Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound, at Macatoo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

In February 2015, In The Saddle organised Lucy Higginson’s holiday to Macatoo in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. In her former position as editor of Horse & Hound, Lucy has been fortunate enough to ride in many countries (although she does rank Africa as her favourite destination) and as a guest on many hunts all over the UK.  We have picked this small selection of lovely images.

Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Lucy Higginson, former editor of Horse & Hound in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Throughout her stay she had some amazing elephant sightings.

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February in the Okavango Delta is known as the Green Season and you can see why from these next couple of images. When the flood waters come in April they flood across much of these plains creating palm tree islands.

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But there are some incredibly dry areas which haven’t seen much flood waters or rain the last few months. And then, in summer months of January to February, there is the possibility of bush fires which run through the dead and dry bush.

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After the fires it can look a bit blackened, but this will only be for a short time and after a shower of rain there will be lots of green shoots which the animals will love. So game sightings over the next couple of months are predicted to be amazing.

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Did you spot the hyaena in the picture above? Here he is a bit closer.

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This cheeky fellow (below) is a reminder of why you should always zip up your tent when you go to lunch or to ride.

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But the highlight of the week was this amazing sighting of the rare wild dog.

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If you would like more information on how to book an In The Saddle horse safari at Macatoo camp, please click here.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Abbie in the Okavango Delta – part 3 – Macatoo

I’ve now reached the third camp in my two week trip to Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Having worked in the travel industry for over 8 years, I’d learnt plenty about our camps there and always enjoyed hearing about our guest’s experiences on their return. Even though December isn’t usually considered the prime time to see the Delta, I had high expectations. Would the ‘Jewel of the Kalahari’ live up to its reputation?

my very comfortable tent at Macatoo

My very comfortable tent at Macatoo

As I sit on the deck outside my tent at Macatoo, the heat of the afternoon is beginning to wane and I gaze out at the horses grazing contentedly. What a day it has been, beautifully warm and filled to the brim with adventure, excitement and good company. Soon it will be time to drag myself from my reverie and don my riding gear for a leisurely afternoon ride. Each evening we gather around the dinner table and recount the day’s adventures. Bongwe or Mod might regale us with stories of past safaris, colourful characters or camp traditions. We may have known the staff and other guests only a few days but it already feels like a dinner party with friends. Each time we gather, whether it be to ride out across the flood plains, for delicious meals or sundowners, such is the relaxed atmosphere and lively conversation, you feel at home, settled, welcome.

Abbie at Macatoo

Abbie at Macatoo

During dinner one evening we are seated around the table and over the conversation we hear a crashing noise close by. It sounds as though branches are being torn down, but nobody turns a hair. ‘Its just Henry’ somebody murmurs. Food continues to be eaten and wine continues to be sipped…as the noises get gradually closer, we turn in our seats to see a huge bull elephant only a few metres away. Henry has a bit of a cheeky reputation for helping himself at mealtimes and occasionally having a little fun chasing people, but tonight he seems content to eat for a while, before turning around and walking away into the darkness.

giraffe almost hidden

Giraffe almost hidden

My instructor always told me “there’s no such thing as a perfect horse”. But on my first morning ride I am given Zorba, a handsome bay gelding who proves the exception to this rule! He is brave, balanced, forward going and full of character. We have a fabulous time together cantering beside impala, following giraffe and careering along twisty forest tracks.

hippo skull

Bongwe & hippo skull

At one point we stop to look at a hippo skull but before long off we go again, zooming along sandy vehicle tracks and hopping over rough ground. As we canter along in some tall grass, we catch sight of a couple of elephant and pull up to watch them. The next moment we see there are many more in the bush to our right and suddenly Bongwe says “go” and we do – off across open ground, our horses only too happy to oblige for another blast.

Then Bongwe calls to us to stop and we turn our horses to see the elephant herd gathered in a circle formation, the youngest safely in the centre. More slowly we make our way back to Bongwe and watch for a while. He flashes a wide grin and remarks at how far we cantered away. Behind us, back-up guide Thomas grins sheepishly; he wasn’t taking any chances!

Fantastic sighting of elephant - the youngest hidden in the middle of the group

Fantastic sighting of elephant – the youngest hidden in the middle of the group

On one afternoon I’m riding a stunning ex-show-jumper called Casa. We’ve just had an amazing sighting of a bull elephant so close we could make out the grooves and wrinkles in his grey skin. As we make our way through the Mopane forest, we see a soft glow lighting up a huge termite mound. As we get closer we see a beautiful bush dinner has been laid out. Some of the staff ride our horses back to camp, whilst others stay and have drinks and dinner with us. On our way back to camp we use the spotlight to see bush babies and other nocturnal creatures as we hang out of the side of the vehicle to get a better look.

a very pretty safari horse at Macatoo

Abbie’s last ride Macatoo – on Apache

The next day we have a fabulous ride in another direction. At a large pool we see about 25 hippo relaxing in the cool water. We have wonderful canters thought the water and even zoom alongside a herd of zebra…wow! This is once in a lifetime stuff and I am enjoying every moment. Later as the heat begins to build, we are cantering through some more water with water lilies either side of us. As we approach the tree line we look upwards and see a huge treehouse up in the branches. There are Katie, Kobus and Riana waving to us from above.

We hop off the horses and climb up into the boughs for a magical view of the Delta. I can just imagine it in the height of the floods – it is beautiful now, but must be really spectacular then. Some of our clothes have been brought from our tents and there is the chance to get changed if we want to. Soon afterwards a delicious lunch is ready and we pile around the table for another magical meal.

a magical tree house lunch

A magical tree house lunch

What a time I’ve had in the Delta. It’s been an experience of a lifetime, I’ve seen amazing game, met some wonderful people and now sadly, it is time to go home. But I can’t wait to be able to recount my experiences and help In The Saddle guests plan amazing adventures of their own.

You can read more about In The Saddle’s wonderful safaris at Macatoo here.

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Abbie in the Okavango Delta – part 2 – Motswiri

In December Abbie had a two week trip to Botswana visiting Kujwana, Motswiri and Macatoo camps. Having worked in the travel industry for over 8 years, she knew plenty about the camps but are they going to live up to her high expectations. Read on as she visits Motswiri.

“As our little plane nears Motswiri camp I peek through the window and watch immense grey shapes cluster around waterholes joyfully spurting water from their trunks. A few moments later I see huge herds of buffalo seething across the plains as though one solid mass of muscle. Soon after the plane takes off again there are more elephant right in front of us crossing the airstrip…and I know my stay at Motswiri is going to be special.

Elephant on the runway at Motswiri

Elephant on the runway at Motswiri

I’m met at the airstrip by Cliffy who will be my riding guide for the duration of my stay. I am in good hands, as Cliffy has been involved in the guiding industry since 1993. Not only is he an experienced guide and passionate conservationist, but he also trains aspiring new guides and is involved in restructuring the nature guide qualification in Botswana.

As we draw close we are met by the harmonious voices of the staff as they welcome us into camp. After being shown around and hearing about the usual day-to-day route, I am shown to my tent. Wow! It really is fabulous, with a huge high bed giving a great view out over the water, a lovely bathroom with hot/cold running water and a flush loo. In my room I find everything you might need, from shampoo and soap, to insect repellent and mosquito coils. My tent is a short wander from the swimming pool, which is so refreshing after a few hours in the saddle. The central mess tent is superbly located overlooking the spillway, where elephants often come to drink. Sundowners here are often accompanied by the sound of grunting hippo making their way along the water channels.

my really comfortable bed at Motswiri!

My really comfortable bed at Motswiri!

In camp with me are a Swiss couple, who are on safari celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. Therys is a non-rider, but tells me what a wonderful stay they have had so far. Each day she has been out with two guides on fabulous game walks and exciting game drives. She tells me it has been the perfect trip, because they have each been able to take part in their favourite activities, but mealtimes, sundowners and afternoons have all been spent together.

I am given Mopani to ride, a stunning liver chestnut gelding who is fit and ready for action. The saddles are comfortable South African trail saddles, although English saddles are available if you prefer. My first afternoon ride takes us along the river. As we round a bend in front of us a disgruntled hippo has been pushed from his watery wallowing place by a large herd of elephant. Our horses graze and we watch enchanted by these amazing creature so close to us. The elephant cross the river as the young ones splash and play. I’ve never seen a hippo out of the water before and it is an amazing sight!

hippo out of water is an amazing sight

Hippo out of water is an amazing sight

We ride back to camp, where the stable staff are waiting to take the horses from us. We dismount to the sounds of popping corks, as the champagne is opened to celebrate our arrival. Sundowners are enjoyed on ‘Motswiri beach’ as we recount our adventures and look forward to what tomorrow might bring.

I am visiting in December, when the days are warm and the bush is green and lush. Cliffy tells me in October the bush is drier but there is more water around. Having said this, there was more water then I was expecting – we still waded through plenty of water and had some fabulous splashy canters.

A real thrill between May and September is the opportunity to ride to fly camp for a night and experience riding in a totally different area.

the very comfortable fly camp

The very comfortable fly camp

Next morning our ride takes us out onto the floodplains, which in the flood season are completely full of water. Right now (in December) there is still a good amount of water left – enough for some refreshing splashy canters which have us grinning from ear to ear. We ride to an ancient baobab tree, a beautiful spot for a snack break. As we make our way along the edge of a forest we hear buffalo not far away and at one point we catch sight of them. Next moment we are crossing over to the other side of the bank and as if from nowhere, we spot a long table laid out for lunch! We dismount and pat our horses, and as if on cue a big herd of elephant cross in front of us.

A spectacular sight at lunch

A spectacular sight at lunch

In the afternoon I try out a new horse called Roman, a Namibian Warmblood. He is cheeky, forward going and great fun. We spot tsessebe, impala and warthog and just catch sight of a beautiful antelope which Cliffy thinks is Oribi.

Next day we ride to King’s Island and have great fun popping over logs and fallen trees. Roman, Sambuca, Mr B and Amigo seem to love the chance for some bush cross country as much as we do! My final morning ride is a long one to Hippo Pools. We have plenty of fast riding along vehicle tracks and over the flood plains, the horses expertly hopping over the fish nest holes. After a few hours we reach our destination and pause to watch about ten hippos in their big pool of water. One female is really curious about the horses and gets closer and closer to us. Finally she plucks up the courage to leave the water and comes within about 10 metres of us, before turning and going back into the water. Not long afterwards, we are riding through a wooded area and come upon a breeding herd of elephant. Some of them are eating and others are digging the ground for minerals. As we begin to skirt around the herd, a big bull elephant begins to charge. But we stand our ground and he pauses, then turns his back to us and retreats. What a way to finish off my time at Motswiri!

Abbie at Motswiri

Abbie at Motswiri

You can read more about the fantastic In The Saddle horse safaris at Motswiri here.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abbie’s trip to the Okavango Delta – part 1 – Kujwana

In December I packed my bags ready for a longed-for trip to Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Having worked in the travel industry for over 8 years, I’d learnt plenty about our camps there and always enjoyed hearing about our guests’ experiences on their return. Even though December isn’t usually considered the prime time to see the Delta, I had high expectations. Would the ‘Jewel of the Kalahari’ live up to its reputation?

From the very start of my two week trip I am on a high. My senses are overloaded; glistening ribbons of water meandering over the flood plains as we fly overhead, elephant walking into camp during dinner, lion roaring in the night so close to camp we almost think we can feel his breath, a surprise champagne lunch in the bush and swimming in the Xudum River as little fish nibble at our toes.

Most guests arrive into camp in style with a helicopter transfer from Maun to camp. But since I am visiting in the dry season, we can be driven into camp in a game drive vehicle. We are met at Maun airport by one of Kujwana’s longest –serving guides Person. He expertly negotiates rickety bridges and deep sand during our 3.5 hour journey to camp. Although only the beginning of our adventure our road transfer is a great introduction to the Delta, as we see zebra, kudu, leopard tortoise, giraffe and elephant.

The fantastic bridge into camp.

The fantastic bridge into camp.

We are met on arrival in camp by owners PJ and Barney Bestelink and their team. Barney takes me to the stables to introduce me to the horses. They are contented, glossy and cherished. We watch from a rise in the ground as the horses are put away in their barns. Barney assessing each horse’s well-being as they trot towards their stable.

My tent is gorgeous; spacious and airy atop a decked platform overlooking the river. My bathroom has a flush loo, hot and cold running water, soft fluffy towers, soap, shampoo and shower gel – bliss! As we sip pre-dinner drinks around the fire, the African sun slips towards the horizon turning the sky beautiful shades of soft velvety orange. Gathering around the dining table we are treated to stories of close encounters, fishing successes and exciting rides. Fellow guests Helena and Dan, David, Richard and Coco have had the time of their lives.

Next morning I am woken with tea in my tent at 5am. Breakfast is eaten around the fire as the sun rises over the plains. For my first ride I am teamed with Mahale, a stunning chestnut Arab. Led by experienced guide Thabu, we head out across the Delta, swishing through tall grasses and splashing through streams. We are treated to excellent sightings of buffalo, giraffe, zebra and hippo. We also see the plucky little honeyguide, giant eagle owl and saddle billed stork.

I see a group of buffalo on our first morning ride

I see a group of buffalo on our first morning ride

Mahale, also known as ‘Mr Posh’ is a real delight. He is well-balanced, polite and willing, with a special presence rarely seen in a safari horse. After two hours or so we dismount and walk the horses on foot for about 10 minutes. Mid-way through our ride we stop in the shade for a snack as the horses graze nearby. We are back at camp by around 11am, giving time for a refreshing dip before lunch. During siesta time, we head back to our tents to sleep off the heat of the day. Afternoon tea refreshes before we head out on the mokoro with our guides. It is such a peaceful way to see the Delta and so relaxing (if you are not poling!).

A mokoro trip is a very relaxing way to experience the delta.

A mokoro trip is a very relaxing way to experience the delta.

The next day is an exciting one as we bid Kujwana camp goodbye and head to Moklowane camp on horseback. Today I ride the mighty Mpumalanga, a grey Boerperd whom PJ describes as “the perfect safari horse”. He’s not wrong; Mpumalanga is sure-footed, experienced in front of game, eager to go, but easy to stop. He adjusts his stride easily as we pop over puddles or dips in the ground. It is almost as though he has lived before; he seems all-knowing and very wise! We spot wildebeest, buffalo and giraffe, the rare roan antelope and the curious-looking tsessebe. Our mud-spattered faces grin with glee as we canter across open ground. We stop to let the horses drinks at a large pool; lead guide Rogers never stops scanning the horizon for game. His eyesight is truly amazing. “It’s because he has never had to sit in front of a computer,” PJ tells us.

We reach a wooded area dotted with palm trees and a young male giraffe ambles close to us. As we emerge on the other side of the wood, suddenly Rogers stops, focussing on something at the base of an island. We follow his gaze and just make out a barely-there golden shape. All is quiet as we question our eyesight. “Lioness,” breathes Rogers. We watch in silence for a few precious moments before PJ signals to Rogers to lead the group quietly away.

Lioness and cub (viewed from a safari vehicle!)

Lioness and cub (viewed from a safari vehicle!)

Less than a mile further on a small army of Kujwana’s staff are waiting to greet us. Our horses are un-tacked, groomed and fed and then led out to graze. We pile into the waiting vehicle and are off in search of the lioness. Skirting the wood we search for the lioness and finally see her lying in the shade. Well-camouflaged she is relaxing contentedly, two exquisite cubs gambolling beside her. We gaze at her for 20 minutes or so, until it is time to leave her to her family. Back at the picnic spot a delicious lunch is served; quiche, fresh bread, salad and potatoes, washed down with cold drinks from the cool box. Camp beds are set out for us in the shade to relax on after lunch. Having had the chance to pack a ‘day bag’ before leaving Kujwana, we can change into shorts and then relax with a book.

After whiling away a few hours, we drink tea, still dozy from our siestas. Soon it is time to mount up for the final few hours in the saddle. Approaching Moklowane you can see that the vegetation is quite different, with taller bush and large islands dotted with palm trees. We have some splashy canters and Al and I argue gently about whose horse would win in a race. In some dense bush we have wonderful elephant sightings. I love the deep slow rumble of these magnificent animals (my favourites!).

doesn't really need a caption!

doesn’t really need a caption!

Moklowane camp is north of Kujwana, situated on the Matsebi River. Five tree houses line the river, high up in the tree line so as to appreciate the view. The beds are under cover, but open to the elements at the front. The en-suite bathrooms have hot and cold running water, a sink and flush loo. We wander down to the deck gin and tonic in hand. We watch the sunset and re-live the adventures of the day. I am so sad to be leaving and wish I could stay longer.

Spacious treehouses at Moklowane

Spacious treehouses at Moklowane

People go on safari for many different reasons; perhaps to get away from it all, to see the ‘real’ Africa, to spot game and to experience a true wilderness. A fellow guest turns to me and says, “this is the best thing I could ever have bought for my wife”. And that’s it; this is no relaxing beach holiday, it is no ordinary gift. This is an experience, something that will stay with you forever. It is something you can keep in your mind for years to come. The horses you have ridden, the game you have seen, the laughs, the thrill, it’s all there to be conjured up in your memory whenever you want. Priceless? Yes I think so.

Abbie at Kujwana on Mpumalanga

Abbie at Kujwana on Mpumalanga

You can read more about the In The Saddle holidays at Kujwana here:

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chris Day’s trip to Tsylos

British Columbia offers a magical retreat from the normality of everyday life. In our latest blog Chris Day recounts her recent trip to the wonderful destination of Tsylos in British Columbia…

Tsylos is less than a one hour flight from Vancouver and is situated at the north end of the Chilko Lake in British Columbia. I had an amazing flight! We had clear skies and fabulous views. The flight (on about a twelve-seater plane) was about 45 minutes. Our driver for the journey from the airport to the Lodge was Pat, one of the fishing guides. He was knowledgeable about the area and kept us amused on the journey.

Flying in from Vancouver

Flying in from Vancouver

Sunday 21st September
We arrived at Tsylos at about 12:30, waited for everyone else to arrive and then sat down to a welcome lunch of macaroni cheese. We then had a general briefing before sitting with Theresa, our guide, who asked us about our riding experience and the type of horse we preferred. After an hour to ourselves, settling into our rooms, we met at the barn for our introductory ride. Theresa gave us a full briefing and demo on catching your horse, putting on the halter, tying up to the hitching rail, brushing off, tacking up, mounting and dismounting. Then we went to the corral and caught our horses. I was assigned ‘Joe’, a good looking bay gelding.

We rode out for about 1 ½ hours, with Theresa leading and Dave as back-up. We were mainly walking but we had a short canter too. Back at the barn we washed down the horses and were back in our rooms by 17:00. Time to freshen up before heading to the lodge at 18:00, where pre-dinner nibbles are left on the bar for guests. It was a splendid first dinner of wild sea trout, salad, potatoes and asparagus, all washed down with nice Canadian wines.

From just above the Lodge

From just above the Lodge

Monday 22nd September 2014
It was cold this morning. I slept quite well then headed down to the lodge where coffee was ready and everyone was gathering for breakfast. Breakfast was homestyle hash browns and a scrambled egg medley (ie with bacon, cheese, tomatoes etc), fruit, cereal, yoghurt and bread.

Quickly over, we collected our sandwiches and made our way up to the barn for 09:30. We caught our horses, groomed and tacked up, and were away by 10:00. We went a different route today, following the road for a while, past Chilko campsite (closed to camping due to bear activity!!!) and then on to Green Lake. After lunch we followed the same route back for the majority of the way, but diverted to have a short canter on an undulating track. We were back at the barn by 14:00 which gave people the chance to have a beer on the deck or head for the hot tub!

Riding along the river

Riding along the river

Tuesday 23rd September 2014
What a lovely morning! I was ready for the splendid breakfast of French toast and bacon. Today we headed out on the Mountain Ride. This ride is all at a walk due to the terrain. We left the barn at about 10:00 and started to climb immediately. There were some very scenic bits as we left the treeline and it got very steep in places. We stopped to rest the horses several times and reached the top of the mountain at about 13:00.

What a view! We sat and ate our lunch looking over the spectacular Chilko Lake. It was magnificent! We lead the horses off the top, which was shingle and steep. It took about 2 ½ hours to get back to the barn and we lead the horses several times. We got back to the lodge for a well deserved drink by 16:30!

Chilko River

Chilko River

Wednesday 24th September 2014
It was a cold, bleak and drizzly morning, but breakfast (bacon, egg, cheese and tomato pie) got me going just fine! The plan today had been to do the boat trip up the lake, but due to the weather it was decided to postpone this and to do a cantering ride instead. I had a change of horse to one of the veterans, a coloured horse called Charlie. I think he’s the boss! Again we set off at about 10:00 and rode along the scenic river. We had about three canters on the way to an abandoned lodge. As we were cantering up a trail towards the lodge, we heard the dogs barking and some strange snorting (not unlike a stallion) and looking back we saw three bears (mother and two cubs) crossing the trail, thankfully after the last horses had passed! We tried to track them, but could not find where they had gone.

Riding through the treeline

Riding through the treeline

We reached the lodge at about 11:45 and stopped here for lunch. This time of year it is the peak of the salmon run, which is great for bringing the bears down to the river, but not so nice for the amount of dead salmon everywhere. We stayed around the lodge for a couple of hours, and went to investigate a beaver lodge. It was amazing to see the trees they had taken down. Incredible!

The meals we had throughout the week were really delicious, and tonight’s rack of lamb was no exception. We had fun after dinner reciting poems and playing a game not dissimilar to charades.

Thursday 25th September 2014
Today is a rest day for the horses and so we all headed out in the boat with Bud to Chilko Lake. It was an amazing day with some incredible views. The mountain scenery is really stunning. After about an hour we stopped and walked to a small lake often frequented by moose. We carried on down an inlet, which was calmer, to an old miner’s cabin. From here it was a further five minutes to our lunch spot on a beach. A fire was lit and hot drinks handed round to warm us up.

The little cabin at Spectacular Lake

The little cabin at Spectacular Lake

Back into the boat after lunch had settled, for another hour continuing up the lake. We reached a spot where we walked to a small lake known as ‘Spectacular Lake’. And it was! On the way back up the lake we passed a structure being built by an old Vietnam draft dodger. Bud had a few stories to tell about him! (Walks about in bare feet apparently!) Then, finally, we saw bears! A mother and cub running along the shore (well, they were eating fish until we came along!) and then a little further along there was a mother and two cubs running up the scree into some trees. Amazing!

We got back to the lodge for about 17:30, and were pleased to get back into the warmth. It had been a fantastic trip, and a wonderful way to see Chilko Lake, but boy it was cold on the back of the boat!

Stunning views from the boat trip on Lake Chilko

Stunning views from the boat trip on Lake Chilko

Friday 26th September
Today we had some great cantering rides, through the trees with some great switchbacks – you really had to be in tune with your horse. We rode back to the abandoned lodge where we saw the mother and cubs the other day, as one of the ladies had dropped her sunglasses. When we got to the abandoned lodge there was a group of photographers totally absorbed in photographing the mother bear and her cubs as they sat in the river eating the abundant salmon. We tried to be very quiet and were able to watch the bears for a while, before she spotted one of our dogs, let out a snort and disappeared!

After lunch we had some more canters and opened up on the old airfield and also a nice paddock, which gave for some nice photo opportunities. Back at the lodge there was a mother bear and two cubs just down by the jetty. We dashed down and spent a long time watching them from just 50yds away. Amazing.

Mother and cub on Lake Chilko

Mother and cub on Lake Chilko

Saturday 27th September
A repeat today of the upper and lower ‘roller coaster’ rides, lovely winding canters through the trees and then out onto the ridge; “don’t look down!” We crossed the river via the bridge and stopped in a very scenic spot for lunch. After lunch we had some nice canters along the sandy trails before we reached the river. Here we untacked the horses and the tack was taken back to the lodge by boat. We waited with the horses until our guides returned (lots of hilarity singing very loud songs to keep the bears away!) and then the horses swam across the river and made their own way back to the stables at Tsylos Lodge. This evening was ‘BBQ’ night and we had lovely steaks cooked to perfection! Bit of a party atmosphere and lots of recounting of our adventures!

The horses swam home

The horses swam home

Sunday 28th September
After breakfast we left the lodge at about 09:30 and travelled the hour and a half back to the airstrip. It was quite sad to see the mountains disappearing into the distance.

My favourite breakfast - eggs benedict!

My favourite breakfast – eggs benedict!

To find out more about how you can create your own British Columbian equestrian adventure visit www.inthesaddle.com

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A South African Adventure at Ant’s

South Africa is one of our most popular destinations for a horseback holiday, with a diverse landscape, big game viewing opportunities, excellent accommodation, beautiful horses and all offering value for money. In The Saddle’s own Gail Tennant finally got to find out why so many people choose South Africa for their equine adventure, here is the second instalment of her blog where she enjoyed a stay at Ant’s Lodges in the Waterberg…

Pure luxury and exploration at Ant’s
After a short drive between Horizon and Ant’s Lodges I settled in to my cottage at Ant’s Hill. Ant’s Lodges are two beautiful and luxurious lodges each set in their own private game reserve owned and run by the Babers, whose family have lived in the Waterberg since 1865!

I was shown to my accommodation for my stay, which was the Family Cottage. This consisted of three bedrooms, a spacious living room and a verandah. The master bedroom had a king size four-poster which was extremely comfortable. One of the highlights of this room had to be the waterfall shower, which was quite a unique experience. There is a twin bedroom with a bathroom, which is shared with the annex children’s room. Both rooms were also spacious and it was very tempting to sleep in a different room each night! It had been beautifully decorated complete with twisted tree trunks to make the door frames. The views from the verandah were spectacular with everything rich and green, although unfortunately I didn’t spot any game only a few lizards! It was very peaceful to just sit on the verandah and read a book when not out riding. All the cottages at Hill were spaced out from each other allowing for guests to feel secluded enough to enjoy their own private holiday/honeymoon.

Family Cottage is absolute bliss

Family Cottage is absolute bliss

The first morning started with a lovely breakfast and then a ride at 8.30am. I rode Phinda who was very straightforward and a comfortable ride. We were taken out by Sam, who has been guiding at Ant’s for 13 years and before that at Horizon for 7 years so he was extremely knowledgeable, particularly about the bush plants and which ones were most commonly used in medicines. After lunch we went out again, this time I rode 19 year old Noosa who was older but still a fast and fun ride! We got to see lots of game and rode for about 2 hours before enjoying sundowners back at the lodge around 7pm.

Getting close to a mother and baby giraffe

Getting close to a mother and baby giraffe

The next day I rode Shakira as we went on the hunt to find some buffalo! It was fun tracking prints and we eventually found them, along with some giraffe too! We also got to have a lovely gallop along a sandy track and to swim in the dam with the horses. That evening some of the guests had opted to go do the big 5 game drive in another reserve whilst others went to the rhino feeding at Nest, so it was just me riding in the afternoon. I rode a chestnut mare called Nairobi who was a young ex-racehorse. She was a lovely ride, really uncomplicated, easy to stop and moved well off the leg. I couldn’t believe her age and that she had been a racehorse, as she did not behave this way! This ride was fast and we could go for some long canters that were really exhilarating. We made our way up to the highest point on the reserve of 1200 metres. Just the other side of the hill, Jan was waiting with some sundowners and snacks, the view watching the sun disappear from up there was amazing and you could see right across the Waterberg.

Sundowners to take your breath away

Sundowners to take your breath away

A change of scenery
The next day I rode from Ant’s Hill to Ant’s Nest, we saw various game along the way and had some great canters. After a delicious buffet lunch of chips, bruschetta, melon and feta salad, venison gazpacho and calamari we rode out hoping to help find a buffalo bull who had been injured fighting with another over territory, we saw lots game, including rhino, but didn’t find the buffalo!

At Ant’s Nest I stayed in the Sable Suite, which is upstairs of the main building. There is a large spacious living area with a beautiful fireplace for those winter nights. The master bedroom had a lovely four-poster bed with a large window which looked out over the pool and reserve. The bathroom off the master bedroom was huge and probably about the same size as the bedroom itself! There was a twin room as well with its own smaller bathroom. Both rooms had some beautiful paintings on their walls of various bush animals, some of which were painted by Ant Baber. The rooms at Nest are closer together and there were plenty of other guests to chat to around the pool making it a very social atmosphere.

The Sable suite is stunning at Ant's Nest

The Sable suite is stunning at Ant’s Nest

Spectacular sights
While the game sightings were spectacular at both Lodges and we could get extremely close to giraffe and sable for some photos, the rhino are often sighted close to Nest as they are fed near to there. After arriving back from sundowners one evening the rhino were grazing the grass just beyond the wall of Nest. We were able to sit and just watch these beautiful creatures which were almost close enough to touch. It was a truly magical experience!

The next morning we were still on the hunt for the injured buffalo. The rangers who look after the rhino had found fresh tracks in the early hours of the morning so we headed off to one of the hills. Ant was in radio contact with those looking from a vehicle and we soon found the bull and were able to get quite close to it. The wounds had healed so the vet did not need to be called thankfully.

Culinary delights
The food at Ant’s is out of this world and my diet went out the door! There was plenty of choice at breakfast from fruit, yoghurt, pastries to full English breakfast. Lunches were quite light usually accompanied by a salad. There is high tea before the afternoon activity with plenty of cakes to go around! Dinner is always introduced by the chef and the description alone will have your mouth watering before it arrives on your plate! My particular favourite were the salmon pancakes!

Boma provides the perfect setting for delicious meals

Boma provides the perfect setting for delicious meals

Saying goodbye to Africa
On my last morning I had the chance for one last ride out. The sky was very dark in the distance and we did wonder how long of a ride we would get until the storm hit. We rode for about 45 minutes only seeing a few kudu and blesbok as the storm rolled in and we had to abandon the ride. Once the storm had passed Moses took us out for a game drive and we saw a range of types of deer and also a small herd of giraffe. Then it was time to head back to Johannesburg to fly home!

The beautiful Alby

The beautiful Alby

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A lovely letter from Rendola

We love hearing all the news from our In The Saddle destinations and this letter from Jenny and the team at Rendola in Italy really brought a smile! We love how honest and personal she is when she writes to us and her passion for riding, and life in general, is infectious! We can’t wait to go back to Rendola…

Dear friends,
First of all, may I wish you all a Happy New Year! Somehow the number 2015 has a nice feel to it, don’t you think (is it because it is divisible by three and five?), and I hope that this will be reflected in the months to come.

I have to admit that 2014 was not a particularly good year for Rendola (though it had ups as well as downs). Bookings for riding weeks were rather a little lower than usual and the Italian recession has reduced the local clientele; but what was worse for us olive-growers was the fact that the olive-oil crop was a complete disaster. Because of the mild winter 2013-2014, followed by an uncharacteristically cool and rainy summer, the olives were attacked by a parasitic insect: they were, as we (!) Tuscans say here, ‘bacati’. At first we thought that only the olives that had fallen to the ground were affected, but when Sergio (Pietro’s son) started picking the ones still on the tree he found that those were rotten, too. So we didn’t have just a SHORTAGE of oil this year, but simply not a SINGLE DROP! Farmers had the same experience all over Tuscany and also elsewhere, maybe it will have been a coup di grace for Tuscan agriculture. Luckily we still have quite a lot of oil left over from last year and we are guarding this jealously so that you will still have some to drizzle on your salad (just a drizzle, mind you) when you visit us this year. As some of you have already planned to do: I see that our bookings are up this year, with several amongst you making return visits. (No one, however, can beat Margaret, for whom it will be her twelfth riding week at Rendola!)

Jenny and Silver at Rendola

Jenny and Silver at Rendola

Of course we like to have new guests as well. I have just had a booking from a couple living in KwaZulu Natal, wanting to organize a family gathering over the Easter holidays. (No, I didn’t know where it is either, though the word ‘Zulu’ gives us a clue.) There will be eleven of them spanning three generations. We have had at least four similar groups, sometimes coming from different countries, it makes me feel as if Rendola is in the centre of the world, rather like Jerusalem on medieval maps! Such groups have always been great fun, with a lot of merriment as well a certain amount of amicable bickering as various strong-willed family members of different generations can’t come to an agreement as to a programme: some are interested in Culture, others decidedly are not, some want to ride – usually the girls, whatever their age, from 8 to 80 – others are terrified of horses, some are furiously active while others intend to enjoy a bit of dolce far niente. Usually in the end they split into different groups each doing his own thing, and then they all meet up for dinner in the evening. I expect it’ll be the same this time, the important thing is that they should all have fun in their own way.

Idyllic Italian Views

Idyllic Italian Views, best viewed through the ears of a horse!

I’ve been having fun, too, working on the new website. One of our problems is that the best time for horseback riding is in the spring and the autumn, which means that for much of the year work is slack. So in this new website we are going to try to reach out to a wider range of client, not just riders. After all, the very best time to visit the art cities is in the winter, when there are no crowds or queues and you can enjoy looking at artworks without a horde of other visitors holding up and clicking away on their i-phones or i-tablets or whatever – WITHOUT ACTUALLY LOOKING AT THE ARTWORKS AT ALL! It drives me mad. The months of March and November, cool but not cold, are the best for cycling, while the summer, too hot for riding, is ideal for joining a cookery course as there are so many kinds of seasonal fruit and vegetable available, often from our own kitchen garden. Now don’t get me wrong, riding is still our main activity; but in order to survive in this competitive world (and pay the taxes, very high in this country – for those who pay them) we must widen our appeal and that is the aim of this new website. (Getting people to see it is another kettle of fish: perhaps you can give me a hand?) Do have a look at it, anyway.

Having fun at Rendola

Having fun at Rendola

Some of you will see your own photos on the website and I have to apologise now if I didn’t ask for your permission to publish them, for the simple reason that I can’t remember who sent which. And if your photos have NOT been published, please do not be offended! There is not room for more than a certain number, so from time to time we will change them, as I am told that we have to do to keep the website alive (makes it sound like a baby bird that constantly needs feeding). However, I think you will agree that it is a lovely and original website with none of those irritating gimmicks that get on your nerves (my nerves, anyway). It’s possibly a little old-fashioned – like its creator…

Cut the cackle, you may say, but what about the horses? Most of you have already been to Rendola and will be glad to hear that all last year’s horses are still with us. Some of the oldies, of course, work mainly in the ring, but there are plenty of younger horses to take on the rides out: though even Silver, one of the veterans, is still raring to go! There is a new horse, however, Gina Lollo, a nine-year-old black Sicilian mare with a very gentle nature, whom I believe will be good in the school as well as the trail, being very responsive to the aids. We may buy in another horse as spring approaches.

Riding out at Rendola

Riding out at Rendola

And how is THIS veteran, the one writing this letter? Well, last winter I had a fall – not from a horse, what did you think? No, I slipped on some wet leaves while walking downhill. This made me lame for a while, though riding was luckily no problem. The fall had brought on a borsitis in my hip, but this has almost disappeared after a few physiotherapy sessions. This year I have been furthering my studies of medieval art, which has become a passion, so stop me if I start boring you with my newly acquired knowledge… I have also been working on my autobiography – only as owner of a riding centre, so nothing TOO personal! As for the Rendola team, we have great news about our instructor Eraldo and his wife Martina: they are now the proud parents of a baby son, Laerte Raduel. Sergio, with the help of his daughter Sara and her husband Francesco (they married last June), Marco and Franca have been organizing dinners down at our restaurant in the village of Rendola. These dinners are centred on a particular ingredient, such as pumpkin, turkey, duck and so on, and have become increasingly popular among the locals. Franca has also held a couple of cooking courses here in our kitchen, which I know were very successful.(I have only the role of interpreter, don’t worry, I know my cooking skills are very limited.) She needs to improve her English, so this winter I am giving her another series of lessons: “Now I am putting a slice of mortadella on each slice of beef” – that sort of thing. Oh yes, I have also proposed ‘English weekends (full immersion)’ on the Italian version of the website. This obviously will not interest any of YOU, but have a look all the same as there is an unusually glamorous picture of me actually wearing a DRESS! (A very rare occurrence, I can tell you).

What a spectacular view!

What a spectacular view!

Yes, I knew I’d forgotten something. I must now pay tribute to all the ‘workawayers’ who have helped us over the season, both in the stables and in the house. They get full board and lodging and riding in exchange for work and I must say that I don’t know how we could manage without them. They are Mareike (Germany), Aurélie (France), Katie (USA), Ali (USA), Sandra(the Netherlands), Nikki (Germany) Katie (GB) and Sophie (Ireland). There was also Katarina who came to write a book and did sterling work in the kitchen. I am sincerely grateful to you all. If I’ve forgotten anyone please forgive me, as my memory was never my strong point and it’s not getting any better.

Well, I do hope that some of you will return to Rendola, to ride, cycle, walk or whatever. And if you can’t for some reason come, could you tell your friends about us? The show must go on!

Best wishes,
Jenny and her team

The stunning farmhouse at Rendola where you could be staying very soon!

The stunning farmhouse at Rendola where you could be staying very soon!

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Riding Holidays, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A wonderful adventure on the Horizon

South Africa is one of our most popular destinations for a horseback holiday, with a diverse landscape, big game viewing opportunities, excellent accommodation, beautiful horses and all offering value for money. In The Saddle’s own Gail Tennant finally got to find out why so many people choose South Africa for their equine adventure. Here is the first instalment of her South African adventure…

Holidaying at Horizon
In December 2014 I traveled to Johannesburg to begin my adventure in South Africa. My first stop was Horizon, which is in the heart of the Waterberg Plateau, a few hours north of Johannesburg. Having been welcomed wholeheartedly, I was shown to my room in Rock Lodge, which overlooked the lake and was beautifully presented with rose petals on the bed and all the information I could possibly need during my stay.

It wasn’t long before I was enjoying a ride, on a nice forward going horse called Sparky, whilst enjoying the chance to view some of the fauna and wildlife, including zebra and warthog, before finishing up watching the sun go down on top of a rock overlooking the reserve. It was a magical start to my stay at Horizon.

Enjoy our sundowners from Pride Rock

Enjoy our sundowners from Pride Rock

After my first night’s sleep, and a good breakfast, we headed out at around 8am for our first ride. Guided by Shengie, who has a vast knowledge of the local fauna, we saw warthog, zebra, impala and giraffe before heading back for a delicious lunch and having a few hours to relax and soak up the sun! Then at 4pm we had the opportunity to learn how to play Polocrosse! I rode a horse called Toogs, a bay gelding in his late teens. He was very forward going, with a great turn of speed on the pitch. It was all great fun and we all got very competitive!

Playing Polocrosse

Playing Polocrosse

After breakfast on day three we were planning to try our hand at cattle mustering! I was on board Toogs again and we headed out to the cattle camp, however where the 50 heifers were supposed to be was empty! They were nowhere to be found! We instead took a different route and managed to see 5 kudu females, 2 zebra, a family of warthogs with 3 baby warthogs only a few days old, and a giraffe. We then changed horses and went swimming in the dam! I rode Swamp Billy who lived up to his name, as he really loved the water, it was great fun!

Swimming with Swamp Billy

Swimming with Swamp Billy

The next day some of the guests went on an elephant safari, but I stayed at Horizon with two other guests and went on a leisurely ride, meandering through the reserve, on a piebald mare called Storm. The hippo had been in the dam opposite the lodge so we headed there first to have a better viewing where we saw one male (called Motomoto), two females and a young baby hippo. We were able to get close to the water line and the baby was very curious and brave! Once back at the lodge I took Storm swimming in the dam before lunch and then had some time to relax before having a lot of fun doing Western games in the afternoon! The games consisted of a test to determine the team with the fastest walk, slowest canter and fastest trot, as well as bending races with a cup of water trying to get as much in the bucket at the end and also barrel races. After a quick shower we watched the sunset while the local gospel choir sang as we sipped our sundowners – it was very peaceful!

Family of Hippo

Family of Hippo

Camping out
My next adventure was to spend two nights at Camp Davidson. We took a faster paced ride, with plenty of canters, on our journey to the camp and got the chance to track a male giraffe and see kudu and zebra along the way! Camp Davidson has been built high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng Valley and gives you the chance to explore the area from a tented camp nestled in the heart of the wooded hills. It provides you with the opportunity to spend a night or so living life by the campfire and has its own chef and camp housekeeper. We enjoyed a lovely lunch and iced guava juice, took a dip in the pool and had a nap and then took a leisurely ride on that side of the hill before an evening drink while watching the sunset and a delicious dinner of kudu stew with chocolate covered strawberries for dessert!

Camp Davidson

Camp Davidson

The next morning we were woken by Frans calling good morning and bringing hot drinks to our tents at 7am. That morning’s ride was quite warm as we meandered our way through the reserve. We met up with the others for a bush brunch at around 11am, which consisted of bacon, boer wors (sausage), scrambled eggs, hash browns, baked beans and fried tomatoes! Tea that afternoon came with a large gooey chocolate cake which was just heavenly. We then embarked on a lovely afternoon ride which took us along various tracks with times where we could trot and canter. We had our sundowners together on the plains with zebra, giraffe, warthog and eland surrounding us as the sun went down.

My final day was started with a hot beverage in my tent at Camp Davidson, before a breakfast on the deck looking across to the plains game. Our ride took us on one of the faster trails on the far side of the reserve and we went through a small village, which was still using mud houses to live in. We had the chance to really open up our horses as the route was straight and open with no aardvark holes. Then it was back to Horizon for a last tea and cake before I departed for the next leg of my African exploration!

Sundowners on the plains

Sundowners on the plains

Look out for Gail’s next blog coming very soon!

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heard on the grapevine in South Africa

South Africa is renowned for its fabulous safaris, and In The Saddle work with the best in this fabulous country! Sometimes though the choice is too much, so we have heard straight from the ‘horse’s mouth’ in our latest blog to help you decide which trip will suit you best…

Taking time to reflect
Based on large private game reserves in the Kruger National Park, the Wait A Little horseback safari gives some of the best opportunities to see the Big Five – elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo – from the saddle! For Anne Carr the combination of amazing game viewing and beautifully schooled horses was a winner for her! “The horses were beautifully cared for, fit, forward going, sure footed, calm around game and an absolute delight to ride,” she says. “The riding was not as fast as expected, although we had some lovely canters at a brisk pace. There was a lot of walking through very dense bush, combined with canters along lovely sandy tracks, which wound through the area. Its so good to be able to talk to In the Saddle staff who have actually ridden there, as we are a bit older we did worry about the level of riding and whether we would be OK, but again the reassurance proved correct. The riding was challenging but only in the number of hours in the saddle without a break, the horses were wonderful. Our watchword of the week – AMAZING!”

The word amazing sums up Wait A Little

The word amazing sums up Wait A Little

For Sara Mackmin, she was pleased that she had a good level of fitness before embarking on this ride! “We rode superbly fit, well behaved and well schooled horses with great characters,” she explains. “Having ridden at other places in Africa, I was expecting a faster pace in open order however, the more controlled close order line approach for canters was entirely understandable given the presence of lions! The long lopey canters on sandy tracks or winding around open bush areas were most enjoyable though you definitely need to be fit and able to sustain a standing/light seat position at canter for long periods – I think our longest was a good 10-20 minutes or at least it felt like it. One day we rode for 5 hours with several long canters to get to the other side of the Reserve in search of elephants – brilliant and I am so pleased everyone in our group was fit and up for the challenge.”

Angie Keech told us that she had the time of her life at Wait A Little. “It was all fantastic,” she explains. “The horses, the grooms, the tack, the riding, everything – it was out of this world! The tents at Wait a Little camp got very hot during the day but sitting outside on the decking was lovely. The food was tasty and they took into consideration my gluten intolerance. Lots of wine too, which was ideal! I had the time of my life and have lots of photos and videos as a reminder.”

The riding is challenging but controlled at Wait A Little

The riding is challenging but controlled at Wait A Little

Luxury meets game viewing
Ant and Tessa Baber have perfected the art of the luxurious and very personal safari at their two beautiful lodges in two private game reserves in the Waterberg. Particularly well-equipped for families and inexperienced riders, this area has no dangerous game. For Alison Smither, Ant’s Hill welcomed her with open arms and she left feeling part of the magic! “We were a group of three, “ Alison states. “One non-rider, one novice and one very experienced. The guides were great, each ride started off with us together, then we split for sections, with two of us doing a faster loop, then all meeting up further round the tracks. When we joined with other riders, same thing, if anyone wanted a slower ride they could do so, no pressure to ride faster than you felt comfortable. Similarly, those who wanted a long fast canter round the winding sand tracks got their wish too. If you wanted some tuition or a bit of help, no problem, a lovely guide was on hand to help you. As the horses live in the bush you are able to get very close to the animals, it’s an incredible experience coming face to face with a curious giraffe!”

You can get very close to game at Ant's Lodges

You can get very close to game at Ant’s Lodges

And if you are looking for home comforts then Ant’s Lodges are for you! “The beautiful lodges were kept clean and tidy by the ever smiling and cheerful ladies,” Alison goes on to say. “Wonderful views down the gorge and to the open plain below; what a treat to be sitting eating breakfast whilst watching the animals wander about below.
 The food was the best ever; morning biscuits, breakfast, then the chefs produce a “light” lunch, which is much appreciated after the morning ride. This was usually something with lots of salad dishes followed by deserts – don’t miss those! Afternoon tea and cake to build you up for the afternoon ride, then the evening meal. Always 3 courses, eaten in one of several beautiful settings, either inside by the roaring log fire, on the terrace over the gorge, or, our favourite, in the boma. Everything was delicious, special diets were well catered for. We also had a BBQ in the bush one lunch time, watching the antelope and zebra at the waterhole, a pretty special place. One word of advise for anyone thinking of booking this holiday – stop thinking and do it! It was a great adventure, fantastic riding and game viewing with friendly, knowledgeable guides. They are all young but passionate about their work and their country and a lot of fun to be around.
Without exception, the staff are so welcoming and helpful, from the minute you are whisked off to your first drink when you arrive, to the farewells at the end, you feel part of a big happy family.”

The accommodation at Ant's Lodges will take your breath away!

The accommodation at Ant’s Lodges will take your breath away!

For Lisa Sydenham, she combined the luxury of Ants Hill with a fun stay at Camp Davidson at Horizon and found it to be the perfect family holiday. “Both Horizon and Ants Hill had really knowledgeable guides who made sure we saw game whenever possible but also enjoyed superb long canters as well,” she says. “At Horizon they offered some fun alternatives to riding in the bush such as le trec and also polocross. The riding was better than we expected and we managed to ride as a family a lot of the time, which was lovely. Lovely varied menu at both locations and even at Camp Davidson despite them only having a small tent to cook in! The bush lunch and the braai in the boma at Ants hill were really special. This was the most amazing holiday our family has ever been on!! In The Saddle suggested the perfect combination of destinations for us and in the right order. As Ants Hill was more luxurious it was nice to have that at the end of the trip. We loved the way the horses were looked after and thoroughly enjoyed the extras offered at Horizon, which included African singing, a trip to see big 5 and a view of the night sky with Dr Phil. At Ants hill the sundowners in various different locations were a nice touch. Both locations had really lovely, friendly staff that made you feel nothing was too much trouble.”

A holiday at Ant's Lodges will please all the family

A holiday at Ant’s Lodges will please all the family

Variety is the spice of life
When embarking on a horseback safari you don’t necessarily expect to combine game viewing with beach riding, however at Endalweni, a private game reserve near Kei Mouth on the Wild Coast, you can have both and for Wendy Frankcom – this variety was what made it so wonderful! “The horses were in lovely condition and responsive,” she says. “The beach rides offered fantastic long canters and gallops in stunning scenery with lots of variety in terrain! The horses are very sure-footed and coped with it all.”

This varied approach to a safari was also enjoyed by Nancy Seybold. “The riding was terrific,” she states. “Our guide, Roz, was absolutely first rate – competent, cheerful, knowledgeable, and personable. The horses were well matched to the riders, who ranged in ability and experience. Thus all of us were able to really enjoy the gallops and canters on the beach and the varied terrain of the ride. I was particularly impressed with the manners of the horses riding at speed in a group. It is also truly beautiful to ride along with the game at Endalweni. This holiday would suit someone who wants to have a comfortable place to stay but is willing to get out and ride – sometimes at speed – in a part of South Africa most tourists never see. 
Taking the horses on the “ferry” across the Kei River, galloping on a deserted beach, and riding through saddle-high grass to track down a giraffe family are experiences well worth the long trek to Endalweni.”

Some fantastic beach riding at Endalweni

Some fantastic beach riding at Endalweni

From the beach to the mountains, Moolmanshoek is situated in the shadow of the Witteberg mountains and is a real horse lovers’ paradise – which is why Stephanie Walsh was so impressed. “The riding pace and terrain could not have been more varied (and sometimes challenging!), and the horses took it all in their stride. The rooms were lovely. Very comfortable, lovely hot, powerful shower! Just what you need after a day in the saddle! The finishing touches like a weather report for the following day on your pillow with nougat after dinner were wonderful. 
I have never eaten so well in my life! Amazing, home made breads and cakes, succulent meat, fresh local vegetables. Some of the best food I’ve had on a riding holiday. I want to go back right now!”

Moolmanshoek is a horse lover's paradise!

Moolmanshoek is a horse lover’s paradise!

And if you are looking for ‘the best holiday’ according to Jenny Newman, then Blakeney, which is just an hour from the Botswana border in the northern Waterberg, is the place to visit! “All the horses were perfect; well schooled, fit and friendly,” she tells us. “Corne let us ride whichever horse we wanted. My husband chose ‘Steady Freddie’ all week while the rest of us rode a selection of the more forward going horses. We galloped alongside zebra, swam through rivers, and ambled through the bush at sunset with giraffe, it could not have been better. This was the best family holiday ever. Our children are 15 and 16 years old and want to go back to Blakeney again as soon as possible. Corne and Pam are perfect hosts, the horses are fabulous, and their dogs became our best friends! I could not recommend it more.”

The perfect family holiday at Blakeney!

The perfect family holiday at Blakeney!

To find out more about horse riding holidays in South African contact In The Saddle.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a riding expedition?

It may seem obvious, but there are many different types of equestrian travel and it can be a bit of a minefield for people trying to decide which is the right trip for them! So here we tell you a little bit more about what to expect on a Riding Expedition…

For the real explorers amongst you a Riding Expedition is the ultimate horseback journey, which admittedly may entail a few hardships, but rewards you with an exceptional adventure.

These once in a lifetime experiences take you places you never could imagine seeing. You will see unforgettable vistas, take part in life-altering experiences, meet inspirational people, learn about totally different cultures and see the world in a whole new light. Ride in places that are virtually unreachable other than on horseback, in countries such as Mongolia, Tibet, Peru and Jordan, and see life through the locals’ eyes.

These Riding Expeditions require a little more planning and preparation than other trips and you must be fit and competent riding across sometimes challenging terrain. An open mind is a must and on many expeditions you will spend successive nights sleeping in two-man tents or under the stars with limited washing facilities and very few luxuries – however the feeling of fulfillment makes up for it! If you are an explorer at heart then a Riding Expedition will give your life a totally new direction and satisfy the most inquisitive of minds.

Book a riding expedition if…

•    You want to escape from technology and the hustle of normal life
•    You are an experienced rider looking for an adrenalin rush
•    You love culture and want to experience life as the locals do
•    You want to go back to basics and stay in simple accommodation with no, or very few, mod-cons
•    You enjoy a challenge – both physically and mentally
•    You want to go on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip and visit places many people haven’t, and won’t, be able to see
•    You want to test your fitness and stamina
•    You wish to ride local horses in their native environment

Are you now up for the challenge? Check out the riding expeditions available at www.inthesaddle.com

A riding expedition to somewhere like Mongolia is life-altering!

A riding expedition to somewhere like Mongolia is life-altering!

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, Riding expeditions, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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