Botswana ~ Ride Botswana ~ Okavango Delta
7, 5 or 3 nights semi-mobile in the Okavango Delta, using lightweight temporary camps, available year round. Intermedate riders and above with non-riding groups welcome.
Ride Botswana is owned and run by David and Robyn Foot and uniquely amongst riding operators in the Okavango, organises safaris that use lightweight, movable camps. David has more than 30 years' experience as a wildlife guide in Southern Africa and his aim in setting up these safaris was to return to the days when a 'safari' meant a 'journey' through the bush, an opportunity to temporarily immerse yourself in the wilderness, to explore, observe and then depart, leaving minimal imprint on your surroundings. He was also determined to involve local communities, to ensure they benefit from preserving, and are encouraged to continue to preserve, the Delta as a wildlife area.
The safaris have no set route. Camp locations and day-by-day itineraries are adapted according to the environment, which is constantly changing as water levels rise and subside. The whole camp team are always only temporary visitors and this gives wonderfully privileged, unpredictable access to wildlife - opportunities to see elephant, herds of buffalo, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, hippo, huge herds of plains game from red lechwe to kudu; cats including leopard and lion, as well as jackal, hyena and wild dog - not to mention the birds, which are always astonishing in number and variety.
In tune with the low impact philosophy, safari luggage is transported by mokoro (traditional canoe) poled by members of the communities that live on the fringes of the Delta or when water is low, by pack donkeys. Simple but comfortable camps - all you need and nothing you don't - are set up on sandy, tree-shaded islands; delicious meals, cooked over a simple log fire, are eaten under an awning or the canvas of the night sky. Every safari is exciting; 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
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. 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 going underfoot is generally good, there are places for long canters and you will enjoy the whole experience more if you are riding fit. If in doubt about ability please contact us.
Accommodation is in light-weight mobile camps, carefully located for views and shade. Camps have walk-in 2 man tents, with stretcher beds made up with duvet, pillows and blankets, shared ‘short-drop’ loos and traditional 'bucket and pulley' showers (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 usually 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
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, South African Airways and Virgin all have direct flights from London to Johannesburg, departing every evening and arriving early the next day. Air Botswana and South African Airways 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).