Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Okavango Delta
3, 5 or 7 nights in the Okavango Delta, using a lightweight camp which can be moved to a different location. Available year round. Suitable for Intermedate riders and above. Non-riding groups also welcome.
Where In Botswana's Okavango Delta using, uniquely amongst riding safaris in the Delta, a non-permanent, lightweight safari camp the location of which can change. Ride Botswana's founder David Foot has more than 30 years' experience as a wildlife guide and one of his aims with these safaris has been to return to the days when 'safari' meant a journey; days when those on safari were just temporary residents in the wilderness, leaving after visiting, with minimal imprint on the surroundings. The safaris operate at the southern edge of the Delta, in an area leased from local communities and another aim is to actively involve people from these communities who help with safari back-up, moving luggage by dug-out canoe (or pack donkey if it is dry) as well as staffing the camp.
What is it like The Okavango Delta is beautiful, unspoilt and home to a huge amount of game. A mix of flat, grassy plain with raised 'islands' of palm trees, thick mopane forest and a network of streams and water channels that branch out from the main Okavango River. When rain falling further north causes the river to burst its banks, water overflows these channels, running out over the plains to create vast areas of watermeadow and huge clear lakes.
The Delta is one of the world's foremost wildlife habitats. Protected from domestic cattle on its southern border by the 'Buffalo Fence', it boasts huge numbers of elephant, enormous herds of buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, hippo, rhino, numerous species of plains game, all the cats, hyena, jackal and wild dog as well as a vast array of birds. The game moves around seasonally, depending on water levels but most of it is resident year round. What you see in which area is always weather and rain dependent, but the game is prolific and game viewing is good year round.
Who does it suit Intermediate riders and above who are confident and secure to ride in a remote, unfenced area that is open to 'big' (and potentially dangerous) game. These are super safaris for any adventurous safari-goer who enjoys the feeling of being immersed in nature. The camp used is lightweight; it will generally be set up a few weeks ahead but can be moved if game, weather or water levels require adding an element of adventure and flexibility. Safaris are for small groups and the atmosphere is low key and relaxed. Family groups with confident child riders aged 12yrs and above are always welcome. The safaris are also purposefully low impact; there are no vehicles (other than mokoros when water is high); lighting is low level and great care is taken with rubbish and consumables. Guided walks (and water allowing, mokoro trips) are often part of the safari day and for group bookings, additional walking guides can be brought in for non-riders.
Why we love it A simple but comfortable safari camp with all you need and nothing you don't, set up where there was no human-imprint before and will be none after. You're merely passing through to observe nature in its course. Delicious meals, cooked over a log fire, eaten under the canvas of the night sky. Every safari is different; every safari is an adventure.
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 intermediate to experienced riders
Weight limit: about 95kg (15 stone) but please contact us if your weight is close to this
Accommodation: 3-4 Δ camps (lightweight, mobile camps)
Group size: maximum 8
Season: year round
Price: 7 night safaris from USD 4085 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. They range from around 14.2hh to 16.2hh and are keen, responsive and forward going but sensible to handle, used to game and at home in the bush. Saddles are comfortable Maclellans. Riding groups are up to 8 guests (occasionally more for private groups on request) lead by a professional guide, accompanied by a back-up rider. Grooms are on hand to look after the horses in camps.
Hours: Around 3 to 6 hours riding a day, usually 3 or 4 hours in the morning and 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the evening.
Pace and experience required: Suitable for fairly experienced riders, who are comfortable at all paces, from walk to fast canter, in open country and on different types of terrain. You will be riding in a varied, open area where there is 'big' game including elephant and lion so need to be confident of controlling a well-schooled horse at all paces and of keeping up with the group. The ground underfoot is generally good and there are places for long canters. You always need to keep your wits about you, keeping a close eye on signals from your guide and watching out for holes, ditches and game - big and small. You will also enjoy the whole experience much more if you are riding fit. If in any doubt about ability, please contact us.
Accommodation is in a light-weight mobile camp, carefully located for views and shade. Camps have walk-in 2 man dome tents, with stretcher beds made up with duvet, pillows and blankets, a shared ‘short-drop’ loo and traditional 'bucket and pulley' shower (usually one shower and loo between 2 tents). They are deliberately simple but you have all you need - chairs and tables for meals, solar lamps for lighting, extras such as soap, towels and even ice for your drinks! When moving camp, luggage and equipment is transported by mokoro canoe or, if the water level is too low for mokoros, by pack donkeys. Rates assume two sharing and a single supplement will be charged to guarantee a single tent.
Okavango Mobile Safari (7 nights)
Rates include - All riding and other safari activities within the itinerary, guiding and equipment, 7 (8 on Desert & Delta) nights camping accommodation, meals (dinner first day to breakfast last), drinks (a selection of soft drinks, local spirits, beer and house wine), group vehicle transfers between the safari start point and Maun airport at set times on the first and last day and emergency evacuation Okavango Air Rescue cover. A laundry service is also included on the Kalahari section of Desert & Delta Safaris
Average temperature guide
Example Itinerary (7 night safari)
|Day 1||Meet your guide and other guests at Maun Airport and then a drive of around 30 minutes to the buffalo fence which marks the southern end of the Okavango Delta. Meet the horses and back up team and whilst your luggage is transferred to mokoro or pack donkey, mount up and set off riding into the Delta, arriving at the first camp in time for sundowners. Settle in and hot showers followed by a delicious bush dinner, cooked over a log fire.|
|Days 2-7||Six full days to explore the Delta. Each day’s activity and timetable varies according to the weather, water levels, movement of game and also group wishes - but typically days start with an early wake-up call and light breakfast around the camp fire as day breaks. Then you might mount up for a morning ride, heading out to track wildlife, enjoying the prolific bird life and cantering across open floodplains. You may return to camp for lunch and a siesta in the shade during the heat of the day and after tea at about 4pm, ride out again, generally at a gentler pace, enjoying the softening early evening light and sounds of the bush. Or perhaps in the afternoon, you'll swap horses for mokoro canoes to explore the Delta's waterways in the traditional manner or head out on foot with your guide, a different but equally wonderful way to get to know the bush. Returning to camp at sun set, there are drinks and hot showers before dinner under the stars or on some days, you may ride to a new camp, set up ahead by the back-up team. Nights camping out in lightweight mobile camps.|
|Day 8||An early breakfast before mounting up to ride back to the buffalo fence, where your luggage will meet you. Group transfer (about 30 mins) back to Maun airport for your onward travel.|
The safari meeting point is Maun in Botswana. To fly from London it is usually easiest to go to Johannesburg where you can connect with an onward flight to Maun. British Airways and Virgin have direct flights from London to Johannesburg, departing every evening and arriving early the next day. Air Botswana and South African Airlink then have daily flights between Johannesburg and Maun (about 1 hour 40mins fliying time). For an Economy return flight from London, budget around £800 to £1200 (fares vary with seasons).