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I accompanied the first In The Saddle group to Uganda in June 2016. This trip gets 10 out of 10 and I found it very difficult to make any suggestions for improvement – except perhaps to say that I ate too much, but who is to blame for that!
The horses are first class. There are a variety of horses – a mixture of thoroughbreds, Irish sports horses and local breds. All are well trained – many of the horses out on the safari are competed in Uganda and Kenya by the guide Natalie and her staff. One of the most comfortable rides is a large coloured stallion being used to breed the next generation of safari horses when not being ridden on safari. What was particularly good was that there were lively horses for those who prefer to be at the front on all the gallops and there were also some perfect gentlemen for those who like a good ride but also to take lots of photographs. Horses were switched into and out of the safari and we each rode a couple of horses during the week.
The pace was very varied. Many places we could only walk and particularly when winding ourselves in between people’s homes and their vegetable patch. Other times the track was quite wide and we had lots of long trots and swinging canters. Then there were some long straight tracks through sugar plantations where you could open up and see what your horse was capable of. We also had a most exciting time swimming in the Nile.
The itinerary is very flexible. In the main we preferred to be up at first light and to be on the horses by 7.30 but for those who preferred a later start (and it is your holiday, after all), then it was perfectly possible to have a more leisurely breakfast and join the group at “morning tea”, one of the very capable grooms having ridden your horse out. Similarly if you wanted to peel off at mid-day then you could be taken onto your accommodation by vehicle and a guide continue with your horse.
What made this trip so interesting was the fascinating countryside we were riding through. We had wonderful views of the Nile, Lake Victoria, sugar and tea plantations as well as miles and miles of rural Ugandan life. Hundreds of people would come out to wave as we rode past and it was a joy to see their happy, welcoming faces. A particular delight were the screams from the school children peering out from their school windows who would then be allowed to rush out to see the horses.
The accommodation is really very very good. We stayed two nights at each of Holland Park, Rain Forest Lodge, The Haven and had our last night at the spectacular Wild Waters Lodge. Each of the lodges had spacious very comfortable chalets. The food was excellent. Breakfast omelettes to order; “morning tea” of croissant and Danish pastry from a deli in Jinja; three course lunches when we arrived at our lodge, and then (for those still with room) a three course dinner. Delicious Nile perch featured on a lot of the menus, but we also had lovely steaks, chicken dishes and vegetarian bakes.
The riding is for about 4 to 5 hours each day, so there is time to relax, whether at “morning tea” or at the lodge in the afternoon. And since you are staying at some of the most spectacular places in the world you do want that time to just sit and enjoy the beautiful view of the Nile or the sounds of the rainforest. On our non-riding day most of us joined a most exciting and strongly recommended White Water Rafting trip. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to White Water Rafting and I really loved it.
Then just when we’d concluded that we’d had the best week ever riding on the Nile, we flew to Bwindi Impentrable Forest for the climax of the trip – gorilla trekking. I’d read all about it, but nothing fully prepared me for that precious hour with those gentle giants and their all too human eyes.
All in all, a fantastic riding adventure and one I thoroughly recommend.
I wrote about my experiences while I was on the trip and you can read about each day by clicking below.
Olwen Law, March 2016