The River Nile Ride to Lake Victoria – Uganda
Horse ride following the River Nile
Uganda is a delightful country to explore. This ride follows the Nile upstream to the point where it bursts out from Lake Victoria, a sight first witnessed by the Victorian explorer John Speke in 1858. The volume of water flowing out of the lake, and the sheer power of it, is inspiring. We end the ride by swimming the horses in the Nile – a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
The ride visits Lake Victoria; canters through sugar plantations; visits local villages; explores pristine rainforest and all within sight and hearing of the River Nile.
The accommodation throughout is excellent; good lodges, no camping, excellent meals throughout and well-informed guides to show you the way.
Horse Riding Safari Uganda: Day-by-day Itinerary
Arrive in Entebbe, which is where the international airport is (not Kampala). Most flights from London travel overnight which means we can meet you in the morning and drive you to Jinja (about 3 hrs) a town on the northern shore of Lake Victoria. If you require an overnight stay in Entebbe we can arrange a hotel, perhaps near the excellent botanical gardens.
Lunch will be served aboard a Nile riverboat and during lunch we’ll run through the riding itinerary. There will be time to visit the stable after lunch and take a trial ride around a couple of the near-by villages, to make sure you and your horse are in harmony. If you wish to change horse – no problem!
Overnight in Jinja (hotel).
Riding time 1.5 hrs
Day 2: Sugar and Tea Plantations Ride
After breakfast saddle up for a circular ride that leads through the lush and fertile country that surrounds the hotel. Ride through several plantations on the typical red, laterite piste which are firm but easy on the horses’ hooves. We also pass through a couple of villages, which always causes a stir! There are a couple of low hills that we ride to the top of which give fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. It’s said that this area is so fertile that if you leave a spade in the ground overnight it will sprout roots. Picnic lunch. Long canters for those who wish to indulge. Return to the same hotel as last night.
Overnight in Jinja (hotel).
4 hrs riding.
Day 3 Lake Victoria shore ride
After breakfast we leave the hotel and drive to Lake Victoria. The horses will have been boxed over and will be waiting, tacked up. This morning’s ride is around a huge peninsular that projects into Lake Victoria and provides several excellent vantage points, one of which will be our lunchtime picnic spot. Ride on to a lodge deep inside the rainforest.
Overnight Rainforest Lodge.
6 hrs riding.
Day 4: Rain Forest Explorer
It’s surprising to find a ‘Primary Forest’ so close to the town of Jinja, but that’s exactly what Mabira Forest is. Back at the turn of the century efforts were made to turn the indigenous rubber trees into a commercial plantation, along the lines of Malaysia’s rubber plantations. But the African variety of the rubber tree wouldn’t yield its sap so easily, so the enterprise wasn’t viable, and it was abandoned. Bad news for the investors, but great news for the forest, which wasn’t clear-felled and survives today in pristine form!
Set off through the forest exploring the shaded trails; one of the most charming residents here is the grey-cheeked mangaby, which we should be able to see. There is also a spectacular bird life here in the forest. Today is a long morning, with late lunch back at the lodge.
Overnight Rainforest lodge
5 hrs riding
Day 5: Rain Forest Explorer
Ride through the rainforest following a new combination of trails, to emerge in the tea plantation area. These tidy, low-growing bushes and divided by trails broad enough to allow the passage of a Land Rover. They are made of laterite which is packed, red soil, indigenous to this area and ideal for horses. Expect a couple of quicker canters. Picnic lunch en route and we arrive on the bank of the Nile in mid-afternoon. The views over the rapids is stunning; this is a relaxing, peaceful haven, tucked away from hustle and bustle. There is a pool (or the river) for a quick dip. Fish Eagles, otters and monitor lizards are regularly seen from the bar.
Overnight riverbank lodge
5 hrs riding
Day 6: White-water rafting on the River Nile
Drive the short distance to the west bank of the Nile. Here we join the river guide and the raft that will take over some impressive rapids. This is an option and if it doesn’t appeal to you there is a ‘menu’ of other activities available including quad biking, bungee jumping, kayak school and a birding trip on the Nile; or relax at the hotel’s pool. The beauty of white water rafting here on the Nile is that the water is warm, so taking a dip (intended or otherwise) is absolutely lovely!
Overnight riverbank lodge
Zero hrs riding
Day 7: Swimming with the horses
This is also an option because not everyone might wish to swim in the Nile with your horse. There’s a beautiful bay nearby, with a sandy bottom, no hippos or crocs and easy access for the horses. Back to the hotel for breakfast. Later in the morning saddle up for a faster ride to a lookout point near Kalagala Falls where there’s a lovely bar – an idea spot to bid farewell to the horses and transfer to a boat to take us to the final night’s accommodation, an island mid-stream in the Nile.
Overnight mid-stream hotel
3 hrs riding
Day 8: Departure
We leave the Nile behind; and drive back to Jinja on the shore of Lake Victoria and follow the shoreline back to Entebbe, or you can be dropped off in Kampala for (for example) a gorilla safari / conventional safari / visit to the N’gamba chimps. Please call us and we can make some suggestions.
Horse Riding Safari Uganda
Getting there: London to Entebbe, then road transfer (3 hrs) provided.
Terrain: the west bank of the Nile is gently undulating, following low cliffs about 60 m above the river. The trail descends to river level and winds through hamlets and small villages, between small family farming plots and palm oil trees. The soil here is classic East African laterite, a rich red soil that is so fertile. Frequent level sections with smooth trails allow for faster paces. Riders should be happy to get over natural obstacles such as rivers, gullies and drifts.
Pace: walk; 50% trot: 35%; canter/gallop 15%.
Horse Breed: Thoroughbred, Irish Sports Horse and a couple of smaller Ethiopian ponies. 14.2 hh to 17 hh
Tack: classic English, no Western tack available.
Rider’s involvement: you can groom and tack your horse if you wish though grooms will be on hand; it will be helpful if you can untack during breaks. Guides available to advise and assist where necessary.
Rider’s weight: (max) 85 Kg
Best season for ride: Year round. March, April and May are the wettest months; please refer to the weather guide on the Uganda landing page (bottom of page).
Accommodation (Based on twin share; single occupancy option is available.)
Family run hotel x 3 nights; Lodges x 3 nights; boutique hotel x 1 night
Cross-cultural awareness: This ride takes you way off the beaten track; The local villagers maybe shy at first encounter so please act gently and sympathetically towards them. Communities in Jinja and larger villages are more robust and used to Westerner’s ways!
Guides: 1 English speaking professional guide per group.