Horseback safaris and riding along the beach or through vineyards are some of the options for tourists who want to discover the wildest parts of South Africa
One of the best ways to enjoy South African wildlife is on horseback, either on a safari (only suitable for advanced riders), along picture-perfect beaches, or riding through the rolling vineyards of the Western Cape.
Horseback riding lets the rider get closer to wildlife so that they can even feel part of it. To get the most out of this experience, South Africa Tourism recommends three areas in particular for horse riding:
Horseback safari in Waterberg, Limpopo
Waterberg, in the province of Limpopo, is one of the least visited regions in the country, a vast expanse of gorges and rolling hills with a blueish hue gently covered with grass and heather.
The best way to visit this region is on a horseback safari: as it means that the local wildlife – elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, buffaloes, oryxes and much more, including 250 species of birds – is less disturbed by human presence.
Instead of standing back as mere observers, visitors become part of the circle of life. Although at first glance it might look like an active holiday, horseback rides are a very relaxed and leisurely way to enjoy the savannah, especially compared to other safaris.
If you want to book a private tour, please check with local tourist agencies or lodges. The Ant Collection, for example, has two accommodation options in the Waterberg Reserve, Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest.
Both offer a wide variety of safaris (on horseback, on foot, by bike and much more) during the day and even at night, as well as some unique experiences, like celebrating a fairytale wedding.
For those who would prefer a longer experience, African Horse Safaris organises 6-day tours on horseback to try and spot the Big Five. The ride, which is only suitable for advanced riders, takes a route through 35,000 acres of varied terrain and offers breathtaking panoramic views with magical sunsets.
The package includes accommodation in three luxury camps: Wait A Little Camp, XiDulu Camp and Beacon Rock Camp. Wait A Little, located in the Karongwe Game Reserve, also has a 3-month programme that allows advanced riders and animal lovers to work with the horses, taking care of them and learning the secrets of the trade through first-hand experience, field research and visits to farms.
Horseback rides along the Wild Coast, Western Cape
Riding along the South African Wild Coast while you spot whales and dolphins is a must for those who love nature and adventure. This region is easily accessible, although it is one of the most remote coasts in South Africa.
From East London on the Eastern Cape to Port Edward and the southern border of KwaZulu-Natal, the region has some of the most spectacularly beautiful coastlines in the world.
It is a region with steep green hills, rocky cliff faces, untouched golden beaches, forests, indomitable waves and countless shipwrecks. This unspoiled coastline offers some wild experiences along vast stretches of empty beaches and through the rolling hills of the ancient Transkei homeland.
This activity is perfect for couples and families alike. Couples can enjoy romantic walks and spend the night in luxury accommodation, while families can make it a fun activity during their holidays.
Visitors can also integrate into the local community and get to know the Xhosa, who are warm, friendly and experts on the local flora and fauna.
Horse riding routes through the Western Cape Winelands
Known as one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa, the Western Cape Winelands offer breathtaking landscapes if you want to go horseback riding through lush vineyards and orchards.
Stunning mountains provide a spectacular backdrop, along with farms with a rich history and luxurious wine estates. Thanks to its magnificent natural beauty, rich cultural heritage and world-renowned wines, the Winelands region is synonymous with the very best that the Cape has to offer.
The combination of the impressive surroundings with a horseback ride through some of South Africa’s best-known vineyards makes this a magical experience. Packages normally include wine tastings and luxury dinners and allow guests the choice between a five-star boutique hotel, a mid-range hostel or a homestead-type accommodation on a farm.
Most of these experiences include sunset tours during the summer months (from October to March) with the option of marriage proposals on horseback, followed by a romantic picnic.