Based on the Nkomazi Game Reserve, in Mpumulanga, South Africa, this working riding holiday gives equestrian enthusiasts the opportunity to live life, for a few weeks, behind the scenes of a horse-riding safari in a big game reserve. 

Take part on safari rides in the reserve as a back-up rider, care for the herd of fourteen trail horses, get up close and personal with wildlife, and make some everlasting memories! 

Develop your riding skills, discover South Africa, and witness some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife on earth. 

Two riders on horses on a horseback safari watching a herd of giraffe

Volunteer caring for highly trained safari trail horses, in return for plenty of riding and wildlife viewing!

 Discover a different world and way of life, and really get to one with nature. 

Stay on a 15,000-hectare reserve, home to lions, leopard, cheetah, buffalo and elephants.

Volunteers can get some great wildlife viewing and personal encounters with many of the more exciting larger game species.

Plains wildlife include giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and hartebeest to name but a few! 

The reserve offers endless beauty, with a mixture of open plains, hills, rocky koppies, rivers and mountains. 

The herd of fourteen horses live out on the game reserve and need continued attention and care.

Volunteers become part of the family, and establish deep bonds with each of the horses.

Volunteers make incredible memories; from cantering across the plains, climbing hills to get the best views, falling in love with the horses, to riding alongside elephant, giraffe, buffalo and zebra!

cheetah on a horseback safari
horses and riders in south africa


Due to the fact that you will be riding in an area with big game we only accept strong intermediate to advanced riders. You must be in balance and in full control at all times in all four paces, and able to handle a variety of different horses.


You will be helping to care for guests on the riding safaris. As you will be representing the horse safari company you will be expected to follow a few simple rules when you are interacting with full paying guests, and  in general on a daily basis.

Such as:

- Always be friendly, polite and professional to all guests, co-volunteers and staff.

- Dressing  appropriately and smartly around guests. 


You will be working alongside experienced trail guides. You may also be expected to work as part of the ground team when rides are fully booked with paying guests.  

Activities are listed below:

  • Assisting with Rides You will be required to assist on rides out on the reserve, acting as 'back-up' rider, and keeping clients safe and happy. ​You will act as an extra pair of eyes, making sure all riders are comfortable and safe. You may also be required to hold horses when the ride takes a break. Assisting with out-rides gives you great opportunities to encounter wildlife and explore! You will also assist with greeting riders, and helping them mount. 

  • Hospitality

Helping set up the table at mealtimes and helping prepare breakfast, lunch & dinner for the clients. You will need to have a warm demeanor, chat to guests and have good manners. 

  • Grooming + Tacking Up

Daily grooming of the horses before and after rides. This is a great way to form a bond with the horses in the herd. As part of the daily grooming, you will check the horses over for any sores or wounds, and help with keeping them in top condition. In South Africa, horses also need to be regularly 'dipped' to prevent tick infestations, and the nasty diseases they can carry. You will also need to help tack up for rides, and untack at the end of the day. 

woman on appaloosa horse looking at a giraffe in the distance on a horseback safari
  • Tack Cleaning

Important for keeping the horses happy and healthy, volunteers assist with cleaning tack after rides, and checking tack over for wear and tear.

  • General Husbandry:

The horses all live out, so there is no mucking out! But you may need to poo-pick bomas that the horses sometimes sleep in, check the fence-lines around the reserve on horseback, and any veterinary care the horses may be receiving. 

As the riding establishment in South Africa is family run, your assistance and help is greatly valued.

There is no 'set day', as the structure of the day varies depending on guest bookings.

Every day is different, and usually contains some kind of adventure!

horseback safari in south africa
two rider and horses cantering across open plains in south africa


Volunteer accommodation is at 'Paperbark'; the management area inside the reserve.

Staying in the reserve means you can as times hear the lions roar around you at night, as well as plenty of other wildlife!

 The area is fenced off and secure, and you are perfectly safe. You may spot wildlife passing by in daylight hours.

The accommodation is also only a stone's throw away from the horses.

There are two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, with two beds in each room.

You will have access to a kitchen where you will be expected to do your own cooking and food preparation.

You will be taken on a weekly shopping trip in to town to buy groceries and other supplies. 


You will have access to wi-fi.