Let’s face it, the travel bug is fierce. It latches on when you least expect it, and once bitten, travel addicts are forever changed and gloriously incurable. We continually seek new thrills, new adventures, new menus and new memories. It’s an insatiable, yet totally sane, desire to travel further, witness unthinkable landscapes, learn new things, meet different cultures, capture Instagram-worthy photos and give back along the way. Simply put, today’s wanderlusters seek to explore … beyond.
Perhaps you’ve already seen the Big Five on safari, tracked tigers in the dense jungles of India, exchanged glances with a mighty silverback in the rainforests of Rwanda, meandered amongst the snowy jagged peaks and aquamarine lakes of Torres del Paine, pushed yourself up the steep, sacred path to Tiger’s Nest, and floated peacefully in a hot air balloon over some of the world’s mightiest sand dunes in the Namib Desert. Been-there-done-that travellers seek more … which, we’re proud to say, is our area of expertise: taking travellers beyond.
If you’re looking for that next fix to help, maybe not cure, but manage your intensifying wanderlust, why not head out on horseback to explore some of the world’s most unusual and unexpected landscapes? Go somewhere you’ve never been before. Do something you’ve never dreamed of. Say yes to adventure and let it change the way you see the world.
Travel is a healthy addiction. We encourage it.
Here are 10 horseback holidays of a lifetime.
1. Watch a polo match in the foothills of the Himalaya
Known as Little Tibet (and home of the elusive Mountain Ghost itself), the mountainous kingdom of Ladakh in northern India boasts dramatic snow-capped peaks, picturesque monasteries, pleasant alpine trails and stark, rugged beauty everywhere you look. Learn the traditional ways of the local farmers and marvel at how they are able to sustain their crops in such a harsh terrain, then venture out to the polo grounds to witness an eventful match of polo played on nimble mountain ponies.
2. Indulge in a private lesson at an exclusive Rajasthani polo club
If India’s rugged Himalaya are too remote for your liking, you can always catch an action-packed polo tournament and treat yourself to a private lesson at an exclusive polo club in the heart of Jaipur. With some personal coaching from the expert polo players themselves, try your hand at mastering the skilled horsemanship and athletic prowess (it’s not as easy as it looks), and once you’ve worked up an appetite, relax and enjoy an elegant high tea with the players.
3. Ride alongside Córdoba’s cowboys
Race across the open pampas on a scenic trail ride and experience first-hand a typical day in the life of an authentic gaucho. These macho Argentinian herdsmen and real-life cowboys will teach you how to ride gaucho-style with relaxed, sloping shoulders and loose reins. Later, take part in some traditional gaucho games, such as barrel and sortija races, followed by a festive, hearty and celebratory meal.
4. Take a ride on Patagonia’s wild side
Choose from a wide selection of the most scenic and unforgettable (both half and full-day) horseback rides through the jaw-dropping landscapes of Southern Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. With jagged peaks looming in the distance, ride through flat grasslands, thick forests and winding rivers. This is Mother Nature’s masterpiece.
5. Saddle up and explore the world’s driest desert
Explore the dramatic and desolate beauty of Chile’s Atacama Desert, the world’s driest desert, on an adventurous half-day horseback ride to Death Valley. Meander past huge clay formations, towering sand dunes, a striking white salt pan and snow-capped volcanoes in the distance. As the night sky starts to reveal its starry brilliance, toast the day’s adventure with a refreshing sundowner and delicious canapés shared around a blazing fire.
6. Swim with horses in the tropical Indian Ocean
Take a gentle, sunny stroll along the long stretch of soft white sand on &Beyond Benguerra Island in Mozambique. Be sure to dress down for the occasion (we’re talking swimwear and bare feet) and ride bareback into the warm, crystal clear water. Expect some splashing and the occasional grunt of pleasure from your horse as it wades into the ocean. After your frolic in the sea, hop off to allow your horse to enjoy a well-deserved roll on the beach.
7. Take to the saddle on a horseback safari
This is a truly unique way to experience the vast, open and game-filled plains of Kenya’s world-famous Masai Mara National Reserve. Without the constant hum of the safari vehicle, this is an invigorating way to explore and appreciate the limitless landscape. Like a scene from Out of Africa, gallop past dazzles of zebra, journeys of giraffe and, if the time is right, the mighty herds of the Great Migration. Image © Offbeat Safaris.
8. Trot past the curious residents of the famed Serengeti
Relive the days of the intrepid old-world explorers, as you traverse the magnificent, tree-dotted plains of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. With a mix of adrenaline and excitement, set out in search of flighty flamingoes, grunting gnus, dazzling zebra and curious giraffes. Opt for a fun-filled day ride or delve into a truly memorable week-long journey, where days are spent on horseback and evenings are enjoyed in the comfort of a tented safari camp or luxury lodge. Nothing beats jumping off that dusty horse and into a steamy hot bubble bath or alfresco shower, followed by a well-earned glass of wine and a delicious, wholesome meal. Image © Kaskazi Horse Safaris.
9. Gallop through protected wetlands
A safari at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa wouldn’t be complete without a bit of local exploring. Combing the best the bush and beach have to offer, safari-goers can venture off the reserve to nearby Sodwana Bay for a leisurely beach picnic and some world-class scuba diving, or they can opt for an invigorating horseback ride through the shady sand forest and out onto the picturesque False Bay Nature Reserve.
10. Splash through the sparkling channels of the Okavango Delta
Officially declared UNESCO’s 1 000th World Heritage Site, Botswana’s miraculous Okavango Delta is the world’s largest inland delta. A natural wonder, it is a maze of sparkling lagoons, meandering channels and overgrown islands teeming with wildlife. Known as “the river that never finds the sea”, it lies like a glittering jewel at the heart of the Kalahari Desert and is the perfect place to admire from horseback. Splash through the winding waterways, listen for the haunting cries of the fish eagle, keep an eye (and ear) out for the colourful reed frogs and enjoy the ride.