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Horseback Safari

If you’re a competent rider and you want to get up close to animals in the wild, then I urge you to do a horseback safari.

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I did that in Kenya and it was the experience of a lifetime.

Because my family aren’t such keen riders, we chose a place that had other activities available, including some safer riding.  After careful consideration, we chose Kenya and the Borana Ranch and Safari Lodge, a family run ranch with beautiful , luxurious accommodation and views to die for, set 17 miles north of the equator and 6,000 feet above sea level.

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We flew into Lewa airstrip, where we were met by our guide for the week and taken on a short game drive en route to the Lodge. And what a drive it was.

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Upon arrival we were greeted by our marvellous hosts, Sam, and shown to two huge and beautifully appointed houses (to call them rooms would be quite inappropriate), connected via a large patio area with its own wood stove and views!  Even as I unpacked, I spotted wildlife arriving at the waterhole below – a whole herd of cape buffalo, no less.

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A few more words about the lodge, before I move on to the real reason I was here. I can’t actually fault anything about the lodge. The setting is perfect, all of the cottages are positioned for uninterrupted views, they are beautiful and comfortable, with huge windows, wood fires and terraces.  The hosts are knowledgeable and friendly and your guide for your stay is there to take you wherever you want to go.

The  food is excellent too.  Lunch is normally served in a charming area just above the pool. Dinner is preceded by convivial drinks in the bar, before moving to what is almost a ceremonial hall for the gorgeous food.

The hosts also had two vivacious dogs who were often on hand to encourage us into the pool, or to point out the views below.

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There are several riding options on offer at Borana, suitable for beginners through to the experienced.  In the mornings, we opted for the reliable horses and safe environment of Rose Dyer’s stables, on the Ngare Ndare river close to the entrance gate.  This allowed us to ride as a family without fear of encountering anything that might scare our steeds. There are giraffes, zebras and antelope aplenty, but Rose doesn’t take her charges out if she knows there is anything more dangerous in the area.  The relaxing ride was a great way to start the day and I was even able to take the odd diversion and fit in some jumping over small hedges and fences, while the others took the more sedate option.

Rose is perfectly happy to take beginners under her wing, and to entertain the group with her stories about living in Kenya over the years.  Her father was one of the original soldier settlers, brought in by the British government to farm and develop the Kenyan land after World War I, and it is her son Michael who now manages the Borana ranch.  After the morning ride you can have a bush breakfast or head back to eat at the lodge.

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In the afternoons, I left husband and daughter to their own devices (game drives and guided walks with our guide) and joined up with the main afternoon rides.  There are 26 thoroughbred or thoroughbred-cross horses at the main stables.  All are well schooled, lively and fit and the guides know the horses and the surroundings inside out.  Riding across the park, you will see the full range of wild animals as well as the Boran cattle that lend their name to the ranch.  You do need to be a good rider to enjoy this part of the holiday; if you meet a dangerous animal, your horse will speed you to safety, but you have to have a solid seat to avoid being deposited on the floor during an urgent change of direction! Our rides normally ended with a long exhilarating gallop followed, of course, by sundowners.

a100_2628 a100_2648cPhotos are from summer 2011. Any photos where I am in shot were taken by Rose Dyer.

Linked to Thursday Special Challenge and Camera Critters.

10 replies »

  1. So, this is straight up a dream vaca. I love that you could be based in one spot yet enjoy all different activities, at different levels. I’m still just a beginner-level rider, but one day I’d love to do the ‘fast and crazy’ tour that you did sans family. I would totally want to pet the giraffes though. Also, I want to do something tremendous like that in Scotland or northern England. Horses, horses every day! And a nice place and yummy food to come back to at night.

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    • You would love the easier rides then, but probably best wait till you can take full advantage. You will probably find more choice in Ireland. But I’ll let you know if I come across anything in Scotland or the North. You’d probably do well to go somewhere where you can mix it with lessons, which I often do. I have a real favourite not too far from London, if you come this way! High on my list are Iceland, Mongolia, Wyoming, Argentina and the Alentejo in Portugal.

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      • My god, woman, you’re intense! Yeah, I’ve still got ways to go for these kinds of trips. I have heard about Ireland – as well as Italy – being good for the beginners, and I am checking out a ranch in Croatia as well. Until then, it’s lessons, lessons, lessons!

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  2. I am gonna leave a more thorough feedback after re-reading a reflection, bc right now I am just seeing one color and that color is GREEN WITH ENVY.

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