Okavango Horse Safaris, Botswana
Okavango Horse Safaris operate in the southern area of the Okavango Delta. The owners, Barney and PJ Bestelink, ensure that each riding safari is tailored to the group. On horseback you can venture further into the delta and get closer to the wildlife than you could do by any other means - it is perhaps the closest you can get to nature.
All the safaris start from Kujwana Camp, which is a permanent camp with 8 spacious raised tents fitted with comfortable wooden furniture, en-suite showers and flushing loos. There are two bush camps, Moklowane Camp and Qwaapo Camp, which are equally as comfortable, although more rustic and located on smaller islands in the delta. Moklowane Camp consists of tree houses two metres off the ground, giving you the unique experience of sleeping in the open but being perfectly safe. Ablutions are on ground level with bucket and pulley showers and flush loos behind each tree house. Qwaapo is called a ‘fly camp’ as the accommodation is in the style of traditional safari tents, each with its own bucket and pulley shower and bush loo. Every tent has a unique view of the Qwaapo River.
During the rides you will stay at a combination of the camps, and all your belongings will be taken ahead in vehicles. Three large meals a day are provided and regular breaks are taken along the way with biscuits and fruit. Breakfast is often a picnic from your saddlebag, while a lunch of fresh bread, salads and meats will be prepared for you and is a welcome break in the heat of the day. In the evening delicious three-course suppers are served by candlelight under the stars.
The itinerary may change due to game movements and water levels a sample itinerary is as follows:
Kujwana Camp: Morning game ride in the Xudum area. Wake up is 1 hour before dawn to ensure best game viewing. Wade through lush green malapos that lead you from island to - island. Surprise a timid bushbuck out from his dense cover on a heavily wooded island, or enjoy the herds of lechwe and zebra moving through the open spaces. Return to camp for lunch. Siesta and afternoon game drive with sunset drinks before an evening night drive with a spot light.
Kujwana Camp. Ride east towards Beacon and Lion Island. These are two very large islands in the area which are cut off from Kujwana by the Xwaapa River. The area is criss-crossed with game paths leading you through a chain of rain pans. This is a great contrast to the open flood plains. Mapane forests and Acacia woodlands offer a good variety of food for kudu and giraffe. Breeding herds of elephant enjoy the security of the dense forest and should the pans be holding water zebra, wildebeest and buffalo will also be found. Afternoon bird walk.
Moklowane Camp. Move from Kujwana to Moklowane camp. This is approximately 30km ride heading north-west. The route moves through open floodplains and scattered islands towards the Matsebe river system. A picnic lunch is served on a shady island 2 hours’ ride from Moklowane camp. Arrive sunset. Moklowane camp is North West of Kujwana on the Matsebi River. This camp is situated in the open flood plains which receive flood water 3 weeks earlier than Kujwana camp. The vegetation consists of smaller palm island and wide open spaces. There is plenty of water in the Okavango Delta, and you will find yourself swimming through channels and cantering through the shallows to get to the next track, or herd of game.
Moklowane Camp. Morning game ride with a picnic breakfast carried in saddle bags. This camp is on the Matsebe river system and features wide open flood plains interspersed with Moklowane palms - favourite food of elephant and baboon. In the afternoon you will go on a 1-2 hour mokoro experience. The mekoro are traditional dug out canoes that offer a completely different experience from the riding. Your guide will silently pole you through the channels allowing for excellent bird viewing.
Day 5 & 6
Moklowane Camp. Dawn game ride for two hours. Return to camp for breakfast. Optional game drives before lunch. Ride again in the cool of the afternoon as the wildlife stirs from the heat of the day.
Fly Camp. Move from Moklowane riding north east towards the Kiri River. The fly camp is situated on the Kiri river system approximately 30km from Moklowane, on the border with Moremi Game reserve. Arrive before lunch. Afternoon game and bird walk. Kiri Fly Camp is north east of Kujwana camp in the permanent water line of the delta. Deep lagoons and papyrus beds which are a good area for hippo and lechwe, as well as buffalo and other big game.
A full day’s ride exploring this area which is on the edge of the permanent water with papyrus beds and deep lagoons. A picnic lunch is set up on a shady island. Return to fly camp in the cool of the late afternoon.
Saddle bag breakfast. Ride north-east towards Moremi game reserve. This area forms seasonal marsh land and hosts a variety of exceptional bird life. Wildlife moves freely to and from the national park. Good buffalo and elephant country. Afternoon game drive with sunset drinks and evening night drive with a spot light.
This afternoon, a final game drive will take you back to the airstrip, where you will meet the scheduled flight to Maun to connect with your overnight flight back to the UK.