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Horseback Safari in Zimbabwe with The Safari Co.

exploring zimbabwe's wilderness areas on horseback

accommodation safaris general info weather

Undoubtedly, the Mavuradonha Mountains are one of Zimbabwe's hidden treasures (even to locals) - a little known area of pristine bush situated only 180km due north of Harare. This stunningly beautiful wilderness area of some 600 sq kilometres has been, and still is, totally unpopulated since the Bushman and Monomatapa Empires.

Due to the ruggedness and remoteness of the Mavuradonhas, there is only one road into the Wilderness that terminates at Kopje Tops Lodge - the only way to get around is on horse back or foot. No electricity and throbbing generators to disturb the peace, you will feel you are truly away from it all and may never want to return to civilisation!

Primarily focusing on horse riding safaris there are a multitude of safari options to take depending on your riding ability.

All safaris are lead by fully licensed professional guides with many years' experience in the area - your guide will help you make the most of the safari.


Kopje Tops Lodge
A magnificent stone and thatch structure sitting high amongst the trees. This 3 level lodge is where we meet for meals and drinks. Level one consists of dining room and bar area - level 2 is the library and level 3 is a flat viewing platform to give you your first views of the amazing expanse of the wilderness.
Accommodation is in 6 chalets scattered at the base of Kopje Tops, sleeping up to 12 guests all with full ensuite and hot showers. There is a bath in the double room.

Bat Cave Camp
A more rustic yet very comfortable bush camp situated a day's ride from Kopje Tops Lodge. After a long day in the saddle you will appreciate the hot bucket showers, comfy beds and wholesome, freshly prepared meals. Our staff will take care of your every need. Set above the Tingwa River Bat Caves is a remote camp deep into the Wilderness. All our supplies are brought in via porter or packhorse as there are no roads.
In the evening we usually watch the flight of the giant Egyptian Fruit Bats whose numbers have been estimated at up to 20,000 and are the largest known colony south of the equator. For the more adventurous your guide may take you deep into the caves to explore the bats habitat.


Tingwa Valley Safari
The Tingwa Valley safari is more a concept than a fixed itinerary. It means you stay at Kopje Tops Lodge or Bat Caves camp and do not camp out in the wilds of the bush as on an explorer safari. The riding also tends to be a bit easier than on the Explorer.

All our safaris are extremely flexible and we try to make the daily itinerary fit around guests preferences. So instead of a fixed itinerary we like to list the Tingwa, Mavare, Rwazi, Dateema, Mashonjeri, Buro, Musengezi, Mananuku, Fundumwe Rivers, just to name a few, to explore. There is also the McGrath, Rusty and Schellenberger waterfalls, Dead Elephant gorge, Incognito, Bat Caves, The Roof of the World, Makura Spilling tables and ancient fortresses of the Monomatapa Empire and a thousand other as yet unexplored places.

Even a week's safari is too short to explore all of the above. You will return to Kopje Tops Lodge amazed by the diversity and magnificence of the Mavuradonha. You will have stepped back into the past, experiencing the thrill of exploring a virgin wilderness area far from the madding crowd.

The Explorer Safari (experienced riders only)
If you want to experience what it was like for the early explorers sleeping on a mountaintop or on the sandy floor of a cave, this safari is a must for you. You will feel the wind in your face, the proximity of the bush and the calls of the wild all around.

On the Explorer safari we travel deeper in the heart of the wilderness and so for one or two nights we sleep out rough carrying our own food, water (wine for dinner), washing in rivers, a spade for a loo and sleeping on the ground with a mat or grass bed and sleeping bag.

This safari starts the same as the Tingwa Valley but we carry on from Bat Caves and the riding becomes progressively harder the elephant paths narrower and more precipitous as we climb higher into the mountains. We always end up somewhere spectacular to spend the evening: a cave, an ancient Monomatapa fortress, or perched above the world on a mountaintop to watch the moon set on one side and the sunrise on the other.

No set daily itinerary on this safari other than to say that the first and last nights will be spent back at Kopje Tops Lodge, two nights at Bat Caves and the remaining nights out rough deep into the Wilderness. Depending on guests we can either spend two consecutive nights out rough (or more) or head back to the comfort of Bat Caves for hot showers after one night rough. We can then proceed on in another direction the next day for another night out rough.

Covering up to 120 kilometres of challenging riding in 4/5 days this Explorers safari is only for experienced confident riders. The terrain is extremely rugged.


Sample itinerary:
You are on a fine steed amidst spectacular mountain scenery, surrounded by the wild without another tourist in sight or sign of civilisation. Most people say it's the best trip they have ever been on.

We start with leisurely breakfasts, stop in beautiful places for mid morning tea, followed by a longish lunch normally at a spectacular swimming hole to rest the horses and ourselves. We like to arrive into Bat Caves Camp in time for sundowners and a hot shower before dinner. Good food, comfort, not too much hard riding and the opportunity to learn about the unique flora and fauna of the Mountains from your professional guide are highlights of this safari.

DAY 1: Transfer to the Mavuradonha Wilderness normally arriving before lunch. Relax in the comfort of Kopje Tops Lodge or get to know your horse with a sundowner ride before dinner.

DAY 2: Early morning tea/coffee is served in your room before proceeding to Kopje Tops Lodge for a full cooked breakfast to stand you in good stead for your day in the saddle. Our route takes us roughly in the direction that the Tingwa river flows but with tracking Elephant and other game, visiting cave paintings swimming in waterfalls and natural pools and having 600 square kilometres of mountainous wilderness to explore means that we hardly ever take the same route twice.
We lunch normally somewhere we can swim and sunbathe a little, reaching Bat Caves in time to witness the evening flight of the Bats.

DAY 3: Breakfast when you want before setting off for a day tracking game through the tributaries of the lower Tingwa, Dateema and Mashonjeri Rivers. There is nothing like catching up with a herd of elephant you have been tracking for hours. No guarantees of finding them but that is half the fun and experience of learning about the bush. Return to Bat Caves for a second night.

DAY 4: Breakfast at about 7.30 before heading out for the return journey. You can decide on the type of terrain you want to ride and how hard or easy it should be. The professional guide will then work out the route with you. Some are mountainous with precipitous paths, some quick and relatively easy. Some are best for Cave Paintings, others meander along rivers lined with tall waterberries beside open vleis. There are at least ten different ways back through eight different Valleys ensuring you never take the same path home. Arrive back into Kopje Tops approx 1630.

DAY 5: The five day safari includes a full days ride out from Kopje Tops with a second night at the lodge. A very popular ride, this day takes you through the African Villages to the West of the Mavuradonhas. Guided by members of our staff who live there you will gain a fascinating insight into the ways of the rural African peoples and get a glimpse of their culture and beliefs.

Please contact us for a detailed quote

Type of horses: Ex-Polo ponies, Arabs, Quarter horse-cross and Thoroughbreds. All sure footed, experienced and very well schooled by our talented grooms. The horses are all conditioned to seeing game. Between 14 and 16 hh in size.

Weight limit: Maximum weight 210lbs if experienced riders, 180lbs if novice.

Tack: Mostly English style leather and Wintecs, some stock/McClennon saddles.

Kopje Tops Lodge: Can accommodate up to 12 guests in six chalets, with full ensuite facilities.

Bat Caves Camp: Up to 8 guests. Rustic bush camp, a day's ride from Kopjetops Lodge. Four rooms, each with own longdrop loo and hot-bucket shower offsuite

Tingwa Valley Safari: Max 6 guests

Explorer Safari: Max 6 guests - experienced and competent riders only. Minimum of six nights. Parts of this safari involve sleeping out "rough". Minimal equipment, porterage by packhorse.
Min. number of Guests: Two (2). We shall consider single guests on request min. 4 nights.
Children on request.

Guides: Every safari is accompanied by a fully licensed professional guide.

Grooms: An experienced groom accompanies each safari as well as your professional guide. The groom will tend to the horses during the day and nights as well as tacking on any shoes that should come off.

Group bookings: Please contact us for bookings over twelve guests. Extra accommodation is available in the five-bedroomed main house. Also available for private house parties.

Single Supplement: We do not charge a single supplement.

Safety and first aid: Your guide will give you a comprehensive safety talk prior to each safari. Guides also carry fully-equipped first aid kits. Hard hats available.

Other activities: We welcome non-riders at Kopje Tops. Price for non-riders on application.

Food: Fresh bush cuisine is prepared every day by our experienced chefs. Specific dietary requirements can be catered for on request.

How to get there: Two and half hours drive north of Harare (180km), the last 20km on dirt roads. We can transfer clients by road from Harare or use the airstrip-situated 12km from camp. Light air craft charters can be arrange to any destination in Zimbabwe from the Mavuradonha's.

Weather: December to early March is rainy season (summer), with heavy showers usually in the mornings and afternoons. March to November usually dry. May to end July is winter season - can get chilly in the mornings and evenings, however the days are normally very mild, with daily temperatures averaging 26 degrees C.

Please Contact Us for more details

Terms and conditions:
Please read our terms and conditions for more information on how to book, travel insurance, cancellation fees, baggage and other important issues.

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Kwazulu Natal
South Africa

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African Horse Safari in Zimbabwe | A Horseback Safari with The Safari Co. | Horse riding in Zimbabwe

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