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Ride Botswana - Desert and Delta photo

Horseback riding in Botswana – A desert and delta experience

We have just completed our first Desert and Delta safari of the year and it is safe to say that it was a huge success. From moments of complete stillness to moments that got your hearts racing a bit… it was fantastic! A perfect adventure choice for anyone looking to experience horseback riding in Botswana.

 

Where the Okavango Delta meets the desert sands is a place, a place  that holds the gateway to all your travel dreams – “the place of reeds,” Maun. The delta lies in one direction and the Kalahari in the other making Maun the perfect jumping-off point into both these diverging yet completely connected landscapes.

 

The guests arrived in Maun and were whisked off by safari car on a journey through Mopane forests to the edge of the Okavango. Here, their steeds were tacked up and ready, waiting to carry the group on an adventure of a lifetime…

Horseback riding in Botswana is unique as there are not too many places in the world where you can experience two very different landscapes from the back of a horse.

The first afternoon consisted of a leisurely ride into camp, through the open flood plains and across the delta waterways until sunset. The setting sun showed off tangerine coloured skies that silhouetted flocks of egrets and other birdlife making their way back to the trees to roost.  For the next few days, we rode from island to island – camping on the edge of hippo lagoons and under Leadwood tree canopies, falling asleep to the chorus of croaking frogs. Most nights we were lucky enough to hear a distant lion call, getting louder and louder as the big cat drew nearer to our camp.

 

Each breaking dawn was accompanied by cackling Guinea fowl and the sound of a match stick bursting into flame as KB (our chef) lit the campfire for morning tea and coffee before the guests, myself and our back up guide – Flood mounted the horses. Flood has worked for Ride Botswana for a number of years and is extremely experienced when it comes to horseback riding in Botswana.

 

The delta is overflowing with life at the moment. There was wildlife wherever we set our eyes – herds of elephant and buffalo, impala, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, lion… you name it. We had a couple of exciting encounters on one of the days with a bull elephant reminding us who was boss and with a lion reminding us not to come too close… Sundowner drinks went down very quickly at the end of this day (another pro of coming horseback riding in Botswana is that at the end of each day there are ALWAYS sundowners).

 

After a few fantastic days in the Delta, it was time to leave wetlands behind and head towards drier lands… the vast Kalahari Desert. We headed back to Maun where the guests and myself caught a charter plane onto the second part of the safari. Flying over the pans gave everyone a clear understanding of just how vast the Kalahari plains really are (excuse the pun!) The Makgadikgadi Salt Pans stretch for miles, as far as the eye can see. It is said that the Makgadkgadi pans themselves are the same size as Switzerland!

 

Camp Kalahari was our base for the next 3 nights. This beautifully rustic camp comprises a number of luxurious tents, a lovely main area and of course with the high temperatures out in the Kalahari, an essential swimming pool area. Most afternoons, through the mid day heat were spent by the pool. Horseback riding in Botswana can get rather hot so this lovely pool area was welcomed with open arms.

 

The Makgadikgadi holds the second largest Zebra and Wildebeest migration in the world – the Masai Mara in Kenya being the largest. The grasslands are filled with large herds, grazing until their heart’s content. There is something incredibly special about horseback riding in Botswana alongside these herds, feeling as though you are part of the migration journeying through the Kalahari with them. There is always a misconception that there is very little to see in the desert, but in fact it is incredible that a place so dry can hold so much life! On one of the mornings, we rode out into the grasslands to see the meerkats. This is always a highlight for everyone as the meerkats sometimes climb up onto someones head to get higher up so as to scout the area for danger such birds of prey lurking in the sky. We got some brilliant photographs!

 

We had a fantastic time out in the Makgadikgadi and a brilliant Desert and Delta safari all in all. Riding a horse through these wild places of Africa makes it possible to get much closer to the game than you would in a vehicle. Horseback riding in Botswana offers all the travel and adventure lovers of the world, a unique opportunity to experience the wilderness from a new perspective.

 

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