Posts Tagged With: horseback safari in africa

Wondrous Wait a Little

Africa does tend to seep into your veins, and often once you have visited this astonishing continent for the first time, it is almost like a poison in which you feel the need to go again and again – you just need to get yet another fix of her formidable sights, sounds and experiences.

Wait a Little in South Africa certainly lived up to my expectations and provided me with my African drug, whereby horses, game and laughter were overdosed on throughout the week.

In the space of 7 nights I ticked off each and every member of Africa’s Big 5, plus countless other game and bird species – and trust me when I say that there’s not many places where you can do that easily within one week, especially whilst on horseback.

My first encounter was with the lions, and whilst riding one evening past a dam we stood to watch the crocodiles and hippos in residence. “Oh hello there” announced Philip our guide for the week. We (the guests) were so busy chattering about the ducks upon the dam and musing as to how come the crocs weren’t eating them, that we had failed to notice initially just to whom Philip was referring to. As a collective we all looked into the direction of his comment to see four lionesses watching us watching them!

“Let’s take a closer look!” said Philip and off we went, all grouped tightly behind him. We slowly made our way towards these ladies. It was such an intoxicating feeling, I was scared, nervous but also daring, the result of Philips professionalism and experience with guiding over decades. Our bravery was rewarded with 30 minutes of my life alongside these formidable felines, and if I’m honest I not sure who was the more intrigued or who was studying whom.

me with lions

After a while these ladies decided to look at us from a slightly different angle, and so we shifted our positions too and were afforded a new view. I still can’t believe how close I was to them! But my picture tells a thousand tales…

me with lion

We bid farewell and rode home before the sun dropped out of the sky – taking on the African sunset en route with a victory gin and tonic (well it had to be done surely).

My second days adventures didn’t disappoint, and within 100 metres of camp we discovered lion tracks. Did these ladies come looking for us overnight? There’s a saying about curiosity and a cat isn’t there?

But it didn’t stop there as today we met with our second of Africa’s Big 5, the elephants.

This was a mixed herd of bulls and cows, and it was hysterical to watch one of the ladies tell us in ‘ellie talk’ to “go away please”. She did this through the universal language of throwing a stick at us! I do not lie, she literally picked up a stick and threw it at us. There was no misinterpreting her meaning, and you could feel her frustration when the horses stood like rocks, ignored the sticks and didn’t move away. She then became curious as to why her bullying hadn’t worked and gradually crept closer and closer, with her trunk extended tentatively trying to touch the horses – but not quite daring herself to do it.

elli from horses

During this week you stay at Wait a Little camp for the first three nights, then at Beacon rock where you sleep beside the horses under the stars, followed by two nights at the stunning Xidulu Lodge on the Makalali reserve before returning the the homely Wait a Little Camp for your last night.

It is a wonderful blend of experiences, and after spending the night around a camp fire, sleeping next to your trusty steed and reliving a night in the life of a missionary, it is a real treat to rock up the next day to Xidulu Lodge in the neighbouring Makalai reserve. This lodge is simply stunning and overlooks a dam complete with hippos and crocodiles. In fact within 10 minutes of being there we watched Mr Crocodile take his luncheon upon a poor unsuspecting bird at the waters edge.

Having indulged in my own lunch shortly afterwards, and then taken my afternoon ‘nap’ I woke to the astonishing sight of a leopard sitting on the edge of the dam just some 50 metres away. As we were about to take afternoon tea, followed by a game drive, I hotfooted it to our guide Patson, and excitedly told him of my sighting. Off we went in search of her, and luckily just some 10 minutes later we found her (or rather Patson did) with her fresh kill.

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We were so close to this our third of Africa’s Big 5, and she wasn’t bothered by us in the slightest. After filling her belly, we watched her jump up into the tree right beside us and stash the remainder of her kill in the branches. There’s something very primative at seeing half an eaten antelope hanging from the branches, and apparently this lady had a litter of cubs to feed, so we assumed that this hoard of fresh meat was for them.

Leopard in tree

The next day we came across a first for me, the endangered black rhino on horseback.

We had seen two of them upon arrival at Makalali, but we had spooked them and they were running so fast through the bush at great speed, trampling everything in their path that I hadn’t time to get my camera out, in fact gripping my reins in terror was more the truth (just incase they changed direction and ran that fast at us)!

However today was my incredibly lucky day and I was so privileged to get so close to this staggering animal – Big 5 number four spotted. We all gazed in complete silence and with absolute respect at his colossal presence, and it is with a heavy heart that we have to accept that man is capable of such monstrous widespread acts against this giant creature. Thank the Lord for the guides, rangers and protectors of this animal, the work they do is priceless and above a figure of value. Their never-ending war and efforts against the poachers, and more importantly against the instigators of these violent crimes, is invaluable and they will win of that I am sure.

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But my experiences go on and on….

close male lion

This Majestic fellow above and below was met upon our last sundowner ride of the week!

male lion with ears

And this herd of buffalo were met upon our last morning (completing the Big 5 tick list).

buffalo

Our final canter provided us with the everlasting memory of a giraffe cantering alongside with us….

giraffe

A final word has to be given to the praise of the Wait a Little horses. Such a well schooled, perfectly behaved, brave selection is to be found at their stables. There is an equine partner to match everybody, tall and short, fast and steady, grey, black or dun. But what they all have in common is that they are all really cool during the game sightings and stand like rocks, brave and fearless. My hero of the week was a chap called Monarch (2nd in from the right), whose nickname of “Bush Ferrari” was incredibly apt. He was an adorable and competitive character that wanted to get everywhere first, and carried me steadfastly all the way, that I didn’t have to worry at any moment in time about what we would happen to come across! I adored him and that is the truth (but please don’t repeat that to my mare at home).

I’ve been rambling on so much about the game, that I haven’t even mentioned what fun riding we enjoyed. We bush-wacked around acacia trees and through Wait a Little bushes, we galloped along sandy tracks and across even terrain, we blasted down the currently dry river beds… and not one horse put a hoof-oiled toe out of place! They are an absolute delight to ride, and at sundowners in the evening you can practically see your reflection in their gleaming coats. They are the wondrously wonderful!

group picture

Visiting Wait a Little is like home from home, everyone is so friendly, such fun to be around and my only criticism is that you will gain a few more laughter lines across your face during the course of your week.

So you would think that for the time being my hankering need for the drug of Africa has been abated, but actually thanks to this wonderful trip, it has put a greater fire in my belly which is yearning to return…. signed off for the time being (Sarah – In The Saddle.com)

 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, riding south africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Annie Waterer from Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya

Continuing with our meet the guide blog, here you can read more about Annie’s life as a riding guide at Ol Donyo Lodge – you will be able to meet Annie at the Riding Holiday Show on 12 December 2015.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Ol Donyo Lodge?

I have been in the beautiful Chyulu Hills for just over 2 years now.

2. here did you guide before this?

I started in the Maasai Mara straight out of University. It was a unique opportunity to work in one of the most diverse wildlife destinations in the world with a very experienced company.

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

Accidentally! It was never something that was even on my radar until I arrived in Kenya and fell in love with its wildlife, scenery and people. Both my parents grew up in Kenya and my grandparents still live in Nairobi, so although my childhood was spent in sunny Suffolk it had a distinctly Kenyan theme. Riding safaris into the local forest were a regular event with sundowners on the estuary and “bundu bashing” through the bracken! Horses have always played a big part in my life – I started at Pony Club and competed in both Eventing and playing Polocrosse, until specialising in the latter in my mid-teens. Polocrosse is an up-and-coming  fantastic high speed horse sport that I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to play all over the world. So the combination of horses and my passion for the natural world made the step in guiding actually a very simple one.

Mancha

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

I studied Biological Sciences at Bristol and I was supposed to return from Kenya after a couple of months to start teacher training – as you can tell that never happened!

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?

I love that the Acacia forests and the open plains are my office, that the traffic I encounter on my way to work is a browsing elephant on the road. And to be able to be there with guests and see their reaction when they experience some of the magic of this beautiful country and its wildlife for the first time.

It is not the kind of job that you can just walk away from and go on holiday without a care though. The responsibility for the horses health and well-being is solely mine and being in such a remote area with limited access to a vet, there is always some part of my mind that is on the job and worrying about something or other!

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

Zulu, a 15hh grey Boerperd gelding. He knows what I’m thinking before I do!

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

My camera, my dog Swala and a hot shower at the end of the day!

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

It’s too hard to pin it down to just one, but I would say that any ride with one of the bull elephants in the area is special. When they know that you’re there and accept your presence, it’s a truly humbling experience.

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

Walks and sundowners with friends and the dogs.

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

See the world outside your given box as much as possible, experience what you can and be interested in everything. Learn to talk to and find common ground with anyone! And do as much as veterinary work experience as possible.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I have the longest “to go to” list you have ever seen, and that’s currently still just Africa! I have a lot of exploring to do.

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Thank you Annie 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 Annie from Ol Donyo Lodge 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 Travel, horse riding, Horseback safari in Kenya, Horses & riding, in the saddle, in the saddle, Riding at Ol Donyo Lodge, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Early morning ride at Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya

This wonderful piece has been sent to us by Debbie Parrott who has ridden at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya a few times.  You can meet Annie Waterer (the guide she mentions) at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December.

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A snorting, grunting growl rumbled over the crest of the kopje.
My eyes snapped open.
What was it?
Hyena or lion?
Near or far?
Could they get to me?
Our armed maasai guard was motionless and apparently asleep. Then, blushing into the night and with an embarrassing shiver, I realised where the noise had come from.
I’d been snoring.
I wriggled uncomfortably, stretched my arms out of the sleeping bag and tiptoed my fingers along the rock beneath me. It was unbelievable; I was lying fifty metres above the plains on a huge, isolated outcrop of granite. How had that happened?

“It’ll be fun,” Annie had said, “we’ll have supper as the sun goes down, breakfast as it rises, the boys will bring the horses out in the morning and we can ride back to the lodge. Are you up for it?”
I was.

The night sky, stuffed with jostling stars, was wrapping itself loosely round the curve of the earth. I tried to pick out patterns amidst the muddle but I couldn’t isolate a single constellation; it was a celestial mess. I tried to memorise the detail so that when I was home, and overwhelmed with the everyday, I could conjure the memory and smile.

With eyes heavenward I waited for sleep. By dawn, when the birds began to sing and squawk I was dozing; curled up and snug. Twittering arias floated up from the savannah as they bombarded the riot of insects. I was too high up to see them but I knew they would be swooping and darting, beaks primed, enjoying a chaotic breakfast. I sat up, the sky burned an intense orange as the sun announced her imminent arrival and, as the star rose higher, garish brushstrokes of vivid pink swept the horizon.

“Cup of tea, Debbie?”

Annie sat down beside me and we stared at the paint palette until it dissolved and the sun took control of the day. Obediently, the sky slowly began to turn a Forget-Me-Not blue.

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Looking east I could see the Chyulu Hills in the distance, a tumbled collection of snaking cinder cones. Ol Donyo Lodge was impossible to see, I knew it was there but it had been built to blend and it was pressed, chameleon like, into the volcanic hillside; a master of camouflage. From my room at the lodge the huge granite kopje that I had just spent the night on looked like a distant and isolated wart.

Annie was gingerly poking branches in the fire. “Sorry, this is on its last gasp, it won’t make breakfast but it’ll do another cuppa.” She lifted the elephantine kettle and poured. As I sipped, I marvelled at how delicious a cup of floating leaves could taste. Looking West, Mount Kilimanjaro rose majestically, a mere 60 miles away and only just managing to keep her foothills in neighbouring Tanzania. The snow was creeping down from the summit, like icing on a bun. Sitting atop my own personal monolith I felt, at the very least, equal to the majesty before me.
“Come on Debbie, I can see them coming,” she shaded her eyes with a hand and pointed, “over there.”
I followed her finger and, in the distance, I could see puffs of dusty clouds billowing behind ant-sized horses.

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The ‘Kopje Housekeeping’ had already arrived in the form of a Land Rover and two Maasai staff from the lodge; the latter were already scrambling up and down the rocks transporting the overnight paraphernalia. Despite the ice-boxes now being considerably lighter, it was still a challenging ‘room service’.
The horses and guides arrived.
“Habari ya asubuhi!” shouted Paul, “Good morning! The horses are a little jumpy; we have just disturbed some lion.”

A lead ball set off at a gentle roll around my stomach. This was one of the downsides of the Predator Compensation Fund. Twenty years ago there were only 2000 lion left in Kenya; the decline was largely the result of the Maasai killing them to protect their livestock or to prove their manhood. The situation on this vast ranch was so dire that the lion population was threatened with extinction. Not now. The tribesmen are compensated for any losses, as long as a herdsman was with the animals and the height of his fences sufficient. The success of the scheme has proved unprecedented and lion killing has virtually stopped. There are a lot more lion around which, in turn, means that I am potentially riding the main course for a leonine lunch; while offering myself as dessert. It wasn’t a thought that filled me with confidence.

“Are we going back the same way?” I asked tentatively.
“We go that way,” and Paul waved an arm airily in no particular direction, then added, “if they attack they will go for the horse at the back but they had full stomachs so it shouldn’t be a problem.”

We mounted and set off, I swallowed nervously – and rode at the front.
We weaved along a flattened, grassy path. The savannah was reaching and stretching to its inevitable collision with the horizon.

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“Ready to trot, then canter?” called Paul.
“Ready!” – and showing off – “twende, twende” – ‘let’s go,’ in Swahili.

We picked up a canter and left the track to head across the plains; the horses loved it and the riders loved it. Looking out for holes, created by the savannah night-shift, we rushed on, fanning out to find our own pockets of freedom. A family of wart hogs broke cover and ran for it, their tails held aloft like aerials on remote control cars; the youngsters barely visible above the seed heads apart from ears and tail tips.
The plains were studded with umbrella acacia trees, their parasol branches spreading to create much needed shade. As we got closer to the lodge and the trees became denser, I scanned the half-light under leafy canopies for flicking ears and amber eyes; a waste of time, the horses would get twitchy and springy long before I saw anything.

As if reading my mind Paul said, “A baby giraffe will make a better meal for a lion than you, you’re a bit scrawny.” He laughed and his teeth were like white doors in the moonlight.

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Giraffes could be seen everywhere, their heads poking up above the blossom like a sea of periscopes. They had thickened, blue tongues that were capable of chewing through the vicious acacia thorns and when we strolled passed them on horseback, barely metres away, they merely fluttered long lashes at us. Occasionally, if we surprised them, they would burst into life and gallop off; left legs then right legs, their necks acting as balancing joysticks.

The horses picked their way through scrubby thicket, stepping neatly over stones of larva and cracking twigs underfoot. Then a large crack came. Then again. Snap! Crackle! Rustle!
Paul whispered, “Can you see it yet?”

See what, I thought. Eyes straining. Acacia, a few large boulders, logs, bushes… nothing. Then a ‘boulder’ started to tremble; with a furious flapping of ears and an irritated shaking of its head, an elephant trampled towards us flashing long, curving tusks. The ‘hugeness’ advanced and I shrank into the saddle. My horse shifted nervously beneath me. We turned and walked slowly away; resisting the violent urge to charge off in a choking dust storm. Fortunately, the elephant was only disgruntled at having his privacy disturbed and he stomped off like a teenager (which he probably was) to address the needs of his stomach rather than his territory – we had merely caught him unawares.

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“What would we have done if he had charged us?” I asked Paul.
A smile spread across his face, “We would have galloped away,” he answered, “it would have been fun!”
Would it, I thought.

We walked on meandering in and out of trees until we came to a soft track of lava ash; we cantered on surprising a small herd of impala that scattered before us like escaping fire sparks.
We rounded a bend and Paul stopped, we concertinaed behind him, “Leopard! Leopard…”
I stopped. Beneath the stillness a frenzy of heartbeats clattered; first lion, now leopard. Paul stood up in his stirrups and peered into the scrub.
An ambush?

I followed his stare and emerging from the bush waddled a beautiful Leopard … tortoise. Sensing us there it retracted its legs, pulled in its head and plopped to the ground. The sun glistened on its puckered, checkerboard shell; it was a rare and lucky sighting,
“You wouldn’t have seen that in a car,” observed Paul… or the pair of black backed jackal we had seen yesterday I thought; the little creatures had paced along beside us as if it was part of their daily routine. The horses had not taken the slightest notice of them; it had also been a unique sighting.

Ol Donyo Wuas_Exterior_April 2010_Bell

The lodge could now be seen moulded into the hilly contours; it looked as if it had grown there from a seed. The horses, sensing breakfast and a loosening of girths, instinctively popped a little bounce into their pace.

With the stables in sight, and while congratulating myself on a lion-free ride, I carelessly destroyed hours of meticulous work. A large slender thread draped over my riding hat and the remnants of a vandalised spider’s web clung precariously to the branch of a tree. A magnificent Golden Orb spider glared out at me from the ruins. I was slightly mollified to see that she had not lost her pantry; a long sticky line dangled, swinging gently in the breeze with an assortment of insects still firmly glued to it. I thought, ruefully, that at least she wouldn’t go hungry as she set about rebuilding.

We walked on with long reins into the yard and the grooms came to greet us.
“Good ride? Good ride?”
“Good night? You sleep well?
“You like the stars?”
“Did Mawingu canter well for you?”
Questions bounced around the yard as the stable boys practised their English.
“Breathtaking! Amazing! Fantastic,” I fired back.

Paul strolled over; he was animated, throwing his arms around as he chatted with one of the grooms.
“Paul, thank you, I‘m pleased to see that you’ve enjoyed it too.”
“Oh yes,” he chuckled, “it was an especially good ride this morning because I have got back to learn that Manchester City have beaten Arsenal… 2-1!
He caught my stunned expression, threw his head back and roared with laughter before exclaiming,
“Riding here is always fun, no matter what we do or don’t see. Riding safari is crazy, like football, you can never absolutely predict the outcome. It is the most exciting job in Kenya.”
How could I disagree…?!

Thank you Debbie – for sharing this wonderful story with us of your riding safari at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya.

You can meet Annie Waterer (the guide Debbie mentions) at the Riding Holiday Show in London on 12 December. 

Categories: Equestrian Travel, horse riding, Horseback safari in Kenya, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding at Ol Donyo Lodge, riding holidays africa | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Shane Dowinton from Horizon Horseback Adventures, South Africa.

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 the event in 2007. It’s a chance to learn 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 legendary guide, Shane Dowinton from Horizon in South Africa.DSC_1164

1.    How long have you been guiding at Horizon?

Since 1993 – 22 years.

2.    Where did you guide before this?

I was a guide at Daintree National Park, Far North Queensland, Australia.

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

I hung around and helped out at a riding start-up in Cape Tribulation, Australia. I got hooked on seeing the beauty of the rainforest from the back of a horse and the qualities of bush horses.

Alaska South Africa Photos Shane4.    If you hadn’t become a riding guide, what was your Plan B?

I’ve never had a Plan B. Ever!

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?

I love meeting new people and hearing their life stories. The downsides? My chaps are starting to get a bit worn.

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

Jinksy is my primary guide horse and she would resemble Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider for boldness and general sassiness, but with a hint of Cameron Diaz for occasional spookiness and dizziness!

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

Jesus Christ.

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

We have guests that have returned to Horizon annually for more than 15 years and being caught up in one aspect of their life story and having an impact on it has been thoroughly rewarding.

shane9.    How do you relax after a day in the saddle?

Reading, playing guitar, cooking for my family.

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

Be passionate about everything.

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

My house.

Shane & cows

Thank you Shane for the fantastic images and another insightful article.

You can meet Shane from Horizon 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, Horizon, horse riding, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.



Categories: Equestrian Safety, Equestrian Travel, horse riding france, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, riding botswana, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding kujwana, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa.

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 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 popular guide, Louis Geyer from Cape Winelands, South Africa

.A cowboy on his horse

  1. How long have you been guiding at Cape Winelands?

Since it was established in 2008.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

I was guiding at Horizon here in South Africa.

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

It was a life choice and meeting people like Carmen Cowley and Shane Dowinton made it easier.

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

I never needed a plan B!

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

I love spending the time with people sharing a common love. The down side is the lack of time to get to know the people better, from whose lives you touch.

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

I can honestly say I don’t have one particular favourite riding horse. However my up and coming Shire cross stallion called Charleston is the love of my life as I had him from birth!

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

My own saddle that has come with me for 16 years already.

  1. What has been your most memorable ride?

Seeing an English lady in her 70’s transform into a 16 year old girl on the gallops across the plains! An inspiration.

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

A good old South African Braai with friends is the best way to relax after a busy day.

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

Get some formal and recognised equestrian qualifications, ride as many horses as you can (especially the difficult ones), learn to accept that administration is part of working with horses and travel a lot. The people you will meet have been all over the world and you need to be able to hold a conversation with them outside of horses.

  1. Where do you go on holiday?

Every year I do a ten day safari in the Kruger away from horses spending time with my family.

Thank you Louis for giving us an insight into your life as a riding guide.

You can meet Louis from Cape Winelands 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, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, riding south africa, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Andrew Gillies from Namibia Horse Safaris, Namibia

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 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 legendary guide, Andrew Gillies from Namibia Horse Safaris.

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  1. How long have you been guiding at Namibia Horse Safaris?

I started with NHSC in 2011.

  1. Where did you guide before this?

Before this I guided for The Conservation Corp and Wilderness Safaris in Namibia and also Equus Trails (as a riding guide).

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

Peter Starke has been my biggest inspiration. Author of “The White Bushman”, he spoke fluent San and was the most respected conservationist in Namibia (in Etosha).  Peter Starke was my Commander in Chief in the Cavalry, and I went on to become an instructor in the Cavalry.

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

There was never a Plan B – guiding is my life and love it.

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

It is the ideal job – out in the environment in beautiful Namibia. It’s the best place to be, especially with horses.  Every day is a surprise and there are always unexpected experiences to be had. There is no downside except perhaps time spent away from family.

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

Winston Churchill – no nonsense, just get the job done!

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

My saddle! I don’t need much in life; perhaps nice people and being in nature.

  1. What has been your most memorable safari?

Very inspired by some of our riders who in their 70’s and 80’s are still living life to the full. Some rides in Damaraland with encounters with big game are pretty memorable. During one ride we spent a half-hour watching an unusually relaxed Black Rhino. On another occasion we rode with a herd of Elephant. These experiences are rare and exciting; remember that Namibia does not have the tourist-habituated game one finds in Botswana and Kenya.

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

With a beer, grooming horses – it’s very relaxing.

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

Learn to do everything from the bottom up.  You need to experience everything.

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  1. Where do you go on holiday?

Mainly the beach or the bush.

Thank you Andrew for the fantastic images and another insightful article.

You can meet Andrew from Namibia Horse Safaris 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 Travel, Horses & riding, Ride reviews, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, riding holidays africa, riding holidays namibia, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel advice | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Meet the Guides” at The Riding Holiday Show – Joanna Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris , Tanzania

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 popular female guide – Joanna Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris , Tanzania.

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1.    How long have you been guiding at Kaskazi Horse Safari?

4 1/2 years

2.    Where did you guide before this?

Manyara ranch conservancy, a conservancy based operation in Northern Tanzania. Prior to that I guided down in South Africa, Kwa Zulu Natal where I led horse safaris.25-manyara-ranch

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

Growing up  in Sweden and Kenya I did a lot of riding amongst game throughout my childhood so it’s always been something that I have had in the back of my mind. When I went down to South Africa to study Field guiding and hotel and lodge management the seed was then planted.

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

I probably would have become a banker. Jo and Bob racing, Kaskazi Horse Safaris

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?

We never refer to it as a job, it’s a lifestyle that you choose. I believe if your interests are in horses, the nature and wildlife I could not have asked for a better Lifestyle/job. The downside is that you can never “leave work”. It is a huge responsibility that will never end, even though you are on holiday. Apart from that I can’t come up with any other downsides. You deal with incredible people who are on holiday, that already puts our guests in a good mood.

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

It would be my lead horse Heat Haze. He is brave and will master any challenge; he has a fantastic temperament and is a true character. We suit each other well, both of us are somewhat crazy!

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

I could not live without my horses and dogs. I enjoy civilisation every now and then but I very quickly miss the bush. If I could, I would spend my life out in the bush with my horse, my dogs and a tent. Elsa and JO

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

When my horse saved me from a cobra.

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

With a nice ice-cold beer around the open fire. Fishing murchison

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

Work hard, aim high and believe in yourself. This will take you very far.  Life will always be full of ups and downs, but with no downs there are no ups!

11.    Where do you go on holiday?

I spend most of my holidays in Africa, although for my next upcoming holiday I will heading to South America.

Thank you Jo for the fantastic images and another wonderful article.

You can meet Jo from Kaskazi Horse Safaris 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 Travel, Horses & riding, in the saddle, Ranch holidays, Riding expeditions, Riding Holidays, Riding safaris, The Riding Holiday Show, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harriet Walker’s African Adventure: Preparing for the off

Harriet Walker is swapping hunting and horses in Leicestershire for three months as a working pupil at Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana. Follow her journey on www.horseandhound.co.uk as she jets off on her very own African adventure…

The past two years have been focused on completing my A-levels which has meant the time spent working with horses has been curtailed, however after all that hard work I am rewarding myself with a gap year before I go to university, to spend some time following my ambitions.

I was lucky enough to take a trip to Madagascar a few years ago which fueled my love for Africa – I was totally taken aback by the beauty of the country and it has been my mission to return to that part of the world ever since.When I was talking to hunting friends who had visited Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris in Botswana through equestrian travel company, In The Saddle, they suggested that I combine my ambition to see more of Africa with my desire to work with horses. I sent my CV to Louise Carelsen who is the managing director at Limpopo and after an exchange of emails she agreed that I could spend three months working with her on the Mashatu Game Reserve that her and husband Cor, call home.

I will be spending my time at Limpopo helping to break and school young horses and generally learning a different method of horse management. Although the horses at Limpopo are all ridden in English saddles and trained to a high level I am expecting a bit of a culture shock!

At the moment I have very mixed emotions! I am nervous because I really don’t know what to expect and three months away from my family and friends is quite a long time – however I am mostly very, very excited! I cannot wait to see the vast open spaces, wild animals in their natural habitat and experience the thrill and exhilaration of a horseback safari. It will be so different to any experience I have had in the UK and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

So wish me luck for the first steps of my journey! I fly from Heathrow into Johannesburg on 29th September where I will be met, hopefully by someone holding a sign with my name on, and will start the five hour transfer to Limpopo in the South East of Botswana, where my African adventure will truly begin!

As published on www.horseandhound.co.uk on 25th September 2012.

Categories: Equestrian Travel, Riding safaris, Travel news | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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