Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Kalahari Safaris

5 nights in the Kalahari Desert, using a private safari camp and occasional temporary 'fly' camp, available year round. Suitable for confident novice riders and above.

Where In the Makgadigadi Saltpans, a huge area of nearly 4000 sq kilometres, surrounded by the Kalahari Desert.

What is it like Imagine a vast swathe of white sand bordered by swaying desert palms. Imagine an empty beach, a mirage of zerba. Imagine somewhere unlike anywhere else in Africa! Between January and April, summer rain brings 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 shrimp which are a magnet for thousands of pink flamingos.

Later in the year, when the water has gone, the moon-like 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 and solitude; of peace, isolation and nature's timelessness that is hard to describe.

Who does it suit  Intermediate riders and above who will love the excellent going (although safaris can be adapted for less experienced riders) and anyone keen to see a different side of Botswana. We hear a lot about its wetland delta; the kalahari is its charismatic other half. If you have more time, you can enjoy the best of both and add a riding safari in the Okavango Delta (Desert & Delta Safari).

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 Camp or Jacks Camp should you be so lucky) contrasting with the 'out there' experience of sleeping in a simple desert 'fly' camp. A Desert & Delta safari is the way to begin to understand Botswana's contrasting environments. 

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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

Price: 5 night safaris from USD 5875 (approx. £4895) per person sharing


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. The 'moving' days on 5 night safaris, when you may cover up to 35kms, are the longest. When consecutive nights are spent at Camp Kalahari, riding hours can be tailored to suit. 

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 the going on the salt pans is flat and open. The pace here can be fast, with long canters, no fences and riders encouraged to spread out. You are expected to cope, keep up and be able to stop when necessary so you must be a competent, confident rider and riding fit. On safaris that are based at Camp Kalahari, riding hours and the pace can be tailored to suit so confident, but more novice riders can join in. If in any doubt about ability, please contact us. 


The safari base is Camp Kalahari, which is operated by Uncharted Africa, one of Botswana's long standing, high end, camp operators. Situated on the edge of the Magadikgadi Pans, the camp has 10 large, comfortable walk-in safari tents. They are raised on teak decking and set well apart amongst palm trees, under thatch shades. The 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 comfortable sitting and dining areas, with sofas and armchairs, a long dining table and a swimming pool adjacent to a thatched poolroom. On 5 night safaris, 2 nights are usually spent at a simple fly camp 'Xau Xai', 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, accomodation during the Delta section is in Ride Botswana's private mobile tented camp(s) in the Okavango (see separate information). 


Rates 2023 

Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Low season (10th January to March)
USD 5875 per person
Mid Season
(April - June & September - December)
USD 6325 per person;
High Season (July & August)
USD 6900 per person;
Single supplement - Low season USD 0; Mid season USD 2000; High season USD 22000

Tailormade Kalahari Safaris (minimum 3 nights)
High Season (July & August)
USD 1380 per person per night
Single supplement USD 440 per night
Mid Season (April to June & September to December
USD 1265 per person per night
Single supplement USD 400 per night
Low Season (January to March)
USD 1175 per person per night
No single supplement

Note - ADD air charter Maun / Kalahari to all rates, currently USD 925 per person return (based on at least two sharing). Road transfer may be possible from USD 450 return per person.

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
1st January to 21st March - USD 6920 per person
29th March, April to June & November - USD 7790 per person
July, August, September & October - USD 8635 per person
Single supplement - from USD 575 to USD 1895 (varies with date & season)

Note for Desert & Delta safaris ADD light aircraft transfers Maun/Kalahari, currently USD 790 per person return (assumes at least 2 travelling); or USD 925 return for New Year (road transfers also possible USD 400 return).

Rates include - All riding and other activities within safari itinerary, twin camp accommodation, all meals (dinner first day to lunch last), drinks, laundry service.

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.

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 be made in £ pounds sterling if preferred. We can give you a sterling rate at the time of booking.

Dates 2023

Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
19th to 24th July 2023**
2nd to 7th August 2023**
26th to 31st December 2023
*=Low season / **=High Season / Mid season no mark

Desert & Delta Safari (8 nights)
14th to 22nd June 2023
1st to 9th July 2023**
25th July to 2nd August 2023**
8th to 16th August 2023**
22nd to 30th August 2023**
5th to 13th September 2023**
23rd to 31st October 2023**
12th to 20th November 2023
11th to 19th December 2023*
*=Low season / **=High Season / Mid season no mark

Tailormade Kalahari Safari (3 nights or more)
- 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 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 that David Livingstone used on his journey north. Stop at Gutsa Pan for a delicious leisurely lunch in the shade followed by a siesta during the heat of the day. Then mount up to continue riding to Xau Xai, arriving in the late afternoon. Dinner and night Xau Xai fly camp.
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 a shower, lunch and a siesta. 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 a 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. 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 and Virgin have direct flights London to Johannesburg, departing every evening. Air Botswana and South African Airlink 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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