Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Kalahari Safaris
Ride Botswana, owned by David and Robyn Foot, offers riding in two distinct areas of Botswana. Camp Kalahari Safaris are exhilarating mobiles, exploring the vast Makgadigadi Saltpans of Botswana's infamous Kalahari Desert with its never-ending expanses of white sand, swaying palms, intrepid missionary explorers and ancient San Bushmen. Between January and April, the Kalahari's palm islands are destination for Botswana's largest migration of zebra and wildebeest, an incredible spectacle against the desert backdrop.
Later in the year, riding out into the vast, eerie emptiness of the Salt Pans is an experience quite unlike any other and one you will never forget. Thamalkane River Rides are short, flexible tailor-made safaris based out of Royal Tree Lodge, just outside the small town of Maun. These can be adapted for riders of all abilites and are a particularly good choice for families with children or less confident riders unable to join rides in 'big game' areas. For those after even more adventure, either safari can be combined with privately guided canoeing in the Selinda Reserve (Selinda Canoe Safaris) or walking and boating in the Okavango Delta (Spirit of the Delta Safari). David is one of southern Africa's most experienced guides and always a suberb, approachable and fun, safari companion.
Riding: 4-7 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.
Weight limit: about 95kg (15 stone) but please contact us if your weight is close to this.
Accommodation: 5Δ camps & lodge, some nights more basic 'fly' camping depending on itinerary.
Group size: maximum 8 (private groups up to 12).
Season year round.
Horses: The horses are mixed crossbreds, including Boerperd crosses, Shire/TB crosses and others with Arab, Friesian and Appaloosa blood. There are about 20 in all, ranging from 14.3hh to 16.2hh, keen and forward going but sensible to handle, used to game and at home in the bush. Tack is English style, usually Wintec, with some Maclellan saddles also available. Riding groups are limited to 8 (although private groups of up to 12 can sometimes be catered for).
Hours: Camp Kalahari Safaris include between 4 to 7 hours riding a day, the longest days being those when you move camp and may cover up to 35km. Riding hours on Thamalakane Rides are completely flexible.
Pace and experience required: To join a Camp Kalahari 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 will be riding in an area where there is 'big' game, the terrain is varied and there is some good open going, particularly on the salt pans, where the pace can be fast, with long canters and riders encouraged to spread out. You are expected to cope, to keep up and stop when necessary, so you need to be competent, confident and fit. If in doubt about ability please contact us. Thamalakane Rides can be adpated for less experienced / fit riders.
Accommodation on Camp Kalahari Safaris is in 2 or 3 different tented camps. The base camp, Camp Kalahari, is situated on the edge of the Kalahari's Magadikgadi Pans and has big walk-in safari tents raised on teak decking, with proper beds and attached en-suite bathroom with flush loo and shower. At Xau Xai fly camp smaller 'dome' tents are used and there are long drop loos and shared bucket & pulley showers. One night is also often spent in the middle of the salt pans, sleeping out on bedrolls under the stars.
On Thamalakane Rides accommodation is in the very comfortable Royal Tree Lodge, either in thatched cottages or in one of 8 large walk-in safari tents, raised on teak decking, with en-suite bathroom and wonderful views out over the bush. There is also a small swimming pool and the main lodge, beautifully positioned amidst the trees, has a welcoming bar and dining area.
Camp Kalahari Safari (5 nights)
Camp Kalahari Safari (3 nights)
Rates include - all riding and other activities, twin accommodation, all meals and drinks (transfers from / to Maun are included on the Combined Safaris and Thamalakane Ride).
Itinerary in Brief - Camp Kalahari Safari (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. You will be greeted by your host and guide David Foot and after settling in and tea, meet the horses and an introductory ride to try them. Return to the camp for sundowners and dinner perhaps accompanied by roars of the Kalahari lions. Night Camp Kalahari|
||Up with the dawn, a light breakfast followed by a long morning ride through the “land of a thousand islands”. Stranded on the ancient lakebed, these sand dunes covered in palm trees are one of the most beautiful and fascinating areas of the Botswana wilderness. At the height of the migration season, the islands and adjoining grasslands are awash with zebra, wildebeest, hartebeest and ostrich - and of course the accompanying predators! The white encrusted pans between the islands provide excellent going for the horses and plenty of opportunities for wonderully exhilarating long canters. Night Camp Kalahari.|
||Today there is a long ride east to Xau Xai Fly Camp, so an early start is imperative. The journey takes you away from the edge of the Pans and through mopane and acacia woodlands interspersed with short grasslands allowing for lovely long canters. Reach the famous Greens Baobab by lunchtime, next to the road that David Livingstone traversed on his journeys northwards. Continue to Xau Xai Fly Camp for dinner and night.|
||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. Then in the late afternoon mount up 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. Camp is set up here and the night on bedrolls under the silence of the immense star studded sky.|
||As the dawn greets this extraordinary landscape the last of the stars disappear. Set off riding directly across the Pans back to Camp Kalahari, sometimes spotting ostriches miles out in the Pans. Lunch then continue to Camp Kalahari arriving in time for a refreshing shower and final lamp-lit dinner.|
||Breakfast, goodbye to the horses, then set off 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 your 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 we will arrange a private charter or overland transfer 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 from London to Johannesburg, departing every evening. Air Botswana and South African Airways have daily flights between Johannesburg and Maun. For an economy return flight from London, budget around £800 to £1200 (fares vary with seasons).