Sponsored Rider Update

In this blog post we catch up with In The Saddle sponsored rider Rosie Warner, who gives us a winter round-up. We look forward to hearing how the start of the year goes as she prepares for the eventing season.

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Rosie says, “the past few months have been quite quiet on the competition front with all three boys (Aemon, Milo and Romeo) having a well-deserved holiday. But things have been busy behind the scenes…

We’ve built four more stables, so my horses are now living in the lap of luxury. We have also put up more floodlights to make working the horses on these dark nights that little bit easier.

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“Milo” is glad to be back in work now and is enjoying his jumping

The new horse-walker has gone in and is a real god-send.

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Bertie the terrier inspects the new horse-walker

I’ve invested in a lorry and am really looking forward to going to competitions in style and comfort…no more sheltering in the trailer during a rain shower!

My yard is close to reaching full capacity, so it is going to be a busy few months in the run up to the start of the season.

My beautiful homebred Fleur (by Wish Upon A Star) is away being backed. She’s coming home in the next few days and I can’t wait to start riding her.

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I’m looking forward to riding my beautiful homebred “Fleur”

Aemon, Milo and Romeo have bounced back into work…quite literally! They are all feeling great and I am busy preparing them for some BS and BD competitions ahead of our first BE events in March.

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“Romeo” finding lunging rather exciting!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank In The Saddle for their support in the 2016 season and I look forward to a very exciting 2017 with a lovely string of horses.”

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Many thanks to Rosie for her update…we wish you all the very best for the season and look forward to following your progress.

On another note, Rosie had a very exciting Christmas Day, when boyfriend Charlie enlisted the help of Aemon to propose to her. We’re pleased to say that Rosie’s answer was “yes”!

Congratulations Rosie & Charlie….what a lovely proposal.

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Charlie proposing to Rosie with the help of “Aemon”

 

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Rhythm of the ride

In this blog post In The Saddle‘s Claire Douglas tells us about her exciting visit to Spain to take part in the Pirate Trail.

“I was lucky enough to experience the Pirate Trail in Catalonia at the start of November. We covered 15km–30km each day across most types of terrain. I could not believe how tough and sure-footed these horses were. I was matched with Pocholo, which means pretty or beautiful in Spanish, and he was a stunner.  I was told he was full of personality and very forward going, which I found out to be the case. He was also incredibly photogenic and posed at every moment for a photo.

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Pocholo the poser

The horses really enjoy their work, and with 60 to choose from, there is a horse to suit everyone from the steady, reliable ones to the more forward going.  They are a mixture of Andalusian, Spanish horses and crossbreeds.

On these trails, you are responsible for brushing and tacking up your horse, although there is help on hand if you need it.  The process of getting your horse ready meant that you spent quality time with them, not just in the saddle but on the ground as well.  My new German friends were smart enough to pack magic brushes which would have saved me a lot of time as my horse loved to roll and frequently changed colour from his usual grey to brown.

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Making friends – on this ride you are expected to groom and tack up your own horse

The lack of phone reception and Wi-Fi at most locations meant it felt like a digital detox.  No phones appeared at the dinner table, just long chats with lots of laughter.  The group was mostly German along with myself and another rider from the UK. Everyone conversed in English, luckily for me.  They did appreciate my one German phrase: ‘Das Leben ist keine Ponyhof’ – which translates as “life is not a pony farm”.  Most of the group were returning guests, one was doing the Pirate Trail for the second time, having previously done the Mediterranean Trail as well. The other two group members had met during the the toughest trail of all, the Andorra Trail earlier in the year.  The Andorra Trail is an epic 11 riding day expedition, covering 350km, from the Mediterranean coast to Pyrenean Mountains traversing three countries. They never stopped raving about how amazing it was – one for the adventurists amongst us.

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Lunch with a view – perfect!

I was wondering if I would be fit enough for this trail as it would be tough with long hours in the saddle (up to seven hours on one day) with some walking on foot, steep sections downhill.  However the long lunches and daily siestas meant the riding was broken up and manageable.

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The Pirate Trail features some walking on foot, leading the horses

One of my main highlights of the ride was an exhilarating 6km beach gallop.  We lucked out with the weather, sunshine and very little wind.  We were briefed to keep our horses on a very narrow channel on the damp, firm stand, deeper shelves to the sea or the very soft sand on the right.  We had to follow Rudi, our guide and owner of Panorama Trails, on his lead horse Tornardo exactly.  My horse was willing and keen to stick to this path, easily navigating the twists and turns of the tide.  I got completely soaked from the horse in front but it was such fun, I couldn’t have cared less.

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As you can tell from my face, the 6km gallop was a highlight of my trip!

After the beach ride, we entered a forest and started to climb again until we reached these spectacular cliffs and where we had our wonderful picnic over the sea.  One of our fellow riders was an accomplished musician and took out her recorder and serenaded us with Vivaldi during our siesta.  It was a magical time.

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Another day, another scenic picnic – bliss

Saying goodbye to my horse after 5 days of riding was tough.  Pocholo never tired or went wrong the whole time. Therefore, it was a bit emotional un-tacking them for the last time and before we knew it, they were led away to the lorry.

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Time to say goodbye to our horses

If you want to experience an adventurous ride, a different world is waiting for you, not too far away.”

Many thanks to Claire for telling us about her visit….we are glad you enjoyed Catalonia and look forward to hearing about more of your adventures!

If you’d like to learn more about our rides in Catalonia then please call us on 01299 272 997 or email Claire@inthesaddle.com

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A day out to Fairbank ghost town

This morning was a real treat as I met Arizona Bill down at the chuck wagon for a cup of coffee by the campfire. Bill is such a great character and told me all about the history of Tombstone and how the founder of the town (Ed Schieffelin) was buried under the stone monument just a short walk from the ranch.

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After a delicious breakfast I headed down to the corral to meet Dave the Wrangler and Ness, another guest here at the ranch. We were the only two signed up for the all-day ride and so were lucky enough to have an almost private ride. We headed out towards Fairbank, an old ghost town a few miles away.

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The riding was absolutely wonderful and it was amazing how we covered such different terrain in only one ride. We travelled along old railway rides, washes created by rivers and through some bush. After a couple of hours in the saddle we arrived at the old ghost town of Fairbank and unbridled the horses which gave us the chance to look around before lunch.

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Lunch today was a packed lunch of sandwiches, crisps and some ice cold drinks. It really was great after a few hours in the sun. Afterwards we tacked the horses back up and mounted ready for the journey home. It was important to drink plenty of water (which was provided in our saddle bags) as it was getting warmer. It took us another couple of hours to get back to the ranch, which allowed us several opportunities for longer trots. Once we arrived back it was time to water the horses before they were brushed down and turned out.

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I am so enjoying my time at Tombstone Monument Ranch and you can read about my first day here:

New Adventures

and my stay at White Stallion Ranch:

Welcome to Arizona

Time to Amp it Up

We All Have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. She will also visit Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

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New Adventures…

Today I had my last ride at White Stallion Ranch. I had another lovely horse called Pinto to say goodbye to as well as all the lovely people I had met. It was a bittersweet goodbye as I had made real friends at the ranch but at the same time, I was so excited to visit my next destination – Tombstone Monument Ranch.

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Vaya Con Dios means ‘Go with God’ in Spanish.

On our way to Tombstone Monument Ranch we stopped off in Tombstone itself. The whole place is built as an ‘old west’ town with carriages, saloons and cowboys wandering the streets. The local people all wear western gear and wander around, not forgetting of course the re-enactment of the gunfight at OK corral.

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There is absolutely no disappointment as you drive up to Tombstone Monument Ranch (which is only about 2 miles from the town). The rooms are built on a street made to look like the ‘old west’ and each of the rooms are individually decorated and named! I was shown to my room, ‘Wyatt Earp’ which is beautiful but I don’t know which bed to choose!

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After I had settled in, it was straight out to the corral to meet wranglers Mike and Dave. They really are the funniest guys and made me feel right at home in the first couple of minutes! I was introduced to my steed for the day, Cheyanne, a gorgeous coloured horse.

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This afternoon’s ride was about an hour and all at walk. It’s important that everyone does a slow ride to begin with so that the wranglers can check people are ok on the horses they have been given. The terrain was so different from what I had seen at White Stallion Ranch, firstly because there was no Saguaro cacti – they don’t grow above 4,000 feet in elevation and Tombstone Monument Ranch is at about 4,400 feet (1,400m) and secondly because it was far more undulating.

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After we had got back, it was time to head in and rest a while before dinner. Tonight it was steak night and so no one went hungry! I can’t wait for tomorrow – I have signed up for an all-day ride to Fairbank Ghost Town. You can read about it here:

You can read about my previous days at White Stallion:

Welcome to Arizona

Time to Amp it Up

We All Have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. She will also visit Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

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We all have a competitive streak!

On my second full day at White Stallion Ranch, I took the opportunity to wander around and see the whole place and everything that was on offer.

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As well as riding, there are plently of other activities to do as well. The ranch has it’s very own tennis and basketball courts, a fitness centre, swimming pool and hot tub to mention a few. It is also possible to play golf and go rock-climbing (at an extra cost).

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After lunch it was time to get serious – team penning serious! I had a different horse this afternoon, his name was Tally and after getting to know one another, we headed into the corral. Russell True explained to us how team penning worked and gave up some tips before splitting us into groups of four. We then had three runs each to cut the cattle and get them into the pen. It was so much fun and because it was timed, we all got very ‘into’ it!

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We wrapped up just before dark and headed in for our barbequed steaks!

It really was so much fun – a must do at the ranch!

You can read about my previous days at White Stallion here:

Welcome to Arizona

Time to Amp it Up

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. She will also visit Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

 

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Time to amp it up…

My first full day at White Stallion Ranch began with a morning of riding! I met today’s steed who was a lovely chestnut called Camacho and we set off on a slow flat ride.

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We were riding for about an hour and spent it mostly looking at the scenery and chatting merrily between ourselves.

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Soon after we returned, myself and another couple of ladies made our way to the corral where we took our lope test. Everyone who wants to go on a fast ride needs to complete this test first. The wrangler wants to see that you have control over the horse, are able to regulate the speed by yourself and that you do not bounce around too often. Fortunately I passed! and so headed out on a fast mountain ride to the ‘Lookout’.

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There was a steep climb to get to the top and the path was really quite rocky. However all you need to do is trust that your horse knows what he is doing and amazingly he does! Plus the view from the top is definitely worth it.

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In the afternoon, I decided to join a vehicle/walking tour of the ranch with a local film history expert, Marty. It was great fun learning about how many movies had actually been filmed right here on the ranch. As soon as we returned it was time for the weekly ranch rodeo!

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It was so much fun to watch the wranglers and family show us several different sports that are competed at the top level. We watched some barrel racing, team roping, break away roping and bulldogging. All the while the owner of White Stallion, Russell True, was a fabulous commentator, telling us all about the horses, people and disciplines we were watching.

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Once it dropped darker (and colder) the rodeo came to an end and we headed inside for dinner.

I have already signed myself up for team penning tomorrow!

You can read about other days at White Stallion here:

Welcome to Arizona

We all have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. In a few days she will be moving onto Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

Categories: Equestrian Travel | 4 Comments

A Dressage Dream in the Orchard of Lisbon

Last month Abbie from In The Saddle visited Quinta do Rol, a family estate in the ‘orchard of Lisbon’. Here, she discovered excellent instruction and gorgeous Lusitano horses so well-trained that they are a treat to ride.

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With my own horse injured and having spent much of 2016 in the sick bay, when I got the chance to visit Quinta do Rol in Portugal I literally leapt at the chance. Dusting off my riding boots, I packed and pondered whether I could make it through airport security with spurs in my hand luggage (yes I could).

At Lisbon I was met by the lovely Teresa Pedro, who carries out most of the airport transfers for Quinta do Rol guests. Having spent many years working in the UK, Teresa’s English is perfect and she gives me some interesting background information on the area during the 40 minute journey.

Arriving at Quinta do Rol, I am met by Rita Melo Ribeiro, who along with her husband Carlos own the property. I’m staying in Casa da Águia, a traditional cottage with a spacious kitchen, light and airy lounge and four guest bedrooms each with their own private bathroom.

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The beautiful lounge in Casa da Aguia cottage

The main quinta lies across a small country road from the equestrian centre, which is nestled at the foot of a small hill, surrounded by orchards and vines.

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Quinta do Rol’s equestrian centre

This is a brand-new purpose built centre where the Lusitano horse reigns supreme. Their every need is catered for, with spacious stables, deep beds and regular turnout. Riders are spoiled too, with their very own lounge encompassing sitting room, well-stocked bar and viewing gallery to the indoor arena – perfect for continuing the learning process by watching other guests’ lessons or the instructors working the horses.

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The viewing gallery in the Rider’s Lounge

We watch resident instructor Pedro puts a new horse through his paces. He rides sympathetically and softly as the horse becomes accustomed to his new surroundings. There’s no tension, shoving or pushing, everything is calm and relaxation

After a delicious lunch of shrimp pancakes and salad, I head back to the stables for my first lesson. I ride the stunning Alamo, a 9 year old black stallion; his coat is gleaming, mane and tail brushed out, white boots on and hoof oil applied. Wow, well we certainly look the part and I can only hope my riding measures up. We begin the lesson and Pedro asks me about my riding dressage experience to date and what I’d like to achieve during my stay.

Lessons at Quinta do Rol are always on a private basis, so you can concentrate totally on what you wish. For example, if you’re struggling with your own horse’s flying changes at home, Pedro will give you some approaches to try and you can work on the movement on a few different horses to hone your skills before you go home. Pedro’s English is not perfect, but I can easily understand him and I really like his calm approach.

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Owner Rita, with her beautiful horse Alamo

Whilst we are warming up, Pedro explains how controlling the pace enables us to do anything we want with the horse. Soon we’re putting this into practice as we run through some warm-up exercises in walk; leg-yield, shoulder-in, travers, collection and extension. Next we move onto walk pirouettes and half-pass, before repeating some of these movements in trot and on into canter. After some single flying changes, we are on to the finale as Pedro helps me to ride Alamo in passage and piaffe.

An hour has gone by so quickly. Although my own horse is inexperienced, I feel that the fundamentals of what I’ve learnt today can be applied at home. Controlling the step and controlling the shoulders means that if you take things step by step you can in theory ask your horse to do anything!

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Resident instructor Pedro in the indoor arena

After a quick shower and change, we convene in the dining room and are joined by Rita’s husband Carlos. A delicious Quinta do Rol rose wine accompanies an local cheeses, olives and lupins. Dinner begins with beetroot soup, followed by pasteis de bacalhau (a delicious sort of cod fishcake), and finally Queijadas de Leite with coffee.

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The main dining room

Next morning the sun is shining and I set off on a tour of the estate with Carlos, Rita and Pedro. We wander through eucalyptus forests, pass by the dam and ride through the vines. If you are staying a week, taking a ride through the grounds can make a relaxing break from lessons and is a super way to learn about the quinta’s rural tourism. But with such fabulous horses and instruction, others especially those on short breaks may prefer to concentrate wholly on dressage.

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A tour of the estate’s vineyards with owner Carlos

As we return to the quinta the sun’s still out and it is warm enough for a dip in the pool. The current pool is in use until the new guest pool by the tennis court is finished.

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The main house and current swimming pool

After another delicious lunch of frittata, pork loin and Salame de Chocolate, it is time to head back to the stables. I wonder vaguely whether the fact that lunch ended up being a fun sort of informal wine-tasting session will improve or hinder the standard of my riding this afternoon!!

I ride Cochixo, a rather handsome grey stallion who is a little smaller than Alamo so I feel quite at home (or maybe it’s the wine?). Pedro tells me that this horse can get a little heavy in the hand when people take too strong a contact with him. So I must concentrate on activating the hind leg into a soft elbow and even contact and try to lighten the shoulders to get the best work from him. Working in, we begin with some shoulder-in, travers, leg yield and half pass in walk and then move on to trot and canter. He’s got a super canter and I feel I’ve got a better connection with him in canter than I achieved with Alamo yesterday (or maybe it’s the wine?). We do some spiral circles in trot and canter and some direct transitions to get the hind end activated.

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Cochixo and I after our lesson (as the light starts to fade)

Next we work on some passage and then piaffe, which is successful as long as I remember to ‘sit like a queen’ (the wine must be wearing off by now)! We end the session with some extended trot, building the power but not the speed around the corner and then pow, pow, pow down the long side, getting better each time until I’m grinning from ear to ear. I get a ‘very good, well ridden’ from Pedro and I’m so chuffed that you’d almost think I’d got a 10/10!

What is so special about Quinta do Rol is not only are these horses total ‘eye candy’, but there’s no resistance or evasion. The horses really want to work for you and that makes it such an enjoyable experience.

No rest for Pedro as he’s straight on to working another horse. Egoista is a big stamp of a Lusitano, with floating paces and good looks to boot. He’s relatively new and only given to the more established guests at the moment. Soon he’s showing us his two-time changes and then Pedro tries one-time changes for the first time and he seems to get the idea really quickly – he’s definitely going to be a star!

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Egoista, Pedro and Abbie (in the middle of adjusting stirrups hence the wonky irons)

As Pedro lets the horse stretch he unexpectedly tells me it is my turn…so up I hop and after a quick walk and trot, off we go in canter. Spiral circles and lengthening then shortening the stride. Egoista is so light in front and manoeuvrable – wow! What a great way to end my break in a Lusitano-lover’s paradise.

To find out more about Quinta do Rol please visit our website, call us on +44 1299 272 997 or email abigail@inthesaddle.com

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Welcome to Arizona!

My first full day in Arizona began as I was driven out of the Tucson city limits and towards Panther Peak and below it, White Stallion Ranch. dsc01660

The scenery was like nothing I have ever seen first hand and the cacti were absolutely massive. I was told that a cactus will not grow any ‘arms’ until it is at least 70 years old!

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After a lovely afternoon ride to a picnic spot, we stopped for some cheese and wine before returning to the ranch. After dinner we had a live show from the cowboy himself, Loop Rawlins! He was fantastic with this gun and rope tricks.

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After a long day and tiring day from yesterday’s travelling, I returned to my lovely room (this is a deluxe queen/twin) for a good night’s sleep.

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Read about later days of my visit:

Time to amp it up

We all have a Competitive Streak

Becky Clarke,  is a Travel Consultant with In The Saddle and is visiting Arizona to experience the riding at White Stallion Ranch, as well as their sister ranch Tombstone Ranch. In a few days she will be moving onto Tanque Verde Ranch. We look forward to hearing all about her stay.

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I’m in my ‘ellie’ment!

Yesterday morning I had my final ride at Wait A Little and I was lucky enough to see the lions one last time from horseback.

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Gerti, the owner and host, then drove me through the neighbouring reserve to Garonga where I would stay the next two nights. (It is possible to visit Garonga either as part of a riding safari from Wait A Little, or to visit as a non-rider and enjoy the amazing game drives).

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My beautiful safari tent, overlooking the (currently dry) river.

Once at Garonga we went on an afternoon game drive and we saw so much. From giraffe, zebra and other plains game to a huge herd of around 30 elephants!

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Elephants are a personal favourite of mine and it was just incredible to watch so many pass our vehicle.

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Our guide and tracker during the stay.

The evening ended with sundowners with a lovely view and hyena crossing our path on the way back to camp! I went to bed with the sound of a lion’s roar nearby in the reserve.

This morning we headed out bright and early in search of game. Once again I was not disappointed, with sightings of buffalo, hippos and two huge male lions to name a few.

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What will this afternoon bring…

You can read Lucy’s earlier posts about her stay at Ant’s Lodges:

An Amazing First Day
Through Your Horse’s Ears
A Great Way To Finish The Day

and from her visit to Wait A Little
Seeing the Big Five ish..

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

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Seeing The Big Five… ish

After long goodbyes, I reluctantly left Ant’s Lodges and I have now been at the wonderful Wait A Little for a couple of nights – and already I have seen so much!

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We spotted a lioness from horseback – she had 5 cubs with her

On safari at Wait A Little in South Africa there is a good chance of seeing the Big Five. The term ‘Big Five’ refers to the five largest and most dangerous animals: lion, elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros and leopard. In just two nights, I’ve seen all 5…ish!

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A young bull elephant at Xidulu Lodge

On the seven night safari,  you stay for two nights at the beautiful Xidulu Lodge which overlooks a dam; perfect for spotting game.

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Two male buffalo cooling off – an exciting sighting from horseback

The horses are really brave and well behaved in front of game, so you can often get closer to them than if you were in a vehicle. The horses are great at standing calm and still, which is perfect for taking photos.

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A black rhino spotted during a game drive

Taking a game drive is great for when the horses are resting. You can also travel further into the reserve.

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And finally, the leopard….tortoise!

Unfortunately we haven’t seen a real leopard yet as they are very shy, but we did see this wonderful leopard tortoise pictured above. We still have a couple more days, so I am keeping my fingers crossed I’ll get to see the final member of the Big Five before I leave.

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Many thanks to Lucy for this first report from Wait A Little. We hope you get to see that elusive leopard!

You can read Lucy’s earlier posts about her stay at Ant’s Lodges by following the links below:

An Amazing First Day
Through Your Horse’s Ears
A Great Way To Finish The Day

If you wish to read more about Wait A Little, click here.

Lucy Downes is a travel consultant with In The Saddle and is in South Africa visiting Ants Lodges, Wait A Little, Garonga Lodge and also a beach lodge in Mozambique. It’s an important part of her job and someone has to do it! We will send more reports as she sends them to us.

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