If wishes were holidays…

…I’d have been on lots!  I went without for a long time: during my mid-teens, I rebelled against family holidays and opted to stay at home, missing out on a few trips in favour of being by myself.  Limited funds when I was at university generally meant that foreign holidays were a non-starter too – the exception being the skiing trip I went on during my first year – and instead I stuck to visiting friends in various parts of the UK when I was able to take time out from studying or work.

Between January 2007 and March 2012, I didn’t leave the UK.  Then, following a generous gift from my grandparents, I was able to book a dream holiday to South Africa, where I spent almost two weeks riding along beaches and galloping with zebra – the definition of heaven.

And that got me started!  A year later, my sister was working for the agent I had booked my South Africa trip with, and together we spent a week in Kefalonia to celebrate my birthday (I’ve already been told to expect no birthday or Christmas presents for several years, which is fair enough!).  Just a month after we returned from Greece, I departed for my summer in the US, where I spent 13 weeks working prior to four weeks of holidaying.

I’ve now been back in the UK for two months, and as the nights have drawn in, I’ve found my thoughts increasingly drifting to ideas of further foreign adventures, as well as being inspired by this post on one of the blogs I follow.  I love the sentiment that every ride is like a holiday from daily life – and I quite agree – but I have discovered that there’s nothing quite like a sunny day on a foreign beach with a new equine friend galloping beneath you to blow the cobwebs away.

My list has actually been growing steadily for a while, and this is the point it’s now got to:

  1. Brazil – several of my friends have been in the past couple of years, and I’ve been keen for a long time.  It always looks glamorous, as well as a good combination of relaxing and fun.  I’d love to ride along the beaches, take in the sights, sounds and smells of this exotic location and perhaps do all of this in 2016 when I could also observe some fantastic competition…
  2. Morocco – again, this country has been on my list for a long time.  I would love to take a gallop along the beaches, as well as checking out the non-horsey tourist traps the country is famous for.  Geographically and culturally, it seems like a fascinating destination
  3. Mexico – has joined the list recently, partly inspired by investigations related to horsey trips, but also because I’ve been bitten by the laying-in-the-sun bug.  If I can get enough money saved, this will be an easy one to tick off next year once I’m finished in the US…
  4. South Africa – I’d like to make a return visit, partly because I’ve not yet seen all of the “Big Five”, also because of the diversity of riding on offer.  My first trip allowed me to take in the Eastern Cape, but I didn’t make it to the Western Cape and Cape Town, a destination high on my wish list
  5. Portugal – As I mentioned previously, I’m keen to expand upon my dressage skills, and where better than at a specialist centre in a warm country?  A centre-based tuition-focused holiday wasn’t my idea of a good time recently, but I’m now in the frame of mind where I’m ready to put myself to the test and really knuckle down

There are many other places in the world I’d like to visit, but these are the riding-focused ones.  Which parts of the world would you like to ride in?  Let me know if you have any questions about the places I’ve visited – I’m happy to share my experiences!

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4 thoughts on “If wishes were holidays…

  1. May I join you in Portugal or Morocco? One thing I’m interested in–because I’ve often thought of a riding safari–isn’t it scary? What if your horse spooked and you fell off and there was a lion or rhino nearby. I got to participate in a safari in Botswana in the late 90s. It was a transformational experience. I saw a leopard while on foot! Eeek. He was slinking off away from us. I’m curious about your thoughts on safety and riding with the wild animals in Africa.

    • I’ll let you know if I can ever afford either!

      In response to your question about safari safety… I never thought about it. I didn’t ride amongst much “big game” (I saw lion, elephant and rhino only when I went to another reserve for a traditional game drive) from horseback. The animals I saw on horseback were the smaller ones (like warthog, baboons etc) plus impala, giraffe, zebra and hippo. And I didn’t feel threatened at all, the guides don’t carry guns where I went… I assume there’s a protocol for if anything happens, but it never did! A lot of the riding I did on that part of my trip was very fast (lots of long gallops) as we were grouped by ability and I was with the stronger riders, so you would think that the likelihood of any of us falling off would be both greater and lesser at the same time. Thankfully nobody did on that portion of the trip: my horse spooked a few times on the final day, but I stayed on.

      The time I felt least safe on my whole trip was waiting for a connecting flight in Joburg airport – it had a weird vibe that day, and I was exhausted having not slept a wink on an overnight flight, so I was very aware that I was alone and not certain of where I was. The rest of my holiday I didn’t at all feel threatened or unsafe, I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

      • That’s makes total sense–riding only with animals that won’t kill you. Although I have heard that hippos are very dangerous. I read a memoir a few years ago called Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide by Peter Allison. It’s hilarious and a little scary at times (although I realized he must have always gotten out of the dangerous situations or he wouldn’t have been able to write the book!).

      • It wasn’t a conscious decision to avoid seeing those animals from horseback, they just weren’t available at the place I went to. Hippo are very dangerous, you have to be really careful around them. As I said, I’d do it all again. It’s a brilliant experience.

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