Kaskazi Horse Safaris

As part of our active safaris story, Jo Westermark from Kaskazi Horse Safaris chatted with us about riding through idyllic landscapes, Tanzania as a destination, her experiences of the place, and some insider information on the country for travellers.

You can still reach places in Tanzania where it feels like you have backtracked 50 years in Africa - especially on horseback
Riders galloping across a plain with a herd of wildebeest on a horse safari in Tanzania on the Kilimanjaro Elephant ride

What do you love most about Tanzania?

The rawness, the remoteness, and the pristine wilderness – and, of course, very important, the Tanzanian people. 

What makes it a special place for horse safaris - and what makes horse riding in this place so special to you?

Very much what I just wrote above. For me, you can still reach places in TZ where it feels like you have backtracked 50 years in Africa - especially on horseback where we are allowed to be off the roads. That way, you explore much further and deeper into the savannah than anyone can in a vehicle.

Tell us the story of how you ended up in Tanzania. What drew you there? What has made your passion for these places so enduring?

I spent a lot of time in Kenya as I grew up - however schooled in Sweden and then went down to South Africa to study. I decided South Africa was not for me, so took my bags and car and drove back up north. I drove through TZ en route back home to Kenya; however never reached Kenya but stayed in TZ and haven’t left since. Tanzania makes me feel alive

The sun is setting. Tea, G&T, or beer?

To me, nothing beats a cold Ndovu (Tanzania-brewed beer).

A pair of crowned cranes in the grass, spotted while bird-watching on a horse safari with Kaskazi in Tanzania

What is the first place that comes to mind where you would love to drink it along your route on one of your safaris? Why there?

West Kilimanjaro. It’s a dry, very dramatic scenery where I have spent endless hours on horseback and where Kaskazi Horse Safaris really took off… brings back a lot of memories. Therefore, this is the place where I’d like to have a drink with my horse.

Your riding boots must have stories to tell of your adventures over the years. What is the most memorable experience you - and your boots - have shared?

Wow, not an easy one as the list is endless. If I were to pick one, it would be the first time I rode through Arusha NP. The place is so different to anywhere else that I’ve ridden in the world. It has a very mysterious feel to it, with a canopy forest that hides endless creatures. Riding on the endless paths made by elephant and buffalos, never knowing what to expect around the corner, following old trails that were used by the Germans and the British in the war - all this history, combined with incredible nature and wildlife, made my first ride through here a very memorable ride. I also was accompanied by a very special person on this recce which makes it extra special. 

And the funniest/quirkiest experience you have had?

Again, there are so many. All these lovely people that come on our safaris. They are all an endless entertainment.

The profile of the head of a chestnut horse wearing a rope halter with a tent in the background on horse safari in Tanzania
Our biggest enemies in the bush are the endless thorn bushes and holes dug by aardvarks or spring hares
Silhouette of six horse-riders galloping through an open plain with hills and forest behind them on horse safari in Tanzania

What wildlife is Tanzania known for? Is there anything in particular people travel to see? What do you recommend guests to the area should be on the lookout for?

Gerenuk, also known as giraffe antelope, is a very rare and elusive antelope. We are lucky to ride through areas where they still roam. The wildebeest migration is obviously something truly unique and the elephants that we see on our Elephant Kilimanjaro Ride, something very special with the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro. 

What time of year is best for game-viewing? When is the rainy season? When is it unbearably hot? What is the average summer high and winter low temperatures?

We range between 25-35 degrees. Game-viewing is good throughout the entire year. However, we don’t operate in December and May due to the rains. 

Is there one thing in this area visitors shouldn’t miss?

To ride with Kaskazi Horse Safaris!

Apart from Tanzania, where else do you love to go on safari?

Botswana is magical and Kenya will always be close to my heart as well.

Based on your experience, what are the 5 essentials you recommend clients should bring on a horse safari?

Binoculars, camera, seat saver, hip flask, riding boots.

Kenyan groom in a red shuka standing with a grazing horse, a grey horse grazing behind him with a backdrop of hills and trees

Is a horse safari for everyone or do you need to be very fit?

To be a fit rider does help and you will be in a lot less pain. However, you will be amazed how your riding muscles wake up about 3-4 days into the ride. 

What have you found to be your clients’ greatest fears on a horse safari and what information/advice can you give them to avert those fears?

As always, people are worried about the big game. However, as we always say, our biggest enemies in the bush are the endless thorn bushes and holes dug by aardvarks or spring hares. I think it’s hard to say anything. Let them experience it and then very often you will find that you are hooked, that you caught the horse safaris bug, and will now spend endless money going on safari as it gets very addictive. 

Do you have any interesting information to share on the history of horses and horse riding in Africa?

Africa is a difficult place to keep horses, as it’s not the most horse-friendly environment. We mainly use thoroughbreds that have been born and raised in East Africa. They seem to cope a lot better and are also great for the hotter climate. Throughout history, Europeans have kept on bringing horses across to the African continent and we have to be thankful to them as, without them, there wouldn’t have been any horses this side. 

The rear of two saddled chestnut horses with a giraffe among the trees and bush in front of them on horse safari with Kaskazi
Silhouette of a tree at sunrise with mobile safari tents and bucket showers overlooking the bush on horse safari in Tanzania

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