As Christmas approached we came to the end of Harriet Walker’s African Adventure. Read her last blog, first published on horseandhound.co.uk, as she finishes her time at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana…
I have just come back from my last safari; a three day trip into the bush. It was a beautiful reminder of how beautiful this country is – although for me I wasn’t feeling 100% having suffered some kind of allergic reaction that resulted in a very swollen face! On my last game drive we saw a pregnant lioness, which was such a stunning sight. All the guides know the area and wildlife so well that they know what animals belong to which families, so you get a real inside knowledge into their existence. I quite like knowing that despite the animals being wild there are still people that would notice if one of them wasn’t there!
There is nothing like nature to remind you that you are powerless in its hands! On a recent Lodge to Lodge ride one of the camps had an African Bee Hive and they apparently go crazy for fresh cut grass so started stinging the horses. All but one horse broke free and returned to the stables safely – it is amazing that despite it being 25km away as the crow flies, they all naturally knew to come back to the main base. Unfortunately one horse, Rhodes, stayed with the grooms and got stung so badly he passed away. We had a vet out here at the time that was doing a few days safari in exchange for treating all of the horse’s backs and doing their teeth – so she helped ice bandage legs and treat stings and did all she could for Rhodes but sadly he didn’t make it which was very sad, especially as he was such a popular horse with our guests.
One of the things I love about Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris is that the horses really are the priority and Louise is so particular about their care and management. Whether it be bringing out a trainer to help teach the staff how to ride them more effectively, or a vet to keep them in peak health – this all adds to the guest’s experience and ensures the horses are in the best condition. This is the reason that companies like In The Saddle are so happy to work with them – because they meet all their criteria, not just for an exceptional trip, but for the good of the animals as well.
We always have a cook on site and unfortunately she was unwell towards the end of my stay which meant that I had to step up to the culinary challenge of cooking afternoon tea and dinner for the guests! I absolutely loved it and it is right up my street, especially as I am going to University in September to study Food Science. I have never cooked South African style food before so it was great to learn! One dish in particular I really enjoyed was called Bobotie – it is a curry dish with raisins and lots of spices and a layer of eggs on top! So not only have I learnt a lot about Africa but I got the chance to embrace my inner domestic goddess too!
The experience at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris has been amazing. I got to go on 5 game drives in all and see all the wildlife I could imagine, I also got to school beautiful horses, including Foxy who will always stay close to my heart, and I didn’t want to leave! Having seen other safaris happening whilst I was there on the reserve I can honestly say that seeing this part of the world by horseback is the best way to do it if you can ride. You get to see animals and scenery from a whole different perspective. You also get to go on game drives as well so you really do get the best of both worlds!
I have also made a friend for life in Kate who is here teaching the local children (including Cor and Louise’s) at Limpopo Valley Horse Safari’s own primary school. She is doing a fantastic job out there to give the kids a head start in their education – we have already arranged to meet up when she returns to England in January. Louise and Cor have been fantastic hosts, I can’t thank them enough for giving me the opportunity to experience the equestrian world in such a different way!
Read the original blog on Horse & Hound.