Widely-regarded as one of Africa’s premier safari destinations, Botswana is a wildlife enthusiasts’ haven offering some of the best game viewing on the Continent. One of the key aspects that really sets Botswana apart is the diversity of experience on offer, in large part because of the unique environments that there are to explore, with the <a style="color: #f2b618;" href="https://www.imaginetravel.com/imagine-africa/holiday-destination/botswana/places/okavango-delta-and-moremi" target="_blank">Okavango Delta</a> being one of the most impressive wildlife habitats in the world which can be explored by a variety of methods – whether on foot, by vehicle or on a boat cruise and the - recently becoming UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site – whilst <a style="color: #f2b618;" href="https://www.imaginetravel.com/imagine-africa/holiday-destination/botswana/places/makgadikgadi" target="_blank">Makgadikgadi</a> offers a truly unique landscape as the largest salt pan in the world, with game viewing to match.
Blog: Botswana on horseback
As arguably the most exciting African country to go on safari, Botswana offers one of the greatest diversities of safari activities with game drives, bush walks, mokoros and motor boats amongst the most popular. Here our Botswana specialist, Annie, makes the case for why exploring the Botswanan bush on horseback should be top of your list.
There are few alarm calls more welcome than the sound of birdsong and the African bush, lulling you from your slumber ready for another exciting day exploring the plains that surround you. The delivery of hot coffee to your tent is the final push needed to haul you from your cosy bed as you await the rising African dawn. As you leave your tent you see the evidence of elephants in camp the night before, with fresh tracks in the sand and battered trees that have been the main dish at their supper party. Could there be a chance that your morning activity could coincide with these majestic beasts? Coming to the end of the path you find the barn’s residents standing in their stables lightly illuminated by the rising sun, you move along the corridor, saying hello to your favourites. Last stretch and along to the mounting block you go.
The initial smack in the face by a damp branch never improves but you soon emerge out of the thicket and arrive at the floodplain. The crisp air excites you as the vast expanse sinks in. The first splashes of the freezing water invigorate your skin, but you’re soon on an island and break into a trot, leaving all water worries behind. That trot breaks into a canter and off you go! Before you know it: water! But you embrace it and carry on, in what feels like a washing machine, following your guide through squinted eyes, until seeing his hand signal you pull up.
Quickly he signals for silence and displays the sign for elephant. Your heart starts to beat faster as your eyes peer through the surrounding bush, trying to pick out where they are hiding. Is it a tree trunk? Termite hill? No, that’s definitely an elephant’s backside. Your guide checks the wind direction and you slowly start to move closer. He signals to stop. You wait for the next signal, the guide communicates to the back-up in complete silence. The back-up dismounts and the guide signals you to do the same.
Moving through the bush trying to remain undetected, you follow your guide’s commands via a new-found sign language. He indicates to follow him, crawling onto a termite hill. As you reach the top, you peer over to find the grey mass you viewed from horseback, an elephant cow with new born calf at foot. The mother grazes at the surrounding vegetation, content, whilst the baby playfully wanders between her legs, both unaware of their foreign spectators. A lifetime passes in seconds and the guide signals for the retreat. You slowly move back until you find your trusty stead. The morning flies past filled with giraffe, lechwe, impala, zebra, buffalo and baboon. After a quick flapjack fuel stop, you canter along the bush line, taking the opportunity to jump fallen trees, and then turn the bend and downward transition into a sharp halt. There in front of you: a pack of wild dogs.
They’re startled at the sight of the horses and rush to take cover in the bush. One by one they appear from the cover, curiosity winning them over. They travel in amongst the horses, confused by their appearance. You sit in awe of their beauty and the privilege of seeing this rare animal in its natural habitat. As quickly as you stumbled upon them, they disappear. You make your way back in the direction of camp, splashing your way through the flood plain of the Selinda Spillway, cooling you in the late morning sun. A delicious bush lunch awaits you, followed by a siesta to escape from the heat of the midday sun. Rejuvenated, you mount your trusty stead once more, ready to gallop off and explore the bush all over again…
Our favourite riding safaris in Botswana:Motswiri Camp – a small and intimate camp in the Selinda Spillway, offering a game-rich and diverse safari experiences for riders and non-riders alike.
Macatoo Camp – a horse-riders heaven in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Simple yet comfortable accommodation with a range of safari activities including game drives and boat trips; ideal for any partners, friends or children who do not ride.