African Explorer

8 Days  |  From £2119pp

South Africa ( Best airport: Johannesburg)

The African Explorer is a horseback safari which encompasses two riding destinations, one in the Waterberg region of Limpopo in South Africa and the other in the ancient and undisturbed landscapes of the Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. Spread over eight days (seven nights) the safari entails riding first across the game rich plains, wetlands and mountain landscapes in South Africa, and then, once transferred by road to Botswana, along the Limpopo River floodplains and up into the heart of the Mashatu Reserve, with regular sightings of Africa’s most charismatic wildlife species. This combination of an introduction to riding in Africa with non-dangerous game, followed by encounters on horseback with elephant, spotted hyena and often lion, cheetah and leopard, while experiencing two African countries on one safari, has won the African Explorer a global reputation as one of the most accessible and
varied riding experiences in Africa. The three other ingredients which make the African Explorer so special are the quality of the horses, the professionalism of the guides, and the hospitality provided in the three unique and memorable camps, and one luxury lodge, used along the way.

The Riding

This week-long trail is the perfect way to ease you into riding with dangerous game. The first few days in South Africa will get you accustomed to the tack and terrain before you head off to Botswana to ride amongst elephants, hyenas and possibly a big cat or two! For those that want to, you can swim with your horse and jump some natural obstacles.

Level of Riding and Fitness

It is crucially important for the safety and enjoyment of the whole group that riders wishing to book the African Explorer are at least intermediate riders. While the journey is not an endurance test, it does involve long hours in the saddle and, with the possibility of close encounters with elephant and the big cats in Botswana, riders need to be able to control their mounts gently and confidently. You should be able to mount and dismount unaided. Good riding fitness is expected as you’ll be spending 4-7 hours in the saddle each day.

Before each safari, every rider will take a short riding test to ensure they are competent enough for the safari and fall into the above guideline. The decision of the manager conducting the test is final. Hard hats are mandatory and the weight limit is 95kg.

Guides and Group Size

The guides have many years of experience in leading safaris and they have grown up in the area. They know the bush like the back of their hand and are qualified by the Botswanan Qualifications Authority.

Maximum number of riders in a group is 8.

The Horses

The hosts here take great care to match horse to rider based on a guest’s riding experience and professed ability. The horses are predominantly boerperds, together with a mixture of warmbloods, Appaloosas and Friesians. They are all well schooled, forward going but calm horses. The horses have been carefully chosen for their temperament, courage, endurance and responsiveness.

The saddles used are South African McClellans. They are designed for the cavalry and ideal for long hours of riding. Small saddlebags are provided.


Accommodation and Dining

Camp Davidson (Day 1-2)
Camp Davidson was modelled on the old ‘outspan’ camps of E.A. Davidson when he was selling goods across the area from his
wagon in the early 1900s. Your hosts have captured the early camp atmosphere in Camp Davidson. Beautiful, decked canvas tents are nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy game filled valleys. Each luxury tent has an ensuite bathroom. The camp is completely run on solar energy and has a small swimming pool.

Bellevue Lodges (Savannah & Seringa) (Day 3)
Savannah Lodge is on the southwestern side of the conservancy, while Seringa Lodge is on the southeastern side. Both lodges are tastefully decorated with a large comfortable living space and dining areas inside and outside. Both have a small pool which overlooks a plain where the wildlife frequent.

Tree Camp (Day 4 & 7)
Wrapped around the trunks of a giant mashatu and two ancient leadwood trees, Tree Camp perches several meters up, out of "elephant trunk’s reach" overlooking the banks of the Majale River and offers spectacular panoramic views of the adjacent cliffs and floodplain opposite where Mashatu's legendary herds roam. Sleeping quarters are five beautiful and spacious canvas roofed areas with four-poster beds, each facing into the spacious dining and resting area. The elevated platform offers a unique camp you will remember for years to come.

The Kgotla (Day 6)
The Kgotla is an old tribal court from a nearby community, which was relocated to the banks of the Motloutse River on the western periphery of Mashatu. The boma is an open-air traditional African enclosure made up of leadwood logs. There is hot running water, beautiful open-air showers and flushing toilets, the perfect combination of necessary comforts and an authentic bush experience. Guests sleep on beds around a large log fire which sits on a hearth in the center of the boma.


African Explorer

8 days / 7 nights / 6 full days of riding

Single supplement is 50% of the ride cost for single riders who do not want to share with another rider

Do NOT book flights until you have received the ‘Booking Confirmation Email’ from

Please plan your flight to arrive at Johannesburg airport (South Africa) by 9:30am on Day 1 of your holiday. Your departure flight on Day 8 of your holiday should be after 8pm.

Road and flight transfers cost approx £490 return in 2024 per person and are provided by Saddlebag Shuttles. On arrival, there is a road transfer from the airport to the first camp. On Day 4 you are transferred by road to Botswana. On the final day you will be booked onto a charter flight from Botswana back to Johannesburg.

Other Expenses
Only a conservation levy ($20 per night in support of the Northern Tuli Game Reserve (NORTUGRE) conservation initiatives), optional Mashatu game drive ($75 pp), gratuities and curios are payable locally by card or cash (US$ GBP, Euros, Pula or Rand).

Price Includes
  • 6 full days of riding
  • Shorter rides on arrival and departure days
  • Shared accommodation
  • All meals
  • Drinks
  • Bush walks
  • Sundowners
  • Laundry
  • All arrangements for duration of holiday
  • Services of guides
Price Excludes
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Tips
  • Botswana conservation levy ($20 USD per person per night in Botswana)
  • Optional game drive in Botswana ($75pp)