Top Horse Riding Destinations in Africa for an Unforgettable Holiday
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While horse riding may not be the activity that you would instantly thought of when thinking about Africa, it really ought to be!
Why, you ask? For starters, if you have always been dreaming of going on an African safari, exploring top safari destinations such as South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania is most ideal when done on horseback.
That said, horse riding holidays in Africa don’t instantly mean going on a horseback safari. With plenty of travel worthy destinations like Egypt and Morocco, Africa offers a variety of horse riding excursions that guarantees an exciting trip you won’t soon forget. Get ready to saddle up!
A land shrouded in mystery, Egypt often can be found high on any traveler’s bucket list. This Northern African nation also offers a diversity of natural terrains and a rich culture & history, making it a particularly ideal travel destination for horse riding enthusiasts.
Linking Africa to the Middle East, Egypt is built around the Nile Valley. In the east, you’ll find the Arabian Desert which borders some of the country’s magnificent mountains. The Libyan Desert can be found in the west, stretching all the way to the border of Northern Africa. While in the east, you’ll find the Sinai Peninsula that consists of the highest peaks in Egypt - Mount Sinai & Mount Catherine.
Here, most horse riding excursions take place (or begin) in Cairo where will take you into the desert to visit the famed pyramids including (but not limited to) the Giza pyramids, the Sun Temple of Niuserre, the Step Pyramid, and the Pyramids of Abu Sir. You will also be treated to a visit to other renowned Egyptian landmarks such as the Egyptian Museum and Islamic Cairo. Many travelers also make some time to board a Nile River cruise as the sun sets and experience the city’s bustling night life.
Should you decide on spending a longer stay in Egypt, be sure to head to the coast of the Red Sea where Hurgada and Sharm el-Sheik are located. This is particularly recommended if you are a diving enthusiast as you will be able to get up close and personal with technicolor fishes and corals that you won’t find anywhere else.
Alternatively, you can also head inland where you’ll find the desert oases, home to Egypt’s nomads who often travel across the Saharan sands with their herd of camels – a breathtaking sight to be seen.
Aside from its unique landscapes, another big advantage of going on a riding excursion in Egypt is that you’ll have the opportunity to ride one of the most expensive and sought after horse breeds in the world, The Egyptian Arabian horse. Grey, brown, black or blond in color, it is renowned for its beauty and distinctive form & proportion.
That said, they’re not merely pleasing to look at, they’re also highly intelligent and sturdy, making them a great riding partner.
The ancestry of these elegant horses dates back to the age of the Bedouin tribes of Arabia and was the breed of choice of King Solomon. Fast forward to today, it’s still very much considered the pride of the nation and the favorite breed of the members of royalty in Egypt and beyond.
Imagine yourself galloping across the vast desert on an Egyptian Arabian horse as ancient Pharaohs did thousands of years ago. You may even feel as if you’re living out the tale of Lawrence of Arabia!
Does the combination of observing & interacting with wild animals in their natural habitat and exploring Africa’s various terrains on horseback sounds like a dream come true to you? If so, then a horse riding safari in Kenya is what you’ve been aching for!
Please note, that since you’ll be required to be comfortable riding at all paces and, at times, on broken terrain, only skilled and experienced riders are allowed to partake in riding safaris.
Located in the east of Africa, Kenya is blessed with an abundance of wildlife and spectacular landscapes. Home to some of the world’s most renowned national parks including the Masai Mara National Reserve, Amboselli National Park, and Lake Nakuru National Park, you are guaranteed to catch a glimpse of various mammals, reptiles, and birds during your horse riding excursion.
For those who are particularly fond of the Big Five animals can rejoice as Kenya happens to be one of the African countries that gives you the opportunity to spot them all!
If you plan to visit Kenya during the latter part of the year (July – November), be sure to not miss out on witnessing the Great Migration first hand! Often dubbed as “The Greatest Wildlife Show on Earth”, it is a must-see for wildlife lovers.
Each year, over a million wildebeest accompanied by thousands of gazelles and zebras as well as their predators make their way to Masai Mara National Reserve from another renowned national park, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. This exciting and dynamic journey takes a full year to complete and is an iconic African experience, where travelers get a front row seat to witness a unique cycle of life.
While Kenya is one of Africa’s most stable nations, it remains largely an undeveloped country – a perfect destination for riders who can ride freely across miles of unspoiled countryside.
Exploring the country on horseback will also allow you to encounter and interact with members of Kenya’s native tribes (Kenyan population consists of forty different tribes) who live in remote areas often unreachable with a motorized vehicle.
It may comes as a surprise but for those coming from Europe, traveling to Morocco would only require a short flight of a few hours! So if you’re on the look out for an exciting horse riding trip that you can take in less than a week, a horse riding holiday in Morocco makes an excellent choice!
Do keep in mind that many horse riding excursions in Morocco are catered to intermediate and advanced riders. That said, there are some trail rides that are beginner friendly so be sure to inform the organizer in advance regarding the level of skills that each package requires.
With beautiful weather all year round, it makes a wonderful escape during the cold winter months. However, the best time to visit is in Spring (March – May) as you’ll find an abundance of vegetation, offering a wonderful backdrop as you explore Morocco on horseback.
It does get very hot during the summer (June – Aug) so if you’re planning your visit this time of year, you can head to the mountains where the weather is less intense compared to the country’s coasts. If you prefer a milder climate, Autumn makes an ideal time to go horse riding in this region too.
Located in the Northern part of the continent, Morocco is said to be a combination of Africa & the Middle East and has a long Atlantic coastline.
Blessed with beautiful beaches such as those found in Essaouira, Morocco is fast increasing in popularity among surfers – both locals and foreigners alike. Fortunately for horse riding lovers, Morocco’s beaches often comes with long stretches of sand, perfect for beach riding excursions.
Here, you can also explore the surrounding areas where you’ll be riding across sand dunes and rocky peaks with views over the ocean. Be sure to stay on the saddle as the sun sets and take a refreshing dip with your horse, surely a memorable way to end your day.
Alternatively, especially in the winter months, the adventure seekers can choose to explore the Moroccan desert where you discover some of the best views that Morocco has to offer – the majestic Atlas Mountains. While it may be quite a challenging ride, as you go through the historic caravan routes, you’ll encounter charming adobe villages as well as pass through gorgeous valleys and palmeraie. It makes for an experience like no other!
If you’re a beginner rider, a horse riding holiday in Marrakech is your best bet. You’ll be able to ride in the foothills of the Atlas mountains, where the climate is pleasant all year round and the riding routes can be easily adapted for all level of riders.
Fancy some time off the saddle? Many travelers set aside some time to peruse through the bustling and colorful medinas of Marrakech where you can practice the art of haggling for everything from local snacks to silk carpets! Alternatively, you can also check out the high dunes of the Sahara, while going on horse back is certainly an option, it can also be easily reached by car.
Coined by the late great Nelson Mandela as the ‘Rainbow Nation’, South Africa is a melting pot of cultures. Located in the southernmost tip of the continent, it is not only rich in culture and traditions, it’s also blessed with abundance of wildlife and breathtaking sceneries.
In fact, wildlife viewing is the main reason for most first time visitors traveling to this country. As mentioned before, should you happen to be an avid or skilled rider, there’s no better way to get up close and personal with wildlife in their natural habitat than to go on a horse riding safari.
Renowned for its Big Five animals, South Africa is home to one of the world’s most popular national parks, The Kruger National Park. As it is a long established national park, Kruger is the top choice for travelers looking to experience their first African safari. Thanks to the nation’s stable political and social climate as well as excellent infrastructure, it makes a particularly ideal travel (and safari) destination for those planning to travel as a family or in groups.
While riding in South Africa, you’ll find that it offers quite a diverse type of terrains and sceneries. Here, you can find everything from lush forests, spectacular mountain ranges, golden sandy beaches, arid desert, to fertile wineland. All of these, of course, are best to be discovered on horseback!
A visit to South Africa is simply incomplete without soaking up the sun in one or more of its beautiful beaches which can be found in Cape Town, Durban, or Port Elizabeth, just to name a few. Many of these beaches are also open to horses. Some even offers historic or heritage trails that you can explore on a trail riding excursion. If you plan to head to any of these beach towns, why not give a beach horse riding in South Africa a go?
Immerse yourself in South African culture by setting aside some time to visit historic sites such as the Castle of Good Hope and the Afrikaans Language Monument. Be sure to also sample some delicious South African dishes and a glass or two of their local wines – dubbed by wine enthusiasts as some of the finest in the world!
Situated on the east coast of Africa, Tanzania shares a border with a plethora of other African nations; Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.
While some its neighbors may have a bit of a ‘turbulent’ reputation, Tanzania is a peaceful country and is one of the continent’s top travel destinations.
Similar to Kenya and South Africa, most of the country’s visitors come for its wildlife viewing adventure. This comes to no surprise as almost 40% of the country is protected and set aside for conservation purposes and this is reflected in its number of national parks, game and forest reserves.
It is home to the iconic Serengeti – famous for its vast herds of wild animals as seen on National Geographic and Animal Planet. As mentioned earlier, a huge herd of wildebeest and other animals make their way from Serengeti to Masai Mara in Kenya so if you’d like to witness the Great Migration while you’re in Tanzania, be sure to plan your visit within the months of December – July.
This East African nation is also where the famed Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is located. It certainly makes an awe inspiring backdrop to the already beautiful landscape of the Serengeti Plain, where the Great Migration takes place.
When it comes to horse riding holidays, do keep in mind that Tanzania offers a variety beyond horse riding safaris. For example, you can choose to explore various area of Kilimanjaro mountains which can be tailored according to the participants skills and abilities (beginners included). There’s also an option that will allow you to explore the nation’s coffee farm and trot along a short trail that will take you to a relaxing hot spring.
That said, the ultimate horse riding adventure that Tanzania offers is indeed a Big Game safari that also gives you the opportunity to discover the nooks of crannies of Mount Kilimanjaro. Do note that the Kilimanjaro trail is only available for skilled riders. On this route, you will be riding through lands that have been used by Masai Mara tribe with breathtaking views of the mountains along the trail.
For those seeking for a more less travelled route can opt for a trail along Lake Natron where you’ll catch more than a glimpse of the cones and craters of the Rift Valley – definitely a worthwhile challenge!
Want to spend some time at the beach? Head to the east part of the country where you’ll find the Zanzibar Archipelago. Comprising of several beautiful islands, it offers gorgeous beaches perfect for horse riding and a different type of wildlife viewing than the rest of the country. Here, you’ll find an abundance of marine life as well as various flora & fauna that can’t be found anywhere else in the world!
Looking for an unforgettable horse riding excursion with none of the hassle of planning a vacation? Why not book an all inclusive horse riding holiday in Africa?