What makes Africa’s riding holidays so luxurious? A local riding friend asked me recently about a riding safari I’d suggested for his family “Will it be smart enough for my wife?” His fears abated as I explained how African riding companies make multi-day trips as comfortable as you want – luxurious if necessary – and lots and lots of fun.
Riding safari horses
The Church family has been running riding safaris in Kenya since 1971. Son Gordie picked up the reins [pun intended] from pioneering father Tony recently. They pride themselves on the horses they offer guests. As Gordie explains “What is a safari company without its horses. Hand-picked, living in the wild on our ranch roaming free with the big game, loved, cherished, and meticulously schooled purely to carry our guests safely on safari into the wilds of Africa”.
Meals on a riding safari
Describing themselves as “roughing-it in great style” Singita’s Explore Camp can be part of a multi-day luxury riding safari in Tanzania within Singita’s huge private area alongside the Serengeti.
Manager Alison explains how they ensure riders are looked after as well as horses “After several hours riding, the horses take a break and out comes the picnic, amazing how 2 saddle bags can hold such a treasure trove of freshly prepared mouth watering snacks!”
The chefs at Singita welcome you to camp with refreshing drinks and dips and homemade goodies are laid in front of you while supper is cooked over a campfire, adding smoky aromas to a meal that could grace the dinner table of any restaurant.
While Singita chefs are whipping up miracles on an open fire, the Safaris Unlimited team are “the finest safari crew in Africa”, according to Gordie. “You’ll get fresh tea or roasted coffee delivered at dawn to your bedside before a full-Monty breakfast as the sun rises. Later in the day it’s bloody Marys in the bush and the finest Pink Gin this side of the equator for sundowners.”
Riding out on safari from Ol Donyo Lodge in the Chyulu Hills of Kenya, guests at this Great Plains Conservation lodge may come across a table, groaning with food and drink, laid up in the shade of an acacia tree. While grooms ensure the horses’ needs are met, riders can slake their thirst and replace lost energy with views of Kilimanjaro’s majestic peak in the distance.
Luxury riding accommodation
From a small smart safari lodge as a base to ride out from each day, to a simple hammock slung between a pair of trees, accommodation on a riding safari can be as luxurious as you wish.
Gordie Church asks the rhetorical question “Who else in Africa moves over 15 tons of chic private-canvas every other day on a classic mobile safari across Masailand? Double beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets, ice, large canvas tents each with their own thunder-box and shower, imported Italian wines and numerous other pieces of campaign furniture.”
A luxury riding safari is different things to different people. To some it’s the stillness of an early morning and the exclusivity gazing out across an empty open plain. To others it’s the quality of horses and tack or the magnificence of fine dining under an acacia tree on the Masai Mara. Whatever ‘luxury riding safari’ means to you, there’s a wide range of options throughout Africa, so grab your jodhpurs and head to the bush.
Richard Smith is Operations Director at Aardvark Safaris.
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