Wednesday, May 14, 2008

HORSE TRAILS

HORSE TRAILS
 
Horse riding in Mpumalanga
©South African Tourism

There are loads of places in South Africa and southern Africa where you can do a gentle day ride on the outskirts of cities or in popular tourist spots, but there are also some excellent multi-day horse trails and pony treks.

If you've always wanted to canter along a beach with the wind in your hair you could do a short day ride in Cape Town, at Buffalo Bay near Knysna, near Port Elizabeth, or in Maputaland in KwaZulu-Natal. For a real beach fix, you could do a multi-day horse trail in the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park in KwaZulu-Natal, or a fabulous community run multi-day trek along the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

Horse riding into a Gauteng sunset
©South African Tourism

In Cape Town, you can amble from cellar to cellar doing a horseback wine tasting tour and, in KZN, you can relive historical battles by riding across the fields of action.

The mountains offer fabulous riding. You can do short rides or multi-day trails in the Porterville and Cederberg Mountains near Cape Town, a wonderful trail in the Kaapsehoop Mountains in Mpumalanga, where you often hook up with feral horses, and there is some great riding in the Drakensberg in KwaZulu-Natal. But the ultimate mountain riding is in the small Kingdom of Lesotho. Here you can do a community run pony trek where you ride across the high mountains from village to village on scruffy, hardy mountain ponies. Not a glamorous option but a real adventure.

Drakensberg horse trail
©South African Tourism

Horseback safaris, in which you ride through real big game territory, are virtually exclusive to Africa. You just don't get this kind of game anywhere else. You can do a short ride on a game farm near Pretoria, or a great day ride in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park, near Port Elizabeth. There are fabulous multi-day horseback safaris in the Waterberg and the Lowveld of Limpopo Province, in the Kalahari in the Northern Cape, in the Okavango Delta and the Tuli Block of Botswana, in the Mavuradona Wilderness of Zimbabwe, and near Livingstone in Zambia. A fabulous trail in the high lying Nyika Plateau of Malawi does offer sightings of game but it is primarily about scenery.

Probably the most unusual, most taxing and most mind-blowing horse trails in southern Africa, though, are those through the deserts of Namibia.

Horse riding in the Stinkruid

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