodation, meals, drinks & alcohol.

Excludes – Flights, transfers, $60 to enter Botswana game park, $75 optional game drive in Botswana & tips.

African Explorer – South Africa and Botswana: Dates 2025

This safari runs Friday-Friday all year round.

Getting There
International flight to Johannesburg.

Transfers
A 3-4 hour transfer from Johannesburg airport to your initial camp in South Africa. It is then a 4-5 hour private road transfer to Botswana on day 5. On your final day we organise a flight out of Botswana back to Johannesburg airport.

Shared road transfers from Johannesburg to Camp Davidson, Camp Davidson to Limpopo and a charter flight from Botswana to Johannesburg are £560 per person.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We do recommend flying in the night before to avoid any stress of delayed flights. If you miss your transfer we will organise a private one at the ADDITIONAL cost of £330 and note there may be a waiting time.

If you would like to avoid the flight transfer from Limpopo back to Johannesburg you can take a road transfer, please ask us for a quote.

We can arrange also arrange private transfers for some parts if you wish.

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.

SUMMARY OF THE TRIP top

This is a very exciting and we think affordable safari ride. It combines four nights in South Africa, the first three you will be at Camp Davidson luxury bushcamp built high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng Valley or depending on the season Horizon luxury lodge is sometimes used and then you spend a night at Savannah lodge, a stunning lodge surrounded with game. The final three nights  you’ll be in the Limpopo Valley in Botswana where you’ll encounter loads of big game. This fantastic combination enabling you to explore the central highlands of the Waterberg massif before moving onto the vast Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block.

You should be a fit adventurous rider for this safari as there is plenty of long canters and long days in the saddle. You must be a good intermediate rider for the Botswana section as you are riding with big game.

In South Africa you will encounter plains game plus hopefully some hippo and then moving on to Botswana you are in big game country and with any luck it will be teeming with herds of elephant as well as lion, cheetah, leopard, African wild dog, a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe as well as over 350 species of birds. It is an area of great diversity, magnificent vistas, ancient civilisations and dramatic rock formations bordered by the Great Limpopo River in the South.

Camp Davidson has been built high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng valley. It offers the opportunity to explore from a base camp nestled in the heart of the wooded mountains of the Waterberg. The camp commands a wonderful panoramic view of the central highlands of the Waterberg massif, while overlooking the picturesque Sunset Lake at the eastern boundary of Horizons Safari Ranch.

In the late 19th century, Ted Davidson, one of the first members of the Baber family (owners of Triple B Ranch) to settle in the Waterberg, was a young man trading with an ox wagon to remote cattle outposts of a young ranching area. A good day’s travelling may have been only five miles or so by rugged track and so an itinerant life in the Waterberg meant a life by the campfire. Horizon has captured the early camp atmosphere through beautiful decked canvas tents nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy game filled valleys. Each tent is appointed as it would be in Ted’s day with items that would have been essential to the traveller accustomed to regular nights in the bush.

Savannah Lodge is a beautiful lodge on it’s own game reserve and is a wonderful mid safari stop with fabulous game viewing and good riding.

When you move to Botswana, the Tuli Block, the area you will be riding in is named the “Land of the Giants” for its baobab studded plains and large herds of elephant. Here you stay at the Two Mashatus camp, a semi permanent camp with A frame tents, long drop loos and bucket showers.

THE RIDING top

Horses – Anglo-Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Boerperds and cross breeds

Level of Riding & Pace – Intermediate to Advanced.

Tack – South African McClellan saddles.

Weight Restriction – 16 stone / 102 kg / 224 lbs.

Group Size – Maximum 10

ACCOMMODATION top

Camp Davidson (1st camp on African Explorer Safari)
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.

The food in both accommodations is wonderful, beautifully home cooked, locally sourced and using fresh ingredients – expect good quality meat and fresh salads, with afternoon tea and freshly baked cakes. Vegetarians and people with dietary requirements are easily catered for here due to their high personal care.

Savannah Lodge (2nd camp on African Explorer Safari)
This lodge is stunning lodge and a real treat mid safari for guests. As well as enjoying the views and creature comforts, guests will see lots of game and enjoy some good riding.

Two Mashatu – Botswana (3rd camp on African Explorer Safari)
Nestled in the shade of a centurion Mashatu tree, two traditionally built Lala palm rondavels serve as dining area and lounge. Accommodation is in big, ‘A’ frame walk-in tents pitched on teak platforms, with en-suite enviro loo and hot water shower. Each tent is private and positioned in the shade of a tree with a small deck area on which to relax during the afternoons. A new pool has recently been added, perfect for cooling off in after a hard days riding!

We have travelled the world testing a huge variety of horse riding holidays to make sure we offer you, our client, the best horse riding holiday experience possible.

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.

It’s only when all these elements come together that we add a horse riding holiday into our hand-picked collection of horse riding holidays.

Horse Riding Holidays at the African Explorer are part of the Zara’s Planet collection of Horse Riding Holidays South Africa.

Please Ask About

  • Cape Town add-on – it’s easy to fly down from Johannesburg to spend a few days sight seeing, Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront, Robyn Island and staying in a wonderful hotel or driving along the wine route staying at some glorious wineries, before taking a direct flight home
  • Victoria Falls add-on – again, very easy to fly to Victoria Falls and visit for a day or two, take a boat or helicopter trip and afterwards head into Botswana and the Okavango Delta, time permitting or travel home. We work with some fantastic lodges here.
  • Mozambique – Only a short flight from Johannesburg, Mozambique is an incredible untouched beach destination with fantastic horses and hosts. Have a look on our Mozambique page.

SAMPLE ITINERARY top

Example African Explorer 7 night Safari Itinerary

Day 1
Guests are personally met at OR Tambo Airport in South Africa by representatives of our sister company, Saddlebag Shuttles, and transported directly to Camp Davidson in the Waterberg, where they will enjoy a light lunch overlooking the vastness of the Waterberg plateau. They will then receive a safety briefing and meet their horses.
Horizon takes great care to match horse to rider based on a guest’s riding experience and professed ability. The horses are predominantly boerperds, together with a mixture of warmbloods, Appaloosas and Friesians. They are all well-schooled, forward going but calm horses. While the journey is not an endurance test, it does involve long hours in the saddle and, with the possibility of close encounters with elephant and the big cats in Botswana, riders need to be able to control their mounts gently and confidently.
The first ride is a gentle introduction to the reserve and an excellent opportunity for first encounters with species such as zebra, giraffe, wildebeest and kudu. The riding ranges from purposeful walking to easy cantering along sandy tracks and culminates with sundowner drinks on the open plains.

Day 2
The ride this morning is generally quite fast. The route follows the centre of an open valley which is home to species such as 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!
The afternoon ride follows 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
An early start is needed for the long ride from Camp Davidson to either Savannah Lodge in the far southwest of the reserve, or Seringa Lodge in the southeast. 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 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
After an early start, another long ride through game rich country returns riders to the heart of the operation, Horizon Lodge. The route taken is different from that taken 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. At the Horizon Lodge, guests embark on the road transfer to Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana with Saddlebag Shuttles.
Having crossed the mighty Limpopo River, guests are received at the Horizon Horseback Mashatu Stables where they will enjoy a light lunch, receive a safety briefing, and meet their horses.
The route this afternoon is from the Stables to Tree Camp. The route typically yields rich encounters with elephant, waterbuck, giraffe, impala, wildebeest and zebra. Signs of the many predators that make these rich riverine environments their home are bountiful, and chance encounters possible. The ride typically takes about two hours, and riders start to form a true bond with their individual mounts. The trappings of modern living begin to fall away as the sense of adventure and journey deepens. Tree Camp is a truly beautiful place where one is enveloped by the exceptional qualities of Africa’s wilderness areas.

Day 5
Waking in Tree Camp is a magical experience. One feels fully immersed in nature, surrounded by birdsong, and alive to the new day as the early morning light filters through the tree’s leaves. After a quick breakfast, riders set off on the journey’s first long ride – up onto the edge of the mini escarpment and then down, through the Valley of the Elephants and on towards the distant sandstone citadels guarding the Limpopo and Motloutse Rivers.
The first part of the journey is not to be hurried, as the horses wind along well-worn elephant paths, past giant baobabs and the occasional shallow watering pan. Soon, however, the country opens up and the horses can start to stretch their legs along soft ground leading to the headwaters of a stream flowing off the ridge and down towards the Limpopo. This is prime elephant country, and the guides are always on the lookout, using all their sharpened senses. Once the path leaves the river, the terrain is once again more open and the pace faster. A second river is then joined, which leads directly down to the veterinary control gate on the main road through Mashatu Game Reserve.
The route then follows the road for a short while before heading across flat country towards the intriguing Sacred Rock massif. Here the mopane vegetation is short, and it is safe to ride quite fast across the plain. Large herds of zebra, wildebeest and impala inhabit this area. The guides plot their route using individual mashatu, leadwood and apple-leaf trees as their markers. Soon riders reach the old leadwood enclosure (used in the past as a traditional law court of a Botswana village) known as the ‘Kgotla’. This open-air enclosure forms the perfect, secure camp for the night. The camp is not far from the banks of the Motloutse River and, with high concentrations of game living along the river’s fertile floodplain, the area is home to large prides of lion and clans of hyena. The sounds of these predators at night provide enduring memories!
In the afternoon, we search for the area’s resident lion on a game drive and draw the day’s adventures to a close with sundowners at the ancient “Amphitheatre” rocks. Whilst big cat sightings from horseback occasionally happen, Horizon Horseback follows a ride away policy. The best opportunities to approach lion, cheetah, leopard, and spotted hyena occur whilst on game drives where the vehicle acts as a natural hide and is largely ignored by the predators.
Back at the Kgotla, dinner is enjoyed around a large fire. The night is spent with a ceiling of stars and Africa’s night-time melody to sing you to sleep; a rare experience which is just about as far away from city life and the modern world as anyone can imagine.

Day 6
The riding this day is more relaxed and tailored to the group, since a different camp does not need to be reached by nightfall. A particularly interesting route to follow is first along the Motloutse River, stopping at well-known elephant drinking holes to watch the herds come and go before winding down towards the impressive Solomon’s Wall, a tall dolomite dyke which was breached by the river in ancient times. This is the favourite haunt of troops of baboon, which are always fascinating to watch. The trail then follows the banks of the river, flanked by giant mashatu and leadwood trees, towards the mighty Limpopo. This area is renowned for its dramatic sandstone rock formations, steeped in colour and home to eland, klipspringer and kudu.
Some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa settled in this valley. Archaeological evidence in the area includes middle and late stone age tools, rock art and the legendary Mapungubwe Dynasty. Mapungubwe means “Place of the Jackal” in the Venda language and this dynasty existed around 1220 AD. The Mapungubwe topography itself is ancient and timeless and, combined with marvelous wildlife sightings, makes for an incredible riding experience.
The game drive in the afternoon takes guests to the foot of the impressive Mamagwa massif, a free-standing formation which was used by British troops as a defensive position against incursions from the Transvaal Boers at the end of the 19th century. Sundowners are traditionally taken at the far western edge of the massif, with endless views over the wilderness landscape whilst watching the sun slowly slip over the horizon. The drive back to Kgotla in the dark provides more excellent opportunities to spot lion, leopard, and hyena.

Day 7
On this day the journey turns northeast and follows a series of river trails on the way back to the centre of the reserve. Life in this arid environment is always concentrated near water, and the ride promises sightings of elephant, zebra, giraffe and wildebeest. The route crosses the watershed and then winds along ancient paths adjacent to a stream flowing north towards the Majali River. At these elevated heights, the sweeping views to the north reveal the true wilderness character of Mashatu Game Reserve. The remainder of the day’s riding is a mixture of elephant trail trekking and canters across relatively open mopane veld. The final stretch is along the Majali River itself, past rocky pools, cliff faces and ribbons of green grass. Encounters with baboon, kudu, klipspringers and crocodile are likely. Tree Camp is finally reached after 4-5 hours of riding.
That afternoon guests leave their horses to a well-earned rest and will go either on a guided bush walk or, if the group chooses, a game drive with Mashatu Main Camp guides. This opportunity, while provided at an extra cost, should not be missed as the near guaranteed sightings of lion and leopard, and sometimes of cheetah, are legendary. The guides are very knowledgeable about the structure and whereabouts of the various prides and individuals, and failure to find them is very rare indeed.

Day 8
After a quick breakfast, riders set off on the final ride of the safari. This ride offers sweeping views to the east and south, bathed in early morning light, as it traverses along the edge of a ridge near the centre of the reserve. The path then descends to a game rich area along the Majali River. The deep river pools are the favourite haunt of baboon and impala. Sooner or later the great herds of elephant come past for their daily drink, to play in the water and enjoy a dust bath.
The final part of the ride is across open plains with some fast canters to the Stables. Other notable sightings include Kori Bustard, the largest flying birds in Africa, bat eared foxes and ostrich.
Once at the Stables it time for a shower and meal on the banks of the great river, and then a short journey to the Limpopo Valley Airfield for the flight to Johannesburg in South Africa.

DESTINATION MAP top

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.

CHECK AVAILABILITY top

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