Kalahari Bush Ride

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Tree Lodge was the perfect location to recover from the long haul flight New York to Johannesburg and on to Maun. The charming raised tented cabins surrounded by the bush made us feel at home in Africa right away. The lodge is set in the grounds of a small game preserve. Well marked walking trails meander through woods and open grassy areas where chance encounters with zebra, giraffe, ostrich and vervet monkeys keep you on your toes.

The following morning we left for our ride in the Kalahari, a place I had always wanted to experience after reading Laurens van der Post’s books and Mark and Delia Owens’ “The Cry of the Kalahari”. We were based for several days at the surprisingly luxurious Camp Kalahari, quickly settling into a routine of a morning ride followed by a late lunch and an evening game drive. The sandy soil provided good footing for the horses, the islands of palm trees were visually appealing and the pans were perfect for long canters.

The highlight was encountering a group of habituated meerkats. Dismounting from our horses, we moved with them as they foraged for scorpions and other tasty morsels. They were very busy and totally unafraid, climbing upon us as convenient look-out posts if we sat in their path.

We moved to a fly camp through thicker bush and passed by two enormous baobab trees which had been signed by some of the early explorers (including Dr. Livingstone) before they set off on an arduous trek across a thirty mile pan to the next waterhole. It was awe inspiring to experience the history of this wild, unspoiled place. The following day we had some good, fast riding on the pans culminating in a night spent out in the open under the stars. Cantering along in the dark as a super moon was rising to our left was an unforgettable feeling.

The Kalahari has a haunting beauty and appeals to those who want to experience Africa in more depth than the typical tourist on the game reserve run. David Foot, leader of these rides, is a veteran guide and one of the best. English born, he was based in Zambia and Malawi before moving to Botswana and even after years of guiding tourists, retains his sense of freshness and fun.

Bush ride

The pans offered wonderful opportunities for long canters.

Ride Review by Mel Fox