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Posted on April 26, 2016
Every day at In The Saddle is different, but one question that regularly comes up is “Which is the best riding safari in the Okavango Delta?”
I’ll try to address this specific issue but even if you’ll never consider a horseback safari, the same process applies to all our holidays – whether you’re thinking of a ranch in Montana or a week’s riding in Europe, we can help you choose the ride that’s right for you. We’ll give you all the detail you need and nudge you in the right direction but we always respect the choice is yours and we won’t push you to make a decision.
I suppose the reason the Okavango Delta question comes up so much is there are three camps within a small area that, at first glance, appear to offer the same thing. If you look a bit deeper you can see they each provide unique experiences. The camps are Macatoo and Kujwana in the main Delta and Motswiri, just on the edge on the Selinda Spillway.
Firstly, let’s look at what these safaris have in common. They are all based at luxury tented camps. By luxury we mean spacious walk in permanent tents with made up beds, en-suite loos and showers.
The other features they all share are great horses and guiding. First time guests are often surprised at the quality of the horses and the attention paid to their welfare.
The Okavango Delta is famous for its variety of wildlife. Large herds of elephant are resident year round as well as buffalo, giraffe, zebra and a multitude of other less well known animals. There are also specialist swamp antelope like the lechwe and sitatunga which you are unlikely to see elsewhere. Lion are present throughout the Delta and while we don’t seek out lion on horseback (for obvious reasons) you may come across them and you will often hear the males roaring at night. At all three camps, because there are potentially dangerous animals around, you must be a confident experienced rider. Non-riders are welcome at any of the camps and riders can combine time on horseback with wildlife tracking on foot, jeep safaris and game viewing by mokoros (canoes).
So, if you can’t choose your safari on comfort, quality of guiding, horses or the wildlife, how can you decide? The differences between the camps are quite subtle and it’s worth taking a moment to look at what makes each one special.
Set up by PJ and Barney 30 years ago, Kujwana is the longest established horseback camp in the Delta. It’s also the smallest taking just six guests at a time. This gives the safari an intimate feel and means the guiding can be more personalised. Single travellers get their own tent without a supplement and you ride to a different camp every three or four days so you get the feeling of going on a journey.
Macatoo is a larger camp, taking up to 16 guests, but rides are split so that only eight ride out together. Those who want fast splashy canters can get their adrenalin fix and others can enjoy a more sedate experience tracking game. Macatoo has just one single tent without supplement so you need to book early to reserve this, otherwise, if you are happy to share then there is no extra to pay. The larger group size at Macatoo means it’s very sociable in camp and this, combined with the flexibility of riding options, has made it our most popular safari for several years.
The most recent camp, Motswiri, opened in 2011. As it’s on the edge of the Delta visitors can experience riding through Mopane woodland as well as the typical delta scenery of islands and channels so there is a wider variety of terrain. While the other two camps may have one or two non-riders staying at a time, at Motswiri the split is more likely to be 50/50 so this is usually the best choice for mixed groups of riders and non-riders.
I hope this has given you a feel for what makes each of the riding safaris in the Okavango Delta different. If you’d like to talk further about the different riding in the Okavango Delta or if you have any questions please contact me or one of our specialists for a chat.
We look forward to helping you choose your next riding adventure.