Horseback Riding in Botswana

Tuli Safari

Overview

This is a classic point-to-point horse safari in Botswana covering approximately 120 miles in the vast Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block. Mashatu is a privately owned wildlife sanctuary of 75,000 acres, situated at the confluence of the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers.

This is an area of great bio-diversity, magnificent vistas, ancient civilizations and dramatic rock formations bordered by the great Limpopo River in the south. Aptly named the “Land of the Giants” for its baobab studded plains and large herds of elephant, the land remains largely untouched by man and is home to a wide variety of wildlife species including lion, cheetah, leopard, African wild dog, a multitude of plains game like zebra, wildebeest and giraffe, as well as over 350 species of birds.

To make the most of the prime game viewing hours, the day begins just before dawn with a quick breakfast before tacking up and heading toward the next camp as the sun is breaking over the horizon. Gallop along the river courses where huge Mashatu trees provide shade for eland, impala, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra. Five or six hours in the saddle has you arriving at the next camp in the early afternoon with time to relax before an evening walking safari to witness the smaller creatures and plants missed on horseback.

The guide, who is highly qualified and experienced, will point out some of the 350 bird species, and is often able to find elusive nocturnal species like bat-eared fox, African wildcat and the magnificent leopard. There are significant archaeological and historical sites en route, from subtle sign of the ancient indigenous people to relics from the Boer War. The small group size, the fit, energetic horses and the light mobile camp allow this safari to cover a lot of interesting territory in this seldom visited corner of Africa.

Spend the first night and last two nights at the permanent tented camp, Two Mashatus, two nights at the permanent Tree camp, and two nights at the permanent open air camp, Kglotla.

Meals are prepared over an open fire and therefore consist mostly of good, wholesome ‘bush stews’, with local side dishes such as ‘sadza’ (maize meal) and ‘pot bread’. Vegetarian menus and special dietary requests can be accommodated with advance notice. All water in the camps is filtered to the highest standards and is guaranteed perfectly safe for drinking. Bottled water is available to purchase.

  • Overview:
    The herd is comprised of Boerperd, Throroughbred, Warmblood and Arab crosses. Each rider will be matched to a horse, as much as possible. Saddles are McClellan trail rider saddles, specifically designed for long hours in the saddle.
  • Equipment Required:
    Helmets are required.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Boerperd, Warmbloods and Shire cross
  • Trip Pace:
    Moderate to Fast
  • Tack:
    Safari (Mclellan type) saddles
  • Weight limit:
    210 lbs

Non-riders are welcome to cycle instead of ride. Cycling is the only available riding alternative.

Johannesburg.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Meet in Johannesburg in time for a transfer by charter plane. Upon arrival have a short transfer to the reception area overlooking the Limpopo river, in time for a light lunch. Enjoy an introductory ride to check you are suited to your horse, before embarking on your first ride out to the Two Mashatus Camp. This will be your first opportunity to experience the beauty of the Mashatu Game Reserve and view the wildlife on horseback. Mashatu Game Reserve is home to the largest herd of wild free-roaming elephants on private land in Africa, and, although not a guarantee, it is almost assured that there will be great viewing of these incredible creatures. As evening falls at Two Mashatu Camp, relax in the cool of the thatched rondavel lounge and dining areas, before enjoying a three-course dinner and getting to know your fellow adventurers for the next seven days.

Day 2

Sunrise, the dawn chorus and tea or coffee which is brought to your tent, sounds the start of your first day. After breakfast, it’s time to mount and depart from the dense woodland that hugs the Limpopo River, and head towards the rocky hills that delineate the edges of the great river valley. As the ride traverses the heartland of Mashatu, you will encounter plentiful game: plains game, many giraffe and herd of elephants. Having meandered across the hills with vast views back towards South Africa, the ride arrives at Tree Camp in time for lunch. Overlooking the Majale river, it is possible to watch the wildlife from above, coming down to drink at the river. That afternoon choose a ride or enjoy your first bush walk exploring the area along the West of the Matabole River returning to Tree Camp for sundowners.

Day 3

The safari passes through the center of Mashatu to the ancient rock formations synonymous with the Limpopo Valley. Giant Baobab trees continue to scatter the landscape as they have for centuries and ancient elephant trails make for wonderful tracks for long canters through open bush veld. Whilst riding alongside the banks of the Motloutse River, discover the old Leadwood ‘Kgotla’ (or enclosure used for the traditional law court of a Botswana village). This open-air enclosure forms the perfect, secure camp for the night. In the afternoon, search for the area’s resident lions on a game drive and draw the day’s adventures to a close with sundowners at the ancient “Amphitheatre” rocks. Back at the Kgotla, dinner is enjoyed around a large log fire. The night is spent with a ceiling of stars and Africa’s nighttime melody to sing you to sleep; a veraciously rare experience which is just about as far away from city life and the modern world as anyone can imagine.

Day 4

The sandstone formations, including the famed Solomon’s Wall, one of the numerous dolorite dykes in the area, are explored on horseback. Some of the oldest civilizations in southern Africa settled in this valley. Archaeological evidence in the area includes middle and late stone age tools, rock art and the legendary Mapungubwe Dynasty. Mapungubwe means “Place of the Jackal” in the Venda language and this dynasty existed around 1220 AD. The Mapungubwe topography itself is ancient and timeless, and combined with marvelous wildlife sightings, it makes for an incredible riding experience. This afternoon enjoy a short drive to the Mmamagwa Hills for the most visually stunning and ethereal sundowner. A short climb up the sandstone ridge brings you to the site of the Mmamagwa Ruins, which is of a similar period to Mapungubwe (13th century). To date these ruins have not been excavated and have been left alone. It is conceivable that similar treasures to those found at Mapungubwe (for example the golden rhino) could be buried here. After a short climb, enjoy sundowners beneath a beautiful baobab tree with a breath-taking view of the area.

Day 5

Wind up Elephant Valley along ancient trails stamped into the soil by centuries of migrating elephants, before heading north towards upper reaches of the Majale River. This area is peppered with enormous baobab trees and is one of the more remote areas of the reserve. After an exhilarating ride through this timeless countryside, enjoy a relaxing lunch at Tree Camp. An afternoon ride or bush walk or game drive exploring the northern banks of the Majele, Matabole and Jwala rivers.

Day 6

Today’s riding promises great game viewing from horseback as we explore the Pitsane River Valley. Drinking holes, dug by elephants along the course of the Pitsane, attract thirsty herds of game. An area, where history has it, there was a skirmish during the Boer war which destroyed Bryce’s Store, an old British supply post. There was a stagecoach line, called Zeederberg’s, that ran from the towns of the Transvaal in South Africa to the newly forged settlements of Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Those coaches crossed the broad Limpopo and followed the Pitsane River into Zimbabwe. The ride returns to the Two Mashatu Camp in time for lunch and a cooling swim in the pool. A guided bush walk to one of the nearby koppies for sundowners is the afternoon excursion.

Day 7

The ride today meanders its way through the beautiful plains between the Majale and Pitsane rivers, with abundant game and spectacular views into the Limpopo River Valley. En route, explore the remains of an old Boer War fort on a rocky outcrop, followed by a ride down into the cooler wetland area where plentiful game enjoy the lush grasses. In the summer months, rain and water dependent, it can be possible to enjoy cantering through the shallows of the Limpopo River. There is time to relax in camp,before either an afternoon ride or bush walk for your last African sundowner.

Day 8

The last ride in the Limpopo Valley is a great opportunity to take one last picture of elephants and enjoy a long and winding canter through the scattered Mustard bush with your guides. Arriving back at the stables and reception mid-morning, there is plenty of time for a hot shower and a tasty brunch, before saying farewell to safari companions and newfound friends.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible. Changes may occur at the guide's discretion due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

The Tuli Safari runs Sunday-Sunday year round.

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $4,060High Season May, July, August, September, October and November
  • Pricing Variation
  • $3,385Medium Season March, April and June
  • $2,900Low Season December, January and February
  • Single Supplement
  • $1,420High Season May, July, August, September, October and November
  • $1,185Medium Season March, April and June
  • $785Low Season December, January and February
  • Transportation
  • $885Charter plane transfers round trip per person
  • $1,200Road transfers round trip for 1-3 passengers
  • Wildlife Management Fees
  • $70Conservation levy of $70 is due on site in Botswana.

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $4,225High season: May, July, August, September, October, November
  • Pricing Variation
  • $3,520Medium season: March, April, June
  • $3,015Low season: January, February, December
  • Single Supplement
  • $1,480High season: May, July, August, September, October, November
  • $1,230Medium season: March, April, June
  • $755Low season: January, February, December
  • Transportation
  • $960Round trip charter plane transfers
  • $1,230Round trip road transfers with 1-3 passengers in vehicle
  • Wildlife Management Fees
  • $70Conservation levy of $70 is due on site in Botswana.
Additional Pricing Information:
Insurance Required Prices are based on the dollar/pound exchange and are subject to change. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time deposit is paid.


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Contact Megan Barrett

The Tuli Safari is an incredible adventure enabling equestrian enthusiasts to thoroughly appreciate spectacular landscape and a profusion of wildlife that is unique to the Tuli District of Botswana. Experiencing this majesty in a small group aboard willing horses under the guidance of personable and knowledgeable guides is unrivaled. The magic continues after dismount with evening game drives, spectacular sunsets savored from high vantage points, animated conversation over excellently prepared meals beside the fire, and culminating with the awe of gazing upon the majesty of the Southern Constellation before drifting off to sleep. This is a lifetime experience not to be missed.

Robert Savarese, 2013