Take to the saddle!

Guided horse trails are now available at Babanango Game Reserve

We are thrilled to announce that there’s a whole new way to experience the breathtaking landscapes of Babanango Game Reserve! We recently introduced horse trails, which wind through the reserve, giving our visitors an astonishing safari experience.

On horseback, one can get closer to the game, which is less skittish around horses. The added height from the saddle also gives a better view over tall grass, giving one the opportunity of spotting otherwise hidden game.

“That’s the wonderful thing about horse riding on a game reserve,” says Justin Hall, Babanango Head Guide. “The animals don’t see you as a threat as they just see the horse and regard it as another, perhaps slightly odd-looking animal. This offers riders the chance to truly appreciate game viewing in a completely unobtrusive way.”

The horse trails wind through the reserve’s many habitats, from mistveld grasslands to thornveld and riverine thicket. You may even get to cross the White Umfolozi River, which winds through the reserve for 23km. One-hour outrides are offered, as well as half-day and full-day trails. In time, overnight trails will be offered with riders camping under the stars in dome tents.

The reserve’s beautiful rolling hills and plunging valleys are home to a variety of wildlife, from plains game such as wildebeest, zebra and kudu to buffalo, rhino and hippo. Leopard and hyena occur naturally on the reserve, which will be home to the rest of the Big Five thanks to the planned reintroduction of lion and elephant by 2022. All of this and so much more can be taken in from the saddle.

“It’s the perfect place to explore on horseback,” says Jeffrey van Staden, COO of African Habitat Conservancy, the organisation behind the creation of Babanango. “One of our objectives is to offer fully immersive experiences, so horse riding fits in perfectly with this ethos.”

Designed to appeal to all riding enthusiasts, irrespective of their experience, the horse trails are currently offered for a maximum of eight guests accompanied by two qualified and experienced guides. “The focus is on the experience of riding through this beautiful reserve,” says Van Staden. “It’s not about racing across the countryside but about appreciating the incredible environment and absorbing the wilderness as you wind your way through it, learning about its fauna and flora as you go.”

By the time Babanango becomes a fully-fledged Big Five reserve, its string of 10 Boerperd horses will have become acclimatised to the terrain and the animals that call it home.

Finding the right horses was vital, and the Babanango team searched South Africa for the best, most reputable breeders, settling on renowned Boerperd breeder and international endurance rider Wiesman Nel who is based in the Free State. Nel has supplied the horses and is involved in their ongoing training.

“It’s a huge privilege to be working with Babanango and introducing horse trails on to the reserve,” says Nel. “Our Boerperds are a perfect fit and are one of the most popular breeds for trails of this nature. It’s a South African breed, originally of Arab descent, and is renowned for being strong and hardy.”

For enquiries about our horse trails, please email reservations@babanango.co.za or call 031 1000 362.