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Breathtaking Botswana Beauty

This article has appeared previously with Equestrian Life. To see what's in our latest issue, please click here.

EQ Journeys - Botswana.

 

As Botswana celebrates its 50th year of independence, discover why it is my favourite destination for safari, and how much more fun game viewing is from the back of a horse.

By Kate Coleridge

As someone who grew up spending my summer holidays at pony club camp, and was lucky enough to go on African safari holidays with my father who worked for Abercrombie & Kent, it is surprising that the concept of horseback safaris only became known to me in my late-twenties. Like most people, I was sceptical – surely a lion would want to eat a horse? It is after all, just a different coloured zebra, isn’t it? A couple of years passed and I became a horseback guide in South Africa and soon learnt that, not only is it much safer than you might imagine, but it is one of the most magical, emotional and natural ways to view the African wildlife, and be a part of it.

 

EQ Journeys - Botswana.



My newfound passion took me all over Africa, but my heart settled in Botswana. Of all its sub-Saharan counterparts, Botswana is Africa’s success story. It is politically stable, prosperous, and leads the way in conservation management. Botswana operates under the exemplary principle of “give nature half”, which means nearly 40 per cent of the country is dedicated to national parks and wilderness concessions. With a population of just over two million, it is a country relatively undisturbed by man – a rare thing in the world today, and the government continues to support the preservation of its wild spaces by limiting the number of visitors. This is a particularly sophisticated approach to eco-tourism that has resulted in Botswana being able to offer unspoilt, pristine wilderness, an abundance of wildlife, and the luxury of having it all to yourself. Imagine riding through it on a horse!

 

EQ Journeys - Botswana.



Limpopo Horse Safaris is based in the east of Botswana, where South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe meet. The motto here is “Eat, Sleep, Ride”, which refers to their emphasis on fabulous cuisine – cooked bush-style over a fire, supremely comfortable beds in classic safari tents and, of course, exceptional riding. The horses here have a routine of constant schooling between safaris so their turn-out and performance is unparalleled. I rode a stunning Friesian called Coffee who could perform dressage moves, jump bushes and logs and yet stand calmly in front of a huge herd of elephants while I took photos. The rides are predominantly week-long mobile safaris spending each night in a different camp and riding through outstanding landscapes, marked by mountains, red sand elephant trails, the Limpopo River and iconic baobab trees.

 

EQ Journeys - Botswana.



While Limpopo is for riders and riders only, RAW Botswana is the dream for those not wanting to necessarily ride every day, or those travelling with a non-rider. They have an excellent riding safari operation, and also take guests out in the classic game viewing 4x4s, on foot, and by boat. Its location just above the Okavango Delta means that between April and October its waterways are flooded and guests can approach wildlife in boats, or splash through the floodplains on their horse. One day I was cantering across the plains to a well known spot called Hippo Pools where we would have a picnic, and the next day our walking safari led us to a herd of elephants drinking in the marsh. There I watched as two buffalo came out of the bush and startled the eel, which promptly turned on them!

 

EQ Journeys - Botswana.



I loved being able to ride every morning then take the afternoon to enjoy the boats or go out on foot. And like Limpopo, each evening I dined under the stars and slept soundly listening to the animals call around me. 

 

EQ Journeys - Botswana.


 

Sally and Alice Travel Co. arranges riding safaris to both RAW Botswana and Limpopo Horse Safari. RAW starts at $A898 per adult per night and Limpopo Horse Safari starts from $A2,998 per adult for a 7-night safari. Please contact Sally and Alice Travel Co. www.sallyandalice.com for more information.

 

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