Categories Africa

Antelope Park: Horse Safari and a Bonfire

Going For A Ride

This is Africa after all, so what kind of 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, to camp out under the starlit nights with a wildlife soundtrack. As much as I wanted to do that, my brief visit limited my options, so I chose a single day horse 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 uncle’s cattle ranch. I will say, however, that humans 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 controlling the temperament of the ride.

The stables have quite a few horses for guests to use, all run 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, myself and five others received 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, who was always ready to run. After our games, we removed the saddles, brushed them, and returned the well-used helmets we were told to use when riding, and called it a day.

He doesn’t look feisty, but trust me, he is

The next day, around noon, we were off. We split up into our groups, with the slow crowd riding together and the faster riders moving ahead to meet us there. I stayed with the slow crowd, preferring to take pictures as we rode and talk with the others as we slowly trotted along the dirt path. It took less than an hour to arrive at the man-made lake, or more specifically, pond where we relaxed in the sun, ate food, drank beer, and swam with 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 versus the equines.

Interesting note: out of the time spent in Africa, this was the first day I got enough sun to get a sunburn, 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. The horse often wanted to 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 in the shortest setting.

After playing games for a bit, one of the girls who was given an older and a bit more docile horse wanted to try one with a little more energy, so I offered to switch with her. She is 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. Within minutes, when she wanted to go one way, 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 that included an overcooked steak product, potatoes, mixed veggies and a dessert of crumble and ice cream.

Bonfire Saturday

A few days after the horse safari, we have had some religious women’s group overtake the resort. The old couple were kicked out of their tent to make room, and we had been getting fewer options for food and service. Often being forced to eat after the ‘guests’, and having to cram ourselves around a few tables. Since this was a women’s religious group, we were informed that we were not allowed to have our usual Saturday night party near the volunteer barracks.

Don’t worry though, we were able to have one that I felt was even better. Instead of sitting around a little fire, drinking my cheap whiskey that will ‘make me go blind’, we went outside of the camp to a pleasant area for a bonfire and barbeque.

The skies were bright and the weather warm as they loaded us up into trucks where we arrived at a site with some nice large rocks for sitting and a bonfire already lit. After finding a cup and ice for my whiskey and coke, I sat down and we all started having a good time drinking and socializing. You know, I try not to be a perv, but when hanging out with a bunch of young attractive girls, drinking, and being the only guy, it can be kind of hard sometimes. I however, didn’t say any of the thoughts I had and was a total gentleman all night. Overall, a fine bunch of people.

Living where I do, a place where people’s careers become the number one priority and peoples biggest concern about the environment involves what the weathers is going to be that day, it was nice to meet people who not only care about the environment and wildlife but will take the time to do something about it. There were a couple of girls there who you can tell come from money, and I’m sure the parents covered the cost of the trip. But most of us were there spending our own money that could have been spent on a new, larger TV or the latest Apple product. We were there instead of spending it back home. At home, we could have been sleeping that night in our own soft beds instead of the lumpy little ones they provided in the volunteer barracks.

The night went on and people cleared out, and head back to the barracks. The young crowd that couldn’t stay up late and hang with us in the older crowd. Eventually the fire was put out, and we went back to the coral area with a few of the locals and drank some more until I ended up having to leave as well, as the cheap whiskey was taking its toll. Not wanted to puke in front of anyone, I stumbled my way back to my room to crash for the night. Luckily not throwing up at any point but suffering from a hard core hangover the next day.

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