Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Kalahari Safaris
3 or 5 nights in the Kalahari Desert, using a private safari camp and occasional fly camp, available year round. Suitable for confident novice riders and above.
Where In the Kalahari's Makgadigadi Saltpans, a huge area of nearly 4000 sq kilometres.
What is it like Imagine a vast swathe of white sand bordered by swaying desert palms. Imagine somewhere unlike anywhere else in Africa! Between January and April, summer rains bring an influx of birds and game. Water fills the desert pans attracting Southern Africa's largest migration of zebra and wildebeest, and at the same time, kickstarts the lifecycle of millions of microscopic brine shrimp which are a magnet for thousands of pink flamingos.
Later in the year, when the water has gone, the flat, eerie emptiness of the salt flats, stretching as far as the eye can see, is other-worldly. For riders, one delight is the going - mile upon mile of firm sand - but the thing that really strikes when you ride here, is the incredible feeling of space; of peace, isolation and nature's timelessness that is hard to describe.
Who does it suit Ideal for Intermediate riders and above who can make the most of the excellent going (although safaris can be adapted for less experienced riders) and those looking for a unique Botswana riding experience. If you have more time, you can add a riding safari in the Okavango Delta (Desert & Delta Safari) or a day or two riding in the bush area that borders the Delta (Thamalkane Ride).
Why we love it The Kalahari is unlike anywhere else in Africa and a horse gives absolute freedom to explore it. We love the combination of camps:- the comfort of Camp Kalahari (and the style of San or Jacks Camp should you be so lucky) contrasting with the 'out there' experience of sleeping in a desert fly camp. A Desert & Delta safari is the way to begin to understand Botswana's contrasting environments.
Riding: 3-6 hours a day
Horses: Boerperd crosses, TB and Arab crosses
Pace: moderate and varied with good chances to canter
Riding ability: confident novice to experienced riders (intermediate and above on 5 night safaris)
Weight limit: about 95kg (15 stone) but please contact us if your weight is close to this
Accommodation: 5Δ camp, some nights more basic 'fly' camping depending on itinerary
Group size: maximum 8 (private groups up to 12)
Season: year round
Price: 5 night safaris from USD 4425 (approx £3400) per person
Horses: Mixed crossbreds, all owned by Ride Botswana. They include Boerperd crosses, Shire/TB crosses and others with Arab, Friesian and Appaloosa blood. Ranging from about 14.2hh to 16.2hh, they are keen, responsive and forward going but also sensible to handle, used to game and at home in the bush. Saddles are comfortable Maclellan style. Riding groups are limited to 8 (although private groups of up to 12 can sometimes be taken on request). Grooms look after the horses at Camp Kalahari and at fly camps.
Hours: Kalahari Safaris include around 3 to 6 hours riding a day, with 'moving' days on 5 night safaris, when you may cover up to 35kms, the longest. When consecutive nights are spent at Camp Kalahari (every night on 3 night safaris), riding hours can be tailored to suit. Hours on Thamalakane Rides are completely flexible.
Pace and experience required: To join a 5 night Kalahari Safari or a combined Desert & Delta Safari, you must be a fairly experienced rider who is comfortable on a horse at all paces from walk to fast canter in open country. You ride in an area where there is 'big' game and good open going and particularly on the salt pans, the pace can be fast, with long canters, no fences and riders encouraged to spread out. You are expected to cope, keep up and stop when necessary, so must be competent, confident and riding fit. On 3 night Kalahari Safaris, riding hours and pace can be tailored to suit. If in doubt about ability please contact us. Thamalakane Rides can be adpated for all levels of rider.
The safari base is Camp Kalahari, which is operated by Uncharted Africa, one of Botswana's long standing camp operators. Situated on the edge of the Magadikgadi Pans, the camp has 10 large, comfortable walk-in safari tents, all raised on teak decking and set well apart amongst palm trees and under thatch shades. Tents are stylishly furnished with kelim rugs, wrought iron beds (with cotton linen, pillows and blankets), chairs and bedside tables; all have a large en-suite bathroom with flush loo and hot and cold running water in washbasins and shower. The camp also has large sitting and dining areas with sofas and armchairs, a long dining table and swimming pool adjacent to a thatched poolroom. On 5 night safaris, 2 nights are usually spent at the simple Xau Xai fly camp, sleeping in small 'dome' tents, with shared long drop loos and bucket & pulley showers (one loo / shower shared between 2 tents). Depending on the season, there may also be a chance to sleep out in the middle of the salt pans, using bedrolls on camp beds under the stars.
If you choose a Desert & Delta safari, during the Delta section, accommodation is in Ride Botswana's private camps in the Okavango (see separate information). On a Thamalakane Ride, you will stay at Royal Tree Lodge near Maun, which has thatched chalet cottages and walk-in safari tents, raised on teak decking, all with en-suite bathroom, as well as a small swimming pool, welcoming bar and dining area.
Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Thamalakane River Ride
Rates include - All riding and other activities within safari itinerary, twin camp accommodation, all meals (dinner first day to lunch last), drinks (except on Thamalkane Rides), laundry service (except on Thamalkane Rides). Transfers from / to Maun airport included on Thamalakane Rides.
Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Kalahari Safari (3 nights) - on request
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in Brief - Kalahari Safari (5 nights - please contact us for other itineraries)
|Day 1||Arrive at Camp Kalahari nestled amongst the acacias and Mokolwane palms of Brown Hyena Island on the edge of the Kalahari Desert's Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. Settle in and an introductory talk over tea.Then a short drive to the stables to meet the horses and mount up for a first evening ride to try them and for a first view of this remarkable area. Ride back to the stables as the sunsets, then back to camp for sundowners, hot showers and dinner perhaps accompanied by the roar of Kalahari lions. Night Camp Kalahari|
|Day 2||Up with the dawn for a light breakfast, followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these palm-covered sand dunes are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness. At the height of the January to April migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich and the white encrusted pans between the islands provide wonderful going for exhilarating canters. Ride back to camp for a leisurely lunch, siesta and time to enjoy the pool. Then after tea at about 4pm, perhaps head out by vehicle stopping for sundowners and returning with a spot light to lookout for nocturnal animals such as the brown hyena, aardvark, honey badger and black maned kalahari lion. Dinner and night Camp Kalahari.|
||A long ride east today, to Xau Xai fly camp, means an early start is imperative. Heading away from the edge of the Pans, the route passes through mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands that are perfect for some lovely long canters. Reach the famous Greens Baobab by lunchtime, next to the Missionary Road David Livingstone used on his journey north and stop at Gutsa Pan for a delicious leisurely lunch in the shade. A siesta during the heat of the day, then mount up to continue to Xau Xai, arriving in the late afternoon. Dinner and night Xau Xai.|
||Wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and light breakfast, before heading off in search of some of the Kalahari’s most fascinating inhabitants, the meerkats. Return to Xau Xai for lunch and a refreshing shower. In the late afternoon, depending on the season, you might mount up once more for one of the greatest adventures imaginable - a ride straight out into the middle of the ancient Lakebed - 16,000 square kilometres of untouched, empty space! Eventually all you can see is the vast flatness, a never-ending moonscape stretching in every direction. And here you'll make camp, sleeping on bedrolls under the immense silence of an immense star studded sky.|
||Wake up as the dawn greets the extraordinary landscape and the last of the stars disappear. Set off riding directly across the Pans back to Camp Kalahari, the horses loving this open, never-ending space. Arrive back at Camp Kalahari in time for a swim or shower and a leisurely lunch. Then a relaxing afternoon, perhaps heading out on a game drive or a last evening ride before drinks around the fire and a final lamp-lit dinner.|
||Breakfast and you might spend your last morning on an early morning walk with Zu/’hoasi Bushmen trackers who offer a window into the past as they teach you how they have survived in this harshest of environments, using their vast and ancient knowledge of survival skills. Lunch at Camp Kalahari before the onward journey back to Maun.|
|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 meeting point for all safaris is Maun in Botswana and as part of your safari, we will arrange private charter or overland transfers from Maun to Camp Kalahari, or a short overland transfer to Royal Tree Lodge. To fly to Maun from London it is usually easiest to go to Johannesburg and take a connecting flight from there to Maun. British Airways, South African Airways and Virgin all have direct flights London to Johannesburg, departing every evening. Air Botswana and South African Airways have daily flights between Johannesburg and Maun. For an economy return flight London to Maun, budget around £800 to £1200 (fares vary with seasons).