The next few days unspool with a gentle predictability — scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast on the stoep, a morning ride, then lunch (delicious quiche, or salad and kebabs) in the sun close to the dam. A lazy afternoon of reading and writing is followed by tea before the sunset ride. There are more than 90 horses here, and they’re all different — some are more stubborn, others responsive and quick. As the head guide Kirsty Evans says: “Some horses you can be a passenger on; others you have to ride.”
It’s a beautiful additional dimension to the safari experience — instead of being a passive observer of the bush, you are a part of it, having to navigate its narrow paths with care. This consideration in turn makes you more attentive: you notice more, in other words. You won’t encounter lion or leopard here — but there’s still heaps to see: the flat hovels carved out by porcupines, the spray of a male hippo dung on bushes. As you traverse the sides of koppies, you’ll marvel at the surging candelabra euphorbias dripping their toxic red berries; as you saunter past dams and waterholes, you’ll most likely spy sunbathing Cape clawless otters, or wallowing hippos and crocs. I get up close to a pair of unperturbed giraffes munching leaves high above us, and spy an eland half-hidden in the trees.
For my last night, I ride up to Camp Davison — perched atop a koppie about a half-hour’s ride from the lodge. I’m shown to my tent: there are two bunk beds, and on the other side is a screened-off bathroom area replete with bucket shower and flushing loo.