View game on horseback at Addo Elephant National Park

Posted by Scott Ramsay on 4 December 2018 Tags:, ,

The snort of a black rhino ricochets through the dense thicket. Our horses stop, their ears and eyes alert to its presence. Taking our cue from the horses, we look from our elevated position on the saddles and, sure enough, we can see the horn of the ancient pachyderm, poking out the bush like a periscope. The scent of our horses masks our human smell, and after a few seconds the normally irascible rhino carries on browsing.

You can explore Addo’s wilder, rugged Nyathi sector on a horse, and get closer to skittish game than you would in a vehicle. Image by Scott Ramsay

A few minutes later, our guide leads us into more open terrain, where we encounter a bull elephant, feeding nonchalantly on juicy spekboom. Then a herd of zebras wanders past, perhaps wondering why their distant cousins forgot to put on their striped uniforms this morning. A small group of kudus enter the fray, almost within touching distance of us. Seeing Addo Elephant National Park on horseback is the wildest way to experience the most naturally diverse park in the country, home to the Big Five and five of SA’s seven biomes. The notoriously thick bush of the Nyathi and Main sections makes being on foot very dangerous, however, so no trails are offered. ‘You’d be mad to walk in Addo, but on a horse you’re much safer. You pose less of a threat to the animals,’ says conservation manager John Adendorff.

Guests don’t need to be horse-riding experts– the emphasis is on viewing wildlife, not cantering through the veld. A slow, steady walking pace is maintained, allowing for close encounters with big and small wild animals. Of course, there is always a chance of encountering lions, which adds the necessary frisson. The area is usually checked by rangers before horse trails are conducted – if predators are around, a different area is used that day

Cost

From R504 per adult and R252 per teen  (no children under 16). Conservation fee R69 per person.

Do it

Two-hour rides are taken morning and afternoon, leaving from Main Camp. Group size is a maximum of seven and for people weighing under 90kg. 0422338600

Where to stay

Spekboom Tented Camp in the main sector has the best views. From R939 for two. 0422338600

Kamberg Camp offers easy access to the cave, has a San art interpretive centre and is famed for fly fishing. There are six thatched chalets. From R390 per person sharing (sleep six). Camping R70 per person. 0338451000; kznwildlife.com