Gap Africa Projects presents a 12-day field trip showcasing applied professional equine management in South Africa.
The aim is to give students a varied and once in a life time experience, taking part in the most adventurous equine trek in Africa and also getting to work hands on with working horses. The course aims to expose students to different landscapes and areas of Southern Africa, working in both local communities and towns and also spending time with Africa’s wildlife on a game reserve.
Equine Management Overview
Gap Africa Projects presents a 12-day field trip showcasing applied equine outreach management and trails in South Africa.
The Equine trails and outreach programme in Southern Africa is an experience designed to give students a sense of African adventure and community with a horsey twist!
It is split over three different locations including Lesotho and the province of Kwazulu-Natal. Students will get to see three very different landscapes; mountains, the African bush and community living.
The first part of the programme is based in Lesotho, a small country in Southern Africa; here students will get to go on a horse trail through the country, staying in rural local villages along the way. Students will then get to spend a day in the Midlands region, the equine capital of South Africa, here there will be site visits to gain experience with specialists in the equine industry. Students will then spend 3 days with a local charity, The Coastal Horse Care Unit, where students will gain hands on experience with handling and treating community owned horses. The final section of the trip is based at Somkhanda Game Reserve where students will get to experience the big 5 and the African bush.
Overview Sample Itinerary:
Day 1 -Arrive into South Africa and travel to Drakensberg Mountain base (Khotso)
Day 2-Lesotho Horse Trail begins and sleep out in Lesotho
Day 3- Second day of Lesotho Trail and sleep out in Lesotho
Day 4- Final day on Lesotho Trail and return to camp base and sleep at Khotso
Day 5- Midlands Equine region- practical dentistry and Summervelt site visit plus Equine Hospital tour
Day 6- Coastal Horse Care Unit- Preparing and Packing for outreach
Day 7- Rural Outreach and sleep on location
Day 8- Rural Outreach and sleep on location
Day 9- Travel to Somkhanda Game Reserve
Day 10- Somkhanda Game Reserve
Day 11- Somkhanda Game Reserve, final day
Day 12- Return to the UK
Lesotho Horse trail Experience
The horse trail begins in the Southern Drakensberg, where there is a warm, friendly, peaceful and tranquil retreat right from the start. The Southern Drakensberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for ‘exceptional natural beauty’. It attracts countless visitors year round from South Africa and beyond wanting to see the jagged mountains and magnificent rock art sites with its changing colours, breath-taking sunsets, clean air and crystal clear night skies.
On arrival at the 1,300 hectares farm students will spend a night on the rolling foothills of the farm. The world famous Sani Pass and Bushmans Nek – border options into Lesotho – are a short drive away and the entrance to the National Park itself is only 30 minutes door to door.
This 4 day trek will encompass Some of the best riding you could ever hope to experience, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned veteran. Breathtaking scenery and unparalleled access to the Southern Drakensberg in both South Africa and Lesotho. You will have home-cooked and filling meals; candlelight and atmosphere! All necessary equipment for safety and enjoyment will be supplied including provision of waterproofs.
07h30 – Complimentary cooked breakfast with cereals, yoghurt and fruit
08h00 – 08h30 – Loading up of saddlebags and tack. Final checks for passports, equipment, helmets.
08h30 – Departure from Farm to Bushman’s Nek pass border post. Roughly 45mins
09h30 – 10h00 – Passport stamps and last minute checks. Saddling up and tacking carried out by trek leaders. Introduction to your steeds
10h00 – Kick-off. Departure from border post into the National Park and Bushman’s Nek mountain pass. Sandwich lunch provided at half-way point. Our first day’s ride, to where we sleep for the night, takes approx 6 hours depending on riders’ experience. Spectacular, remote and mountainous terrain, panoramic views of the Southern Drakensberg. Magnificent riding and first exposure to untouched wilds of Lesotho
16h00 17h00 – Arrival at Ha Thamatu Lodge. Unpacking, tea and coffee and biscuits. Chance to wander through the village
19h00 – 19h30 – Hearty, warming evening meal and drinks, cooked by trek leaders
07h00 – 07h30 – Cooked breakfast, with tea and coffee. More leisurely start, packing and preparation for the second riding day
08h30 – After breakfast, the second day’s ride is easier but still can be up to 4 to 5 hours in duration. Chance to explore the rivers, see Bushman rock art and venture out on horseback into the spectacular canyons of the Lesotho high plateau. Excellent conditions for riding, large open plains, free-roaming across parts of Lesotho no tourist gets the chance to see.
19h00 – 20h00 – Evening meal, another hearty home cooked dish. Another opportunity to enjoy the crystal clear dark starry nights of the Lesotho plateau and remember it’s the southern hemisphere- it is a different sky!
07h00 – 07h30 – Cooked breakfast, with tea and coffee
0830- Depart for local rural villages where Farrier will carry out a workshop with the local community
1500- On return, a chance to explore the surrounding village and meet with locals – famous for their friendliness and welcome nature. Chance to unwind and relax, stretch the legs and have tea and coffee
19h00 – 20h00 – Evening meal
06h30 – Breakfast, packing and preparation for departure (it is important that we get an early start as we have to be back at the border before it closes at 4pm). After breakfast we return via a different route, stopping at a spectacular waterfall with a chance to swim and if you are brave enough, jump in from the 20 meter high cliffs. Water-and bravado-level dependent
15h00 – 16h00 – Arrival at Bushman’s Nek border post for return to South Africa and collection. Horses, tack, equipment and luggage collected by ground team on South African side.
17h00 – Arrival at base and the swiss lodge. A welcoming hot shower, and a chance to relax before the evening dinner
19h30 – Evening meal; Debrief, stories, bragging rights, celebratory drinks, stretching and picture sharing.
Coastal Horse Care Unit
The Coastal Horse Care unit is based on the beautiful east coast of South Africa near to the city of Durban. With a clinic and stables out in the countryside the Coastal Horse Care unit is a multi-functional site, where horses are rehabilitated, cared for and re-homed. There is also an educational centre, where there are accommodation facilities, a lecture hall and tutorial rooms. The Coastal Horse Care Unit have a mission statement; to protect horses from abuse and alleviate their suffering by rehabilitating, campaigning and educating. A world where horses are used but not abused.
The centre focuses on several aspects of equine welfare including:
Equine rescue and rehabilitation centre incorporating a donkey sanctuary
Addressing Equine Welfare from a neutral stance, incorporating all disciplines i.e. Horse Racing, Polo, Show-jumping, etc.
Creating an environment of transparency by opening up a visitors’ and educational centre
Opening of an on-site and in-field educational programme for the education and upliftment of people involved with horses, incorporating rural and working horses
To promote the partnership between horses and humans
Promoting education to achieve horse welfare solutions
Dynamic approach; different situations need different approaches and CHCU will adapt to circumstances.
Rural clinics and Empowerment Programme
The organisation goes into the surrounding rural areas and educates owners on the care of their horses and donkeys. These communities rely heavily on their horses for their transport and livelihood. The rural outreach clinics not only teach local communities the basics of horse care but provides them with the tools to gain better productivity from the animals in a conducive environment which is both horse and owner friendly.
One of their main objectives is to empower rural communities through education. They currently have a programme where rural people are trained in farriery and saddlery which is a skills development project. The qualification received after completion of this course provides the graduates with an opportunity to gain meaningful employment and educate other community members in proper horse care. This leads to a sustainable effect with regards to the welfare of these animals.
Students are able to donate tack and supplies which will help as it will be given to rural horse owners as replacements.
The 5 day programme with CHCU will be organised to give students 2 days to spend at the centre and three days carrying out outreach.
Whilst at the centre, students will be able to have a tour of the site and help with any activity going on in the rehabilitation and re-homing sector.
There will be lectures given on the subjects of:
Somkhanda Game reserve
The students will be taught and work alongside the field guides and conservation team at Somkhanda Game reserve. This will give students a chance to see African wildlife and work alongside professionals in the conservation industry.
A working day on the game reserve is hard graft but very rewarding, Activities students may be involved in:
– Leopard camera trap surveys
– Small mammal research
– Wild dog tracking
– Rhino monitoring
– Predator tracking (Lion)
– Elephant monitoring and observation
– Game counts
– Fence and road maintenance
– Water management for game
– Community cattle dipping
– Alien plant control
– Fire management
– Game capture
There are some specific research programmes that Somkhanda focus on:
Black Rhino Project:
Black Rhino populations are under threat throughout Africa with the total number having plummeted from approximately 65000 to 2400. In recent years successful conservation efforts have resulted in numbers rising again to a current population of approximately 3000. South Africa is home to the largest number of black rhino and certain key populations have reached their optimum biological carrying capacity. Overpopulation can negatively impact on population growth and so breeding populations have to be carefully established and controlled in a suitable habitat. Whilst on Somkhanda you will have the chance to help restore the ideal habitat for the black rhino; by eradicating the plant species of Chromoleana odorata. You will also take part in patrols looking for signs of poaching and learn to track the rhino as well as identify birds, plants, animal tracks. Rhino tracking is essential information that has to be recorded daily so the reserve can keep an eye on their movement patterns, their physical condition and their associations with other animals and other rhino, there is a permanent team dedicated to this on the reserve and you will be able to join them.
Community Cattle Dipping:
As a free service to the community, the reserve with the backing of the state veterinary department, undertakes community cattle dipping to eradicate ticks. The programme takes place every week throughout summer and every second week throughout winter. The aim is to control tick population and reduce the incidence of tick-borne diseases. This improves the health of the animals which increases milk production and decreasing calf-interval. A great opportunity to experience traditional Zulu life.
Your accommodation during the trail will comprise of a lodge with dormitory rooms and shared facilities for the first and last night of the trail and accommodation in local villages during the trail through Lesotho which provides basic clean facilities for washing and cooking. At the Coastal Horse Care Unit there is a large dormitory with shared facilities whilst during the outreach there is B&B style accommodation close to the community where the outreach is taking place. Somkhanda offers the full safari experience with accommodation in comfortable 2 person tents with communal facilities with hot & cold showers.
Please contact us for up to date rates
£300 deposit to secure placement at time of booking, final balance due 8 weeks prior to departure.
If you have any questions, or if you’d like to find out more about this incredible adventure and create some unforgettable memories, just fill in the form below and one of our team will be in touch as soon as possible.