When you think of "adventure travel," what crosses your mind?
- White water rafting?
- Scuba diving?
- Something as sedentary as a cruise ship or land rover safari?
Those ideas lose their "adventure" status when you compare them to galloping on a horse in Africa with a zebra and wildebeest racing along side you, or quietly observing the elephant and giraffe.
How can a traveler visit the remote parts of the world's most beautiful and interesting places while.....
- Practicing a fascinating sport
- Avoiding polluting
- Keeping in harmony with history and nature
- Being free to explore exotic locations
- Making friends in remote places, and Sharing the experience with a willing animal?
Have you ever considered the tremendous advantages of adventure travel on horseback? A horse can take you to beautiful and remote places which are difficult to reach in any other way. At the same time, you can practice a challenging sport which has been a favorite of mankind for millennia.
Destinations like Africa, Asia, Europe and South America offer a wonderful variety of adventure tours on horseback. Though comparatively little known to Americans, the British and particularly the French have highly developed the riding tour concept in many parts of the world. In many locations in the United States rights-of-way for horses have been lost, but many still exist in other countries.
Horses and horseback riding are deeply woven into the culture and history of most cultures from Argentina to Ireland. This is how our ancestors traveled and for those with a sense of history there is no more appropriate way to go. If you arrive in a foreign place on horseback, you will most likely be enthusiastically greeted by locals with waves and smiles which greatly facilitate meaningful contacts. Those who arrive by bus, on foot or on a bicycle are usually ignored. Horses are a great introduction and ice breaker almost anywhere.
If you seek a wilderness adventure, then horses are the way to go unless you want to walk and carry your equipment. Riding tours can take you from inn to inn, castle to castle, palace to palace or from one comfortable camp to another. Costs are very reasonably compared to biking or bus trips.
Horseback riding adventures vary widely in the skill and experience required to handle them safely. Most of these tours move out at all paces and include some good gallops so that one can cover 15 to 35 miles in a day. Beginners need several days of instruction before attempting even an easy trip, but those who are reasonably fit, not too overweight and have open minds can catch on very quickly. A week of intensive riding with good instruction can easily prepare most people for the less demanding adventures.
One of the enormous advantages of travel on horseback is that you are sharing the adventure with a willing animal who is also interested in the sights and sounds and who loves a brisk gallop on a beach or open plain as much as you do. A day in the saddle is also great exercise and riding is an excellent way to keep fit while having fun. It is far more interesting and satisfying than sitting confined in a bus or land rover all day which really isn't adventure travel at all. Another dividend is the keen appetite you develop after a day in the saddle for the delicious food you will be served.
On an African ride, a good horse can outdistance an irate Cape buffalo or elephant and keep you safe. Comfortable camps are set up for you each night, the food is excellent and the service superb. Or try a horseback tour visiting the castles of the Loire Valley and ride into the courtyards on your horse like a knight of old. You can gallop along forest tracks where the French aristocracy once chased the wild stag. There is a broad spectrum of possibilities available for horseback riding vacations.
If it appeals to you to travel in harmony with nature without using polluting, noisy machines or an unresponsive bicycle, then you should look into horseback riding tours.
Bayard Fox has been riding for 70 years on six continents and has ridden enough miles to circle the globe several times. He is owner and founder of Equitours Worldwide Horseback Riding Vacations. He and his wife also own the Bitterroot Dude Ranch where they raise and train Arabian horses. Bayard has been leading and organizing riding tours for 35 years.
Copyright 2005 Bayard Fox and Equitours, Ltd.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License.