I recently traveled with a friend to Africa for an equestrian safari that we booked through African Horse Safaris (africanhorsesafaris.com). We went to Botswana for eight days on their Tuli Safari before heading out to their Zimbabwe Working Holiday for two weeks. While Botswana was incredible, Zimbabwe (Antelope Park) was a nightmarish disaster. The actual conditions at the working holiday, called Antelope Park, were unsafe and NOT as advertised on African Horse Safaris’ website. Below is a list of some of the reasons we left early. The website claims the maximum group size is 8 volunteers. When we arrived, there were 16 volunteers on-site. One of the staff said they had booked too many volunteers, and therefore, we would have less riding time. Three times in the first two days, we were expecting to be able to ride, only to find out that our ride had been canceled. Under the horse care section of the website, it says that horses are given dedicated rest days and that tack is well maintained and cleaned. To the contrary, we observe that much of the tack is in poor condition, and we have never seen anyone cleaning it during our time here. Even more concerning, the horses do NOT have dedicated rest days, and we have observed horses being overworked. The horses at this location are not properly trained or disciplined, and have no respect for their riders. A disrespectful horse is a dangerous horse. As I attempted to lead my horse down the walkway (which is too narrow to be safe), two other horses pinned mine against the wall and started biting. I was trapped between the three of them as they fought with one another. Fortunately, I was able to get myself out of that situation. I also noticed another being dragged into a stall by a horse, as well as horses refusing to leave their stall, requiring 3-4 people to push them out. On the Friday night before we left early, there was a birthday party for the assistant stable manager that included drinking by underage youth, a bong (despite the fact that recreational marijuana use is illegal in Zimbabwe), and other drugs. The conversation and interactions between staff and guests was inappropriately sexual in nature (including numerous lap dances, twerking, etc.). At the party, multiple staff clearly broke the code of conduct. The website says riding lessons will be given. However, we were told on-site that there will not be any lessons. In fact, we saw no one on-site who appears to be qualified to offer riding instruction of any kind. The website shows bedrooms that are much nicer than the actual rooms we’ve been given. We've taken photos of the rooms, and they are very different from the website. The bathrooms and showers are not of good quality either. The website also claims that there are daily housekeeping services, but again, that is not true. Another huge concern was horse/rider safety. The horses were allowed to race at a full gallop across the field (after two hard jump sessions already that day), during which time riders barely avoided colliding. One horse tried to kick another horse. One rider tried in vain to bring the horse to a stop (coming to a halt only halfway back to the barn). Another went off into the bush before being able to gain control. Another girl actually fell completely off her horse. In other videos, a rider has such poor form and control that, on every jump, she is falling forward or to the side and then sitting up and catching her horse hard in the mouth, as well as balancing on his mouth. In other videos, riders attempt jumps that are too high, and horses are repeatedly hitting their legs on the jumps. This occurs even at lower heights, so bumping the jumps higher was clearly unsafe and, again, hard on the horses. Horses were also consistently refusing to jump, creating an unsafe condition for everyone. This was compounded by the fact that riders were following one another too closely over the jumps, narrowly missing one another. Numerous stalls were flimsily held closed only by baler twine, the hay was moldy and had poop and spiky plants mixed throughout, and horses had numerous injuries from the tack and overuse. When the quality of the hay was brought up, staff said to ignore it. Also on the website, the Victoria Falls trip is listed at $400 USD. After arriving here, we learned that it is, in fact, $500 in cash and does not include meals or activities, so the actual amount recommended by the local staff is at least $1000. We've been left on our own quite a lot with not much information provided about what we should be or could be doing. Regarding the six of us who were newly arrived at the time, we’ve all been told different things to expect (both previously by AHS and by local staff), leaving us confused. Needless to say, the Zimbabwe Working Holiday was an unsafe place to be. The staff at African Horse Safaris lied to us about this holiday, putting us in a bad situation, which we had to get ourselves out of. As customers, we put our trust in African Horse Safaris that Antelope Park in Zimbabwe was of high quality and that the staff took good care of both the guests and the horses. That was not the case during our stay. The AHS website completely misrepresents the Zimbabwe Working Holiday, and we would never have traveled there if we had known beforehand what it was actually like. We’re incredulous that AHS representatives spoke so highly of this dangerous and undesirable location. There’s no question that they owe us a refund, particularly since we were forced to leave early due to the poor and unsafe conditions that existed there. Despite contacting AHS multiple times detailing the conditions, they have refused a refund of any kind. I highly recommend that everyone use another company to book holidays through. AHS has proven themselves not to be trusted.…
Stopped over from Kariba on our way to Bulawayo. Check in/Out was a cumbersome. Room had a couple issues. Like listening to the Lions in the morning. We had a river cabin that the outdoor shower was neat. Unfortunately there was an electrical issue with it....Yikes
We stayed one night as a stop over on a long journey and we were so glad we chose this lovely place. We stayed in a River Lodge, which had a lovely view out over the dam and we saw lots of bird life. The room was excellent, and we were grateful for the heaters on a cold May night. The braai diner was superb and the early morning bird watching drive in the game parkway great. There is a lot to do for families and is well worth a longer visit.
Good staff and very nice place. Wouldn't advise a stay though specially this time of covid because can't get the best clean from a cleaner who's getting $15 a month. Activities were great. Will share some nice pics
I had a beautiful holiday surrounded by utmost hospitality from staff. Antelope Park had also been on my bucket list for years, I am glad an opportunity to explore the amazing place paid off. I was a solo traveller but never ran out of options, either walks around the property or a range of activities. The meals were scrumptious, the game drives, carriage ride, elephant encounter and lion feeding were memorable visits, I have a lot of photos! I would love to return and relive the experience!