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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.

 

The partly cloudy skies made for the best sun rays. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The partly cloudy skies made for the best sun rays.


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 green grass on the plateau with shadowed mountains as our backdrop. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The green grass on the plateau with shadowed mountains as our backdrop.


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.

 

The views got better and better as we climbed higher on the trail. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The views got better and better as we climbed higher on the trail.


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.

 

The dramatic skies made for an easy silhouette shot. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The dramatic skies made for an easy silhouette shot.

 

Gentle slopes at the start of the ride. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Gentle slopes at the start of the ride.

 

We passed this herd of cows on our way up, who eyed us mid-munch. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

We passed this herd of cows on our way up, who eyed us mid-munch.

 

Spha, on his favourite horse, overlooking the lands where he grew up. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Spha, on his favourite horse, overlooking the lands where he grew up.

 

The sun couldn't decide whether it wanted to shine or not.  Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

The sun couldn’t decide whether it wanted to shine or not.

 

My lovely horse - or rather, the view through his ears. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

My lovely horse – or rather, the view through his ears.

 
 

See more from this story in the December 2015 issue of Getaway magazine.

Get this issue →

 

 



  • Rianette

    Good morning. Did you actually bother to inspect the horses before you rode? There are some alarming accusations going around in facebook about the condition and abuse of these horses, as one would expect a glossy magazine would do.
    https://m.facebook.com/groups/194059257302467?view=permalink&id=1017052351669816&ref=bookmarks

    • Hi Rianette, I’m sorry to hear about Meghan’s experience and as a rider myself, thank you for bringing this to our attention. When I visited Ushaka Horse Trails I didn’t see anything untoward. There seemed to be affection between horse handler and horse, and the horses that we rode weren’t in bad condition or mistreated, that I could observe. I will contact the owner and ask for his feedback.

  • Thanks for doing the article Getaway. We hope to see a lot more of you guys doing features in our magnificent Drakensberg as there is plenty of other activities to be experienced. We are the Adventure Capital of South Africa after all!!

    • Hi Chris,I agree- the Drakensberg is just amazing. Scott Ramsey wrote a a lovely piece on following John Hone’s footsteps in the August 2015 issue. If you missed it, it should appear online shortly. I have no doubt we will be covering the Drakensberg area soon! All the best, Teagan