Please note that the itinerary is a rough guide and the daily schedule is determined by the guide with the best interests of the group and horses in mind. Flight delays, weather conditions and especially the changing tides in Vilankulo control the timing of rides and in which order they are to be made during the week.
INTRODUCTORY RIDE. 2 hours riding
Our guests are met at Vilankulo Airport by either Pat or Mandy Retzlaff, your hosts and guides for the week. After a short transfer from the airport, we will settle you into your lodging for the week.
In the afternoon you will have an opportunity to meet the horses and staff at the stables. You will be presented with a number of horses to try in our riding school. Once you feel comfortable we will head out onto the beach for a slow and relaxing ride, allowing you to become familiar with horse and equipment. The ride incorporates all the wonderful eco-systems in the archipelago; wide open beaches, incredible cliff top views, pristine dune bush and mangrove shoreline.
THE GREAT LAKE RIDES. 3 hours riding plus picnic lunch & canoe trip
Today we will ride inland on single trails skirting African villages and vast natural fresh water lakes. The birdlife is fantastic and there is a good chance of seeing eagles, herons, harriers, rollers, pelicans and kingfishers. We will canter along bush paths through African farmlands, rural schools and past the ruins of old Portuguese homesteads. The old farm roads allow for a fast pace as we continue inland and then back onto the beach.
BENGUERRA ISLAND RIDE. 3 hours riding depending on tide
An early start is imperative, a motorized dhow will whisk you through the Bazaruto National Park to the world famous Benguerra Island. Onboard you will pass old fishing dhows from a time gone by, pods of dolphins breach the water as you meander between the sandbanks. From a distance you see the shapes and colours of horses under palm trees on a pristine white sandy beach
You are soon saddled up, the horses are eager underfoot with ears pushed forward, you settle into your saddle and take in the magnificence of the vast Indian Ocean. Charlotte, your guide chats you through the flora and fauna, her passion unbridled. As you move inland you pass through local villages, towards high golden sand dunes and fresh water lakes with flocks of flamingos. The ride continues along sandy tracks onto a long beach past waving fisherman. Just before reaching the stables, you slip off the saddle and wallow into the sea bareback.
FISHING VILLAGE RIDE. 2 hours riding & 1.5 hours lunch/village
Have a relaxing breakfast and morning swim before our ride begins at 11.30 am. Once saddled, Mandy guides the group down to the beach at a gentle walk, the tide is out and the blue and white colours shimmer into the distance. Past the rocks the beach opens up and under Mandy’s instruction you will canter towards mangrove trees in the distance and up a red bank to the “Finger Print of God”. The panoramic views look out over the Bazaruto Archipelago, you will see colourful dhows glide along the channels and fisherwoman hunting crab in shallow sands. You continue through winding coconut plantations along a beach path to the Managlise Fishing Village.
You hear the distinct chatter of laughing children and are soon greeted by a horde of smiles. Once sat in simple thatch shelter, newly harvested coconuts are cracked open, the refreshing juice is rich reward after a long ride. Then a traditional lunch is served, fresh crab from the beach, grilled fish from the mornings catch and Matapa; a Mozambican dish made from cassava leaves, nuts and coconut milk. After your meal the children come out to sing local songs and dance, their smiles and energy make the occasion feel very special.
Late afternoon beckoning, the horses are saddled up and you start the return home. The ride is completely authentic, rich in cultural experience and brings much appreciated business to a locality well off the beaten track. It also means that locals who once feared the horses, have a better understanding and involvement with them in their community.
BEACH & BUSH RIDE. 3 to 4 hours riding
A hearty breakfast will be served at your lodge – today’s ride is a favourite with many of our guests. The route will take you along the old coastal main road running parallel to the beach before meandering up and wading across a small river estuary. Along the route we will pass through small rural villages where young children will come to wave at the horses. As the local population thins out there are long safe canters through coastal bush. After several hours in the saddle, a bush track through woodlands leads us down on to the beach with amazing views over the bay. The long, deserted, safe, sandy beaches offer a chance to experience dream-like canters on our way back to the stables. After a long day in the saddle, there is a chance for sundowners and a fine dinner at a local restaurant.
RED DUNE RIDE, NORTH BEACH. 3 to 4 hours riding
After a delicious breakfast we will drive you over to the stables. Your group is soon saddled up, once down on the beach your horse’s ears pick up as she takes in the sounds of chatting fisherman in passing dhows. You gaze out onto a wide-open expanse with turquoise seas and settle in next to Pat, together you canter along the never-ending beach.
The ride takes you on past Vilankulo town back onto the beach, then in the distance across the bay, glimmering red, towering above the shoreline is the resplendent Red Dune. As you reach the base your horse takes the lead, you can feel her exploding strength underfoot surging forward as she ascents to the summit in a powerful canter, her stamina and will far beyond the ordinary. The views are difficult to describe, your breath taken away by the blues seas and silver sandbanks stretching into the distance. Obligatory pictures, dune jumps and you move on back down, cantering on across the beach for a fresh seafood lunch.
After lunch we will stop at a local arts and crafts centre that supports the community – there will be plenty of time to explore and get some souvenirs for friends and family back home.
Our swimming ride is world famous – to see horses wallowing and rolling in the sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity and truly magical experience. Riders are mesmerized by the grace, power and movement of these magnificent animals swimming. Bring your camera to capture the moment. Time for one more lunch before you bid farewell to Vilankulo in preparation for your onward journey.
* Please note that if the tide is out on your final morning, we will do the swim on another day.
FAREWELL BREAKFAST RIDE. 1.5 hours riding
An early morning ride that follows the beach northwards passing through the outskirts of town into a wide-open bay, home to myriad of colourful dhows. The ride continues through the bay cantering along the beach, watching local fisherman make their way home. The ride ends with a delicious breakfast.