Horizon Lodge - South Africa


5 star rating   2 March 2019

Growbag (this is their first In The Saddle holiday) Horizon | I had high expectations, but these were totally surpassed by the absolutely superb experience which we were fortunate enough to have at Horizon.
Nothing was too much trouble for the team - the horses were light mouthed and responsive, well trained and trustworthy. All were in excellent condition, and a strict schedule is kept to ensure that every horse has the necessary 'down time'. We rode a large selection of horses, all of which were delivering an experience of a life time. It was most interesting to see that each animal was slowly but surely educated so that it could be either a lead horse or at the back, and they would all stand quietly while we watched the game. We liked the way that several of them were 'rescues', but had been restored to having the confidence to build back their trust in people. Great care had been taken to see that each rider was given a horse suitable for what they required - either a reliable 'Mum's Chum' type, or one which would be happy to do as much as any intermediate or advanced rider wished. They were all so light mouthed, and neck reined, leaving one hand free for the camera! I have artificial hips, but Horizon are well used to assisting amputees and others with physical problems - so they helped me most expertly with mounting and dismounting (I cannot lift my leg over the cantle), and whenever we were given a lovely surprise (sundowners or bush pop-up breakfasts etc), 2 of the staff would be instantly assisting me so that I did not miss anything at all.
The guides not only kept us safe - pointing out any dangers such as holes, overhanging branches, but they were all able to tell us amazing facts about the flora and fauna of the Waterberg. They ensured that we saw all we had come so far to see, and so much more, so very much more. We were able to request any horse we had made a good bond with, provided it was not due for a day off.
It was lovely to hear that the horses often live on to 30 or 35 as they are so well cared for, and when they are older, they are given lighter duties, which ensures they keep fit and active. They were lovely to watch in their herd, as some of them had made particular friendships, and all were able to be with the particular friend or other horses in the herd as they felt inclined. So they were happy and dependable, and we had such a brilliant time with them.

The Riding

How well were you matched with the right horse for your ability?
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How would you rate the variety of riding, pace or terrain?
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How would you rate the overall standard of the horses, tack and stables?
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The Accommodation

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How would you rate the standard of the food?
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Do you have any comments about the accommodation and food?

I cannot think of enough superlatives for our accommodation, or the food. We had a most comfortable garden lodge all of our own, so private and quiet. The setting was to die for, the views glorious (I could see the hippo in the dam from my bed!), the standard of care was exemplary, the buildings had been imaginatively and sensitively designed to provide an absolutely authentic African feel, but with all the comforts of a modern 5* hotel. All the water was drinkable, and piping hot for showering. Modern lavatories too. We had a kettle and tea/coffee making facilities etc in our rooms, plus electric converter plugs so that we could charge our appliances (phones, cameras, etc). If we hadn't brought out any particular medicine the staff immediately offered to get it for us from their medicine cupboard. The beds were vast, for coolness, and mosquito netted. There was a fan too, and most attractive furniture made out of local woods. Plenty of hanging and shelf space. Laundry collected and returned daily. The staff were very welcoming and attentive to every need.
The communal area was a joy - excellent reference books available on birds, trees, etc, and we could congregate there for drinks - freely available at any time from the fridge - and socialise. We loved the big veranda there, from which we could watch the beautiful birds, lizards, hippos, etc. And the pool was great - clean and just the right temperature. We had tea and cake each afternoon there before going out for our second ride - and what cake!!! I am a Cordon Bleu cook, my daughter is a chef, trained at Prue Leith, but the chef at Horizon could have held his own in any Egon Ronay establishment. So the cake at tea was always quite the most delicious we had ever eaten , the scones (cream tea) the lightest, and as for the breads - all home made, and all utterly scrumptious, ranging from croissants, seed/nut breads to carrot cake, chocolate, you name it! Don't let me go on for ever about the dinners - I could eulogise for ever, but the dishes were all of a standard which would have done the Savoy proud. Beautifully cooked - nice al dente fresh vegetables - the seasoning was always spot on, the variety was incredible, and we called the Chef in to clap him after dinner on more than one occasion. I remember the fresh fruit salad served in a brandy snap basket made with some local syrup which was infinitely more of a sensation on the palate than golden syrup. I could rave for ever, but you get my drift. The food was plentiful and it was lovely when the weather obliged to eat all together out under the huge tree overlooking the lake with the other guests and staff, all the Horizon staff had an extra quality and were very special. We were not surprised AT ALL to see that Horizon had won trophies for the best riding safaris in Africa year on year.
[ITS comment: Wow that is some lovely feedback and high praise indeed for the team at Horizon. We are so pleased that you loved your holiday.]

Before Your Holiday

Did you have all of the information you needed to:

Plan and prepare for your holiday?
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Feel comfortable about your transfers and what to expect?
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How could we improve the quality of pre-holiday information that we send?

You covered everything, you are a top banana company! No improvements possible.....
[ITS comment: Thank you very much for your kind words and it was our pleasure to help arrange this holiday for you.]

How could we improve the way we handled your booking and payment?

Again, you could not improve on what you do - we were given such fulsome detail on everything, from recommended packing lists to security advice, and were always swift to answer our emails.

Do you have any other feedback for us?

Paradise On Earth.

Just that I wish one could have this lovely experience every year, but of course, it is a long way and the overnight flight is pretty hideous to get there. We found the Airbus frightful, but the Boeing 747 - 400 was pleasanter. Both are so colossal that it takes a very long time to load them and to disembark afterwards. There are not enough seats in the airports whilst one is being herded to departure gates, so one often has to stand a long time queueing to get on board. But, hey, it was so well worth it! But that is not an area for which you are responsible.