Warning: when planning riding safaris, using a specialist riding holiday agency may lead to disappointment. Of course, it sounds counter intuitive, but bear with me. Those who specialise in riding safaris may know a lot about individual riding operators across Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania, but that is where their expertise ends. Few of them know much about the wider questions associated with your holiday.
Is this a good time of year for game viewing in this particular area? Should we stay in one place for a whole week? What will the non-riders do all day? What else is there on offer other than riding? Where else should we consider visiting to give us the best overall game viewing?
You only have to meet people who have spent five days riding around in one spot, at the wrong time of year, and without seeing anything more exciting than a stray baboon to know that sometimes focusing just on the riding element can be mistake. Of course it is important to know about the quality of horses and the facilities of the camp, but few people invest in a safari to simply fly in, ride and visit one place.
Consider this: wildlife areas with high populations of lion or other dangerous mammals are not generally suitable for riding. By definition, environments that are safe for horses may exclude some of the most interesting animals.
For most, a combined safari works better; visiting other areas which may be higher in predators and big game and enjoying game viewing from vehicles, boats or on foot, for a complete game viewing experience. The riding element of the trip should be central to the planning but it should not be its sole purpose.
An experienced African agent, who also specialises in riding safaris, will know all the options and will be able to advise you on the best camps (and the best times of year) to meet your needs. Nor should their safaris cost you any more than booking a riding safari direct. But they will also give you inside knowledge about the other opportunities available within a reasonable distance which will enhance your trip, delivering a better all-round experience and lasting memories.