Uncharted Africa Riding Safari
Makgadikgadi and the Kalahari, Botswana
Experience some of Africa's most diverse and unique environments on horseback. From the barren Magadikgadi salt pans to the sprawling woodlands of the Kalahari plains, Uncharted Africa Riding Safari is a truly unforgettable way to explore Botswana.
At a Glance
Sundowners around the campfire after a long day riding
Fit, well-schooled horses, matched to the riders ability
Sleep out under the stars on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Get up close and personal with the meerkats
Safaris led by expert guide David Foot
Send some time with the meerkats and they may use your head as a lookout post!Scott Dunn team
Cantering across the endless salt pans is a really wonderful experience.Scott Dunn team
During the wet season you can ride out, straight from camp, and within minutes be amongst herds of wildebeest and zebra numbering in the thousandsScott Dunn team
Uncharted Africa's Riding Safari is led by one of Africa’s most experienced riding safari guides, David Foot. He has extensive knowledge of the history and wildlife of Botswana and his energy and enthusiasm make him an exceptional leader in the bush.
The riding safari starts with three nights in Camp Kalahari, a luxury, permanent camp nestled amongst the acacias and mokolwane palms, on the edge of the salt pans. It is the perfect place to start and finish your riding safari. The fly camping experience takes place out in the middle of the pans. Accommodation comes in the form of large dome tents, there's a mess tent for dining and relaxing after a long days riding, this is a truly authentic safari experience.
The riding safaris operate year-round, except for October, and the route varies depending on whether it is the dry season or the wet season. Although very different, both safari routes do include three nights in Camp Kalahari and two nights fly camping out in the bush. During the dry season from mid April to the end of September you ride right out into the middle of the pans, where all you see for miles around is empty space, before the heat haze of the say blurs the horizon, the curve of the earth is clearly visible in this lunar landscape. It is the perfect going for long canters and, as the nights are dry, you can camp out under the stars. In the wet season from early November to mid April, the terrain changes completely, rain brings high rich grasses and the largest migration of land mammals in Southern Africa. The grasslands are rife with thousands of zebra and wildebeest, and with them come the predators: jackal, cheetah and the majestic black maned Kalahari lion. The elusive brown hyena is a common sighting here, some lucky guest can even catch sight of the mysterious aardvark.
Camp Kalahari has ten spacious Meru style tents, six with twin beds and three with doubles. There is also a family suite with two adjacent tents. All of the tents have en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold running showers and the rooms are comfortable and luxurious with four poster beds, rich textiles, Moroccan kilims and hot water bottles for the cooler evenings.
Xau Xai Fly Camp is made up of comfortable two man dome tents with separate loos and showers. In the dry season, guests can opt. to spend a night on a comfortable bed roll under the starry Kalahari sky.
Uncharted Africa Riding Safari does not usually accept children under the age of 12 years unless younger riders are extremely confident and competent and willing to spend long days in the saddle.
Camp Kalahari is a luxurious camp with cosy, comfortable interiors. There is a communal living and dining area with a library and a small plunge pool for cooling off in when the days get hot.
Xau Xai fly camp embodies the traditional safari camping with some simple luxuries. There is a mess tent for dining and a selection of drinks so guests can enjoy sundowners on the salt pans after a long day of riding.
The main activity is game viewing from horseback and long rides that can last up to 7 hours a day with a 35km ride for one of the days. The horses at Camp Kalahari are all well-schooled and fit. There are approximately 20 horses in the stables and these are a mix of cross breeds which include Shire/Thoroughbred, Boerperd/Thoroughbred, Arab crosses and Quarter horse crosses. They range in size from 14.3h to 16.2h. The rides can be fast so we only recommend Uncharted Africa for experienced riders who are riding fit.
Besides riding, guests have the use of a game drive vehicle and experience guide from Uncharted Africa. Morning, afternoon and night game drives are a highlight. A special experience in the Makgadikgadi is to spend a morning with one of the habituated colonies of meerkats. Years of research have gone in to the meerkat project here and the experience is like no other.
Uncharted Africa have a strong link with the Ju'Wasi bushmen from the Western Kalahari, a multi-generational group are usually in the area and delight in taking visitors on walks into the bush, an incredible chance to experience the Kalahari bush through the eyes of this environment's great survivors.
In the dry season, for a small extra charge, it is possible to head out to the salt pans on one of Uncharted's fleet of quad bikes.
Location & Directions
Makgadikgadi and the Kalahari, Botswana
Situated in the Makgadikgadi Pans, which was once the largest inland sea in Africa, Camp Kalahari, where the riding safari begins is quite literally in the middle of nowhere.
When to go
Botswana’s winter is May to October when the weather is hot during the day (not stiflingly hot) and cold at night. Botswana's summer months (November to April) can be hot and humid and there is a chance of rain. Botswana has one rainy season which runs between mid-December and runs through to mid-March.
Uncharted Africa riding safari is closed for the month of October.