This is Africa after all, so what kind of a trip would It be without a Safari. The program offers the volunteers a couple of safari options; for an additional fee of course. If I had more time, the one I would want to do is the multi-day overnight safari on horseback. They head out on horses viewing wildlife along the way, campout under the starlit nights with a wildlife soundtrack. As much as I wanted to do that, my short visit limited my options, so I chose a single day safari.
Before leaving however, I had to get trained on riding horses. Personally, not a huge issue having a sister who owns two, and as a youth spent a summer working on my uncles cattle ranch. I will say, however, that we invented the motorized engine so that we wouldn't have to ride horses anymore. Sore asses, and the potential of getting knocked off, are not as big of an issue on my motorcycle with a padded seat and me in total control of the temperament of the ride.
The stables have quite a few horses for guests to use, all ran by a former polo player, and a crew who plays horse polo every Saturday. Our instructor being one of those. Once he found out I was from the U.S. he assumed I could ride better than I can, giving me one of the more energetic polo horses for the day.
|Our guide and riding instructor|
In the coral, the five of us receiving lessons, learned how to trot, to run, and all the other necessary skills to control our animals. We played tag and a few other games to get the hang of leading a horse around. Most of whom were pretty docile, except for mine of course, who was always ready to run. After our games we removed the saddles, brushed them, and returned the well-used helmets we were forced to use when riding, and called it a day.
|He doesn't look fiesty, but trust me, he is.|
Today about twelve of us were off. Myself, the guy who ran the coral, a couple members of the stable crew. We split up into our groups, with the slow people riding together and the faster riders moving ahead to meet us there. I stayed with the slow crowd, preferring to take pictures as we ride and talk with the others as we ride, before arriving at the man-made lake, or more specifically pond where we were to relax in the sun, eat food, drink beer, and swim the horses. Even in the African heat many of the horses didn't want to go into the water. Maybe it was the knee high mud they sank into when going through the water, or maybe it was the concern about getting worms. A concern more held by us white folk, over the equines.
Interesting note: out of the time spent in Africa this was the first day I got enough sun to get a sun burn, even with using sunscreen. I guess my white partially tanned skin just wasn't quite ready for it.
On the way back we stopped by the polo field to play some more tag and other horse games. There were a few who ride horses back home, a German girl and a girl from Norway who put the rest of us to shame. Even with my energetic quick horse, my slow skills, and preference for gas powered transportation, made it pretty easy for me to fail at the games. He often wanted preferred a run when I wanted a trot or gallop. It didn't help that the saddle they gave me, had stirrups designed for a much taller person, even at the shortest setting. Anyway, one of the girls who was given an older and quite a bit more docile horse wanted to try one with a little more energy, so I offered to switch with her. She is quite a bit shorter than me, and right away had a harder time with controlling the horse, not fully being able to stand with the stirrups. Luckily when she wanted to go one way, and the horse decided to go another, and she fell, she had the nappy old helmet to keep her brain safe. Of course the horse kept going and a few of the crew had to go after him. It was at that point the volunteers decided the horse safari was over, and headed back to the corals to return the animals, take showers in the hopes that we didn't pick up worms from the mud, and relax before dinner involving overcooked steak product, potatoes, mixed veggies and a dessert of crumble and ice cream.