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Safari Preparations—Post #2: The Horses, Immunizations + Special LBTE Discount Code

If you've been following my Instagram and/or Facebook accounts, you've probably seen some of the safari photos I've shared with surprisingly close up shots of giraffe, elephants, lions, hippos, and even hyena. Many have asked how do the horses handle that kind of pressure and not turn and bolt. It wouldn't be unusual for my pony, for instance, to have a melt down over a fluttering plastic grocery bag on the trail, but *these horses seem to take it all in a day's work. 

I asked African Horse Safaris to share a little bit about how the horses and how they are typically trained and desensitized. 


photo courtesy of African Horse Safaris

photo courtesy of African Horse Safaris

photo courtesy of African Horse Safaris

photo courtesy of African Horse Safaris


THE HORSES

"Many of the horses at Ride Botswana are well-bred, Thoroughbred X heavier breeds, ie. Shire, Friesian, Clydesdale. The kind and quieter temperaments of the heavier horses and the agility of the Thoroughbreds make for a perfect safari horse. Other horses are 'bush horses' with no specific breeding, but bred for their hardiness and sensible nature in the bush. There tends to be a similar theme throughout many riding safaris in Africa.

Horses are schooled until they are comfortable under saddle, listening to the aids, and we are confident they are ready to be ridden out in the open. With Ride Botswana, the stables are based in a smallish reserve which is home to many different antelope, zebra, giraffe, ostrich, monkeys etc. Often these animals come right up to the stables so horses start to become accustomed to seeing them. Funnily enough it is giraffe that the horses find the hardest to get used to (we think its something to do with the fact they look like a moving tree). Horses are turned loose in the reserve so they become used to sharing space with them. They will then start to be ridden around the reserve as they can often react differently when under saddle and to start building up their fitness. Horses should be schooled a 2-3 times a week, taken on fitness rides (walk, trot and long canters) and given a day off each week. 

Once they feel horses are safe and up to fitness they will start being used for safaris and day rides. Having spent time amongst the game in the reserve they will be used to seeing a lot of the smaller game. When it comes to elephant, a lot of the older horses in the string will be used to seeing them so this will help keep a calm atmosphere amongst the herd while the younger/newer horses get used to seeing and being around them. It is important that they do not panic. 

The same applies to lion, although they tend to be kept at a further distance for obvious reasons!"


MORE ABOUT MY OWN PREPARATION FOR THE TRIP

This is a trip I always fantasized about but honestly didn't think I'd ever get to do. I'm so grateful for this opportunity and want to share everything I'm learning along the way. One of the first things I wanted to get out of the way—after finding and renewing my passport that I last used on when my husband and I married and traveled to France way back in 1998—was immunizations. After a quick Google search, and referencing  Lonely Planet Botswana & Namibia , and the Center for Disease Control , I made an appointment with my doctor and got:

- Hepatitis A + B
- Rabies
- Typhoid
- Malaria ( my doctor prescribed Doxycycline, but there are several options ) 
- and Azithromycin tablets for ( ahem ) travelers' diarrhea

And of course made sure I was up to date on my Tetanus.  The Marlaria pills are an antibiotic and I start taking those a day or two before we leave, continue to take them while on the trip, and continue for four weeks after returning. 

A heads up, many insurance companies won't cover traveller's immunizations so be prepared to pay out of pocket. I think I mine were about $250 total, plus an office visit with my doctor. 
 

SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR LBTE FOLLOWERS

African Horse Safaris is offering Life Between The Ears followers a special discount of $100 off this very same ride that I'm doing: Ride Botswana Okavango Delta Ride

Feel free to email Isabel Juby at African Horse Safaris, directly, if you have any questions. She is not only knowledgable, but super patient and has answered about 179 of my email questions and still seems to like me. Go figure. 

Mention this code to Isabel:  LBTE$100DISCOUNT to receive $100 off your booking. 
And alternatively, if you voted in the Instagram contest, remember, you receive 10% OFF your booking for entering. It will be a trip of a lifetime! 

Next week I'll be sharing with you, more about the Okavango Delta. Have a great week and see you soon. 

Ride On! 

XO Kristine





 



 

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The Safari Prep#1—Fly Camp vs Permanent Camp and African Geography 101

As some of you may recall, back in February, and because of *YOU GUYS*, I won the trip of a lifetime courtesy of African Horse Safaris  Instagram competition, and will be headed to  Botswana for an eight day safari the end of August. THANK YOU to all of you who voted for me, and THANK YOU to African Horse Safaris for this incredible gift.  

I don't think I'll believe I'm really going to do this 'til my feet hit the ground in Africa. I realize many of you may think because I post all these gorgeous photos from around the globe, that I must travel a great deal, when in fact, I'm lucky if I make it to town to the grocery store once a week and every few months make a trip into Seattle. I am lucky I get to live in our sweet old farm house with our collection of critters ( or  "the whole catastrophe" as my husband calls it ) on Vashon Island and to be able to work remotely from home, and because it's so beautiful here with miles of trails, I rarely feel the *need to leave. 

In preparation for my trip, I thought I'd do a series of blog posts over the next few weeks to share with you what I'm learning and doing along the way in preparation for departure in six weeks.

AFRICAN GEOGRAPHY 101
This particular ride is hosted by Ride Botswana so the first thing I did was brush up on my geography. Botswana is a land-locked country in southern section of the continent of Africa, bordered by South Africa to the south/southeast, Namibia to the west/north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast.  It's a mainly flat landscape, with up to 70 percent of the country consisting of the Kalahari Desert.  

africa-map.jpg

WHAT TO BRING
Since our ride will be taking place in the Okavango Delta ( more about that in an upcoming blog post ), that means we will be riding through water, from island to island, and the first thing I learned from our intrepid "spirit guide", Isabel Juby, at African Horse Safaris is that we will get wet, and tall riding boots are a no-go. Instead, we need mesh shoes/boots—preferably two pair: one to wear, one to dry—that are not waterproof, that will dry relatively quickly, and mesh half chaps. Having never ridden in anything but tall boots, this is all new to me. And because we fly from Johannesburg to Maun, Botswana in a small jumper plane, we have a strict weight limit and our baggage can weigh no more than 47 pounds, which needs to include:

  • two pair boots ( not leather ) 
  • breeches ( bush colored, no bright colors, white or black )
  • long sleeved shirts
  • socks, underwear
  • shorts, t-shirts,
  • fleece or vest
  • sunglasses, riding gloves, sun hat
  • rain jacket ( just in case )
  • helmet
  • gloves
  • swimsuit & sarong, flip flops
  • flash light 
  • binoculars
  • waterproof camera
  • sunscreen, bandaids, ibuprofen, bug spray
  • solar recharger for your phone/devices & adaptor

FLY CAMP-vs-TRADITIONAL PERMANENT LODGE/CAMP-BASED SAFARI

Another thing I learned was the difference between a fly camp versus a traditional permanent camp-based safari. You may automatically think of scenes from Out Of Africa, with beds covered in flowing mosquito netting, animal skins rugs, and leather club chairs and a veranda where dinner is served. While all that sounds glorious, a Fly Camp is different—think 'glamping'. In a fly camp, you move campsites multiple times during the week, depending on the water levels of the Delta, and animal tracking.

While a traditional camp-based safari is luxurious, it is limited with the amount of big game you can see and the land you're able to cover. Fly Camping allows you to be in the bush undisturbed and uninterrupted by the hustle and bustle of a lodge. You remain with the same group for your stay, where as in a lodge guests tend to be coming and going as they will not be on the same schedule/safari as you. With a fly camp, the safari is mobile and you cover a lot of ground—typically six hours a day in the saddle. You sleep in two-man tents with cots and down duvets, shower in bucket showers under the stars, and are more likely to encounter big game ( or Big Five as they're called: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and cape buffalo ). Typically up at 6am, breakfast, then out for a ride by 7am. A break from 11am to 3:30 or optional afternoon ride, then sundowner ride, dinner, and finally a coma til you get to do it all again the next day. 

Dinner is served.

Dinner is served.

Food is cooked over an open fire in the bush kitchen, "Pleasantly surprised is an understatement—it's some of the best food I've eaten," says African Horse Safari intern, Minna Henderson. While lodge-based is very comfortable and you have many luxuries, fly camping (just as comfortable) allows for a real Africa safari experience.

QUICK FACTS

  • Arrival and Departure: most common is a flight to Johannesburg, and then a connection to Maun
  • Length: 5 to 7 nights
  • When: set departures. Please see dates and rates for more details
  • Rates 2018: 7 nights from $3550
  • Riding Level: as you will be riding in areas where you can come across potentially dangerous game, this ride requires a strong intermediate plus or above level of riding
  • Number of Riders: maximum of 8 per safari

SPECIAL DISCOUNT
Did you vote in the competition? If so, remember your 10% OFF coupon with African Horse Safaris is valid through 2019 and keep your eyes peeled for an additional discount code coming soon in my next blog post. 

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