A horse riding safari

November 2008

Firstly let me state that I am not a rider of horses! In fact the last time I rode a horse was in Ethiopia back in 1994 and that trip to the Bale Mountains gave me a very sore rear end! My wife on the other hand loves riding and since she was a little girl has grabbed very opportunity to ride. Her exploits in Botswana and Madagascar and also the time with me in Oliver’s Camp Tarangire meant very little riding so since buying her horse earlier this year she rides 3-4 times a week if in Arusha.

A Spanish horse riding expert named Carlos Da Silva has been putting together horses selected from Kenya to start a riding school and operate safaris. His dry season choice for riding safaris is the West Kilimanjaro Ranch of Ndarakwai. This rolling grassland is a lightly wooded grassland conservation project that is over 11,000 acres in size. Sections are wonderful for riding horses in and with open terrain like this you can spot an elephant from miles away. So my wife and a few of her friends decided that a weekend away from Arusha was needed and why not try out this new company’s horse riding safari? I went along as official dogs’ body of course and as my mother is visiting she came along as well. I even took my gardener Ombeni along to help out and I fear he may well want to become a serious horse rider himself!

Ombeni has taken to horsesOmbeni has taken to horses

Tati rides past the zebra herdTati rides past the zebra herd

A happy wife means a happy lifeA happy wife means a happy life

Protective bandages help the horsesProtective bandages help the horses

The start of a rideThe start of a ride

Horses are all fascinating individualsHorses are all fascinating individuals

X marks just above our campX marks just above our camp

The saddles after a rideThe saddles after a ride

The view from our camp at NdarakwaiThe view from our camp at Ndarakwai

Big horse riding country with wildebeest and mount Longido in the backgroundBig horse riding country with wildebeest and mount Longido in the background

Heading home after a long afternoon rideHeading home after a long afternoon ride

The wildebeest look on as Janelle rides pastThe wildebeest look on as Janelle rides past

We had a wonderful time and it was an opportunity for me to look over the land that Ndarakwai Ranch is working with. I must say that knowing how hard it is to curtail poaching activities and try to return a land to some form of ecological balance; they seem to be doing a fine job of it at Ndarakwai. Rain had fallen so the landscape was beige and bright green and I particularly liked the riverside sections for the bird life. Mammals were thin on the ground as rain had released them of their dependency on the ranches water supply. Carlos and others said that the wildlife numbers were much better from July to October and I could see massive evidence of that in the number of elephant droppings that littered the whole area. On two occasions the riders set out across country and I did not follow but on the last afternoon I drove cross country to follow them as they explored an area away from the normal riding sections and it was wonderful to see the reactions of Maasai herders as 5 horses came into view each with a strange looking white person on their back - the children were terrified of course, the adults very curious.

As I now own a horse of my own our riding expeditions with be expanded. Carlos and his team did a excellent job of providing camp, food, drinks, back up and all the riders had great confidence in his team’s ability to make this experience a first rate adventure where all our needs were well catered for, thank you!. By all accounts the riding was exceptional and as a few of our party had ridden extensively here in Northern Tanzania near lake Natron and in Botswana and Zambia - they knew how to rate this experience. Carlos had trucked in the horses and camp just for our safari from Arusha; and he has outfitted four others in this area this past dry season. He now plans a two base riding safari season with the dry season at Ndarakwai, (June - October) and the green season (December - March) in the Rift Valley and Gol Mountains area. We are all excited about being able to offer these safaris to our guests. Imagine riding a horse through the wildebeest migration on the Serengeti Plain! I will actually be doing that soon I hope!

Giddy up
Paul


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