Game viewing on horseback is not something that usually jumps to mind when thinking of a typical safari experience, but in Zambia’s Simalaha Community Conservancy, the first and currently sole tour operator in the region, Zambian Horseback Safaris, offers guests a rather unique opportunity to get up close to the sanctuary’s wildlife.
On a recent trip to Simalaha, Peace Parks Foundation’s Chief Development Officer, Lilian Spijkerman and Senior Project Manager, Arrie van Wyk, are showing members from the Dutch non-profit organisation, DOB Ecology the pristine wilderness that exists within this beautiful part of southern Africa – and what better way to do it than on a horseback safari!
Zambian Horseback Safaris is run by renowned horsemen Doug Evans and Gail Kleinschmidt, two conservationists who have been exploring, protecting and immersing themselves in Zambia’s wild places for over forty years. This low-impact safari experience allows visitors of all riding abilities to explore this ancient land while contributing to the nature-based economy of the conservancy.
Supported by Peace Parks Foundation and partners, more than 2 000 animals have been rewilded in Simalaha since 2013, including red lechwe, puku, eland, sable, hartebeest, waterbuck, roan antelope, buffalo and giraffe. This makes for an exciting safari as riders will often see large herds of antelope, utterly unperturbed by the horse’s presence, and one might even spot a few long-legged giraffe peering out at you from atop of the acacia bushes.
During the rainy summer season, the usually dry plains of Simalaha Community Conservancy, as seen in the video above, transform into a massive wetland as the Zambezi River bursts its banks. This does however mean that Zambian Horseback Safaris must halt their operation for about three to four months of the year as access to these now dry areas become impossible, so timing your visit right is an important part of the planning process.
Peace Parks Foundation and partners are constantly working to further develop the conservancy into a self-sustainable nature-based economy, and sustainable tourism developments such as these help to do just that. As we see the wildlife numbers continue to grow, increased tourism development continues to promote employment and income opportunities for the local communities while allowing visitors an unforgettable safari experience.