Exploring the world on horseback offers a novel perspective for travellers looking for authentic experiences and extraordinary landscapes. If you prefer the saddle to the tour bus, these Globe Trotting rides will have you champing at the bit as equine enthusiasts Kate Pilcher and Marnie Phillips take us on some of the world’s best horseback tours.
1. Lake Hawea & Hunter River Ride, New Zealand
As we rode from the Hunter Valley Station to Dingleburn Station along the shores of Lake Hawea, our heads were spinning at the achingly beautiful landscapes we passed.
From trotting through native beech forests, to meandering through expansive valleys shadowed by snow-capped mountains, to crossing translucent rivers, we felt a million miles from the civilised world. It was just us, our horses and our fellow riders discovering the pristine, wild country of New Zealand, unequivocally ranking this ride as one of the world’s best horseback tours.
It goes without saying that there is a unique privilege in viewing the remote, end-of-the world farming high country in New Zealand’s picturesque South Island from the back of a mountain-bred station horse.
2. The Okavango Delta, Botswana
Cantering (and galloping for my husband) through the water alongside or very near crocodiles, warthog, zebra, elephant, hippos, buffalo, giraffe and a host of birdlife was one of the most exhilarating, humbling and exciting things I have ever done.
Lunch was taken mid-ride in tree houses and at long tables overlooking the terrain. Afternoon rides were at a slower pace given the heat, followed by sundowners and chatter around the campfire.
3. The Sumba Ride, Indonesia
Known as the forgotten island, I had never heard of Sumba until I stumbled across it on a recent globetrotting adventure. Over five days, mounted on native Sumba and Sandalwood horses, we explored the island’s varied landscape and became spellbound by the mystical, wild and colourful horse culture.
It honestly felt as if we were stepping into a forgotten world as we crept through palmtree groves, trotted through lush, fragrant rainforest, sat cross-legged with the locals in their homes and swam bareback in the shimmering turquoise ocean.
We fell head over heels for the luxurious, tropical surrounds of Nihi Sumba, our five-star home away from home. There are no other rides in the world that offer such vibrant horse culture while staying in the number-one resort in the world.
4. The Kimberley Ride, Australia
We were left completely and utterly spellbound by the beauty and spirit of the rugged landscape of the Kimberley in Western Australian. From watching the sun sink behind a monolithic boab tree, to sleeping in our swags underneath a canopy of stars, to waking as the first ray of light peeked into our campsite beside a serene billabong, it’s safe to say the entire experience was magical.
There were plenty of moments when we were able to dig our heels into our sparky station horses and kick up some red dust as we cantered along well-worn cattle paths and river flats on El Questro Station.
I’m not lying when I say there is only one way to explore these ancient lands, and that’s from the back of a horse.
5. Kobhuchizawa, Japan
As we alighted from the train in a chocolate-box village two hours from Tokyo, we were curious and excited about the days in the saddle ahead. We rode through magnificent forests, past weekender homes, long ascents to mountain tops and constant views of snow-capped mountains.
Kobuchizawa was a rider’s paradise. We emerged one afternoon from a forest in front of a quaint equestrian centre. We duly dismounted and watched the skilled riders going through their paces.
A particularly special morning was stopping in a small field, flowers in abundance, for a tea ceremony with our tea master guide. Our horses, untethered, reflected our contentment as they munched quietly on grass.
6. America beckons… Shell, Wyoming, USA
While the US has never thrilled me as a destination (though I was blown away by New York), I’m informed by the experts that I’ll be taken aback by the riding in Shell, Wyoming.
My husband and I are heading there n June, and truth be told, I’m excited about sleeping in a log cabin and riding on a 260,000-hectare ranch. I’m told, too, that at cocktail hour, over a drink of choice, we’ll discuss with our head wrangler where we’d like to ride the following day.
This article appeared in volume 29 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.