When we camp morning tea is available from around 7, that gives us enough time to get a head’s start on the day. Breakfast, ready at about 8, includes tea, coffee, fruit juice, toast, eggs, fruits, marmalade, and sometimes typical Indian delicacies. (When we stay at a hotel you’ll have breakfast at the hotel.) Whilst you’re having breakfast we are busy grooming the horses – cleaning and rubbing them down, washing their heads with a wet cloth (good for their circulation and wakes them up) – saddling them and getting them ready to go. We also check that the horses are sound and the saddles and equipment are in good working order.
All you have to do is mount – and then we can all ride out at about 9. You’ll find your saddle bag has a 1lt bottle of mineral water (included in the rate: one bottle per person per day). On an average, we cover a distance of about 25-30 km per day. A local back-up rider normally trots along at the back of the group, followed by a jeep with the boys responsible for caring for the horses during the ride, lunch stops and at night. The jeep will be carrying a first-aid kit for the horses and riders as well as your day/lunch bags (with things you don’t need while riding, but may want during lunch, e.g., bigger cameras, books, shoes, sunscreen, etc.).
The pace on the rides varies with the terrain and we adopt it to the conditions along the route. Although well balanced and moderate, the pace can get quite fast at times. Remember you’ve chosen to ride Marwari horses, fast-paced and forward-going, ready at all times to show you how wonderful, eager and energetic they are!
From time to time we’ll stop and take short breaks, either to explain something, have some water (us and the horses too), or take a rain-check behind a bush. After about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the pace of the riders and the terrain, we’ll arrive at our lunch spot. We take great care to choose beautiful places with great scenery – lakes, riverbeds or fields – so that you can enjoy the landscape and savour your lunch in pleasant surroundings.
Lunch is generally served buffet-style with a choice of local dishes such as soup, rice, several curries, samosas, chapattis, lentil stew and an Indian desert. We lay out a large picnic mat (on which you can also sit and put your day bag) and comfortable folding chairs. Cold drinks like beer, water, lemonade or coke are available as extras.
After lunch you’ll have time for a nap or, if you’re not tired, you can take a walk and explore the area for about two hours. But be back in time, tea and coffee are served at about 3.00 pm just before we remount for our afternoon ride, normally shorter, and with fewer breaks so that we can reach our evening safari camp in the late afternoon.
After handing over the horses to the boys, the riders and any accompanying guests are served tea/coffee and some snacks. Then everyone is free to either roam around, visit nearby villages, take a shower, or just sit and chat before dinner, perhaps taking in a late afternoon sundowner while the boys light the camp fire.
Dinner gives you the chance to taste some more of our local dishes and is served buffet-style like lunch, but this time your chairs are arranged around the camp-fire where we sometimes roast jacket potatoes or heat up our chapattis… We also have a "table-bar" where drinks like wine, rum or beer are available as extras. Depending on the pace and location, the group can decide to shorten the lunch break and have longer daylight hours in the evenings after arrival at the camp. Sometimes it’s even possible to arrive at lunchtime, giving the group the opportunity for an afternoon’s shopping spree… When we stay at a hotel dinner will be served at the hotel where you will be transferred after handing over the horses to the boys at their evening stopover camp.
Although the daily routine doesn’t vary much, our safaris are never boring – but they are relaxing, enjoyable and unique. There are many things to see or experience. Depending on where we are it may be possible to visit the local temple at prayer time, interact with local villagers, or watch local artists performing folk dances, theatricals, music or puppet shows. Often the group will be able to take a impressive bullock-cart or camel ride, see a dancing horse performing or participate in an Indian festival or ceremony.
In short, a day with us is an adventure, it’s a journey back in time on horses that used to carry kings and queens… it’s an opportunity to take in the local scenery, do some sightseeing, take a walk through the countryside or just relax… and let India capture your senses and your heart. Who knows what a day with us will bring… for sure, every day and evening with us and our unique horses will remain in your memory forever.