Adventure vacations in Botswana

African Explorer


Horseback riding in South Africa and Botswana includes good riding on two private game reserves, fine accommodations and evening meals around the campfire, making for a genuinely unforgettable African experience.

Horizon Horseback’s permanent camp in South Africa is perched high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng valley, in the heart of the wooded mountains of the Waterberg. From this base you have close contact with zebra, giraffe, and a wide variety of antelope, and also are able to enjoy visits to the historic homestead and local Sotho village with its craft workshop.

Mashatu Game Reserve, located in the Tuli Block of Botswana, is known as “The Land of the Giants” for its baobab trees and elephant herds. This is an area of great diversity, magnificent vistas and land formations as ancient as time itself. It is also home to a multitude of wildlife species and remains untouched by the invasion of man. The riding trails cover both the riverine terrain and the true African mopane bushveld, including the famous sandstone formations of the Tuli.  The richness of the Mashatu horse safari experience is complemented by the prevalence of species such as lion, leopard, elephant and hyena, as well as cheetah, leopard, African wild dog, and a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe.

This is very comfortable camping with A-frame tents on raised decks with beds, sheets and duvets. At the permanent camps each tent has an ensuite bathroom area with hot water showers (water heated on the fire and placed in a 15 lt. camp shower when you are ready), running water and plumbed toilets. For one night on Day 4 you will be staying a luxury Lodge in South Africa.

Enjoy picnic lunches and evening meals cooked around the fire.

  • Overview:
    The horses in both locations have been individually selected for their temperament, carefully chosen from the various South African breeds which are well known for being of a tougher nature and able to cope under extreme conditions. These breeds include the Boerperd, Appaloosas, Warmblood, Thouroughbreds Arabian and Shire crosses. They range in size from 14.3hh to 17hh. McClellan Trail Saddles are used in both locations, which allow for comfort and airflow for the horses’ backs and padded seats and fenders for the riders’ comfort.
  • Equipment Required:
    Helmets are required, some available to borrow.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Beorperds, Warmbloods, Thoroughbred Cross, and Appaloosa
  • Trip Pace:
    Moderate to Fast
  • Tack:
    McClellan trail rider saddles
  • Weight limit:
    210 lbs

Johannesburg International Airport

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Guests will be met at Johannesburg International Airport and transferred to camp in time for a late lunch. That afternoon you will be introduced to your safari horse. Your guide will ensure that you are matched with a horse to suit your ability and experience before heading off on your ride. This first introductory ride is a relaxed affair, giving riders the opportunity to settle into their new surroundings. Crossing the plains, enjoy your first close encounter with wildlife on horseback: ostrich, impala, zebra, kudu, eland, giraffe, warthog and jackal are all frequently seen in the open bushveld. A stunning lookout spot for sundower drinks is a welcome moment to take in your first taste of Africa after a long journey. A three course supper is served at camp that evening.

Day 2

Today’s ride sets off from the high country overlooking a beautiful wilderness area to the east, and heads south, winding along the banks of Sunset Lake with its resident pod of hippos and the odd sly crocodile, before trekking upstream to an adjoining reserve. The lake itself is rich in birdlife, including the impressive Fish Eagles, dainty Dabchicks, elegant Jacanas and a variety of geese. Later, riding through the open savannah, wildebeest and zebra can be encountered. The riding is varied, from canters along sandy tracks to winding through rocky outcrops and densely wooded areas. The ride then crosses the reserve and returns to camp in time for lunch. Guests can then relax by the pool, before a shorter afternoon ride.

In the evening there is the option of a night sky safari with a local astronomer, Dr Calcott, who will guide you through the amazing constellations (subject to weather conditions and availability). Additional cost R300 pp, Min. 4 pax.

Day 3

Setting off in a westerly direction, this ride tracks past a brown hyena den, skirts past the upper reaches of the dam before crossing a wide grassy valley. At one point the ride enters into dense woodland, home to shy species such as kudu, bushbuck and Vervet monkeys. Emerging from the woods, the horses have a chance to stretch their legs along open sandy tracks. Finally the ride swings back to the north, through mixed bushveld and fascinating rock formations.

Two highlights of this ride are the jumping lanes and the chance for riders to swim their horses bareback in the dam next to the main lodge. For many guests, this is an exhilarating and unforgettable experience. Once dried off and back in
the saddle, the ride climb back up to camp is particularly intriguing, as it follows a mountain pass cut through boulders and outcrops.

After lunch, enjoy a sundowner ride across the plains on the reserve. The reserve is very fortunate to have a large herd zebra. Over the years, the herd has become quite habituated to the horses and it is now possible to ride really close and experience being part of the zebra herd. A wonderful way to watch the foals frolic.

Day 4

Having left camp for the final time, this ride heads south to the Game Conservancy which is home to Savannah Lodge. The ride traverses a wide wetland, home to reedbuck and grass owls, before entering dense woodland dotted with wild fig trees and large fruited bushwillows. Here it crosses the watershed and descends through open grasslands with sweeping views to the upper reaches of the Conservancy’s main water system. The route passes the favored habitat of waterbuck and Cape buffalo. The open plains that follow are aptly known as “Little Serengeti”; large herds of blesbuck, eland, wildebeest and kudu are all on view, as are groups of elegant sable, swift red hartebeest and impressive journeys of giraffe and Cape buffalo. After a lunch at the lodge and a rest by the pool, the afternoon ride continues to explore this game rich area, closing with sundowners overlooking the African plains.

Day 5

Depart the lodge early and enjoy an exhilarating ride back to Horizon Lodge in time to change before departing for Botswana at 09:30 am. Arrive in Botswana in time for a light lunch. Enjoy an introductory ride to check you are suited to your horse, before embarking on your first ride out to our Two Mashatus Camp. This will be your first opportunity to experience the beauty of the Mashatu Game Reserve and view the wildlife on horseback. Mashatu Game Reserve is home to the largest herd of wild free-roaming elephants on private land in Africa, and, although not a guarantee, it is almost assured that there will be great viewing of these incredible creatures. As evening falls at Two Mashatus Camp, relax in the cool of the thatched lounge and dining areas, before enjoying a three-course dinner.

Day 6

Sunrise, the dawn chorus and tea or coffee which is brought to your tent, sounds the start of your first day. After breakfast, it’s time to mount and depart from the dense woodland that hugs the Limpopo River and head towards the rocky hills that delineate the edges of the great river valley. As the ride traverses the heartland of Mashatu, you will encounter plentiful game: plains game, many giraffe and herds of elephants. You will arrive back at Two Mashatus Camp in time for lunch and a cooling afternoon rest in the shady camp or lazing by the pool. That afternoon the group has the choice of an afternoon ride or a game drive to the south western side of the reserve. This is an area not reached on horseback during the African Explorer safari. It is rich in game with a resident pride of lion. The highlight of the the drive is a sundowner in the ancient landscape of rock formations or the Mmamagwa hills, which vast vistas into the setting sun.

Day 7

Ride out following the movements of wildlife in the area. The tempo of the rides is always varied and depending on the terrain, there are opportunities to enjoy the spirit and fitness of the horses. The afternoon brings a chance to again choose between another ride or a bush walk in the northern area of Mashatu Game Reserve and enjoy the rich birdlife, spot crocodile in the pools and learn about the magnificent trees lining the banks.

Day 8

A last morning ride to take one last picture of elephants and enjoy a long and winding canter through the scattered Mustard bush with your guides. Arriving back at the stables and reception mid-morning, there is plenty of time for
a quick shower, before saying farewell to safari companions and newfound friends before heading back to Johannesburg International.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur at the guides' discretion due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Trips offered weekly from Friday-Friday from January through December
Additional Pricing Information:
Conservation fee of $30 is due onsite in Botswana. Insurance is required. Prices are based on the dollar/euro exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.  

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Preferred Trip Dates

African Explorer
June 22, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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The Tuli Safari is an incredible adventure enabling equestrian enthusiasts to thoroughly appreciate spectacular landscape and a profusion of wildlife that is unique to the Tuli District of Botswana. Experiencing this majesty in a small group aboard willing horses under the guidance of personable and knowledgeable guides is unrivaled. The magic continues... Read more  

Robert Savarese, 2013