riding botswana

An unforgettable safari

Earlier this month In The Saddle guest David Faen headed out on a long-awaited visit to Kujwana in Botswana. David has written this super ‘blog’ of his safari which he describes as “unforgettable”.

“I booked this holiday 22 weeks before my departure date – I know that because I put a weekly count-down note in my electronic diary, and for quite a while it seemed like it was a long way off, then all of a sudden, it was about to happen. I was very excited!

Whist this was my 5th riding holiday with In The Saddle, I was hoping that it would be something really special, not only because I had never been to Africa, but the thought of seeing, and riding alongside big game was just so incomprehensible.

I arrived at Johannesburg from Sydney and had a night in an airport hotel, and the next morning took the short flight to Maun, Botswana where I was met by a representative of Okavango Horse Safaris. She assisted me with the formalities, and before too long I was up in the helicopter for the 25 minute flight to Kujwana camp. I hadn’t been in a chopper before, so that in itself was exciting, but then seeing the landscape change from burnt scrub, near Maun, to lush green as we flew over the delta was quite an experience.


Pic: Flying into camp by helicopter – the only way to travel!

On landing at the camp I was greeted by camp manager Duncan & Katie, and some of the staff. I was given an iced tea, and we walked to main dining tent, where I met some of the other guests, who had arrived earlier.


Pic: Camp manager Duncan & Katie

I then received a safety briefing, was shown to my tent, and was told to return to the dining tent at 4.00, dressed to ride, as we would have afternoon tea and then go on a short 1 hour ride to acclimatise. I think that this was also for Duncan and Katie to assess our riding, to ensure that they would match us with suitable horses for the rest of the stay.


Pic: Heading out on a ride with Rogers as lead guide

Two items that I vividly remember from the safety briefing were:

  1. Don’t leave any items like shoes, gloves, towels etc . out on my deck, as they would be stolen by the monkeys, and
  2. When walking from my tent to the dining tent, if I came across an elephant on the path, turn around and go back. Someone will soon work out there is a problem, and will come and get me.
Pic: David's tent at Kujwana camp

Pic: David’s tent at Kujwana camp

It made me realise very quickly that the animals I had only previously seen in books and on film, were now very real , and very close.

Pic: Elephant in camp

Pic: Elephant in camp

We were told that on the short, 1 hour ride, we probably wouldn’t see much game. WELL, we only saw elephant, giraffe, baboon, impala, red lechwe, kudu, waterhog and an eagle – not a bad start!

Pic: Great game sightings from day 1

Pic: Great game sightings from day 1

After dismounting and getting our drinks, Duncan indicated for us to stop speaking, as a young elephant had come right up to the camp, and was feeding only 3 or 4 metres away from us.

During that first night I heard hippos in the water directly in front of my tent. I couldn’t see them, as it was dark, but I could certainly hear them.

Pic: Hippo in the water

With a few exceptions, we then fell into a comfortable daily routine. At 6.00am the staff would come to our tents with a thermos of boiling water and some milk, so that we could enjoy a tea or coffee.

We would then assemble in our riding clothes for breakfast at 6.30, after which we would be introduced to our horse for the day, and then head out around 7.00. We would normally return around 11.30/12.00 and lunch would be at 12.30. The next activity would then be afternoon tea at 4.00, after which we then did a variety of things – sometimes going for a short ride, sometimes going in the safari vehicle searching for game, sometimes going in the boat and then doing a walk.

Pic: Gliding along in a mokoro

Pic: Gliding along in a mokoro

If we wanted to do something that wasn’t on the itinerary, it was never a problem – like the time 3 of us wanted to try out the mokoros (traditional dug-out canoes). That afternoon we had our chance, and whilst we found going in a straight line relatively easy, turning them around was a different matter!

Safety was always paramount. On every ride, car trip, boat trip or walk, we were always accompanied by two guides, and we were given briefings specifically relating to the area that we were in.

Pic: Your guide / back-up will carry a rifle and bear-banger

Pic: Your guide / back-up will carry a rifle and bear-banger

The knowledge of the Botswana guides was totally amazing.  On horseback my guide was always Rogers (obviously his English name, but as everyone referred to him as that, I don’t know his African name). In the safari vehicle or boat, it was Percy.  They knew everything there was to know about footprints, dung, breeding habits, age of animals etc, and could spot game kilometres away, when all we could see was trees and termite mounds, although we did become more skillful as the week progressed. They were both passionate about the birds in the delta, and when asked, said that they could identify all of the 500 species in the area.

Pic: Guides extraordinaire Rogers & Person (aka Percy)

Pic: Rogers & Person (aka Percy)

On day 4, we were told to pack a backpack, as we would be changing camp for 2 nights. Apart from a siesta on camp beds after a picnic lunch it was a full days ride, culminating in a short bareback section to arrive at the campsite. Some of my group had not ridden bareback before, but we were all in our swimmers, it was only at the walk, and everyone enjoyed it immensely.

The second camp was called Moklowane, and it felt more remote than Kujwana, however, our facilities were just the same as the main camp.

Pic: The mess tent at Moklowane

Pic: The mess tent at Moklowane

Over the whole week, the riding didn’t change a lot. It was not like rides in Europe, where you have a destination. We would head out, in a different direction each morning, looking for game. Whenever we spotted some, Rogers would always steer us around, so that we approached from downwind, and then we would get as close as we could, with safety always in mind. We would be walking, trotting or cantering, with the canter through the shallow water always being so much fun. As there were no major landmarks on the horizon, I asked Rogers if he ever got lost, and he replied in the negative, saying that he had an inbuilt GPS in his head!

Pic: Splashing through the delta was great fun

Pic: Splashing through the delta was great fun

I found all the food very good, well balanced and healthy, particularly the ‘baboon curry’, which turned out to be lamb, but which gave the staff the opportunity to play a trick on us.

Pic: A magnificent breakfast spread at Moklowane

Pic: A magnificent breakfast spread at Moklowane

My last night there also happened to be Duncan’s birthday, so after dinner 5 of the Botswana female staff came out to the dinning tent and sang a couple of songs for him. The simplicity of the song, and their natural harmony just gave me goose bumps.

Pic: Zebra blending in with the bush

Pic: Zebra blending in with the bush

I loved everything about this holiday – Africa to start with, then the accommodation, the staff, the horses and horsemanship, the food, the fact that there are not too many guests (in my case – 5), the knowledge of the guides and the planning that has gone into making every guest’s stay so memorable. I found it to be a once in a lifetime experience, and I urge anyone thinking about it to do it – there is no point ending this life with an unfulfilled  bucket list.”

A huge thank you David for writing this wonderful blog which has brought back fabulous memories of our visits to Kujwana.

Please contact abigail@inthesaddle.com if you’d like to add a safari at Kujwana to your bucket list.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, riding kujwana, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meerkats to Moonlight, in the Kalahari

The Kalahari makes you feel very small in the grand scheme of things as everything around you is larger than life and endless. The Makgadikadi Pans stretch out in front of you into infinity, and you would think you were on the surface of the moon except for the scorching desert heat – this magical space holds no sounds at all, no noise whatsoever – just the sound of the blood running through your own ears.

Yet despite being in such a magical and desolate space it is teeming with wildlife; here you see the zebra racing their own shadows during the golden African sunsets; here you meet the Meerkat families; here you learn desert survival skills from the indigenous Bushmen and follow in the same footsteps of missionaries such as Livingstone. Here you get to canter by moonlight on the white salt crusted plains underneath the black-velvet African sky studded stars;  here you enter the Africa of storybooks.

The great zebra migration

The great zebra migration

I have been in the Kalahari for just two hours and now I am sat in the saddle, just as the vast round orange sun is setting on the horizon watching a dazzle of zebra set off at a gallop, stirring up the dust as they go. But this is a really unusual sight, like an illusion. The sunlight mixed in with the airborne dust particles, meant that I was looking at zebra racing their own upright shadows. The dust had turned their shadows the correct way up, so it appeared as if the shadows were also zebra and running alongside them, overtaking them as they ran past us. I have never seen shadows do this before and it was a ‘goose bump’ moment, and probably never to be repeated, as it would be hard to replicate the light. Simply stunning! This perfect evening was rounded off by discovering a set of chairs and a drinks box. Toasting the zebra shadows with a sundowner overlooking the pans as the last of the light faded. What a perfect first impression to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans in the Kalahari.


My goosebump moment!

You stay at the delightful Camp Kalahari, with lovely spacious tents, poster beds and a vast oak dining table. The food is so delicious and plentiful it is a challenge to finish it all, so you certainly will not go hungry.

During the day it seems hotter here when compared to other African destinations, not sure why, maybe the white salt pans reflect the heat and sun, plus there is very little breeze to cool us down. But luckily we ride in the early morning when it is cooler, and are in the shade of the mid-day sun enjoying lunch by the time it gets really hot. The horses are a lovely bunch of well behaved and kind, generous souls. I was lucky enough to ride four of them during my stay and each horse was forward going and willing in his work. They were all incredibly sure footed over all terrain and I think that they enjoyed their gallops as much as we did.

Camp Kalahari

Camp Kalahari

Halfway through my stay we set off to Xau Xai fly camp. On the way we pass through quite different terrain to the Pans themselves, riding past woodlands and parkland with long open plains where we could gallop and push on a bit.

En route we stopped for a break at Chapmans Baobab, this is acknowledged to be one of the largest trees in Africa and could easily be seen from a great distance on the horizon.


This is me riding proving I rode on the same path as some of histories great missionaries

Settling into the foundations of this famous tree, David Foot your guide for the week makes the tree come to life by retelling the tales of missionaries such as Livingstone and Chapman who had visited this tree, and their journeys through these parts. He conjures up images of the past by elaborating upon and retelling stories and experiences that their wives and children had to undergo during these arduous journeys by Ox cart across the Kalahari. He describes the hardships that they encountered over the years, all of which have been documented within their diaries at the time. He ends the tale with descriptions of their deaths during the journey, and the accuracy of his descriptions of how it must have been for them during these times brings a real sense of history to the ground you are riding upon.

Spot the human hiding...

Spot the human hiding…

At fly camp you get the chance to meet the Kalahari meerkats, and so with an early start you set off to find them. The ‘sleepy dust’ from your eyes is soon blown away as on the way we enjoy some great canters on the plains.

The meerkats are not quite awake yet, and we occasionally see one pop his head up above ground, look around, decide it is too cold and retreat back underground again. We only had to wait about 15 minutes and then the whole troop decides to emerge… they have babies too! A family of 9 in total, 4 babies and 5 adults.


Imagine that the first thing you see in the morning is me! At least he didn’t run away…

We watch them stand upright to warm themselves, all facing the sun warming their bellies (like soldiers on parade) and then off they go never stopping, foraging for food along the way, each adult feeding the babies in turn. Such teamwork, the adults would dig up grubs and bugs etc. and then eat one themselves and the next was always without fail diligently passed to the babies. Each adult had a ‘kid’ to look after and their charge would follow them the whole way waiting for their treat.  We walk with them, watching them dig for food and feed. They cover a good distance and are habituated well so that they do not fear our human presence. You can get really close, and if you sit still long enough they will often climb up you and use your head as a lookout tower.


Having spent the morning with the meerkats we decide to head onward with our horses to the Pans themselves. The surface at the edge of the Pans is perfect for a good blast and WE ARE OFF. Everyone fires off, and we are all flat out. My horse for the day is an older experienced gentleman, who is usually a quiet back up horse, and after about 20 metres he decided that a gallop is far too much effort and slows himself to a steady loping canter (I had been warned he would do this, so I didn’t expect him to win the race or keep up). Everyone disappears from view galloping into the distance, and I am left loping on my horse on my own in the middle of the pans. Utterly wonderful. In the middle of nowhere, empty as far as the eye can see, just emptiness and the sound of my hooves on the crusty salt in in a three beat stride. What a magical moment just loping quietly along,  never once worrying about where the others were or trying to speed up or slow down to trot, my boy just kept his steady pace and rhythm. When I caught up with the others still blowing from their gallop there were smiles all around, but I still believe I had the most secretive and enchanting moment out of us all.

Later after the heat of the day we set off for a quite ride with horses, onto the pans in the sunset. The silence of this area is so great that if you close your eyes you can hear only the sound of the blood in your ears and nothing else. There can not be many places left in the world without any ‘white noise’ at all. We wandered and stood, wandered a bit more, quietly meandering along into the pans salty surface.

It goes on and on and on, such a unique environment

It goes on and on and on, such a unique environment

By now the sun has set but we carry on into the dark, just looking at our very own moon shadows of our horses marching along. David points out various stars including Venus and Orions belt, which can all be seen so clearly. Towards the end of the ride we pick up a steady canter and in the moonlight we are just loping along quietly at the edge of the pans in the darkness of the night with the ground lit up by the moon, the cool air making a refreshing change to the heat of the day. It’s been a long but magical day, from Meerkats to moonlight.

David taking advantage of the African evening sunset, to get some piccies of my lovely ride for the week, General.

David taking advantage of the African evening sunset, to get some piccies of my lovely ride for the week, General.

On the last day I was lucky enough to meet the bushmen trackers of the Kalahari. This rural tribe took us for a bush walk and gave a very detailed insight into their survival techniques in this very harsh landscape and heat. They showed us how they hunt for scorpions, and clean the scorpions inside your own mouth to temporarily paralyse them. They talked us through the plants around us and how they use them for healing cuts, medicine, even which tubers to dig up for liquid quenching refreshment when no water can be found in the Kalahari. They show us how they set traps to catch birds for meat, and proudly talk about their lion encounters, showing us the scars on their bodies from arguing with a lion over who was to claim the carcass of a Kudu. The Bushmen won apparently.


They also showed us their poisoned arrows from the guts of a worm larvae. This poison can only be collected in their spring, and can only be used once on an arrow, but is so strong it will kill anything.. Women and children are never allowed to touch the arrows, only the men, and I can understand why if they are that deadly.

I did ask how old the chief was and was told he was 98 years old. I don’t quite believe that, but then they probably don’t use a calenders and diaries or have birth certificates, so how would he know? Maybe that’s the answer to our age obsessed culture, not to count the years and to just live simply and happily gaining memories along the way. The Kalahari certainly gave me memories that will stay with me forever, a unique environment, that is surprisingly breathtaking!

Ostrich certainly can kick up the dust - they are seriously fast!

Ostrich certainly can kick up the dust – they are seriously fast!

If you want to find out more then call Sarah at In The Saddle on +44 (0) 1299 272 234 or email sarah@inthesaddle.com


Categories: Equestrian Travel, riding botswana, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

These boots were made for riding

At In The Saddle, we really love our Ariat boots. We’ve taken them everywhere with us, from Ecuador to the Azores, Kenya to Mongolia!

The endurance-type boots (such as Terrain and Telluride) are a perfect hybrid of a hiking and riding boot.


Lucy in Spain – Terrains are great if you have to do any leading on foot

These boots are comfortable for long days in the saddle, but tough enough to withstand everything an adventure might throw at them – from wading through the floodwaters of the Okavango Delta, to the humidity of the Pantanal or the ferocious winds of the Cotopaxi National Park.



Chris sporting her Terrain boots in Mongolia

Country boots are also a great option and last really well. Sarah from In The Saddle has taken her Ariat Grasmere boots all over the world; Kenya, Botswana, France, Spain and South Africa.

SD Kenya

Sarah with her trusty steed and her Grasmeres in Kenya!

For an instructional holiday you might be more comfortable in a tall boot like the Volant, or perhaps a paddock boot/gaiter combination.


Abbie in Portugal – tall boots are perfect for instructional holidays

Then of course, for a ranch holiday you might want to look and feel the part in a Western boot.

El Bronco Ranch (229)small

Western boots for Western riding at El Bronco (ITS recommends you wear a hard hat)

We love our Ariat boots and take them all over the world with us. But we’d love to hear from you too. Is there anything you take on riding holidays with you that you just can’t do without?

Do feel free to like, share or comment.

Categories: Dressage, ecuador, Equestrian Travel, Horseback safari in Kenya, riding botswana, riding holiday brazil, Riding Holidays Portugal, Riding in Spain, Riding Okavango Delta | 2 Comments

Mad about Macatoo

Famous for its exciting riding and thrilling game viewing, In The Saddle guests continue to be ‘mad about Macatoo‘. Here are just a few recent comments;

“Exceeded the highest expectations. It will almost certainly remain the most memorable and enjoyable riding experience in 25 years of riding holidays abroad”. (Ingrid, UK).

“Another brilliant ‘holiday of a lifetime’! The highlight of the riding this time was cantering full speed with a group of about 20 giraffe so close we could almost hear their heart beats!” (Linda, UK).

“This was my fourth visit. The riding was excellent as ever. Saw so much game, the highlight being a big male leopard which was just magical”. (Karen, UK).

“The horses are amazing. I cannot think of a single thing to improve. It was absolutely incredible”. (Noga, Israel).

“A fantastic team on site, felt like part of a family or of a group of old friends. Knowledgeable guides with a passion for their country, all this in a very special bit of paradise – loved it !” (Amelie, France).

In other news…

You may already have heard about 23 year old Khwai’s retirement. He has been a firm favourite throughout his working life at Macatoo and many of you will have some wonderful memories of cantering across the Delta on this lovely boy. Khwai is off to Maun for a relaxing retirement. Happy retirement Kwai!

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Mod taking Khwai out to the paddock

Recently Macatoo has gone green with the addition of solar panels. Camp is now operating completely on solar power.

Macatoo goes green! We are now operating completely on solar power!

Showing off the new solar panels

Earlier this month Macatoo was blessed with some much-needed rainfall. Now the bush is looking lovely, with bright green grass and foliage.

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Just look at that atmospheric sky!

Down at Hippo Lagoon this little one was spotted recently, making a balance-beam out of a fallen tree.

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

Adventurous cub at Hippo Lagoon

There have been some amazing sightings from the scenic helicopter flights. Why not plan one during your stay to see the Delta with a bird’s eye view?

Hippo pod from above

Hippo pod from above

Want to see what all the fuss is about? Check out this video from In The Saddle guest Kim Simkins: Cantering at Macatoo

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

News from Kujwana

Kujwana in the Okavango Delta is looking really amazing at the moment. Game is hiding around every corner and the landscape is vibrant shades of green after the rains.


Kujwana main camp has seen many improvements over the last 12 months.

new swimming pool 2

A lovely new pool went in last year and there are now two gorgeous Riverside Suites for those who would like some added luxury.


Some of the young horses have been out and about, getting used to their surroundings. These two homebreds, Bongo and Africa are doing really well with their training.


There are many elements that make Kujwana special, but one of the things that really makes it stand out is that not only do guests stay at Kujwana main camp, but there is also the chance to go to Moklowane for a few nights as well. The long adventurous ride between camps with a sumptuous picnic lunch en route is an experience not to be missed. At Moklowane you stay in treehouse style accommodation with amazing views out over the Delta.


Camp manager Duncan Over is working hard keeping things running smoothly. Many of you may have met Duncan at our Riding Holidays Show in December. You can read more about him here: Meet the Guides – Duncan Over.



Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, riding botswana, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding kujwana, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – John Sobey from Macatoo, Botswana

Continuing with our meet the guide blogs here is another talented and popular guide, John Sobey from Macatoo –  you will be able to meet John at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.



1.    How long have you been guiding at Macatoo?    

We started Macatoo back in 1995, so it is over 20 years now.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Before Macatoo I was based in Maun, Botswana doing mobile safaris (1993-95), as well as guiding in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Zambia. I have also guided on horseback in Kenya and Tanzania.

3.    How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

For as long as I can remember I had always wanted to live and work in Africa, so guiding seemed to be the natural route to take.  Also I knew more about horses than cars so horseback guiding was really the only option for me! I first went to South Africa, but soon realised that Botswana was the only place offering the true wilderness that I was searching for.

4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I have no idea, there was no Plan B!

Giraffe canter 5

5.    People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

There really is so much that makes the job amazing, not least because guiding in the Okavango is always different, it’s never the same. High water, low water or no water, the seasonal variation is never-ending. That is why I came back to the Delta out of all the other locations. The down sides are you cannot watch enough rugby (but given England’s recent performance perhaps that’s a plus….?!).

6.    If your favourite horse was a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse was ‘Ambos’, a 16.3hh Hanoverian. He was an amazing powerhouse of a  horse but was the perfect, trusting lead horse. He would lead in to any problem without question. Who would he be if he was a human…that’s too tough a question to answer, but probably somebody brave!


7.    What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I couldn’t live without the open spaces and the wilderness, it’s what I’ve become so used to now.

8.    What has been your most memorable riding holiday week?

There really are so many memories, its hard to choose. Galloping alongside a herd of giraffe and zebra with Sir  Mark Todd was not bad!


9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

With a book or newspaper back at my tent overlooking the floodplains.

10.    What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

I would say don’t think that it it’s going to be easy; there are no quick routes. You will have to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up, but the end result will be worth it.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

Holidays are few and far between, but where possible I try to get out to visit other camps and lodges in Botswana to learn more and get more ideas. After being out in the bush for long stints it’s also nice to just to relax and spend some time at home.


Thank you John for some fantastic images and another amazing article. Olwen and the team look forward to seeing you in a few weeks’ time.

You can meet John from Macatoo at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding Macatoo, Riding Okavango Delta, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Duncan Over from Kujwana, Botswana

The Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015 is all about “Meeting the Guides” – in fact that’s what we called the event when we first ran it in 2007. It’s a chance to learn all about wonderful riding holidays all over the world, directly from the people who will be guiding you day by day. As well as an opportunity to renew friendships and chat about past experiences.

We thought it would be interesting to run a series of profiles of some of the people who will be at the Riding Holiday Show and here is another of our guides – Duncan Over from Kujwana in Botswana.


1.       How long have you been guiding at Kujwana?

I have been the camp manager at Kujwana for a year after volunteering here for a month previously.

2.       Where did you guide before this?

This is my first job in Africa. Before coming here I was an officer in the British Army. Having spent time in Kenya training I had already caught the African bug. I came to Kujwana as a guest three years ago and fell in love with the camp, the horses and the delta. From then on I had only one job in mind and last year it became a reality.

3.       How did you get into guiding? Was there someone who inspired you?

I was inspired by a very close friend of mine who worked out here for many years. Whilst I was in the Army he would send me constant insights into life in the Delta and I promised him I would at least visit to see it for myself. After finally finding the time to visit him and meeting Barney and PJ (the owners of Kujwana), as well as our lead guide Rodgers I was inspired by their knowledge of the area and the animals and wanted to learn more about it for myself. A year after visiting as a guest I returned as a volunteer and was further amazed by the intricacies of the area and the job. I wanted to learn more about the animals, the area and how to run a camp in the middle of the bush and luckily in PJ and Barney, I had two of the most experienced people in the business to teach me. From then on I was hooked and every day I continue to be amazed and further inspired by my surroundings.

4.       If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

If I hadn’t moved out here I would still be in the Army. I was still enjoying my job at the time of leaving and only left due to an insatiable urge to get back to Africa. I was very fortunate that the timing was right and a space opened up for me in the company. I haven’t looked back since!

5.       People coming on a riding holiday often think you have the ideal job – what do you love about it? And what are the downsides?

There are so many things I love about this job. I love the fact that I am out on horse back almost every day and in such an incredible setting. Every morning I get up and look forward to the day ahead, knowing that it will be different from the last. I’m not sure I will ever find riding at home in Scotland as exciting again without the constant presence of antelope, giraffe and elephants. Not to mention the burst of excitement when one spots a lion, leopard or honey badger!

I also thoroughly enjoy the interaction I have with the guests. I have learnt more about the world and its cultures from sitting around a camp fire with the huge variety of guests we are lucky enough to have then I ever did travelling with the Army.

I can honestly say that there are very few downsides to my job. I suppose the distance from home and limited communications with family and friends would be the biggest. I work incredibly hard and for very long hours, but after a career in the Army I considered this the norm so it really doesn’t bother me. I don’t think there are many jobs in the world that you can truly believe are perfectly suited for you. I am however fortunate enough to have found one of them.


6.       What is the name of your favourite horse? And if they were a human, who would he/she be and why?

My favourite horse is called Black Mamba. A Kalahari farm horse, he arrived at Kujwana in 2011. One of six wild horses backed out of the Kalahari desert, he gained his name from the hissing noise he made at anyone who approached him when he first arrived. An amazingly brave and caring horse, Mamba and I have had some great adventures together.

Who do I think he would be if he was human? That’s a difficult question! His best friend in the yard is a horse called Scorpion – another of the Kalahari ponies – they make a great pair and they often remind me of Dennis the Menace and his pet dog Gnasher as they charge around the yard causing the chaos. They are both incredibly brave horses but are full of mischief and take every opportunity to remind you who is boss! Not quite a human but probably as close as I can get! Mamba is a fantastic horse with a strong character and he is always my first choice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA7.       What can you not live without (when guiding or just generally)?

I want for very little out here and I am used to living without many of life’s little luxuries, such as tv! As I learn more about the Delta and its many inhabitants I think the most valuable thing (actually a person) to me is Rodgers our lead guide. Having worked here for 25 years his knowledge base is second to none. The most patient and laid back man I have ever met he has been, and still is, teaching me all there is to know about reading animal behaviour, tracking and surviving in the bush. An incredible individual whose passion for the Delta is second to none. I think my time out here to date would have been very different without his guidance and teaching.

8.       What has been your most memorable ride?

There have been so many memorable rides for so many reasons. It’s always incredible to get your first sighting of a rhino, leopard, lion or wild dog. I often get more excited than the guests! For me though I think a ride that I will never forget was in July this year when we rode with a pack of wild dog as they prepared to hunt. My favourite animals in the Delta, it was incredible to see them prepare and then spread out in prefect formation to pursue a Tsessebe. We watched from a distance as they surrounded their prey and eventually made the kill. A very successful pack I have followed their progress closely over the past few months. They now have 5 new puppies and I take such pleasure in seeing them healthy and thriving.


9.       How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

I have a beautiful veranda that looks onto the river running past the camp. After a long day’s ride I always take some time to myself to sit and watch the Pied Kingfishers diving and reflect on the day. This is normally aided by a cold beer of course!

10.   What advice would you give a 21-year-old who wants to train for your job?

My advice would be to get out there and give it a go as a volunteer first. This gives you a great insight into the company, living in the environment and allows the outfitters to see you. After this you can build on the skills that you have seen are required and work towards applying for a permanent job. This type of work is not suited to everyone and it takes a lot of time and money to get permits to work abroad. Volunteering allows you to confirm that it is the job you imagined it to be, and trust me, you will know very quickly. Be prepared; you must have a skill set suited to the job and be willing to put in some seriously hard work.

11.   Where do you go on holiday?

I have so much of Africa still to see that on my time off I normally stay within the continent and travel to new places. I do love to go home to Scotland however and enjoy trips in to the Scottish highlands.


Thank you Duncan for your wonderful images and a wonderful insight into your life in the Delta.

You can meet Duncan from Kujwana at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December 2015. Space at the venue is limited so you must obtain a ticket in advance. The event takes place at the Royal Overseas League in SW1 just off Piccadilly from 10 am to 6 pm.

38 different riding destinations will be represented at the Riding Holiday Show. All part of the In The Saddle portfolio of worldwide riding holidays.

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