The couple on horseback stand three feet away from the giraffe and her baby. Sitting silently on horses, they are an integral part of this environment. The moment is magical. The mother giraffe accepts the horses and doesn’t flee. That’s how it is when riding horseback in the nature park of Masai Mara. Walking safaris and driving safaris are other ways to see the different habitats, but they don’t provide quite the same experience one gets from seeing things from horseback.
The original way of going on safari was walking. Many people still prefer this type of trip. It’s one of the ways to become fully immersed in the smells and sounds of the environment. Experienced guides, who are usually armed, are essential. The animals can be unpredictable, but a knowledgeable guide can “read the surroundings” and know if an area is safe. Accidents are rare, but there is an element of risk to being on foot in animal territory. An experienced guide can also teach about the unusual plants and can track the animals. Usually, the walks are between two and four hours long and are open to guests over the age of sixteen.
Most people going on safaris go by vehicle to see the big game animals. It’s safe and convenient. A guide picks up the small group of participants and nothing is left to chance. Prices vary. Safari goers can choose to be greeted by native helpers at each stop with the tents and bedding all set up and dinner on the table along with wine, cloth napkins, and china. Less luxurious trips that serve regular camp fare and tented sleeping quarters are available. Seeing “big five animals” is almost guaranteed, and the guide will know exactly where to find them. For safari-goers who want to see as much as possible, this mode of travel works well. Participants can cover a great deal of ground and see many different animals and terrain.
The experience of being on a horseback safari can be unforgettable. Leaving the vehicle behind is a sure way of becoming one with the environment. It’s possible to reach terrain on the back of a horse where a truck cannot go. The idea originated in Kenya in the 1970s and has become more popular every year since then. People who have done the safari on horseback liken the experience to flying. The energy between horse and rider is tremendous. Riders are usually in the saddle for up to four hours, and the horses chosen for them are amiable animals used to traveling the different areas of the reserve and being around the wildlife. Participants don’t have to be experienced riders. It’s essential when booking, to be frank about riding ability and choose the right difficulty level of the ride. The experienced guide will want to keep everyone in a cohesive group and not have slower participants holing up the other riders. Safaris on horseback can be lodge-based or trail-based. The lodge-based rides end with a little luxury, perhaps with a massage and a gourmet dinner. The trail-based ride has more of a wilderness feel and participants sleep in tents, and the meals are a lot less fancy.
Taking a horseback safari from July through October is especially exciting for horseback riders. As well as mingling with herds of zebra, it’s a sure way to witness the yearly migration of millions of wildebeest and possibly canter along with them.
Justin always have the love of adventure and animals. It’s hard to count how many safaris he had visited and that includes Africa. Currently, he lives in Florida and works as a freelance photographer.