Okavango Delta, Botswana • by Elena Bajona, Ethologist

A safari in the Okavango? Yes, but surely on horseback!

Feel like guests of nature is not an emotion that pervades us easily. We are nowadays used to put nature aside and live it more as spectators than true participants.

In Botswana this is not possible. As soon as you land, you immediately inhale a wild scent. It is here that, more than in any other part of the world, I felt a guest of nature, inebriated by the scent of this land so naturally wild, so alive. An inviting land, yes, but where you clearly perceive a change in roles. To be truly guests of this land you have to change perspective, because if you don’t respect where you are and the nature around you, you can be an unwelcome guest.

Here you no longer feel to be the only living creature that matters on Earth. Your “human” being merges with the “animal” being. .

As soon as you get off the plane and you run into a herd of lionesses with their puppies, as often happens in Botswana, after the first ecstasy, you immediately start to think that soon you will be riding for several days, on the back of an animal that is usually predated! It comes naturally, therefore, to put oneself in a different perspective, in the perspective of how the whole natural ecosystem works. Prey and predators create a balance where all other wildlife can coexist in harmony. The horse is a prey and riding him for several days in a wild land might sound crazy. But no, it is one of the most exciting adventure for horse and nature lovers.

Being on the back of a prey in the middle of the Okavango with hippos, elephants, lions, giraffes is an experience to live at least once in a lifetime!

Horse Safari Emotions

The horse is able to turn on all my perception channels and, being on his back, helps me to tune in with him and mother nature. Together we are one and this feeling gives me strength. For this reason, crossing the plains of the Okavango Delta did not intimidate me at all, indeed it was a very natural way for me to live a full immersion experience.

During my trip I remember that, on a safari, riding together with some people in the beautiful golden flood plains, covered with grass and papyrus, we met a giraffes’ herd that was looking at us suspiciously but at the same time started to approach us. Yes, they came to us because they perceived us as prey and not as predators. The fact of being on the horse made us similar to them. Because of the smell, the movement, the behavior, this is the uniqueness of a horse safari. You can get really close to animals. When the giraffes were close to us, we started to run with them… to galop. A wonderful feeling, where you could only hear nature, the hoofbeats sound in water and the breath of animals in race. Suddenly, however, we came across a lone elephant dozing. He heard us and woke up quite annoyed. We were wandering in his territory during his nap, and that was enough to upset him. The guide promptly waved us on and we all galloped away. The guides here, as well as being very experienced in the territory, respect their neighbors namely hippopotamuses, elephants, giraffes buffalo ect.. and they’re always carrying a riffle, just in case.

Galloping alongside the sinuous giraffes, listening to the African Fish Eagle call, to the sound of water breaking under the hooves was for me a breathtaking experience that I will always carry in my heart.

I have been to the Okavango horse Safari, one of the best Camp for its management and mainly for the owners’ passion they transmit since 1986! Here the horses are meticulously cared for and managed in herds. They live in a very natural way and this lifestyle makes them very happy. At night they are moved in large enclosures and watched in turn by the rangers.

Very beautiful the lighting fires ritual for the night:  large fires are kept lit to prevent the approach of large predators. The night is usually very quiet, quiet as it can be in Africa. With the fires on almost all nocturnal animals stay away because, when the fiery ball eclipses in the night, hyenas and lions announce themselves loudly before taking possession of the savannah. I too felt safe and secure around the fire camp and listening to the Delta’s ode and the rumbling of the hippopotamuses made me realize that this is the supreme stage to which one can aspire.

Remember that when you hear about diving into nature. The horse can’t not be part of it.

Stay Wild,

Stay Smart



For anyone in search of an experience in which the horse is the protagonist, Elena Bajona – ethologist specialized in equines – founder of Animantia, offers the opportunity to discover corners of the world to live adventures and emotions of exceptional integrity. Thanks to her passion and profession you will have the choice to be accompanied in special journeys to live the horse in every aspect: visit the state of the art breeding and training centers, be a guest of the best ranches in the Great West, live in the historic Argentine haciendas, explore the most remote places in the world where wild horses live.

More information:

Other stories from the Journal