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Based between Shikondo Game Farm and Nkomazi Private 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 establishment in South Africa. 

Take part on out rides on the farm as a back-up rider, care for the herd of safari 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. 

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Volunteer caring for highly trained 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 between two different reserves, home to elephant, cheetah, giraffe, zebra, eland, wildebeest, several species of antelope, and Tswale the tame elephant.

Both reserves offer endless beauty, with a mixture of open plains, hills, rocky koppies, rivers and mountains. 

The herd of safari horses live out on the 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 giraffe and zebra!

Riders must be over 18 years old, and experienced riders. 




Horse safari horses and riders with a cheetah.
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Horse safari volunteer rider looking at a giraffe.

You will be volunteering with ‘The Horse Safari Company’, owned by Tamlyn Whitebread. The Horse Safari Company moved to Shikondo Game Farm in March 2023. The farm is 2000 hectares/4950 acres, and hosts a variety of species of wildlife.

In South Africa a smaller reserve is referred to as a game farm. Many people panic when they hear this term, as they think this means that animals are being raised for hunting, but this is not always the case. This is a generalised term used by South Africans for any property with larger wildlife species on it, otherwise referred to as ‘game’. We would like to assure you that hunting no longer takes place on the property.

Shikondo is the main base for volunteers, and hosts a variety of wildife species to view from the saddle, including elephants, zebra, wildebeest, warthog, many different species of antelope such as impala, bushbuck, wildebeest and nyala.

Volunteers will also spend a few days per fortnight at Nkomazi Private Game Reserve, famous for it's amazing, up-close cheetah encounters from horseback! 

Nkomazi is a 15,000-hectare reserve, where lowveld meets highveld. Home to lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo and elephant, riders 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.

One of the highlights at Nkomazi Game Reserve are the close encounters with the resident cheetahs. ‘Stompie’ tends to be the star of the show. Stompie and the other cheetahs on the reserve are very laid back and allow the horses to get very close, giving some breath-taking experiences, and some great photo opportunities.  

Nkomazi is the site where Tamlyn runs full riding safaris with paying guests, which you may be asked to help with. When safaris are running with paying guests, you may only ride once a day, rather than twice, as volunteers will take it in turns going out with them. This will not be often though, and will only be for a few days out of every two-week period.

Volunteers can expect to split their time between the two reserves, usually alternating weeks at each location, although this is not set in stone and may vary.

Shikondo and Nkomazi are not Big five reserves, so we do advise to not arrive expecting to see every single species of wildlife. The idea is to give riders a riding safari, at a much-reduced rate, and allow riders to immerse themselves in the African way of life and nature.


Visits to Kruger National Park nearby to take part on game drives can be arranged to fill in the gaps of species that are not on the property. 


Expect to ride for around 2-6 hours per day during your stay. 



Due to the fact that you will be riding in open areas, and in the bush, this experience is only for 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 clients on the safari rides out on the reserve. As you will be representing The Horse Safari Company, you will be expected to follow a few simple rules when you are interacting with clients, and  in general on a daily basis.

Such as:

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

- Dressing  appropriately and smartly around clients. 


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 clients.  

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 safari rides gives you great opportunities to encounter wildlife and explore! You will also assist with greeting riders, and helping them mount. 

  • Hospitality

You will need to have a warm demeanor, chat to clients, and have good manners. 

  • Grooming and 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. 

Horses and riders in a river.
  • 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 camps 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 client bookings.

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

Horse Safari South Africa


Shikondo Game Reserve:

Volunteer accommodation is at a basic but beautiful bush camp, next to the stables and paddocks.


This does not mean camping with a tent, you will have a bed, and also hot running water for showers in the bathroom. 


Staying in the bush camp means you can at times hear the wildlife around you at night.

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

Rooms are usually shared with one or two other volunteers. 

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. 

Wi-fi is available.

Shikondo Game Reserve Volunteer Accommodation
Nkomazi Game Reserve Volunteer Accommodation

Nkomazi Private Game Reserve:

The accommodation at Nkomazi is a small cottage style unit.

Volunteers share a room, with two people per room.


Although the accommodation is again basic, it is kept very clean and made comfortable for volunteers.

Again, you will have access to a full kitchen where you can prepare food, and will have hot running water.

There is wi-fi available at both reserves, and you will be able to use this to keep in touch with family and friends back home. However, ‘This Is Africa’, and it may not always run smoothly, or as fast as you are used to at home!

South Africa also experiences scheduled power outages called ‘loadshedding’, so it is a good idea to also set up an eSim, or get a SIM card from the airport or shops on your way to the accommodation. 

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