Beach Safaris on the Indian Ocean
The Mozambique Horse Safari is the definition of an otherworldly experience. These rides on their legendary rescued horses take you to the stunning Indian Ocean coastline, inland lakes and red sand dunes. Enjoy long stretches of exquisite beach to gallop freely and explore the sparkling turquoise waters on horseback. One of the many highlights of the safaris, is a dhow trip across the to famous Benguerra Island, where time stands still riding on its white sand beaches.
Mozambique Vilankulo and Benguerra
The experience of being on the beaches in Vilankulo and Bengeurra is truly magical. The world renowned calm water glistens under the unforgettable golden sunsets. Tens of kilometers of white sand beaches are lined with tall palm trees and are made for long rides. The memories you will make of the breathtaking views on the cliffs overlooking the Bazaruto Archipelago will stay with you forever.
Where the rescued horses live
The horses and people you’ll encounter at Mozambique Horse Safari each have a story. Owners Pat and Mandy Retzlaff, and some of their horses, have overcome incredible hardship and displayed great courage during the violent take over of farmlands in Zimbabwe. In her book, One Hundred and Four Horses, Mandy Retzlaff recounts how they were forced to flee their beloved farm or face death. We are lucky that this is the enchanted refuge they have found and that we can visit them there.
Top care for the Horses
At the Mozambique Horse Safari you will be partnered with one of the 38 wonderful horses, the majority of which were part of the original Zimbabwean herd. The breeds found in the stables are primarily Arab and South African Boerperd crosses. All are well cared for and well schooled. They’ve perfectly adapted to their environment and have been described as calm tempered and responsive to light aids, making them a pleasant ride.
Stay for a week in paradise or book a day ride
The multi-day Safari rides are a very intimate experience, much more meaningful than just a beautiful ride on the beach. You will be able to deeply connect with horses, nature and wonderful leaders Pat or Mandy in the magical landscape of Mozambique.
Joining the Retzlaff’s on a safari is a very personal experience. Pat or Mandy will lead each ride; plenty of time is spent together with guests on horseback or over dinner sharing stories, experiences, and our way of life. The great food, personal service and incredible horse riding made this a very special holiday.
Please note that our horse riding 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: Approximately 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 offered a number of horses to try in our riding school and 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 RIDE & CANOE TRIP: Approximately 3 hours riding plus afternoon canoeing
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 across country. As usual on the way home there is plenty of space for long canters on the beach.
In the late afternoon we will travel out to the Govuro River by vehicle where you will paddle/be paddled along a picture-perfect waterway. Soak up the lush riverine, look out for native catfish and listen to the magical calls of birdlife. As evening falls ducks will return inland to roost and there is a good chance that you will see fireflies lighting up the evening sky.
BENGUERRA ISLAND RIDE: Approximately 3 hours riding depending on tide
In the morning a motorized dhow will whisk you through the Bazaruto National Park to the world famous Benguerra Island. As you meander across the calm waters you will look out onto pods of dolphin’s breaching and old fishing shows from a time gone by. Approaching the island, you see the shapes and colours of horses under palm trees on a pristine white sandy beach being readied for your arrival.
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 at a relaxed pace 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.
If the tide allows you will be able to spend some time snorkeling on Magaruque Island where a simple & delicious seafood lunch is served ashore under a shady tree. Return to the mainland as the sun is setting for dinners and drinks.
FISHING VILLAGE RIDE: Approximately 2 hours riding & 1.5 hours lunch/village
From the stables 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. Once goodbyes are completed the horses are saddled up and you start the return home.
The Fishing Village 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: Approximately 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.
We spent the most amazing week, riding with Mozambique Horse Safari. Each day was a highlight and the horses were gorgeous and very responsive. Pat & everyone at the villa were amazing hosts and made us feel very welcomed. Longing to come back now. Judith von P, Singapore
RED DUNE RIDE, NORTH BEACH: Approximately 3 to 4 hours riding
From the stables Pat lead’s your group down to the beach. 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.
OCEAN WALK & SWIMMING RIDE: Approximately 1.5 hours riding & playtime
Our swimming ride and ocean walk is world famous and something you will never forget. To start this extraordinary ride, you mount your horse bareback on the beach before wading chest deep into the blue turquoise seas on an amazing ocean walk that takes you along our shoreline for approximately 30 minutes until we reach our safe swimming spot.
Once dismounted, you will lead a new horse into the shallows. There is a sense of excitement as they thrash the water, then lay down to wallow and roll. Once the horses have settled, you will again mount bareback and this time wade out to the deeper water, the majority of time your horse will be attached to a long lead rope for safety. As you get into the deeper sea you will feel the exploding surge and strength as the horse propels forward. It is an experience that cannot be described, each horse is different and it is truly something not to miss.
FAREWELL MORNING RIDE: Approximately 1.5 hours riding
A morning farewell ride that follows the beach southwards passing through lines of mangroves and swaying palms. The ride allows for long canters up towards the “Fingerprint of God”; a magnificent viewpoint overlooking the Bazaruto Archipelago. A little further on through dune bush and then it’s time for home cantering along the beach.