At Equitours we have always been enthusiastic supporters of unspoiled wilderness country which offers such wonderful opportunities for horseback riding.
Paved roads, fences and noisy vehicles are anathema for equestrian tours. As mankind gobbles up the land, horse lovers and those who care about unspoiled nature need to fight to maintain undeveloped places and rights-of-way for horse travel. The Bitterroot Ranch, headquarters for Equitours, borders the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which is the largest wild system left in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere, about 6 million acres. The ranch lies between national forest and Wyoming Game and Fish habitat areas, giving it an ideal location for either day rides or week-long wilderness pack trips. The surrounding country is home for wild horses, elk, deer, bear, antelope, wolves and moose to name a few of the local animals. The terrain is exceptionally varied with high mountains, steep river gorges, virgin forests and sagebrush plains. Usually one can ride all day without seeing other human beings. We have fought hard to maintain the integrity of the wild country which surrounds us. The Wyoming Wilderness Association devoted a chapter of its book, AHEAD OF THEIR TIME, to how Bayard Fox helped pass the Wilderness Act of 1984 to preserve the wilderness around his ranch.
Equitours rides in the Southwest traverse some of the most beautiful and spectacular wild places in the world including the Grand Canyon area, Monument Valley and other national parks. Visitors are stunned by the vastness of the Grand Canyon and the bizarre shapes and colors of the terrain where water and wind have shaped the landscape left from powerful volcanic action millions of years ago. John Wesley Powell’s epic 1,000 mile journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers in 1869 revealed a huge area which had hitherto been unknown. Much of this fascinating area is protected by national parks today and is exciting, wilderness country for horseback riding.
Some parts of Africa have also been preserved thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated people. A wild area of particular importance which has been well preserved by the Kenya and Tanzania governments is the Serengeti and adjacent Masai Mara where herds of over a million wildebeest and zebra annually make a migration to take advantage of the seasonally changing food supply. You can see this on horseback in Tanzania on the Serengeti Migration ride in February and March. On the Kenya side it can be seen on the Masai Mara safari from July to October. Until the late 19th century huge herds of bison estimated at 60 million roamed across the Great Plains in America, but now the area open to them is much smaller and domestic cattle have replaced them in most of their former habitat. We hope that the Serengeti will be preserved for generations to come, for once mankind has taken over there is no going back.
The Pantanal is the world’s largest wetland encompassing about 75,000 square miles in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. It is critical in providing the world with clean air and it is home to many kinds of animals like jaguar, capybara and caiman. The region is particularly known for its superb birdlife with magnificent macaws, ibis, herons, toucans and hundreds of other varieties.
One of the world’s best known wilderness refuges for wildlife is the Okavango Delta in Botswana. It is an exceptionally fertile and well-watered region which affords wonderful habit for Africa’s fabulous game animals like elephant, Cape buffalo, lion, many kinds of antelope, etc., but it is virtually uninhabited by humans because of the seasonal flooding of this vast, flat area. The Botswana Government is well aware of the value of this treasure and has preserved it well from short term exploitation and poaching so that it attracts tourists from around the world.
By contrast, the Kalahari Desert is a semi-arid savanna area bigger than Texas covering parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is too dry for large populations, but many kinds of wildlife have adapted to the conditions like oryx, kudu, hyena, lion and the endearing meerkats. There is a wide variety of birds and reptiles. The Bushmen or San have lived here for some 20,000 years leading a hunter gatherer existence and they have left some interesting rock art from ancient times.
Those who participate in these wilderness rides are not only giving themselves an exciting, interesting adventure, they are also contributing to the preservation of these areas which are ultimately so important to the very survival of mankind.