Many of the lodges, hotels and private reserves of East Africa offer horse-riding facilities. Typically, the venue will have its own stables, and horses will be provided according to the proficiency of the riders (with safety helmets etc). Rides can be as short as one hour, or as long as a day (with picnic lunch). Game-viewing by horse is a very special experience, especially because many animals, especially elephant, are habituated to horses and will allow them in close proximity.
Some of the private reserves also offer horse safaris, which typically travel through the region for a number of days, arriving at their own private camp every night.
A typical riding safari
Essentially, this is an adventure safari on horseback. Provided with experienced guides and syces (grooms), it enables the visitor to explore the more remote and inaccessible areas of East Africa, where vehicles cannot venture. Staged in areas of breathtaking scenic beauty, such safaris also offer an unprecedented opportunity of viewing wildlife close up.
Riding safaris vary greatly, typically however, you commence your ride in the cool of early morning, often stopping along the way for a bush breakfast and lunch. Accommodation is provided by means of either permanent or semi-permanent camps, which will be established in advance of your arrival. Afternoons can either be at leisure, include more wildlife rides or feature guided walks. As night falls, the campfire will be lit, drinks will be served and visitors can enjoy hot showers before enjoying a candle-lit bush dinner.
Typically, the horses are provided either by the established lodges of the region, or by private stables. Well-cared for and carefully trained, they are often retired polo ponies or racehorses. All ‘tack’ is provided, as are hard hats. Horses will be provided according to the specific riding capabilities of the guests. Well-versed in providing horses to those with only limited riding ability, the stables can also provide children’s ponies as well as horses suited to being ‘led’ by the accompanying syce.
Depending on the exact itinerary of your riding safari, accommodation may be provided in permanent or semi-permanent bush camps (with full safari kitchens, mess tent, WCs and hot showers), or in luxury lodges. Often a combination of both is used – so as to allow days of rest and luxury between the rides.