Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Kalahari Safaris

5 or 3 nights in the Kalahari Desert, using private safari camp and occasional fly camps, available year round.

Operated by Ride Botswana, which is owned and managed by renowned wildlife guide David Foot, Kalahari Safaris explore the vast Makgadigadi Saltpans of the Kalahari Desert. This huge area, nearly 4000 sq kilometres of white sand bordered by swaying desert palms, was once home to the San Bushmen, and is unlike anywhere else in Africa. Between January and April, summer rains bring an influx of bird and animal life. Water fills the desert pans drawing in Southern Africa's largest migration of zebra and wildebeest, and at the same time, kickstarts the lifecycle of millions of microscopic brine shrimp, a magnet for thousands of pink flamingos. Later in the year, riding out into the eerie emptiness of the salt flats is an experience unlike any other and one you will never forget. For riders, one delight of the Kalahari is the going - mile upon mile of firm sand underfoot - 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.

Safaris are for 5 or 3 nights but are easily extended. You can add a few nights in Maun - a short, flexible Thamalkane Ride based at a lodge just outside the Okavango Delta, is a completely adaptable itinerary that can be tailored for riders of any ability or age. Or add a few days in the Delta itself joining a 'Desert and Delta Safari' - an unbeatable way to explore Botswana's contrasting wilderness areas.

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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.


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.


Rates 2020                

Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Mid Season (April - June & September - December) - USD 4425 pp;
Single supplement USD 1420
High Season (July & August) - USD 4925 per person;
Single supplement USD 1580

Kalahari Safaris (3 nights)
High Season (July & August) - USD 2805 per person;
Single supplement USD 900
Mid Season (April to June & September to December - USD 2520 pp
Single supplement USD 805
Low Season (January to March) - USD 2400 per person;
No single supplement

Note - ADD charter transfers Maun/Kalahari, currently USD 741 return.

Thamalakane River Ride 
High season - July to October - USD 520 per person per night
Green season - January to June & November, December -
USD 478 person per night
Single supplement USD 100 per night, charged July-October only
Children under 12 - USD 431 per night high season;
                                USD 394 per night green season

Desert & Delta Safari (8 nights):
January to mid April - 5 nights Kalahari, 3 nights Okavango
Mid April to November - 5 nights Okavango, 3 nights Kalahari
January, February, March - USD 5830 per person
April (excluding Easter), May, June and November - USD 5810 per person
Easter (10th to 18th April) - USD 6340 per person
July and August - USD 6535 per person
September and October - USD 6235 per person

Single supplement - varies with date & season, from zero to USD 1720

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.

Rates exclude -
International flights to Maun and taxes, transfers to / from Camp Kalahari, personal medical insurance (compulsory), premium drinks / champagnes, visa fees, personal extras and staff tips. Drinks and laundry not included on Thamalakane Ride. 

Single supplement only charged for single travellers wishing to guarantee a single tent; if you are prepared to share with another guest if necessary (same sex), no supplement is charged.

Prices are quoted in US dollars. Payments can of course also be made in £ pounds sterling if preferred and we can give you a sterling rate at the time of booking.

Dates 2020-2021

Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
21st to 26th September
21st to 26th December
27th December to 1st January 2021
23rd to 28th May 2021
27th June to 2nd July 2021
18th to 23rd July 2021
1st to 6th August 2021
19th to 24th September 2021
22nd to 27th December 2021
27th December 2021 t 1st January 2022

Desert & Delta Safari (8 nights)
22nd to 30th September
6th to 14th October
19th to 27th October
10th to 18th November
2nd to 10th January 2021
23rd to 31st January 2021
6th to 14th February 2021
20th to 28th February 2021
6th to 14th March 2021
20th to 28th arch 2021
2nd to 10th April 2021
18th to 26th April 2021
1st to 9th May 2021
27th May to 4th June 2021
15th to 23rd June 2021
20th to 28th July 2021
17th to 25th August 2021
7th to 15th September 2021
7th to 15th October 2021
6th to 14th November 2021
12th to 20th December 2021

Kalahari Safari (3 nights) - on request

Thamalkane Rides
- on request



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.
Day 3
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.
Day 4
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.
Day 5
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.
Day 6
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 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).

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