South African Explorer

Waterberg South Africa: (IT-SASR06)

Waterberg South Africa
This riding safari captures all the best elements of riding in South Africa. Spread over eight days, the safari not only covers a great deal of riding (over 150 km on horseback through truly spectacular landscapes, with regular sightings of a wide range of wildlife species) but also fun activities such as splashy canters, swimming with horses, mustering the horses at dawn, playing polo crosse and popping over a series of natural obstacles on the way to a spectacular sundowner spot.

Guests will typically enjoy two riding activities a day – generally a longer ride in the morning and either a shorter ride or fun riding activity in the afternoon. Over the course of the safari, riders will get to see all parts of the 15,000-acre reserve using carefully planned routes which take into account all the game hotspots and interesting natural features. Given the diverse habitats- from wide open plains to savannah, rocky outcrops, wetlands and dense forest-like habitats - you are sure to encounter a wider range of wild animals than usually seen even on a trip to some of the most famous national parks in Africa. Combined with the wide open spaces, variable topography and excellent going, this makes this Safari an unforgettable riding experience.



This is a wilderness ride, so nights will be spent in different locations.

The safari allows guests to enjoy a range of accommodation types, from the Main Lodge perched on the edge of a gorgeous lake and surrounded by horses, to glamping under canvas at Camp Davidson high on an isolated ridge, to enjoying safari chic at one of the Bellevue Plains lodges (Savannah Lodge or Seringa Lodge) which look out over expansive plains filled with herds of wildlife.

There is a limited WiFi and cell service.

Accommodation Itinerary - subject to changes based on availability
Night 1 - 2: Main Lodge
Night 3: Savannah Lodge or Seringa Lodge
Night 4: Main Lodge
Night 5: Camp Davidson
Night 6 - 7: Main Lodge

Main Lodge
All rooms of the lodge are en suite with either a shower or bath or both facilities. There are 7 double rooms, separated from the main lodge and two double rooms in the main lodge.
There is a large living area, dining room and large stoep (or verandah) for guests to enjoy. The lodge has a swimming pool alongside the lake.

Savannah Lodge
Located on the southwestern side of the conservancy, it is a tastefully decorated lodge with five en suite double rooms. The lodge has a large comfortable living space and dining areas inside and outside.
There is a small pool and deck which overlooks a plain and watering hole close by where the wildlife frequent.

Camp Davidson
A re-creation of the original Camp Davidson has been built high in the bushveld above the Matlapeng valley. It offers the opportunity to explore on horseback from a secure base camp nestled in the heart of the wooded mountains and commands a wonderful panoramic view of the central highlands of the Waterberg range, while overlooking the picturesque Sunset Lake at the eastern boundary of the ranch property. Stay in decked canvas tents nestled amongst the sandstone ridges overlooking grassy valleys. Each luxury tent has an en-suite bathroom.
The camp is completely run on solar energy and has a small swimming pool.

Room Occupancy
Triple occupancy is usually possible at the lodges and at the camp.

All meals are included form lunch on Day 1 to lunch on your last day.
Three sumptuous meals are served a day with afternoon tea before an afternoon ride.

Our food sways toward Mediterranean influences with an addition of iconic South African dishes.
Breakfast is buffet of freshly baked bread, muffins, cereals, toast, porridge, eggs.
Lunch is a buffet usually quiches, lasagna, babotie. salads, Freshly baked breads.
Dinner is a 3 course meal.

All water served during the safari is filtered to the highest standards and is guaranteed perfectly safe for drinking. All drinks are included with your tour.

Dietary Restrictions
We can cater to dietary restrictions if given prior notice.

This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.


To cover the long distances of this safari and enjoy all riding activities, while maintaining the cohesiveness of the group, riders need to be of at least an intermediate level. Should the guides feel a guest is not able to ride at the correct standard for this safari, alternative rides from the lodge will be organised.

Guides & Safety
Guides leading the safari have many years’ experience and most have grown up in the area and know the bush like the back of their hand. Our guides have either professional or assistant guiding licenses with the Botswana Qualifications Authority. They are qualified to use firearms and qualified in first aid.
All rides are conducted by two experienced professional guides. The lead guide is armed with a rifle and a bull whip. All management staff and guides do regular first aid training with a specialized doctor for remote areas. The lead guide has a local phone and a radio for use in emergencies.

Riding Groups
Rides are kept to a maximum of 8 riders (usually smaller groups) with two guides. Comparable abilities ride together.

Riding Gear
Hard hats are compulsory. We can provide helmets, but suggest that clients bring their own. We do not provide half chaps but might have the odd pair should clients need.

Our farm's string of over 100 horses have been carefully picked, bred, or nurtured over the years.
Though there are Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Boerperds, Welsh ponies, and various crossbreds ranging from 11.2 - 17.2, the uniting factor is a wonderful temperament and a willing nature when ridden. The personalities in the herd are wide ranging, from gentle natured animals eager to please and offering confidence to those riders who are a little nervous, to competitive energetic rides challenging the rider to enjoy their ability. In all our horses, there is an independence and responsiveness that allows the rider to make the most of our outrides. Our safari horses have been hand selected for their endurance, courage and responsiveness.
Our philosophy has entailed managing our horses as a free roaming herd within large tracts of natural pasture, rather than in stables or paddocks. The horses live freely in the bush and come in at dawn for breakfast and again in the afternoon.
Our horses are at ease with each other and within their environment, which generates calm and contented natures. As a result, we can offer our guests responsive, subtle and honest rides.
Our horses are mostly English schooled, so we highly recommend that Western riders have a course of lessons in English style prior to arrival.
Your horse will be groomed and saddled for you.

Children under 16 please enquire. Strictly no under 12’s.


Sample Itinerary - subject to changes

Species typically seen within the Waterberg include the following: giraffe, hippo, cape buffalo, eland, zebra, sable, roan, kudu, impala, waterbuck, red hartebeest, nyala, tsessebe, blue wildebeest, blesbuck, bushbuck, ostrich, baboon, vervet monkey, warthog and jackal. Occasionally seen are crocodile, brown hyena, serval, duiker, bush pig, steenbuck and reedbuck.

Day 1 (Sunday):  Introductory Ride
Guests will be personally met at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg by Saddlebag Shuttles. The road trip up to the Lodge in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve takes about three hours.
After a light lunch in the gardens of the Lodge, and later a sumptuous tea, guests will be introduced to their horses. The first ride is a gentle introduction to the reserve and an excellent opportunity for first encounters with species such as zebra, giraffe and hippo. The riding ranges from purposeful walking to easy cantering along sandy tracks and culminates with sundowner drinks on the open plains.
We take great care to match horse to rider based on a guest’s riding experience and ability. Given that the first two nights of the safari are spent at the Main Lodge, the operational hub for our herd of close to 100 horses, there is ample time to ensure that the most suitable horse is available for the long days in the saddle over the last five days of the safari.
Meals included: Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Main Lodge

Day 2 (Monday): Open plains, swimming with horses and game galore
The ride this morning is generally sporty. The route follows the centre of an open valley which is home to species such as kudu, sable, reedbuck, red hartebeest, waterbuck and impala. The sandy tracks make for excellent going, and the route crosses open grassland and weaves through dense woodland. After two hours in the saddle the ride pauses at a picturesque dam where riders are given the chance to have a break, a snack and experience the exhilaration of swimming on horseback. The dam is protected from crocodiles, which over recent years have quietly been increasing in number and is also the perfect size for swimming without taxing the horses.
After swimming, the ride is gentle and relaxed back to the lodge. Dark red pedigree cattle bred on the property are often encountered on this route. When conditions are suitable, the last stretch of the ride involves splashy canters along the edge of the lake adjacent to the Lodge. This is a great experience, but don’t expect to remain dry in the process!
The afternoon ride heads east following the river past a series of dams (where encounters with hippo are likely) and returns across the open plains. At this time of day there is often much activity on the plains, with the herds mingling in the soft sunlight and different groups coming and going as they prepare for the night. It is a truly magical experience to be able to ride so close to these wild animals, which have become completely relaxed in the presence of the horses.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Main Lodge

Day 3 (Tuesday): Looking for Buffalo
An early start is needed for the long ride from the Main Lodge to either Savannah Lodge in the far south west of the reserve, or Seringa Lodge in the south east.
The first part of the route covers country that riders will now be somewhat familiar with, but soon enters new terrain. In places the bush is thick but after a while the scenery opens up to grasslands with sweeping views to the south and west. Riding through this landscape gives riders a sense of the vastness of the African plains. The area boasts a very high concentration of game with herds of over 300 blesbuck, or 80 eland, often sighted. Other species which are home to the plains include red hartebeest, tsessebe and ostrich. There are plentiful zebra, wildebeest, impala and giraffe, and smaller groups of sable, roan and waterbuck. The final stretch is along a wooded stream where kudu and bushbuck are likely to be seen.
After a relaxing time around the pool and within the sophisticated lodges, it is time to ride to the southern most areas of the reserve in search of Cape buffalo. These are members of Africa’s famous “Big Five” and deserve their formidable reputation. Riders therefore need to be alert and responsive to the guides’ instructions. This area is known for its spectacular sunsets as the sun sets over the distant headlands of the Waterberg escarpment – a fitting end to an eventful and memorable day in the African wilderness.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Savannah Lodge or Seringa Lodge

Day 4 (Wednesday): “Big Five”
Another long ride through game rich country returns riders to the Main Lodge. The route taken is different from that on the outward leg, turning this part of the safari into an exciting journey passing through diverse landscapes and ecosystems. Game species typically prefer different habitats, with nyala and bushbuck for instance occupying dense forest-like sections of the reserve while blesbuck and hartebeest stick to the open plains, and waterbuck and reedbuck, unsurprisingly, are normally seen close to streams and other waterways. The route provides excellent opportunities to see giraffe, which is always a highlight.
After more than five hours in the saddle, the afternoon activity is a game drive in the nearby Entabeni or Welgevonden game reserves (to be paid locally - weather dependent). Although this involves an hour or more of travel to reach these destinations, the opportunity to see lion, elephant and rhino in their natural environments make this excursion well worthwhile.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Main Lodge

Day 5 (Thursday): Bush breakfast and Camp Davidson
Horseback rides in a game reserve are always interesting because one never knows what animals will be encountered. The route on this day goes deep into the reserve to parts with a real wilderness quality. After about three hours in the saddle, riders arrive at a giant wild fig tree for a delicious bush breakfast prepared on an open fire. After this hearty meal, the route back to the lodge passes through a dense forest area where some of the shyer species like to shelter.
That afternoon guests leave the Main Lodge and head towards Camp Davidson for an exciting night under canvas. The camp is perched high on a ridge overlooking a vast wilderness area to the east. This is not a long ride, but the route is exciting, following a narrow trail along the edge of the ridge. Wildlife often encountered in the area includes baboon, bushpig, kudu and klipspringer. Porcupines are frequent nocturnal visitors to the camp and leopard spoor outside the tents is not uncommon.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Camp Davidson

Day 6 (Friday): Sunset Lake, splashy canters and polocrosse
Today’s route covers the north eastern areas of the reserve, descending from the camp to cross a stream and open plain and then tracks through untouched bush to the upper reaches of Sunset Lake. This lake is a favourite haunt of the hippo on the reserve and home to crocodile, otter, fish eagle and other waterfowl, such as the beautiful African jacana. Guests ride along the water’s edge and must be constantly on the lookout for the hippo. These animals, while having a reputation for being some of the most dangerous in Africa, are not a threat during the day but will often honk and blow as they observe the riders go by. The route offers an opportunity for exciting splashy canters. Having left the lake, riders cross open plains with some quick riding back towards the Main Lodge.
After the morning’s exertions, guests can relax around the swimming pool and enjoy the beautiful unspoilt surroundings. The afternoon activity is polocrosse, an amalgam between polo and lacrosse. The game is highly addictive and is sure to bring out competitive passions! Horses which are used to playing the game are used and no previous experience of playing polocrosse is required. What is guaranteed is a great deal of fun.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Main Lodge

Day 7 (Saturday): Jumping lane to sundowner spot
Enjoy breakfast before going on a magical ride to eastern wilderness parts of the reserve with very scenic views across the highlands of the Waterberg.
In the afternoon, riders follow a route interspersed with optional cross country jumps on the way to sundowners in a stunning spot with views over the rolling hills. A slow ride back to the Lodge at dusk completes the day’s adventure.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Overnight at Main Lodge

Day 8 (Sunday): Final ride
By now riders are well versed in all aspects of the safari experience, and in consultation with their guides can suggest a favourite ride for their final experience. This is a last opportunity to ride amongst Africa’s incredible antelope species through a beautiful environment on superb horses. Following lunch in the garden it is time to embark on the road transfer back to the airport in Johannesburg.
Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch

Rates and Dates for South African Explorer

Rates include:

Accommodations, All meals with drinks, Activities as described in the itinerary & 7 riding days.
Helmets can be provided

Packages and Options

  • SeasonYearDescriptionGBP ~US$
    20248 day trip - High season£2390$2990
  • B
    20248 day trip - Mid season£2055$2570
  • C
    20248 day trip - Low season£1880$2350
The US Dollar Rate is Based on Exchange Rate of 1.25

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Transfer and Other Charges:

2024 Group transfers from Johannesburg/O.R. Tambo Int’l Airport, pp, one way £ 160 $200
2024 Discount for children 16 and below -- please inquire £ 0 $0
2024 Triple occupancy discount --please inquire £ 0 $0
2024 Conservation levy
- to be paid locally
£ 70 $90
2024 Big Five Game Drive, pp
- to be paid locally
£ 98 $120
2024 Non-rider rate = 30% discount £ 0 $0
2024 Single supplement (Luxury or Garden Chalet) +40% £ 0 $0

Season Tour Dates  Min / MaxReserve
B 2024 05/12 - 05/19 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 05/19 - 05/26 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 05/26 - 06/02 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 06/02 - 06/09 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 06/09 - 06/16 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 06/16 - 06/23 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
B 2024 06/23 - 06/30 8d / 7n 8 day trip - Mid season 2 /8 Expired
A 2024 06/30 - 07/07 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Expired
A 2024 07/07 - 07/14 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Expired
A 2024 07/14 - 07/21 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Expired
A 2024 07/21 - 07/28 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 07/28 - 08/04 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 08/04 - 08/11 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 08/11 - 08/18 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 08/18 - 08/25 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 08/25 - 09/01 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 09/01 - 09/08 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 09/08 - 09/15 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 09/15 - 09/22 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 09/22 - 09/29 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 09/29 - 10/06 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 10/06 - 10/13 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 10/13 - 10/20 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 10/20 - 10/27 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 10/27 - 11/03 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 11/03 - 11/10 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 11/10 - 11/17 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 11/17 - 11/24 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 11/24 - 12/01 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 12/01 - 12/08 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 12/08 - 12/15 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 12/15 - 12/22 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 12/22 - 12/29 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve
A 2024 12/29 - 01/05 8d / 7n 8 day trip - High season 2 /8 Reserve

Dates Note: Open all year - daily arrivals.

Rates do not include:

Game drive, Gratuities (payable only in cash) & Airport transfers. Conservation levy

Other Info
Meeting: Vaalwater
Airport: O.R. Tambo Int’l Airport
Transfer: O.R. Tambo Int’l Airport

                                            Mokopane area














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Source: NOAA

Well off the beaten path, the vast Waterberg region consists of mountains and high plateaus. There is a good diversity of game here and the area is malaria-free!

Summer / Rainy season (October to March)
The climate in the Waterberg is subtropical. The rainy season is from November to March, and it is then that most of the many rivers in the Waterberg will rise substantially and so will the heat of the sun; therefore the verdant vegetation will once again return to the landscape, becoming green and lush for the wildlife.

Winter / Dry season (April to September)
The winters, are pleasantly cooler, but incredibly dry. The now barren land becomes a variety of golds, reds, browns, grays and black. It is beautiful in its own eerie way, and there is less vegetation available for the animals to hide from your safari view which is a bonus! And no bugs!

What To Bring:
The hottest season is summer, from November to March. The rainy season extends from late November to February, with short showers in the late afternoon, and an occasional evening thunderstorm. The winter months of June, July and August are warm and dry, but evenings are chilly so it is advisable to bring warm clothing.

When packing, do bear in mind the fact that we offer a free of charge laundry service.  A daily laundry service is included at our Signature Safari lodge in South Africa.  We can normally turn laundry around within 24 – 48 hours. 

What is supplied?

*Shower gel

We suggest bringing the following:
• Your own well-fitting hard hat - Hard hats are mandatory (we can supply if needed)
• Comfortable riding clothes, this is not the place to test out brand new boots, wear everything a couple of times before bringing it on safari. Neutral colours such as khaki, brown, navy, and green are preferable. Light-coloured garments such as whites and creams should be avoided.
• Short boots and half chaps, ride/walk boot are perfect. Long leather boots are also good but long rubber boots are not advised.
• Bum bag
• Lip salve, hand cream, and moisturiser (it’s dry here!)
• Strong sun protection cream factor 30 or higher
• Mosquito repellent
• Hiking boots or sneakers
• Swimsuit
• Light weight long sleeved shirts
• Camera, memory cards and spare camera batteries
• If you ever suffer from regular bouts of illness e.g. cystitis, sinusitis, eczema, asthma, allergies etc please bring your preferred medication its best to have whatever you may need with you
• Ibuprofen and deep heat are also useful items, especially if you aren’t used to long hours in the saddle
• In our Winter, mornings can be chilly and days hot so bring layers, a vest, shirt fleece and body warmer are ideal winter wear.
• In summer pack a lightweight rain coat
• Books for when you are relaxing between rides
• High lumen torch or head torch
The Waterberg is a malaria-free area, but please check with your doctor or travel bureau for the latest advice.

This may sound strange but if you would like to purchase a spare pack of sanitary items to donate, please do, we donate them to local schools, many girls cannot afford them and have to miss school and exams also if you have any old clothes, shoes, blankets, books or stationary that you would otherwise throw away and have some room in your luggage please do bring it with you. Horizon is involved with local schools and creches and helps where possible with a local outreach project working with the very poor. As such we have lots of people who are grateful for any old clothing. Please do not feel you have to now go out and buy items to bring, - it is not by any means expected - it is just that over the years so many people have expressed regret at not knowing how useful that item they threw away last week would have been to someone here.