Botswana, Kalahari Desert ~ Ride Botswana
3 or more 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 Riding is for 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, enjoy the 'best of both' by combining a few days riding in the Okavango Delta with a few days in the Kalahari (Delta & Delta Safari).
Why we love it The Kalahari's Magadikgadi saltpans are unlike anywhere else in Africa and a horse gives you absolute freedom to explore. 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 Delta & Desert 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, occasionally nights in a 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 but there is plenty of flexibility and riding hours can be tailored to suit.
Pace and experience required: Set date Kalahari Safaris and combined Delta & Desert Safaris are aimed at reasonably experienced riders who are comfortable on a horse at all paces, from walk to fast canter, in open country. Riding is in an area where there is 'big' game and the going on the salt pans is flat and open; there are no fences and the pace can be fast, with long canters and riders encouraged to spread out. You are expected to cope, keep up and be able to stop when necessary. If you choose a tailormade safari based at Camp Kalahari (or San or Jack's Camp), riding hours and the pace can be tailored to suit so confident, but more novice riders can join. 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. Occasionally depending on the season, safaris may include a sleep-out in the middle of the salt pans, using bedrolls on camp beds under the stars.
If you choose a Delta & Desert Safari, accomodation during the Delta section is either in Ride Botswana's lightweight mobile tented camp(s) or in Cha Cha Mete Camp in the Okavango Delta (see separate information).
Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Desert & Delta Safari (8 nights - 5 nights Okavango, 3 nights Kalahari)
Rates include - All riding and other activities within safari itinerary, twin camp accommodation, all meals (dinner first day to lunch last), drinks, laundry service.
Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in Brief - Kalahari Safari (3 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 sun sets, 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 look for nocturnal animals such as brown hyena, aardvark, honey badger and black maned kalahari lion. Dinner and night Camp Kalahari.|
||Wake up to a steaming cup of coffee and light breakfast, before mounting up and heading out in search of some of the Kalahari's most fascinating inhabitants, meercats. Or you might stop to join a 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. Ride back to Camp Kalahari mid-morning for a swim before lunch, then a siesta. After tea at about 4pm, another ride to explore or you may choose a game drive before drinks around the fire and dinner. Night Camp Kalahari.|
|Day 4||Wake up as the dawn greets the extraordinary landscape and after tea, coffee and a quick bite to eat, a final early morning ride across the Pans, the horses loving the open, never-ending space. Back to camp to pack up and for a cooked breakfast, then your onward journey to Maun.|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.options and itineraries|
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).