Horseback safaris in South Africa

Horse riding trails in South Africa are as diverse as the terrain. You can take a brisk canter along a beach, an amble through vineyards, a fast ride across sweeping grasslands or a meander through magnificent mountain scenery.

If you’re comfortable on a horse, you can ride among some big game. If you’re not, there are some easier options where the game is not likely to consider eating you (or your mount).

Trips range from an hour or two on the outskirts of cities to multi-day treks in the wilderness; in some places you can even do moonlit rides at full moon.

If you’d like to get in some hunting while you’re in South Africa, note that we only offer drag hunts. Everything – dress, formalities, hounds – is traditional but the “fox” is a jackal-scented bag dragged by a hunt member. Drag hunting is run by the Rand Hunt Club near Johannesburg, and by the Cape Hunt and Polo Club in and around Cape Town.

ORGANISATIONS, PORTALS

Cape Nature Conservation administers a number of horse trails in the Western Cape.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife offers horse riding in the conservation areas and parks of KwaZulu-Natal.

The KwaZulu-Natal Tourism Authority lists some of the better known horseback adventures in the province.

Trail Linx provides a comprehensive list of horse trails in South Africa.

OPERATORS, TRAILS

Adventure Purists offers various adventure package tours across South Africa, including horse trails.

African Horse Company offers short outrides and 2- to 10-day overnight trails in the Cape Town, Hermanus, Stanford and Overberg areas of the Western Cape. Through the fynbos of the Cape Floral Kingdom – a world heritage site – the rides cover rugged mountain terrain and kilometres of wide beach and dune coastline.

Amadiba Trails is a community project on the Eastern Cape Wild Coast, running trails with a few days’ horseriding, a bit of paddling, some hiking, lots of scenery and close interaction with the local community.

Badsberg lists a number of horse-riding trails in the ‘do’ section.

Bare Hoof Horse Trails offers trail rides just outside Stellenbosch, over wine farms, through the vineyards and fynbos, to the top of the historical Bottelary hills. There are magnificent views of Stellenbosch, its mountains, False Bay and even Table Mountain. Special outings include picnics, wine-tasting or watching a spectacular sunrise or sunset.

Berg Trails, on the Sans Souci Farm in the Kamberg Valley, features a short one-day trail or a two- day trail in the Drakensberg that includes overnighting in tents in the mountains. Tailor-made trails are also available.

Bhangazi Horse Safaris offers day and multi-day rides around Lake Bhangazi and Lake St Lucia in northern KwaZulu-Natal. You can also combine a horse ride with a paddling trip.

Biggarsberg Horse Trails on Larksend Farm near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal offers the novice and experienced rider the opportunity to combine the excitement of horseback riding and the comfort of first-class accommodation in an area of great natural beauty.

Bokpoort Horseback Adventures has short rides near a farm in the eastern Free State or multi- day trails that hug the Lesotho border and head up into the mountains. Choose between comfortable, affordable accommodation and budget, backpacker-style accommodation.

Colin’s Horseback Africa Safaris, based outside Pretoria in Gauteng, offers riders the chance to see game on short day rides. Beginners will feel particularly secure, while experienced riders may have a short canter when the terrain permits.

The Danielsrust Horse Trails cross some of the last remaining big farms in Gauteng. Situated in the Kromdraai Conservancy, 40km from Johannesburg, one can view over 700 head of game from horseback. Trails take you through the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve, and you can also visit the spectacular Wonder Cave.

Der Kap Ritt offers unique eco-friendly horse trails in the Western Cape of South Africa including Big Five Game Drives and whale spotting with an English/German speaking guide. Three different trails make their way through the spectacular landscapes of South Africa. Each day includes rides through remote, varied, and breathtaking landscapes; think long white beaches, wetlands, wine orchards, wheat fields, semi-desert, mountains and fields of wild flowers.

Equus Horse Safaris , a pioneer of luxury horse safaris in South Africa, offers trails through unspoilt mountain wilderness in the Waterberg in Limpopo province, with a variety of wildlife to be seen. The sweeping grasslands of the main valleys offer fast riding, while the mountainous areas can be explored at a slower pace.

Excelsior Farm, an organic peach and nectarine farm high above Piketberg in the Western Cape, offers short rides through scenic mountains and orchards. Self-catering accommodation is available, and you can organise overnight trails.

Far and Ride is a UK-based horse riding tour operator with a range of destinations in South Africa, including the Wild Coast, the Western Cape, and a couple of options in the Waterberg region of Limpopo.

Fynbos Trails specialises in a variety of horse trails and adventures near Cape Town, varying from half-day trails to a three-day trail through the Berg River Valley.

Grootbos Nature Reserve, an upmarket lodge near Hermanus in the Western Cape, offers scenic horse rides for guests.

Harties Horse Trail Safaris is located on the beautiful Groot Verlange Stud Farm in Hartbeespoort, alongside the Zilkaatsnek Nature Reserve. It a scenic setting for an enticing variety of individually-tailored outrides, which are also fantastic for viewing wildlife.

The four-star Hog Hollow Country Lodge is a great getaway for all ages. Set on the edge of the Matjies River gorge in the pristine Tsitsikamma near Plettenberg Bay on South Africa’s Garden Route, it offers wonderful surroundings for horse trail riding.

Horizon Horseback Adventures and Safaris is based in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The Horizon Horseback Lodge is set on a picturesque lake with the 2 500 acre reserve, which includes animals such as hippos, giraffe, kudu, eland, zebra, and impala. Safaris also take place further afield, including in the Waterberg and in Botswana.

Horse About Trails is an-hour-and-a-half’s drive from Cape Town, in the picturesque Witzenberg Valley, between the towns of Tulbagh, Wolseley and Ceres. There, horse riding for all abilities is on offer, with horse trails and activities starting from the home base in the beautiful Fable Wine Farm.

Horse Trail Safaris operates out of Cape Town and offers trails of up to 14 days in duration. They explore the natural beauty of various areas of the Cape, and also take place in Namibia.

Horseback Riding in South Africa provides information on a number of different safaris, including in the bushveld, at the coast, and across the border into Botswana.

The Imhoff Equestrian Centre is located in Noordhoek, not far from Cape Town. Noordhoek is well known for its beautiful, amazingly wide beach and the Imhoff Equestrian Centre offers guided two-hour beach rides alongside the beautiful ocean, with Chapman’s Peak in the background. There are three rides daily.

Kaapsehoop Horse Trails runs day and multi-day trips in the mountainous area of Kaapsehoop in Mpumalanga province. A big attraction is the opportunity to link up with the wild horses that roam the area.

Khotso Adventure Farm is a working horse and sheep farm, 1 300 hectares in size, located at the foot of the southern Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu-Natal. Experienced guides lead trails of varying lengths and for various levels of riders, including swim and ride and Sundowner options. Apart from horse trails, Khotso also offers self-catering accommodation, which is ideal for backpackers and families.

Klein Paradys Equestrian Centre is located in Bot River in the Western Cape. They have a variety of trails, raning from a one-hour vineyard trail for those who have not ridden previously up to five-day packages that explore the scenic Overberg, including beaches, mountains, apple orchards and vineyards. Wine tasting trails are another exciting option.

Mkulu Kei Horse Trails operate on the Sunshine Coast of the Eastern Cape along stunning beaches, among rivers and rolling hills, in areas rich with marine, bird- and wildlife. The coastline is also steeped in South African history. Super fit Arab crosses are provided, along with a guide from a conservation background with deep knowledge of the area. Picnic lunches are provided and at night B&Bs offer comfortable accommodation, hot baths and good food.

Mount Cedar , at the southern entrance to the Cedarberg Conservancy, has beautiful landscapes and scenery, ideal for exploring on horseback. Rides take in, among others, bushman paintings, waterfalls, ruins, and beautiful valleys.

Mountain View Horse Trails is located about 20 minutes from Cape Town, off the N7 highway. Various scenic trails, passing through farm lands and overs hills, are on offer, from an hour in length to full day rides that end at sunset.

Off Beat Safaris runs the Horse and Conservation Project, about 12 kilometres from Hoedspruit in Limpopo. It offers opportunities for gap year voulunteers to learn about horses and wild animals through a variety of equestrian studies and horse riding activities, lectures on horses and conservation, and individual study guides.

The Oribi Gorge Hotel, Conference and Adventure Resort, on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, has a wide variety of exciting adventure experiences to offer. Horse riding takes place at Lake Eland Game Reserve and the Oribi Gorge Hotel in beautiful surroundings.

Riding South Africa operates from Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Private Bush Homes and offers excellent game viewing in the Waterberg in Limpopo province. From horseback you are able to get closer to the wildlife, blending in with the bush.

SA Horse Trails feature over 1 600 hectares of outrides right on Joburg’s doorstep. With no set route, every horse ride is an adventure. Spectacular routes through the Northern Farm Nature Reserve offer both challenging and technical outrides and gentle bird watching meanders. Training for various objectives is also available. Contact Debbie on (Tel +27 (0)82 5334545).

Saddle Creek Ranch is located in the Hekpoort Valley, in the foothills of the beautiful Magaliesberg Mountains. Horseback riding, western style, is offered on well-trained trail horses, with a variety of rides into the bushveld and mountain foothills. Trained trail guides and a trained staff member accompany all rides.

Southern Comfort Ranch is located halfway between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna on the picturesque Garden Route. It offers two daily rides in the Knysna Forest, accompanied by experienced guides. If four-legged rides are not enough for the adventurous, quad bikes and 4×4 driving are other options. Accommodation is also available for backpackers, campers, and in self-catering cottages.

Thornview Horse Trails near Potchefstroom in North West province offers horse trails across more than 4 000 hectares of rolling grass plains. Ranch outrides, pleasure rides, horse training using natural horsemanship methods, mounted game days, horse camps, tented camp safaris … or just riding across the veld for the sheer joy of it.

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, a luxurious Relais & Chateau resort deep in the Northern Cape desert, offers riding for guests.

Wait a Little Horse Trails, based in the Karongwe Conservancy, a Big Five reserve in the Limpopo lowveld, offers big game trails for a maximum of four guests. Choose between staying in luxury tented accommodation and riding out each day, or moving from one spot to another, alternating between camping and lodges. Guides speak English and German.

Wild Coast Horse Trails operates from Sunray Farm, on the Kei Mouth Road, in the Eastern Cape. They offer day rides in and around Kei Mouth and Morgan Bay. Horseback safaris range from two nights and three days to eight days and nights. Personalised safaris can also be arranged, as can beach riding adventures. For those on a gap year, working riding holidays, ranging from four to six weeks, are on offer.

Wine Valley Horse Trails operates on the Rhebokskloof Estate and up into the surrounding Paarl Nature Reserve, about 60 kilometres north of Cape Town. They offer different trails in the beautiful winelands, including a special three-hour beach ride in Cape Town, on request. Trails may also include wine tasting.

Xplora Tours, based in Hermanus in the Western Cape, offers custom-designed adventure tours and coast-based activities, including horseriding.

SAinfo reporter and South African Tourism

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