Guest
Imke van Empel

My experience at African Dream Horse Safari

I did my internship at African Dream Horse Safari and I was there for 5,5 weeks. The best choice I ever made. Words can’t describe how I feel about this amazing experience. It was the perfect place for my internship.

I have learnt a lot about horses, the wildlife of South-Africa and myself during my internship. There were so many opportunities to choose from. I was given dressage lessons and jumping lessons to improve my horse riding skills. We had the opportunity to ride in the arena and in the bush. I really loved the outrides in the bush. I saw Giraffes, Zebra’s, Warthogs, Impala’s, Kudu’s and Nyala’s during outrides. Really unbelievable and amazing to see those animals from horseback. Three times a week, we did a Game Drive in a big 5 reserve looking for animals. I was allowed to see all the animals of the big 5 in the wild during my stay. We did great excursions like Kruger National Park, Ziplining, Jessica the Hippo, Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, sleepout in the bush and a bushwalk. Cross Country in the bush was also really incredible. It was such an amazing feeling to jump in the middle of the African bush. There was also an opportunity to go on outreach. On outreach we helped de dogs in the poor villages. It was really special to help and make a difference for those dogs and their owners. I also had delicious braai’s and dinners in the bush.

At African Dream Horse Safari, they care so much about the horses and they show us how to do the same. They show us how they take care of the horses and how to treat them in the right way. The horses were all so great and they all had their own character. I really loved that I had the chance to ride so many different horses. I can’t talk enough about how great my experience at African Dream Horse Safari was. I would really recommend this place to volunteer or to do your internship. I am so thankful for this experience and I enjoyed every moment of it. I want to say thank you to the whole African Dream Team and to the other volunteers and interns for making my internship abroad the best experience of my life

Imke

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Netherlands

ADHS Students 20170112_202149

African Dream Horse Safari – this title covers what my journey was about, but it was even more!

I was allowed to be guest in such a beautiful and unknown part of the world in which I fell in love with right at the beginning. As Ryan caught me up from the airport, driving directly to the stables to get to know it with its lovable horses, I was so relieved and happy as everyone was really welcoming, open-hearted and kind! That day I did not expected that the mentioned dream will really come true. With every day I got to love the place and people even more! I also improved my riding skills, especially jumping. But the best experiences where the adventurous rides in the bush. It is not comparable with any german outride as the landscape and horses have a unique character. It was so much fun and while cancering through the bush I felt so free!

In the evening we were going on a spontaneous bush drive as a leopard was sighted in the bush. To make this inspiring spot right at the beginning was a great pleasure but I was allowed to see even all the big fives within my 8 weeks stay!

Other appreciable experiences where friday funday, feeding bush babies, sleepover in the stable, the excursions, bible readings, dog walks, the African air and not to forget the feeling of freedom, openness, acceptance, gratefulness, love and gratitude but so much more including to become friends with other volunteers <3 It maintains being the most instructive time that thought me so much and changed my life!

I could talk about my experience for hours. The most important thing that is to say: THANK YOU!!! Thank you Traci and Shan for all what you have done for me, teaching me not only riding skills but so much noteworthy more <3 ! Thanks Ryan, Dean and Christelle for your passion introducing the bush and it’s animals and your humour. And a big Thank You to the whole Thomsons family! I love you guys and am missing you so much! Can’t wait to come back!

Ronja

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Germany

Claire

Last summer I had the most amazing time of my life at the African Dream Horse Safari. I stayed 5,5 weeks and I could not wish for a better place to go to for my internship.

The African Dream team treat horses in a very loving way, they have respect for the horses. They showed me how to listen to horses and how to understand them, to have patience and give them the love that they need. I improved my riding skills because of the amazing lessons that Traci and Shannon gave me such as flatwork and jumping. I have seen a lot of the beautiful nature during safari trips in the car, but also on the back of the horse. We found animals like giraffes and zebra’s during the outrides, which was very cool.

You don’t have to be a very experienced rider, Traci and Shannon will teach you with a lot of patience how to ride a horse.They take care of the staff members - who work very hard every day - and for us. They made the most delicious meals and played games with the volunteers and interns. They really involved us in their lives and let us feel more than welcome, like a member of the family.

Christelle always took the group to the most incredible places around Hoedspruit and taught me a lot about the (wild)life in South Africa with a lot of humor and passion. And beside this all, they also help dogs in a poor village nearby, they feed them, give them the medication that they need, show the owners how to take care of the dogs and even sterilize the male dogs led by veterinarians.

I really became a better person during my stay after everything I have learnt and seen. I would recommend this place to everyone!

Claire

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Holland

Freddie-and-Lulu

We came four weeks ago to spend our vacation with you. At this time we didn’t know what to expect of the stay. We had no idea that we would become part of a loving and hard working family.

Everybody’s goal was to make our stay as exciting and adventurous as possible. Every day was like an adventure and we couldn’t wait for the next activity. e are so grateful we were able to meet all this different characters and making new friends. A huge thank you to ALL of you and the hard working team around you. We hope you know what an huge impact you have on our lives.
You showed us a different way of living, taking things with a smile and never stop believing in yourself. Every guest (whether volunteer, intern or holiday guest) was warmly welcomed by your family. All of you take us as we are and allow us to to grow and to be. The same way you treat people you also treat your animals.

Traci and Shannon, we see how much you care about your animals and love them – we are grateful we learned different aspects how to work with them. Whether natural horsemanship or sitting on a horse and listening to their hearts to allow them however they are. We can make a difference how we work with them now.

Ryan and Christelle, both of you showed us the unique and fantastic wildlife, which is your home. None of you got ever tired of reading tracks for us to bring us as close to the animals as possible. The game drives were never the same and were filled with fun and excitement. You answered every single question perfectly and allowed us to experience the wildlife through your eyes. However we could feel you really wanted to get to know better the personalities behind the smiles. We loved having laughs with you. Thank you for all your patience, getting up too early and taking excellent care of us. We had a blast for sure!

Thank you all for making this the greatest adventure we ever did!

“We are thrilled and never forget about it – you’ll always stay in our hearts!”

Lulu & Friedi

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Germany

Julia

What an amazing time! That’s what I can say about my 7 week stay at African Dream Horse Safari. I didn’t really know what to expect about South Africa and Hoedspruit, but it was even better than I could imagine! My internship was about getting to know the company by working with the daily routine and learning the different between the company’s back home and abroad. During my stay I learned a lot about the horses. Not only riding the horses, but also compassion, lunging, information about diseases and a lot more. We did great excursions like Panoramic route, Big Swing, Kruger National Park and Mariepskop mountain. During the Game Drives through Jejane Nature Reserve, I learned about the bush and wildlife from Ryan and Christelle. There was also a lot of time left to relax, enjoy the beautiful country and have fun with each other during the braai’s and going out at sleepers.

It really felt like my second home here with the Thompson family and all the interns and volunteers. I want to thank everyone for the incredible time I had here in Africa!

“I hope to come back again!”

Julia

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Holland

Saskia

Now I am almost 2 month back home and since then there is no single day I don’t remember my time at ADHS. I want to say thank you to all of you guys. You make my 4 weeks at African Dream Horse so special. It was a pleasure to meet you, Shan, Ryan, Glen, Dean, Christelle and everybody else.

Starting with the riding, the game-drives, the very delicious braais and the very cool trips we had done.

Thanks to Ryan and Dean for taking the game drives and for telling us so much about the animals and the nature. I love it how you guys are living with the nature.

I love the dam swims and the jumping lessons with my perfect first jumping ever partner Dave, the trails with Schneider and Alloa. I remember the very hot flatwork lesson by 40° riding Carl, what was really hard work for my because I was a bit scared of him because of his size. I have never ridden such ab big horse before.

Ok now I am realize that I can’t write every loving moments from this trip because there is way too much.

“In short words … the perfect 4 weeks!”

Saskia

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Germany

Demi

After two months, it’s time to go home. I had an incredible time, had the best jumping lessons, became a more confident rider, rode the sweetest horses, met people from all over the world, had crazy parties, had delicious braai’s and bush dinners, did amazing excursions, enjoyed the African wildlife so much and I will never forget it.

I’ve learned a lot about the horse stable management, horse riding, veterinarian horse care, natural horsemanship, dog care, wildlife and the South African culture. We organized a horse show and helped with organizing and coordinating pony camp. After all we had a lot of fun.

I enjoyed every single moment. African Dream Horse Safari thank you for the beautiful memories!

“I enjoyed every single moment!”

Demi

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Holland

Petra

It has been a month since I came back from South Africa but I am still dreaming about this place, wanting to go back. “Just relax, enjoy yourself, don’t stress” said Shannon, sitting on the floor of my bungalow while I was unpacking my belongings. “And always check your boots! You don’t want to have a spider or scorpion inside.” Everybody looked so relaxed while I couldn’t believe that what I saw was real. I moved closer to a door and saw about ten buffaloes eating grass in front of our bungalow. I knew I would see wild animals but I did not expect that I would live this close to them.

There are so many moments which I could keep telling stories about but two of them will stay with me forever. It was Wednesday of my second week when I saw herd of elephants for the first time in my life. A female elephant eating dry branches and roots, waving her enormous ears, looking so calm. With her skin orange from the sunset, she looked absolutely stunning. I turned my head to the right and was amazed. About 12 elephants with their infants were standing in a circle just a few meters away from us. I watched the herd moving around, eating whatever they were able to find in that dry land, destroying everything that was standing in their way. I have never felt so amazed in my whole life.

I think that what I loved the most were evening game drives when it got dark. You start appreciate every touch of the light and perceive moments which would normally slip away without you noticing that they were there all the time. I remember those moments when I tilted my head back and watched the stars, the beautiful Milky Way, while our vehicle was moving forward. In a quiet African bush, howling hyenas is the sound you associate with it for the rest of your life once you hear it. It is accompanied by cicadas and buzzing of bugs. The light of our torch ran through the darkness and we were waiting for any sign of animals. “It stinks like our national meal” said Ace, my friend from Norway. It was a buffalo, dead for a couple of days. The car’s engine went silent. At the end of a two years long dry season, there was one animal who could not have benefitted from it more – hyenas. They were sitting in front of us, having their dinner. There are no words which could describe that astonishing moment, I did not dare to breath, move, speak. I was just sitting quietly, watching them and listening to their language.

And then, at the end, there was my Joey. I fell in love with him so easily. The beautiful horse who accompanied me on my outrides to the bush. I think Traci knew from the very beginning that love would grow between us and that’s why she chose him for me.

So I just have to warn you, once you fall in love with this place and the Thomson family, it will never go away. Thank you.

Petra

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Czechoslovakia

Judith

I had an amazing internship period of two months at African Dream Horse Safari.

We had a lot of fun every day. I learned a lot about the stable management, medical care of the horse, how to organize a jumping show, wildlife, natural horsemanship and much more. Besides that, I have improved my riding skills. I came as a nervous jumper, but after two jumping lessons I was not afraid to jump anymore and I could enjoy every jump I made with different horses. 

It is exciting to follow some footprints during a gamedrive and see the big five and other nice animals so close.

I did incredible excursions to Kruger National Park, Mariepskop mountain, panoramic route with some nice views, Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre Moholoholo and the waterfall hike. 

Besides all the serious things, we had great parties and nice braai evenings. Each horse has their own nice character. I had the most awesome time with amazing people.

“Thanks you African Dream Horse Safari to make my dream come true!”

Judith

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Holland

Fun & Games

My first three days at African Dream Horse Safari was the best start of my time here I could’ve asked for.
When Traci picked us up at the bus station I immediately felt welcome and in good hands. She told us that everybody was at the bush pool and asked if we wanted to go there. We would’ve been crazy to say no and wow was I excited about a pool out in the bush!
At the pool we got to meet all the others and little did I know when I nervously said my name and tried to remember theirs, that some of them would mean so much to me a few weeks later.

The day after was supposed to be a chill day but I realised quickly that those do not really exist here. First we did the color run in the morning and right after that, we got news about a buffalo being killed by lions close to the bushcamp. So we went to check it out and wow that was a cool first experience with the wildlife. I had been here not even 24 hours and I had already seen lions eating a buffalo. We ended the day with a cosy braai, sitting around the fire talking and listening to the sounds of the bush around us.

The third day was the most amazing one. It started with breakfast at the outdoor kitchen where we watched giraffes have a drink at the waterhole 50 metres away. We spent the rest of the day driving up in the mountains for an amazing view and a swim at a picnic spot that was like a paradise.

All these amazing things in just three days and then we hadn’t even been to the wonderful stables yet. Little did I know that these three days was just the beginning of two amazing months in Hoedspruit, where I’ve learnt so much about horses, riding, the wildlife, people and myself.
One thing I did know the day I arrived is that it would be really hard to leave.

Karolina

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Sweden

Manon

For years I had the dream to go to South-Africa, but I never expected that it would be so amazing!

I stayed 7 weeks at African Dream Horse Safari for doing an internship and it really changed my life. The outside life, nature and wildlife are so loveable. It made me feel so much better because I’m so used to live inside.

If you do what you love, everything is possible at African Dream, that is why I combined horse riding and two of my passions: Photography and wildlife. Made a lot of photos on the excursions in Krugerpark, Mariepskop and the Panoramic Route. Besides the excursions I did some marketing photography for the website and certificate. I also did some leopard research, put trap cameras in the Hoedspruit Wildlife Estate to see if there are any leopards in the area. Loved the horse riding, gamedrives, bush suppers and parties at Sleepers.

Learned so much about the people, nature, animals and myself. Crossed boundaries, made new friends for life and really improved my English. This is an experience I will never forget!

The Thomson family is amazing! You are a part of the family and they will include you with everything. I really wanted to thank them for the amazing time, making my dreams came true and besides that they gave me a new home in South-Africa!

“Hopefully see you next year or how you guys say: see you now now!”

Manon

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Holland

Christina

It was an incredible time with awesome people and an amazing family! In the whole time in Africa, I never felt like a part of a family like here with the Thomsons. Traci is an extraordinary woman, full of love, peace and fun. I will never forget her and her speech at her birthday, thanks for that.

I love the dam swim (Shannon and Twin´s dam “rolling”), the fantastic jumping lessons with Lui, which makes so much fun and my favorite dance “the sokkie”, I love it. Our night game drive was stopping my breath by seeing lions, one of them is come to us roaring and go maybe 1m next to our car, which wasn’t started!! It was a very powerful moment. Our cake sale for the donkeys, the Friday nights and a lot of other unforgettable moments, I miss them. But I´m sure this was not the last time, I will come back, to such wonderful people.  Thank you so much!

Christina

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Germany