A horseback safari in Africa probably sounds very appealing to the adventurous traveller who seeks the unexpected. But what exactly can you expect on a horseback safari? And what about the many concerns that people have, like safety and fitness levels? Here are some answers.
Many questions are often raised about the safety of riding when surrounded by game in their natural environment. Horseback safaris are available for all levels of riders – complete beginners right through to professionals. Some African riding holidays will take complete beginners through exotic locations teaching them to ride along the way. Others are suitable only for experienced, fit and confident riders who may be called upon to confidently walk, trot, canter or even gallop away from big game.
Despite understandable concerns many types of African game can be safely viewed by varying levels of riders with the simple ingredient of respect for the environment that you are in and for your guide who will instruct you on what to do when. A tip here is to seek advice from those you are booking with.
All African riding holidays are accompanied by at least two guides, with a lead guide in front and the other bringing up the rear. Guides on African safari will be armed and experienced at reading animal behaviour. Instructions from your guide must be adhered to. For your safety they are entitled to request that you dismount or even disallow you from riding if they think that you may endanger the safety of the horses, yourself, or other people.
Fitness is an area that you need to consider. Horseback safaris can involve base rides or a point rides. On a base ride you return with your horse to the same base each night. On a point to point ride you progress each day riding to new destinations. The advantage of a base ride is you can choose to have a day off if you feel stiff or tired. In contrast, a point to point ride involves an exploratory trail and a planned schedule so a certain amount of riding fitness and ability will be necessary. If riding is a new thing for you or you don’t ride regularly a base ride over a weekend or day rides may be easier on your body and more doable than a point to point ride. There’s no getting away from the fact that if you are physically fit you will get much more pleasure out of your horseback safari.
And then there is the question about if children can take part in horseback safaris. It is unlikely that children under the age of twelve will be permitted to go on an African horseback safari. If you have younger children check if child minding services can be arranged. Since children are fascinated by nature lots of engaging activities could be arranged while you go riding.
What is included in an African riding holiday may vary between service providers. You can usually expect the price to include accommodation, meals, guides, luggage transportation (from point to point) camping equipment and a horse and tack.
Accommodation on horseback safari varies considerably from camping under the stars to luxurious lodges lost in the middle of nowhere to private lavish safari houses. Of course your chosen budget will dictate what you experience.
Overall, the main thing to remember is ask for advice. Speak to who you are booking with. Email the people you will be riding with who will only be too happy to help and advise you. If you have questions or concerns, raise them. It’s much better to be prepared and to understand your up and coming adventure travel experience in detail. One more thing – holiday insurance is of course advisable for such an adventure holiday and it is likely to be mandatory. Though this may sound obvious, ensure that your insurance covers riding activities!