Stray from the herd with Ranch Rider adventure holidays
From riding across North America’s remote backcountry to exploring Africa’s game-rich locations on horseback, Ranch Rider offers everyone, from novice to expert equestrian, the chance to stray from the herd.
Always setting its sights on delivering new experiences, Kenya is a brand new destination for the operator, the mobile rides departing over the course of the magical annual migration. The riding holiday specialist has also included additional ranches and adventures in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, British Columbia and Alberta – chance encounters with the first “wild-born” bison of Banff adding excitement to the specialist’s new wilderness rides.
Expected to be a popular add on as travellers strive to curb their carbon footprint, the Rocky Mountaineer will celebrate 30 years in 2020 – and for fans of Greta Thunberg, there’s a ranch based eco-hike focused on climate change.
See The Annual Migration From The Saddle
After visiting Kenya in 2019, Ranch Rider felt compelled to include the country in its latest brochure. Tony Daly, Managing Director of Ranch Rider, comments, “Kenya is blessed with a great diversity of wildlife species and birdlife, and without a doubt, some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. From riding along the banks of the Mara River filled with hippo and crocodile to trekking across big cat country where lion prides rule, you can be assured of an epic horseback adventure, our mobile safaris also including opportunities to meet the Masai, the tribe farming their cattle on this unspoilt landscape.”
Eight-night Masai Mara Safari from £7,399pp (two sharing) including full-board accommodation, safari guide and crew, horses and tack, game drives, Flying Doctors membership, return flight Nairobi-Mara-Nairobi, taxes and transfers. Excludes return flight from £895pp. Departing 22 January, 02 July & 16 August.
For an adventure that’s truly sustainable, saddle up in Alberta and go off-grid on Ranch Rider’s new Banff Wilderness Rides, the trails taking you deep into the Canadian Rockies. Travel over high passes with spellbinding views and across fertile valleys carpeted in wildflowers, the journey punctuated with stops at picturesque lakes and rivers.
Find the favourite haunts of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Canada Goose, White-tailed deer, Coyote, Black Bear, and an animal kingdom first, Wild Plains Bison. Parks Canada reintroduced a 31-strong bison herd to the area surrounding Flint’s Park (one of Banff’s most remote backcountry campsites) back in 2018, the presence of North America’s largest mammal obliterated from the landscape for a span of almost 150 years.
Now a thriving herd, two calves were spotted ambling across the high meadows with their mothers last summer – these the first “wild-born” calves to grace the backcountry of Banff in over a century. A genuine digital detox, the circle ride which starts and ends in Banff, will allow you to trek far from the madding crowd, discovering our own kind more of a rarity.
Five-night Banff Wilderness Ride from £1,445pp (two sharing) including horse riding instruction, tented accommodation (Stoney Creek, Flints Park and Mystic Valley), all meals, experienced guide and Parks Canada backcountry fees & Tourism Levy. Excludes transfers from £100pp (from Calgary) or car hire from £340 and return flight from £899pp. Departing thrice-weekly from 22 June to 07 September.
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt
Chances are you might really catch sight of a bear if you stay at Montana’s “family-friendly” Nine Quarter Circle Ranch (the latest addition to Ranch Rider’s Big Sky collection), the property only 30 miles shy of Yellowstone National Park.
Elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, and grizzly and black bears often grace the horseback trails in this remote piece of paradise, the wildlife factor an added thrill for teens hoping to saddle up on the weekly pack trip – the adventure including an overnight camp out.
Located in the Gallatin Gateway and five miles from the main highway, the sounds of nature are all you will hear, the ranch’s 20 Western-style log cabins (complete with a private bathroom, a wood-burning stove, handmade log furniture and a porch) offering an authentic taster of the pioneer lifestyle.
Set to be a major travel trend, 3G holidays are nothing new in this part of the world, the Kelsey’s hosting the same families over the course of many generations – all ages learning to ride together, fish together (a favourite fly-fishing haunt, the Taylor Fork runs right by the ranch) and boot scoot together at the square dance.
Seven-nights from £2,195pp (two sharing) and from £1,875pp (six to 12 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities (including children’s program), taxes and gratuities. Excludes transfers from £95pp (from Bozeman) and return flight from £889pp and from £774pp (under 12 years). Departures 14 June to 13 September.
Change That Inspires
For a Greta Thunberg inspired ranch adventure, head to British Columbia’s Siwash Lake Luxury Guest Ranch and learn about climate change, on the Waterfall Ecology Hike.
Located in Cariboo country and surrounded by 80,000 acres of pristine wilderness, the property ticks all the right boxes for nature lovers, the guided trek taking you through a fire-licked forest – the ranch hit by a rank six conflagration – the most extreme of all forest fires back in 2017.
The path follows the river to where it meets waterfalls that cascade into a deep, volcanic cavern – a sapphire blue lake shimmering at the base of steep slopes. Said to be an “Indiana Jones” experience, you will be clambering over boulders, swinging off burnt tree roots and traipsing through the willows and long grasses while learning about climate change, wildlife tracking, migration, habitats, flora, fauna and geology. The ranch also offers unlimited daily horseback riding, additional pursuits including, fly fishing, canoeing, river and lake swimming, bird watching, wildlife viewing and skeet shooting. A new river rafting helicopter safari is scheduled to launch this coming summer.
Three-nights from £4,360pp (two sharing) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and taxes. Excludes car hire from £340, helicopter safaris and return flight from £899pp. Departing 22 June to 31 August. From five years.
Wild West Dreams
With the focus set firmly on experiencing the West, the addition of Colorado’s Chico Basin Ranch is timely – fully immersive cultural experiences trending in the travel sphere. Located thirty minutes southeast of Colorado Springs and owned by the Colorado State Land Board, the working cattle ranch uses age-old sustainable ranching practices and progressive grazing management to maintain healthy lands, the stay ideal for eco-centric travellers hoping to try out at being a cowhand.
Taking a maximum of six guests, the intimate atmosphere keeps the focus on gaining an in-depth appreciation of authentic ranch life, the mornings spent gathering a pasture or moving a herd, and the afternoons focused on tending to the needs of the livestock. There is a choice of regular ranch weeks or bespoke “Ranchlands Camp Experiences” where you can hone a new skill, for example, horsemanship or leather working – learning holidays also predicted to trend this year.
Six-nights at Colorado’s Chico Basin Ranch from £1,879pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and service charge. Excludes transfers 140 per group (from Colorado Springs) and return flight from £945pp. Departing March through October.
The Real Africa
Ranch Rider is introducing eight and nine-night “Authentic Africa” experiences on South Africa’s Triple B Ranch – with six nights based at Horizon Lodge, a historic family estate in the malaria-free Waterberg region, and two or three nights spent at neighbouring Camp Davidson.
Built to resemble an early cattle outpost, the permanent camp allows guests to enjoy a traditional African safari with dining by candlelight, cooking over a campfire, and on many a travellers bucket list, the chance to sleep under canvas in the unspoilt wilderness. In contrast, Horizon Lodge offers understated luxury, the atmospheric property, which boasts a large colonial verandah and a garden plunge pool, overlooking the resident hippo pod.
Winner of “Best Riding Safari in Africa” at the 2019 Safari Awards, the Triple B Ranch is home to a huge variety of wildlife including hippo, giraffe, zebra, antelope and over 300 bird species. Polocrosse (instruction provided), cross country jumping, cattle mustering (on request) and swimming the horses are alternative activities.
Eight-night “Authentic Africa” experience from £1,365pp (two sharing) including accommodation, meals, drinks, ranch activities, game drives, use of ranch facilities and taxes. Excludes transfers from £200pp (from Johannesburg) and return flight from £879pp. Year-round departures.
A little bit of luxury in the bush, the NEW Tree Camp is now open and in use by guests on Ranch Rider’s Tuli Safari.
The seven-night horseback adventure takes place in Botswana’s Mashatu Reserve, the area known as the ‘Land of the Giants,” both for its large herds of elephant and also its baobab studded plains.
The Ranch Rider Tuli Safari from £2,150pp (two sharing) including seven nights’ accommodation, meals, drinks, riding safari and taxes. Excludes air charter transfers from £620pp by small plane from Johannesburg or from £430pp by road (minimum of two people) and return flight from £879pp. Year-round departures.
Discover Old-New Trails
Listed on the U.S. national registry of historic places, Arizona’s Kay El Bar Ranch will open for its first summer in 2020 – several “old-new” trails that have been hidden for almost a decade waiting to be rediscovered.
The perfect choice for families who want to reconnect through nature, the property is located in the Northwest Arizona desert, in the shadow of the Hassayampa River Canyon Wilderness. The main focus of the stay is horse riding – team penning, hiking and bird watching alternative activities.
Only a five-minute drive from historic Wickenburg, there is every reason to explore the old gold mining town and its fascinating past (The “Gold Rush Days & Senior Pro Rodeo,” celebrating the town’s origins as a ranching & gold mining centre, February 14-16, 2020), the ranch ideally situated for add on self-drive adventures to the Grand Canyon (four hours) and Las Vegas (three hours).
Seven nights at the Kay El Bar with Ranch Rider start from £1,339pp (two sharing) and £1,185pp (seven to 17 years) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, access to facilities (including pool and hot tub), taxes, transfers and gratuities. Excludes return flight from £879pp and from £765pp (under 12 years). Year-round departures.
Travel in luxury on the Rocky Mountaineer
The only luxury train operating through the Canadian Rockies to Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, the Rocky Mountaineer will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2020. No part of the journey is undertaken in the dark, the opportunity to gaze at the unfolding panorama of ever-changing scenery a major highlight of the adventure.
Spy majestic peaks, stunning glaciers and sparkling rivers at every turn, a wealth of wildlife including bears, moose and wolves often making an appearance at the edge of the tracks. Said to be, Canada’s answer to the Orient Express, an upgrade to Gold Leaf service will allow you to experience fine dining and spectacular views from the special glass-domed carriage. Travel from late April through October, the dream railroad excursion the ideal add-on to a riding holiday in either British Columbia or Alberta.
Rocky Mountaineer’s Journey Through The Clouds (between Vancouver and Jasper) from £1,195pp (two sharing), the Silver Leaf Service including two days onboard in single-level glass dome coaches with oversize windows and a small outdoor viewing platform, sweet and savoury snacks and complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic snacks, one night’s accommodation in Kamloops (comfortable and good standard with restaurants on-site or within walking distance), two breakfasts and two lunches on the Rocky Mountaineer. Return flight from £899pp. Departing April through early October.
Travellers booking 2020 Ranch Rider holidays before 31 January will receive free standard insurance. Please quote code JANINS2020 on booking. Minimum stay six nights. Purchase must include ranch holiday and flights. Terms & Conditions apply.