Adventure vacations in Botswana

Kalahari Ride


In the heart of Botswana lies the vast sand basin of the Kalahari Desert spanning from Namibia to Zimbabwe and from the Orange River to Angola. This adventurous horseback riding trip in the Kalahari begins in the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, an oasis on the Eastern edge.

Once a vast 80,000 square kilometer lake, the area is now considered one of the most beautiful and fascinating ecosystems of the Botswana wilderness. Your journey leads away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long, relaxed canters. The area is rich in birds of prey, korhaans, and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species. Incredible scenery, memorable wildlife encounters and above miles and miles of open land prevail in this unparalleled landscape.

The organizer also offers the exciting new Discover the Delta ride in the Okavango, which complements this desert itinerary perfectly to create an overview of the best the region has to offer.

Your camp is refreshingly simple, yet comfortable, with a traditionally built thatch library, living/dining area and a swimming pool for those hot Kalahari days.

This ride is renowned for menus that emphasize fresh tastes and originality. The meals in camp are plated, not buffet style, and are comprised of interesting and delicious dishes from all over Africa. Drinking water is provided at all times on safari and it is very important to stay hydrated. There is a well-stocked bar and fridge with a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Overview:
    A suitable well cared for horse will be chosen from a stable of some 40 horses made up of cross breeds which include Shire/TB, Boerperd/TB, Friesian/BP, Arab crosses, Quarter horse crosses. They range in size from 14.1h to 16.2h. There is a choice of well fitted English (Wintec) saddles and trail saddles. Each saddle has specially designed holders to carry 2 water bottles per rider. Guests are welcome to bring their own personal seat saver of choice.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Fresian Boerped, Shire Thoroughbred, Arab Crosses, Quarter Crosses
  • Trip Pace:
    All Paces
  • Tack:
    South African trail saddles
  • Weight limit:
    210 lbs in Full Riding Gear


Trip Itinerary

Day 1

On arrival by air or road, you will be greeted by your host and guide and settled into Camp Kalahari, nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyaena Island. Head off after tea in the beautiful afternoon light, for an introductory ride to match horse and rider and to provide the opportunity for guests to experience the beauty of this magical area. Return to the camp for sundowners followed by dinner.

Day 2

Up with the dawn, a light breakfast is followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness. At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest, and ostrich. The white encrusted pans between the islands provides excellent footing for the horses.

Return to the camp for lunch and rest through the heat of the day in the welcome shade of the camel thorn trees or cool off in the camp swimming pool. After tea, head off to see unique desert species such as springbok, gemsbok, red hartebeest and the elusive brown hyena. Enjoy a night game drive back to camp, and look for nocturnal desert inhabitants such as aardvark, bat eared foxes, aardwolves, porcupine, honey badgers, and black mane Kalahari Lion. Arrive at camp in time for dinner.

Day 3

Rise early for a long ride eastwards to Xau Xai Fly Camp. Be sure to pack a few essentials for the next two days of adventure. The journey takes you away from the edge of the Pans and through the mopane and acacia woodlands. While the area is rich in birds of prey, korhaans, and numerous other unusual dry woodland bird species, there is also a chance that you will sight kudu and the odd elephant bull.

By lunchtime you reach the famous Greens Baobab proudly positioned alongside the well-travelled Missionary Road, traversed by David Livingstone on his journeys northwards. The magnificent trunk of this ancient tree is scarred with the initials of early travelers dating back some 150 years and providing a living testimony to the rich history of this area. Break for lunch at the adjacent Gutsa Pan under a stand of palm trees where you may find Stone Age artifacts and the hunting blinds used over millennium by the Bushmen. Siesta through the midday heat and after tea, continue the journey on to Xau Xai Fly Camp. Camp will be made up of comfortable dome tents, a central mess tent, loos and bucket showers. Enjoy a long cool drink as you watch the sunset followed by dinner out under the magnificent Kalahari sky.

Day 4

Wake up to a steaming hot cup of coffee and a light breakfast, before heading off in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. Remember, they are not tame – just used to riders non-threatening presence. On chilly mornings, you may find a meerkat snuggling up to you for warmth.

Mount up and follow the well-worn trails that lead to the resident herds of zebra and large congregations of ostriches attracted to the area by permanent freshwater in hidden waterholes. Return to Xau Xai for lunch and a refreshing shower.

Set off in the late afternoon for one of the greatest adventures imaginable – a ride straight out into the middle of the ancient lakebed! Eventually all that can be seen is the vast flatness stretching in every direction. Watch the sun set and the stars rise. There is not one visual landmark to be seen and one swiftly loses one’s sense of perspective. Sleep on a bedroll under the silence of a star studded sky.

Day 5

Wake up on the moon! As the dawn greets this extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear, head homewards directly across the Pans to Camp Kalahari, you may be lucky enough to see the unusual sight of ostrich deep in the Pans and then from a great distance the famous Chapman’s Baobab. Also known as the Seven Sisters, and acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa, measuring 25metres around its girth, this great baobab was the campsite of early explorers like Livingstone and Selous.

Break for lunch before your final ride back across the grasslands and into camp. As the sun dips below the horizon and the last light fades, remember the incredible scenery, amazing wildlife encounters, and above all superb riding! Arrive at Camp Kalahari in time for a refreshing shower and a final lamp lit dinner.

Day 6

The horses are loaded early and trucked to their home base in Maun. A non-riding day commences with an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers. Offering a window into the past, they teach you how they survived in the harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of plants, animal behavior and survival skills. Enjoy one more lunch before departing the Kalahari.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and changes may occur at your guide's discretion due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Additional Pricing Information:
50% of the ride price is due at time of booking for this ride. Insurance Required Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time the deposit is paid.

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Preferred Trip Dates

Kalahari Ride
July 11, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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Robert Savarese, 2013