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South Africa, Karongwe Nature Reserve

In addition to the "Big Five" (leopard, buffalo, rhino, elephant and lion), this nature reserve located right near the Kruger Park has all the wildlife you can imagine such as hyenas, hippos, giraffes, baboons and antelopes. This is where you go if you want to get the most out of your riding safari. Along with your guide you move in the footprints of wild animal from "bush camp" to "bush camp". On these unique safaris, you get to see the "Big Five" from horseback. They are high quality safaris and you need to be very confident in the saddle.

You can choose between a year-round 5- or 7-day safari. Daily programs can be found further down the page.

The owners are Gerti and Philip. They are both incredibly dedicated and knowledgeable about wildlife and this stunning part of South Africa.

These safaris are unique in many ways. In a small group with a maximum of 7 riders, you ride through Africa’s animal-rich wilderness. Your guides are specially trained and have worked with both lions and elephants. Every day you will see different animals including elephants, rhinos, hyenas, hippos, buffaloes, giraffes, leopards, lions, zebras and monkeys.

The camp is located in a 14,000 hectare (35,000 acre) animal sanctuary only 45 minutes from the Kruger National Park, between Hoedspruit and Tzaneen in Limpopo Province.

This is the most popular safari and it is available all year round. Arrival is on a Saturday at lunchtime and after a safety briefing your first safari ride begins. You stay in base camp three nights and explore the surroundings. On the fourth day, you ride to Beacon Rock and sleep under the stars. In the morning, you ride to the next beautiful camp where you stay for two nights. You then have a long ride back to base camp and one last night together.

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Accommodation and Food

You stay in three different camps during ride:

Base camp: You will stay here the first three nights and the last night in luxurious large two-man tents standing on platforms with private verandas. You have a private shower / toilet with jungle views. You can shower while watching a baboon strolling by! There is a bar and a house where you eat your beautiful dinners. There is beer, wine and soft drinks at the bar whenever you want. There is also a pool.

Beacon Rock: You sleep on mattresses on a rock under the sky. A large bonfire is lit and it is lovely to lie there and listen to all the animal noises in the night.

XiDulu: You stay in luxury bungalows with private shower / toilet. The camp is located at a pond where there are hippos.

Safe deposit box: No
A/C: No
Hair Dryer: Yes
Towels and sheets: Yes
Fridge: No

Horses and Riding

The horses are very well trained and friendly and have a good life here. On days when they are not being ridden, they live completely free in the herd without fences. In the evening, they return to the stables to get food and rest there during the night when it is dangerous for them to be out. In the morning, they are fed and released again. The horses are mainly a breed called the South African Boerperd, a beautiful, delicate and very alert horse that is also spirited and courageous. Other horses include purebred Arabian, Appaloosa, Thoroughbred crosses and half-bloods. They are 145-165 cm (57-65 in) at the withers. Of the 22 horses, there are horses suitable for those who are competitive riders and for those who prefer a more stable horse. You can try several horses until you find one that suits you.

All horses are ridden English style. You ride with light contact on the horse's mouth and you stand in the stirrups when galloping to save the horses' backs. The horses are very sensitive in the mouth.

The saddles are custom designed for trail rides (not Western saddles). There are also normal English saddles for those who prefer. The equipment is high quality and kept in top condition.

You ride 3-7 hours per day.

Wildlife and Safety

There is plenty of wildlife in the area such as elephant, rhino, leopard, wild dog, hyena, giraffe, zebra, ibex, jackals, baboons, turtle, hippo, crocodile, monkey, lion and buffalo. However, the reserve is very large so you are not guaranteed to see all these animals.

Philip and Gerti lead all the rides and they are highly trained guides and hunters. There is a maximum of 6 riders and another guide rides at the back of the group. All camps and vehicles have radio contact. Philip and Gerti also have radio contact with researchers in the area so they can keep an eye on where the lion prides are located.

A security briefing is held before the ride starts so that you know how to act around wild animals.

Program

This ride is shortened at certain times to 5 nights when you will not ride to the camp at Makhutswe River, but rather you will you ride back to base camp after a night under the stars.

This is an example of the weekly program. It may change due to local circumstances. No two weeks are the same with wild animals moving about in the large reserve. Some weeks you can get to see lots of giraffe while another week you may only see a few. 

Day 1
If you have ordered a transfer, you will be picked up at the airport and driven to the camp. Your guide and the safari’s owner, Philip, will welcome you. After a review of safety rules and something light to eat you embark on your first safari ride. You might see your first giraffe or zebra. The sunset over the Drakensberg Mountains is the perfect backdrop to the generous three-course dinner with carefully selected South African wines that will be served in the dining area. The accommodation for the first three nights is comfortable safari tents with showers and toilets, built on a platform over the Makhutswe River.

Day 2
You will be woken by the smell of freshly brewed coffee and tea. After a light continental breakfast you continue your hunt for wild animals. The weather determines how the day will go, if it is cool you can be out all day and ride to a large pond where crocodiles can be seen. Even eagles and hippos like this area. For lunch, you will enjoy the picnic you have brought with you under the shade of a tree. Then, you continue to follow the wild animal tracks. Suddenly, Philip stops as he sees traces of a cheetah. He immediately follows to ensure you get a chance to see these beautiful felines, the world’s fastest land-animal. If you are lucky, you can see them hunt or perhaps find them relaxing in the grass. What an awesome animal and a great wildlife experience!

Day 3
While you listen to the sound of a roaring cheetah during the night, Philip is finding its tracks along the river's edge and you ride off in the morning to see this impressive cat. When you find it, there is an almost spiritual silence as you witness this animal in complete freedom. Lunch is served on the terrace at base camp: fresh salad, pizza, quiche, cheese and cold cuts. After a siesta, you wake to the fragrant smell of a homemade cake. You can relax by the pool. Then you head off with the jeep and visit an interesting buffalo project where you have the opportunity to study and learn more about this impressive animal.

Day 4
Philip follows the tracks of animals he finds. If it is traces an elephant, it usually leads to the Kufunyame River, where large trees and high river grass provide good elephant food. In the afternoon, you pack up your things and load the bags into the support car to take them to the next camp. You go there on horseback. The ride heads south and you pass the twin Lion and Leopard rocks. The soft paths offer great opportunities for long gallops. Giraffes, zebras or wild boar might be keen to join in. Sometimes, Philip stops suddenly and jumps off his horse to examine the ground, he might have found traces of rhino and you take the chance to track them, of course. Beacon Rock Camp is located high on a cliff overlooking the Low Veld. If you climb up to the top, you get a great view of the area. You set up camp under the stars with a lovely fire to warm you. It is very exciting to lie there at night and listen to the sounds of wild dogs, hyenas and jackal.

Day 5
You wake up at sunrise and light the fire to get a refreshing cup of coffee. Then it's time for the longest ride of the safari. You ride into Makalali Reserve, which is dominated by vast open plains where you can suddenly find yourself galloping side by side with giraffes, zebras and wild boar. Spectacular views over great distances show the way to XiDulu, your camp for the next two nights. XiDulu is built at the edge of a pond where hippos live. You can experience the wildlife from the deck of your cabin or a viewing platform or, even better, while enjoying a dip in the pool. The rooms are all equipped with showers, baths, air conditioning and a large veranda. Elephants often come here for a swim during the day, while at night lions and hyenas can often be seen or heard near the camp.

Day 6
Today you ride off to explore the surrounding area, sometimes at a gallop and sometimes riding through the jungle-like vegetation, which Philip calls "bushwhacking". You never know what you will find. Changing direction suddenly when you see something interesting, you might jump over a fallen tree that has been felled by an elephant. The horses find it as much fun as you do. Up on a high cliff, you see mile after mile of South Africa's unspoiled scenery laid out before you, ready to be explored. After the afternoon siesta, you have the opportunity to accompany Patson on a game drive or take a ride in the surrounding area.

Day 7
A long day's ride ahead of you. You never know what animals you will encounter. The area has lion, elephant, rhino and giraffe. Philip follows the tracks he finds, so there may be many detours before you arrive "home" again. Once you get home again, a beautiful meal awaits and everyone is anxious to hear what animals you have seen and what happened while you were away. The last sunset can be a little sad, maybe you have ‘ South African fever’ and do not want to leave this beautiful place ... Gerti serves a special farewell dinner that may include delicious meats served with fresh pasta and sherry sauce, which is obviously served with good South African wines.

Day 8
You wake up early to catch one last ride so that you leave with high-paced memories of this amazing safari.

A minimum of 3 and a maximum of seven riders.

Climate

There is sun virtually all year round. During the summer (October to March) is average temperature of about 30 C (86 F) and at night it may rain. During the winter (April to September) is about 25 C (77 F) during the day and cold at night (it could be 5 C / 40 F at nights in June and July).

Travel Information

Ability description: Trail Ride Level 3 >>

Included in the price: Accomodation, riding according to program. Full board incl. wine/beer, soft drinks at base camp.

Not included: Flights, transfers, insurance, drinks and extras not mentioned.

Travel: Book flight >>
Flight: To Johannesburg and then onwards to Hoedspruit with South African Airlink >>.

Transfer: Book in advance with HorseXplore and pay on spot.
From Hoedspruit to riding center. Preferred arrival time to Hoedspruit with the afternoon flight around 1.30 pm and departure from Hoedspruit around 2.00 pm.

Malaria: This area is a low risk area for malaria, but it can occur. The camp is located next to a river but there are rarely any mosquitoes. Talk to your doctor / vaccination center about possible malaria prophylaxis for Limpopo province.

Accommodation: Most nights in "luxury tents", one night under the stars. You must be prepared to share a tent, but if there is a vacant tent, you may use it without any single supplement being applied. 

Currency: South African Rand, ZAR. 
Credit card: Not accepted at the riding center, the best it to withdraw money at the airport in South Africa, which gives the best exchange rate. At the riding center you can pay cash with ZAR, USD, GBP or EUR.
Tipping: Not required but appreciated, normally around 50EUR/week.

Wifi: Yes at base camp.
Electricity jack: 220V, adapter is available.

Group size: 3-7 riders.
Age limit:
12 years old.

Closest village: 1 hour drive.
Beach: No
Pool: Yes

Misc..:
Riding equipment to borrow: Helmet, chaps and raincoats, but recommended to bring your own.
Saddle bag available: Yes
Special diet: Inform when booking.

Dates and prices

DateDaysName of tripPrice from
11/02/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
25/02/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
18/03/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
1 place left
EUR 4,085Book on request
25/03/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
08/04/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
15/04/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
22/04/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
20/05/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
10/06/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
17/06/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
24/06/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
01/07/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
08/07/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
15/07/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
12/08/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
19/08/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
26/08/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
02/09/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
16/09/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
23/09/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
30/09/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
07/10/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
14/10/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
21/10/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
28/10/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
04/11/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
18/11/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
25/11/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
02/12/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,085Book on request
09/12/20238South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,085Book on request
06/01/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
13/01/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
20/01/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
27/01/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
03/02/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
10/02/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
17/02/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
24/02/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
16/03/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
23/03/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
30/03/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
13/04/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
20/04/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five Safari
Fully booked
EUR 4,245Book on request
11/05/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
18/05/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
25/05/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
01/06/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
08/06/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
15/06/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
22/06/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
06/07/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
13/07/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
20/07/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
27/07/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
03/08/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
10/08/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
17/08/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
14/09/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
21/09/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
28/09/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
05/10/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
12/10/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
19/10/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
26/10/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
09/11/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
16/11/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
23/11/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
30/11/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
07/12/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request
14/12/20248South Africa, Karongwe - Big Five SafariEUR 4,245Book on request

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