African Dream Horse Safari is a totally unique project with opportunities and experiences that differ greatly from other horse safari programs, which you’ll find in South Africa, with an emphasis on having fun. While the volunteers are with us, they will learn about working with and riding horses, as well as spend time in the bush acquiring the knowledge of the South African wildlife. They’ll get to experience the beauty of South Africa and live their African Dream.
The program is designed for up to ten volunteers, aged between 18 to 35, who are interested in learning more about an equestrian centre and the management thereof, including all aspects such as understanding the correct way to ride, handling of horses, general horse and equipment care, basic yard management, safety, instruction, schooling, basic veterinary, riding skills both in the wildlife and in an arena, horse behaviour, natural horsemanship and horse trails in combination with a unique nature experience, with an emphasis on conservation, including nature guiding in the natural environment, basic knowledge of ecosystems, identification, tracks and signs, animal behaviour and so much more.
The program exposes one to all the aspects of managing an equestrian centre, however one will not be expected to maintain the centre, so if mucking out a stable is not their thing, then don’t despair. Rather, emphasis is placed on learning in a relaxed and fun filled environment, and is available to both experienced riders and novices alike. If the volunteer has never ridden a horse before but would like to learn, African Dream Horse Safaris is the place to visit.
The owner of African Dream Horse Safari is Traci Thomson who is a devoted guide, accomplished competitive rider and dedicated conservationist. She is also qualified in both FGASA Level 1 and Level 2 as well as Advanced Trails guide and facilitator. Her team is made up of Shannon, who manages the stable yard and works with the horses; Ryan, who is the administrator and conducts game drives on the Big 5 reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger & Christelle who also takes out game drives and horse trails and as many past volunteers will agree, the entertainer.
African Dream Horse Safari is situated in the Lowveld of the Limpopo Province of South Africa on the outskirts of the tourist town, Hoedspruit (430km north east of Pretoria and in close proximity to the Kruger National Park). The climate is sub-tropical with a mean summer rainfall of 475 mm and dry winters. Temperatures range between 8ºC – 26ºC in winter and 18ºC – 45ºC in summer. The area is considered a low risk malaria area, but volunteers should please consult their doctor in connection with malaria medication.
Volunteers can either catch a shuttle or a flight from Johannesburg’s international airport, O.R Tambo, to Hoedspruit (Eastgate Airport) and then ferried to their new home in the bush. The Equestrian centre is situated within the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate, which is ten minutes from the accommodation. It is a 420 hectare nature reserve. The estate has Leopard, Hyena and most of the herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, reptiles, snakes, primates, smaller cats, eagles, vultures, birds, insects and their relatives that you find in the Savanna biome. During the game drives and outrides we offer, we almost always see a variety of animals.
We have traverse rights on adjacent nature reserves which are part of the Greater Kruger and are home to the BIG 5 (lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo), as well as many other animal species. During their stay, volunteers will go on game drives and night drives in the wild to expose them to as much wildlife possible.
Besides the day to day activities which make up the program, volunteers will be given enough free time to explore the many beautiful spots in the area, including the Blyde River Canyon (the largest green canyon in the world), the world famous Kruger National Park, God’s Window in Graskop and many more. Other excursions include hiking along courses of waterfalls and visiting one of the many animal rehabilitation centres in the area. We are also situated close enough to the town of Hoedspruit for those who like to get out and enjoy an evening at one of the local restaurants.
Arrivals and departures are on Mondays and Fridays only. A minimum stay of 2 weeks is required.
Weather permitting, the weekly schedule will combine equestrian with nature, where volunteers will either be at the stables or in the bush. Wednesdays will provide one with an opportunity to experience one of the various excursions and every Thursday, volunteers will spend some time helping out on outreach, where we assist dogs in the local village, working with HALO (Hoedspruit AnimaL Outreach) and if the opportunity arises, we will be able to assist Nourish , a local NPO, with their community work that they do. On weekends we will go have a night at the local bar for a party, as well as an awesome social braai/barbecue around the fire. A fair amount of free time is also made available, where one can use either to catch up on their personal requirements such as Facebook, Skype etc., or simply to take in the beautiful sights and sounds of their surroundings.
For those wishing to further their equestrian knowledge and riding skills, experience trails from horseback, show jumping/dressage and stable yard management, while doing so within a wildlife environment, African Dream Horse Safaris is the chosen destination.
A few of the skills volunteers will be exposed to are as follows:
If watching wild animals while driving through the African bush, sitting around a campfire listening to the calls of the wild or sipping a well-deserved drink, while watching the African sunset sounds appealing, then African Dream Horse Safari is the place for you to visit.
The main objective here is to create a love and an awareness of the environment, with conservation as the main drive. Volunteers will have the opportunity to do game drives, short bush walks and learn about basic conservation practices within a Big 5 reserve.
Some of the experiences/skills you’ll be exposed to:
Every Wednesday the volunteers will have an opportunity to go on an excursion, which will allow one to see more of the Lowveld and its surrounding area:
Every Thursday, the volunteers will have an opportunity to join in on our outreach work in the Sigagule village, assisting the dogs and giving them medical care in partnership with HALO (Hoedspruit AnimaL Outreach). An opportunity may come up to lend a helping hand to other non-profit charities in the Hoedspruit area, such as Nourish and Hoedspruit Paws.
Accommodation is provided at The Bushcamp, which is situated on a neighbouring Big 5 reserve, just a short ten minutes’ drive from the stables. The Bushcamp consists of 3 comfortable chalets, which can each accommodate up to 4 volunteers and they all have their own bathroom en suite. A separate outdoor kitchen and fireplace overlook a waterhole in the bush, where one can enjoy a meal, spend your time relaxing with a book or sitting around a campfire, while a variety of game come down to drink. The kitchen is fully stocked for a self-service breakfast and supper. Lunches are prepared for everyone at the stables.
There is also a swimming pool just a short drive away, for those hot African days, surrounded by wooden decking and overlooking the bush. There is another pool at the stables where one can take a refreshing dip during the lunch break.
Unlimited Wifi is also provided.