I made my African Explorer reservation back in November of 2019 with plans to go in May of 2020, only to have Covid happen. What at first was a 2 week shutdown, turned into 2 months and on and on…2 years plus and countries were on lockdown with borders closed. I postponed my riding safari trip a total of 5x, fretting over when borders would open, when testing requirements might loosen up and also knowing that I had to take the chance that 23 hours of flying would also be a risk in addition to being just a super long flight. Time was also of essence because I am not young and I really wanted to do this ride. Megan of Equitours was so helpful, accommodating all my postponements, as we all worked our way through the Covid situation. In June of 2022, I decided on September for the trip and luck had it that the 24 hour testing requirements were dropped, which made traveling much easier.
The first 4 days are in South Africa. A gorgeous setting with very comfortable permanent tents that have a full bathroom connected to each tent. The food was really delicious and always something cold to drink after each ride.
We rode out that first afternoon and within 3 minutes were cantering down the trail. What a thrill to hit the open plains and canter as a herd of antelope crossed our path and to be so close to giraffe and zebra. Be sure to have your camera on you at all times to capture the animals and the sunset. The sunsets are stunning!
We were in the saddle by 8:30a the next 3 mornings and off to explore returning to camp around noon and then lunch. A mid-day break since viewing of wildlife is best early and again late afternoon. Then we’d go out again around 4p for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, returning to clean up and have dinner. The horses were terrific and the riding had a lot of cantering which made it super fun. A couple of the riders wanted to gallop so the guide picked a spot where he felt we could do that…this was our first gallop and there were many more in Botswana.
On the 4th day, we were in the saddle at 7:30a since we rode out to Bellevue Lodge. What a treat! The next morning we were in the saddle by 7a and we made very good time, with lots and lots of cantering, getting back to Horizon Horseback to return the horses before a 4 hour drive to Botswana. That was so fun and we really flew on those horses. They are so in shape and so familiar with the terrain!
Aha, Botswana. Three nights and 4 days in Botswana. After we arrived in Botswana and had lunch, we got on our new horses and did the riding test. The test is to make sure that you are capable of riding and controlling your horse in the wide open terrain since the Tuli Block has lions, leopards and elephants in addition to giraffe, antelope (kudu, impala, sable, etc), warthogs, jackal, wildebeest. Then we rode out to our lodging for the first night…the new Tree Camp. Since we needed to get there before dark, as the guide would say, ‘Let’s kick up some dust!’ and we cantered out to this incredible Tree Camp. So apparently there is also the original tree camp but this one was built during Covid since they had a lot of time. It is simply gorgeous! Raised above the ground, you could see animals roaming around and under. In fact, they had someone on 2 hour watches all night to make sure no animals got too close.
The next morning we rode to Two Mashatus Camp where we would spend the remaining 3 days and 2 nights. Again, fantastic permanent tent with full bathroom connected to each tent. Food was delicious. At this point we were in the saddle at 7 and 7:30am. Yes, early but what the heck. From here we had our adventure with elephants, a lion, jackal, and the usual sightings of giraffe, antelope etc. One afternoon we had a vehicle drive and spotted a pregnant leopard in the tree napping. Then she climbed down to continue eating her kill which was an impala…to get her fill before the hyenas who would eat at night.
The riding in Botswana was terrific. We had tons of canters as well as a lot of fast galloping. The horses are so athletic and so reliable, you can really trust your horse to take care of you as you go flying over the red soil.
This ride really was a once-in-a lifetime dream come true, terrific adventure for me! Thanks to Equitours and Horizon Horseback for making it happen.
By Verna Lin
Despite the challenges posed to travel in early 2021, one stalwart (and fully vaccinated) adventurer completed a trip to Ecuador in February. In spite of booking solo and no last minute companions working out to join, Sherry Swartz had a wonderful time and was well-looked after by our partner there. So much planning went into ensuring covid safe travel, including testing before flying from and back to the US, and careful social distancing and sanitizing at the accommodations, and it resulted in a smooth and enjoyable journey. Sherry writes:
“It was fantastic and would recommend this trip to anyone who loves horseback riding. Everyone was so nice and welcoming, horses were well-mannered, food was terrific, and the places I stayed were very cozy. One of the best trips I have been on.”
Ecuador remains a great option for those looking to travel as regulations start to allow for more traveling, now a negative test is not required to enter the country if you are vaccinated, and we still have flexible booking policies if covid does interrupt your plans. Great for solo travelers or groups, with wonderful options for non-riding companions, and customized versions of the standard Hacienda to Hacienda ride are available. Always a fabulous experience, it’s especially one to consider in our new normal!
Click on the photos below to see full size!
Erica Temple participated in the African Explorer ride in August of 2019 and generously shared some photos of the experience. This ride starts in South Africa at Horizon Ranch’s permanent tented camp, where guests enjoy an introduction to the hospitality and excitement of riding in Africa, and ends in Botswana in the area of the Tuli Safari, where you can spot the full array of wildlife. It’s a fantastic way to have an African safari experience!
Rides in Italy can easily meet the criteria for a successful riding holiday: beautiful scenery and countryside to ride through, interesting history and culture, delicious local food and wine, good horses and elegant accommodation. This is all easily apparent from the photos and clips Louise Palmer was kind enough to share following her Tuscan Villages & Vintages ride in September 2017. Enjoy the memories below!
Written by Biggi Hayes
Mediterranean Trail April 2-8, 2018
In early April of 2018 I was excited to be heading off to Catalonia, to participate in the Mediterranean Trail, covering about 100 miles in 5 days.
After a long Wyoming winter – March and April are tough months as teasingly warm spring days can give way to full out blizzards – the temperatures north of Barcelona were in the mid 60’s. Different green hues were sprouting everywhere, flowers blooming and the birds were singing – spring was in the air and what balm to my soul it was.
I flew into the Barcelona airport via Berlin and eagerly awaited the group transfer from the airport which was scheduled for late afternoon from a designated pickup point. Our friendly driver Enrique was there on time and soon all of us where chatting away, anticipating what the next few days would bring.
The trail started at Mas Alba, a typical Catalan stone house dating back to the 16th century. The accommodations for the week where in quaint family owned village hotels and comfortable rustic stone houses, all adding to the charm of the ride.
During our welcome dinner that evening we got to know our fellow riders and our fearless trail leader Nacho. Soon after dinner I found myself tucked away into my cozy room, getting a good night’s sleep to be ready for our weeks adventure that lay ahead.
After breakfast the next morning we were introduced to our trusty steeds. I locked eyes with a young and very handsome P.R.E gelding named Vido and was hoping he would be my partner for the week – and a few minutes later that unspoken wish became a reality. After receiving all of the tack needed for the week ahead and had an introduction on how to tack and untack, we set off following the river Fluvia as it winds through hilly terrain covered by thick oak and pine forests. As it turned out to be a warmer day than anticipated, a picnic at a small lake turned into an impromptu splashing in the invigorating waters for those of us brave enough. During the short siesta after lunch and our shenanigans in the cool waters, I was able to enjoy these first warmer rays of sunshine.
Day 3 was a long one as we awoke before sunrise to tack up and head to the beach before it became too crowded. After a long fun canter in the surf we climbed the Massif Montgri mountain to enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the Mediterranean sea. It was cooler then the day before and we all feasted on the fantastic lunch spread of fresh bread, cheeses, and different cold cuts such as salami and ham options, fresh tomatoes, washed down by some red wine. A much needed siesta followed before cantering to our next stop. In the afternoon we crossed over a small mountain range down to the coast. A simple hotel close to the beach was our stop for the night. Since I was still so full from our late lunch I opted to enjoy a long walk along the deserted beach and reveled in the peace and the energy of the ocean.
The next day brought more long canters twisting through pine forests and rice fields and passing through small towns and hamlets. We arrived in the medieval town of Pals in time for a delicious Paella for lunch after which we had time to explore the town a bit. It was easy to get lost in the narrow cobble stone streets – what a cool place to explore!
On our last day of riding we set out after breakfast, homeward bound, having come almost full circle. After tacking up our mounts and a quick photo op in a field abloom with poppies, Nacho led us on a fast canter up and down some hills before crossing the river El Ter. There was a feast set up for us and after toasting our week with Cava, we enjoyed the fresh food and wine before a peaceful siesta and a bittersweet return to Mas Alba. I cannot wait to return to ride Vido again on another one of these itineraries.
Written by Biggi Hayes
Several years ago I had the pleasure of experiencing a few wonderful and fun filled days at the Rancho Puesto del Sol. Going over some new photos from the outfitter brought back lovely memories from this visit and I’m looking forward to returning when we can travel freely again.
Arriving at the ranch after an 1.5 hour private transfer from the Mexico City airport I was welcomed by Uschi and her friendly staff who immediately made me feel at home and fell in love with the colores de Mexico displayed at the rancho.
The next 4 days flew by with fun riding on willing and surefooted horses. All level of riders are welcome at the ranch and on one afternoon ride is was great to see a couple of beginner riders getting to feel an easy canter on these steady mounts. I was amazed by the varied terrain and landscapes we rode through and enjoyed galloping across wide open spaces with no fences. Especially memorable to me was the river valley where 800 year old cypress trees are covered by Spanish moss – not something I would have expected in the land of cactus.
Optional excursions to the ruins of Tula, San Miguel de Allende and the weekly market visits to Jilotepec add extra cultural aspects. At the end of the day I would retire into the comfortable and colorful accommodations. The infinity pool, the Jacuzzi and the wellness gazebo invite to relax and rejuvenate.
I recall a sense of sadness that came over me when it was time to leave after 4 days – I could have easily spent two weeks as there is so much to explore on horseback and during the offered excursions – next time
Ean Cuthbert, a guest with Equitours on the March 2020 Grand Canyon ride in Arizona, put together this slide show of photos and video clips and graciously shared with us. Enjoy!
Join a Live Webinar with Equine Photographer Gabriele Boiselle
In February of 2020 equine photographer and friend of Equitours, Gabriele Boiselle, traveled with Mel Fox to Tanzania on the Serengeti Migration ride. She is hosting a live webinar on Thursday, April 16, 2020 to share her photos and experiences from the trip. Gabriele’s photography is always stunning, and the trip’s wildlife viewing was once of a lifetime, so this is sure to be a thrill!
Sign up for the free webinar on Gabriele’s website: https://mailchi.mp/
By Mel Fox
I grew up on a farm at the foot of Kilimanjaro, about 20 miles from where these horses are stabled, so returning to Tanzania is always a thrill. Of course it has changed enormously over the years, but the country is still about 50 years behind Kenya in development.
This year in the Serengeti was perhaps my favorite ride ever. Catching up with the famous wildebeest and zebra migration of 1.3 million animals is a hit and miss affair, because it is totally dependent on rainfall. The rains do sometimes fail and the vast herds become scattered, but usually they are gathered in the southern Serengeti at this time, where ancient volcanic activity has created mineral-rich soil. The wildebeest come here to drop their calves, which takes place over a period of 3 weeks. It is amazing to watch the newborns get up on unsteady legs and then canter off with their mothers within a matter of 2 minutes. The abundant source of easy prey draws predators such as lion, hyena, wild dogs and jackals, which makes for exciting game viewing.
We flew in our private charter plan to Ndutu airstrip in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and arrived at camp in time for lunch an and introductory afternoon ride. The first moving day we passed some of the migrating herds, but the highlight was a long canter with 70 giraffe. Our camp had been efficiently set up while we were riding and welcome hot showers were awaiting us. Wildebeest were calling all around, moving to the open plains for grazing during the day and retiring to thorn thicket country at night. A special experience from this camp was cantering with the wildebeest and then watching a herd of 200 eland cut single file in front of us; these huge animals are often quite elusive and it was a real treat to see so many together.
One night we set up a fly camp away from the horses in an area known for its dense population of predators – and we did have numerous lion sightings. The highlight for many was being able to see the stars through the roof of the lightweight tents – with hippo grazing among us!
Our final camp was near a Masai boma and we set off early one morning on horseback to visit our neighbors and see the women milking into their gourds. We were also able to arrange a private tour of nearby Olduvai Gorge, where 1.5 million years ago early hominids, Australopithecus bosei and Homo habilis, thrived by a lake shore and left numerous tools. Louis and Mary Leakey worked for years at this site, starting in the 1930s. It was a humbling reminder that man has been part of this environment, sharing it with animals, since time immemorial.
Written by Mel Fox
I was initially attached to the ride in Zimbabwe due to its location in southern Africa and good connections. Since it is a shorter itinerary it works well as an add on to other rides and provides its own unique experience.
A big draw is Victoria Falls, one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World. It was only a half hour drive from our small, charming lodge with a very active waterhole; impala, eland, zebra, elephant and baboons all visited during our stay. Daily rides through the mopane woodland let to close encounters with a variety of big game, including large herds of buffalo. A highlight was tracking black rhino and we saw a total of 8 of these highly endangered animals during our stay. Most of the ride is quite slow, meandering through the bush looking for tracks, but there were some exhilarating trots and canters along sandy tracks. Our guide, Alison, is a native Zimbabwean who has managed to survive through all the political turmoil and has many fascinating tales to tell.
In 6 hours of travel the road went from tarmac to murrum to sandy tracks with countless gates leading from one fazenda to another. We finally pulled up beneath a large grove of mature mango trees with numerous little black pig families enjoying the cool shade and noisy parrots squawking overhead. Stepping past the verandah with inviting easy chairs, we were welcomed into the cool family home with fresh fruit juices. After a lunch featuring home grown vegetables with a meat dish and tasty desserts, and a long nap, we sallied forth in the late afternoon to meet the horses. Following the “line up” we were introduced to our mounts and tack (sheepskins thrown over the saddle tree, very basic stirrups and rather severe bits). The horses were lovely to ride, very responsive, but a little reactive on the ground. That first evening we saw crab-eating foxes, pampas deer and caiman in every pool, as well as numerous exotic birds, whose names we were just starting to learn.
The days merged into each other; up at 5am to the call of the southern screamers, ride, returning mid morning, lazing the day away and another evening excursion. Sometimes we came across the pantaneros cowboys working their white cattle, lassoing, doctoring, sorting. The Pantanal is 90% privately owned and ranching traditions are proudly upheld.
This is the largest wetland in the world and when the rains come the animals are forced to move off lush green pastures to high and more arid land. All the ranch buildings are situated in these areas and many have rough airstrips since they can be cut off for months at a time. The rides take place in the dry season of June through October.
We stayed at two different fazendas, quite some distance apart, with a night in hammocks along the way. There was a river running by the second fazenda and one of the activities on offer was boat trips. It was magical motoring along through the shallow water, stopping to photograph capybara, giant river otter and numerous kinds of kingfishers, herons, ducks and birds that one could never have imagined. Our guide Daniel, who accompanied us on the whole trip, is an excellent ornithologist and made sure everyone was engaged and happy. This was an interesting and wonderfully relaxing holiday that could easily be shared with a non riding partner.
Erica Temple participated in the African Explorer ride in August of 2019 and generously shared some photos of the experience. This ride starts in South Africa at Horizon Ranch’s permanent tented camp, where guests enjoy an introduction to the... Read more
Rides in Italy can easily meet the criteria for a successful riding holiday: beautiful scenery and countryside to ride through, interesting history and culture, delicious local food and wine, good horses and elegant accommodation. This is all easily apparent... Read more
In early April of 2018 I was excited to be heading off to Catalonia, to participate in the Mediterranean Trail, covering about 100 miles in 5 days. After a long Wyoming winter – March and April are tough months... Read more
Several years ago I had the pleasure of experiencing a few wonderful and fun filled days at the Rancho Puesto del Sol. Going over some new photos from the outfitter brought back lovely memories from this visit and I'm... Read more
Ean Cuthbert, a guest with Equitours on the March 2020 Grand Canyon ride in Arizona, put together this slide show of photos and video clips and graciously shared with us.... Read more
Join a Live Webinar with Equine Photographer Gabriele Boiselle. In February of 2020 equine photographer and friend of Equitours, Gabriele Boiselle, traveled with Mel Fox to Tanzania on the Serengeti Migration ride. She is hosting a live webinar on... Read more
This year in the Serengeti was perhaps my favorite ride ever. Catching up with the famous wildebeest and zebra migration of 1.3 million animals is a hit and miss affair, because it is totally dependent on rainfall. The rains... Read more
A big draw of this ride is Victoria Falls, one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World. It was only a half hour drive from our small, charming lodge with a very active waterhole; impala, eland, zebra, elephant... Read more
In 6 hours of travel the road went from tarmac to murrum to sandy tracks with countless gates leading from one fazenda to another. We finally pulled up beneath a large grove of mature mango trees with numerous little... Read more
The Pushkar Fair and Diwali Festival ride combines many aspects of the ancient, exotic charm of Rajasthan with some splendid, fast riding on beautiful Marwari endurance horses. In the last 40 years since we began Equitours I have taken... Read more
A short trip from mainland Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are home to a stunning array of wildlife. A key part of Darwin’s journey in developing his theory of evolution, the islands have long fascinated mankind. Equitours is able to... Read more
I was part of a group of 6 on the Liberty ride in Sardinia, everyone had a great week and enjoyed it a lot. We were able to observe the Sant'Efisio festival in Cagliari, which was colorful and interesting.... Read more