There are moments when I know, through to my bones, that I have the best job in the world. Horse-riding in the Maloti-Drakensberg, watching shadows roll across the mountains, was one of them.
Our ride started off on sloping farmland and moved up past grazing cows, each view improving as we curved higher and higher. Easy-going Spha was leading our group, on his favourite horse. He has grown up in the area and took us past three of his own horses, grazing in the fields. Luisa was our second rider; a traveller from Germany with colours in her braided hair.
The ride was organised through Karl from Ushaka Horse Trails, a 20-strong horse riding farm which offers a number of outrides – some take you through forest, others to rock art or along the foothills of the Cathkin Mountain range. I chose the latter, on the hope of getting some great views of the dramatic escarpment.
I always seem to end up riding with one hand nowadays. It’s a little awkward – especially when the other hand, and at least one eye, are trying to get good shots of the horses ahead. Luckily for me I had a sweet-natured (if somewhat bemused) horse on my side, who tolerated my weaving to various vantage points. We rode far, trotting and cantering here and there, until we reached the highest point on the trail. Standing on a rocky outcrop with valley views beneath me and the mountain range at my back, I drew in a deep breath of the unspoilt mountain air, equally envious of those who got to do this for a living, and grateful that this sort of experience was part of my job.
This was part of the Escape the Crowds feature, found in our December 2015 issue. Take a look at the magazine to see where else we explored.
For those interested in doing a similar horse ride in the Drakensberg, contact Karl from Ushaka Horse Trails on 0726642992. Rates are very affordable, starting from R120 for an hour, and cater to all experience levels.