Botswana ~ Limpopo Valley, Horizon Horseback Mashatu
7 night mobile safaris in eastern Botswana. Accommodation in comfortable tented camps, available year round. Suitable for confident, intermediate riders and above.
Where On Mashatu Game Reserve, part of the Tuli block in eastern Botswana, bordering South Africa and the Limpopo River.
What is it like It's a 'big game' area, known as the 'Land of Giants' for its large population of elephant as well as eland, lion, ostrich, enormous Kori Bustard and massive Baobab trees. Varied terrain, ranging from belts of thick thorn scrub and tall mashatu and fever trees lining the Limpopo River, to vast dusty plains, rocky 'kopjes' and sandstone outcrops. It has quite a feeling of history too, with evidence of pioneering explorers such as Cecil Rhodes, of the Anglo Boer war and traces of ancient settlements dating back 1500 years.
Who does it suit 7 night Tuli Safaris are for intermediate riders and above, who are confident to ride in an unfenced area with big (and potentially dangerous) game. They follow a route through the Mashatu Reserve, with nights in 3 different camps. If you have more time, you can extend to book a Best of Botswana Safari, combining 6 nights of a Tuli Safari with 3 or more in the Okavango Delta.
Another option is a 7 night African Explorer Safari, combining 4 nights at a camp in South Africa with 3 nights in the Limpopo valley. This is our top choice for a 'first' camping safari or for anyone needing to build confidence. Explorer safaris start in an area with limited game and culminate with a few days riding with 'big' game at Horizon Mashatu (for further information see South Africa - Saddlebag Safaris). Strong child riders of 12yrs or over are accepted.
Non-riding partners can cycle at Horizon Mashatu rather than ride a horse. Cycle Mashatu safaris use the same camps and run alongside horse safaris, but game viewing is by bike not horse. Ask us for more details.
Why we love it These trips tick many boxes on a horse safari wishlist! Quality horses, the thrill of riding with 'big' game, the variety and feeling of adventure using 3 different camps. Camps are comfortable and hospitality very generous. Mashatu is also relatively little visited and safaris are great value.
Riding: 4-7 hours a day
Horses: Boerpede, TB cross, Shire cross, warmbloods
Pace: moderate, with good chances for long canters
Riding ability: confident intermediate to experienced riders
Weight limit: 95kg (15 stone)
Accommodation: 4∆ and 5∆ camps
Group size: camps sleep up to 10, riding groups 8 maximum
Season: year round
Price: 7 night safaris from £2359 per person
Horses: All are owned by Horizon Horseback and are well cared for, calm and at home in the bush. They include South African Boerperd crosses, Thoroughbred crosses and some Shire crosses. They vary from about 14.2hh to 17hh, are very well-schooled, responsive and forward going to ride. Saddles are Maclellan style, with some Australian stock saddles on request. Grooms are on hand to look after the horses.
Hours: Most safaris include between about 4 and 7 hours riding each day, either riding out from camp or from one camp to the next. Riding is broken up with rests, for snacks and game viewing.
Pace and experience required: To ride on the Mashatu reserve, you must be a fairly experienced rider who is confident and comfortable on a horse. You need to be balanced and in control at all paces, from a walk to fast canter, when riding in open, unfenced country. The going is varied and there is 'big' game, including elephant and lion. The ground underfoot varies although it is generally good for horses and fairly flat; there are places for long energetic canters, weaving in and out of scrub and you will also climb up and down river banks and along paths that may be rocky or steep. You are expected to cope and keep up. You will also enjoy the whole experience much more if you are riding fit. Tuli Safaris are suitable for more experiended riders; African Explorer Safaris work well for those who are less confident, as you have a few days riding in an area with no 'big' game to start. If in any doubt about your ability, please contact us. There will be short riding assessment before you begin riding in Botswana.
Accommodation for the first and last two nights of Tuli Safari is at Two Mashatus Camp, a comfortable, semi-permanent base camp at the confluence of the Limpopo and Majale Rivers. This is also base for the Botswana part of African Explorer Safaris. Two Mashatus Camp has 5 walk-in twin / double East African style safari tents, raised on teak decking with their own private bathroom attached, with flush loo and hot and cold running shower. The camp has a small plunge pool and a dining and sitting area, built in local style under a palm thatch roof. Tuli Safaris follow a circular route and the 2nd and 5th nights are spent at the lovely, newly built Tree Camp, where tented rooms, and a dining and living area, are set on a platform in the trees. Nights 3 and 4 of these safaris are in a simpler 'fly' camp, sleeping under the stars on beds under mosquito nets, set up in an old leadwood boma, the 'Kogtla'.
Tuli Safaris (7 nights)
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in Brief (7 night Tuli Safari)
|Day 1||You will be met at the Limpopo Valley Airstrip (or South African border post of Ponts Drift) and driven the short way to the stables. Lunch, a short introduction to the horses and a late afternoon ride to Two Mashatus Camp. Dinner and overnight at Two Mashatus.|
||Set off early riding north-west towards Tree Camp, a newly built camp in a lovely spot next to the river. A late lunch on arrival and an then a gentle ride in the afternoon. Dinner and night in Tree Camp.|
||A long morning ride, exploring this area where the two mighty rivers, the Limpopo and the Mocloutse, meet. Arrive at your new camp, which is set up in an old tribal meeting court, the Kgotla, in time for a late lunch. An afternoon game drive returning for dinner and night Kgotla camp.|
|Day 4||Head out early, riding west to an area of golden sandstone rock formations. Return to Kgotla for lunch & a siesta, then in hte late afternoon you might drive to a sundowner spot in the Mmamagwa hills. Dinner and second night at Kgotla.|
||Early wake up when game is most active and set off riding to explore. A long morning ride finally arriving back at Tree Camp for a late lunch and siesta. In the late afternoon you might ride out again, or set off on an optional game drive, returning to camp with spotlight to look out for nocturnal game. Dinner and overnight Tree Camp.|
||Today's route meanders through beautiful plains between the Mojadi and Majele rivers, with views into the Limpopo River Valley. After a long morning you'll return to base camp, Two Mashatus, for lunch by the pool. Enjoy an afternoon walk to a nearby kopje for sundowners. Dinner and night Two Mashatus.|
||Set out on a final full day ride to explore the Pitsane river valley, where regular water holes often draw thirsty herds of game. The open plains are perfect for a gallop, alongside wildebeest or zebra if you're lucky! Arrive back to Two Mashaus in the afternoon. Final dinner and night at Two Mashatus.|
||An early morning ride and after about 2 hours arrive at the stables. Farewell to the horses and after an early lunch at the stables transfer to Mashatu airstrip for the charter to Johannesburg (or Ponts Drift border post for your onward journey).|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions|
The safari meeting point is usually Johannesburg airport in South Africa, with transfers arranged from there, either by private charter to Limpopo Valley airstrip in Botswana (about an hours flight), or overland to Ponts Drift border post (about 5 and a half hours drive). The set group rate charter transfer is £420 per person return which is added to the safari cost.
Vehicle transfers can be arranged (cost approx £300 per person return assuming minimum 2 people).
You can also hire a car and drive yourself to Ponts Drift - and easy journey on tar roads.
For an economy return flight from London to Johannesburg, budget around £750 to £1200 (fares vary with seasons).