3x Safari different: cycling, horse riding & balloon flights

Those who go on safari think of game drives, boat trips or perhaps walking safaris. But cycling across the savannah or across the landscape on horseback is less likely. And how about floating with a balloon above beautiful landscapes or elephants? Let’s go!

Text: Angelique van Os | Photography: Henk Bothof

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1. safari per fiets

To be able to cycle through the bush on a mountain bike and enjoy nature and wildlife at the same time is a special combination. And it is also responsible and slow traveling, allowing you to take in the surroundings better. We pedaled in Lake Mburo National Park, in southwestern Uganda. It was a great experience to ride through this park by bike and we were able to get quite close to zebras and other grazers.

A cycling safari and/or traveling on two wheels through Africa is only possible to a limited extent and is not safe everywhere. Still, we have a number of tips for you that you can check out.

Hell’s Gate Kenya

One of the few national game parks where you can cycle under supervision is Hell’s Gate in Kenya. Adventurer Charles Witlox, who unfortunately died due to a fatal accident at the end of 2022, had already discovered this ten years ago and came up with a beautiful trip for his travel organization, Charlie’s Travel. In addition to wildlife, Hell’s Gate also has gorges and volcanic rock formations and you can combine a visit with a boat safari across Lake Naivasha.

Escape Adventures

The New Zealand tour operator Escape Adventures provides adventurous group trips (6-12 people) in Namibia, Madagascar, Kenya and Tanzania. Escape Adventures only works with local communities that you will come into contact with during your trip. They also have a special family tour.

Africa Classic Tanzania Tour

Do you want to cycle along the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro and contribute to a good cause at the same time? Then the Africa Classic Tanzania Tour might be interesting, which you raise money for AMREF Flying Doctors. You will be in the saddle for six days and will take place from 5 to 12 October 2024. In addition, along the way you will get an idea of how AMREF is committed to the local population with specific projects.

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Hier fietste ik door Lake Mburo, vlakbij de zebra’s. | Foto: Henk Bothof
Hell’s Gate | Foto: Manon Pierens, Chalie’s Travels

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2. Safari te paard

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Henk (l) en zijn gids in Venezuela.

The ultimate way to get close to elephants, giraffes, zebras and antelopes is from a horseback. We have already been able to take short horse riding tours several times through Namibia, Venezuela and Iceland, and that gives a free and adventurous feeling. However, high on our bucket list is a multi-day trip on horseback; straight through vast fields, along golden beaches and dunes, cool forests and/or vast savannahs.

African Horse Safaris

A specialist with whom you could make multi-day trips and who focuses on both young and old and from beginners to advanced is African Horse Safaris. This travel organization is often active in Southern Africa, but you can also go on horseback through the desert and visit the pyramids in Egypt.

Horse riding with Jakob von Plessen

The originally Austrian Baron Jakob von Plessen is an authority in the horse world in South America and far beyond. The Argentinian rider and guide accompanies the beloved Patagonia Trail partly with his self-bred Noriciello horses. We understand from hearsay that this trail with this guide is a must for horse lovers. Unfortunately, the trip for the next two years is already fully booked! There will only be room available again in January 2026. You can get in the mood by reading a travel report from a of his trips.

Von Plessen works for Black Saddle and this organization also has many other interesting trips; from Spain and Ireland to Iceland and Botswana.

Antelope Island Bison Roundup

You can get a different kind of wildlife experience by riding among the bison as a real western cowboy. For this you have to go to the lesser-known Antelope Island State Park, off the coast of Salt Lake (USA). At this special place, as a rider you can see wild bison and help with the health check during the annual Antelope Island Bison Roundup . Late in the fall, you’ll drive thousands of bison together on horseback with a group of cowboys. In addition to bison, other wild animals live on the island such as mule deer, coyotes, foxes and numerous bird species.

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3. Sky safari

It remains very special to be able to admire landscapes and animals from the air; to see the world from a different perspective and realize how insignificant we humans are and how wonderful the world is.

Hot-air balloon over Namibia

In our story about Namibia we described a fantastic hot air balloon flight across the desolate desert of Namib. To be able to float high and almost silently at 1100 meters at sunrise with nothing but vast nature around you, it makes you quiet. You have to be willing to pay for it financially, but for any traveler it is a must to do a hot air balloon safari.

HelicopterBotswana flight

A flight with a small helicopter also gives an enormous sense of freedom when you travel above the savannah and swampy swamps of the Okavango delta in Botswana, as we did in 2019 with Helicopter Horizons (see video). From my ‘open window’ I could almost ’touch’ the elephants, hippos and crocodiles, we flew so low.

Vic Falls with ultralight aircraft

The best way to get a good idea of the impact of the Victoria is from the air with an ultralight aircraft. The Vic Falls, with its five connecting waterfalls, are the largest in the world. The cascade is 1700 meters wide and can be visited in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Photographer Henk Bothof took up the challenge – despite his fear of heights – to view the mighty waterfalls. And what a breathtaking sight it was.

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Henk zit hier in een ultralight vliegtuigje.

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