Off Beat Safaris was established in 1989 and Off Beat game farm was purchased in 1996. A bush lodge was built, horses were introduced and the Horse and Conservation volunteer program was started in 2002.
The game farm and equestrian yard is situated in the heart of the African Bush. The majestic Northern Drakensberg Mountain range forms the backdrop to the reserve, which is to the west of the world-renowned Kruger National Park.
The Horse and Conservation project is 12km from the town of Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province of South Africa and is geared to a relaxed outdoor life style where people, wildlife and horses mix freely.
The emphasis is on offering gap year volunteers a unique African bush experience where attention is paid not only to the wild animals and horses, but also to all aspects of the local ecology. Any equestrian horse lover or keen conservationist would find the project a fulfilling way to spend part of their gap year. It is a unique way to get involved in giving something back towards community conservation in Africa.
We offer a variety of equestrian studies and horse riding activities, amongst others, that allow equine enthusiasts and keen conservationists of all levels the enjoyment of working and learning in our natural surroundings. This is a chance to live and work with the horses within an exclusive conservation environment.
Comprehensive equestrian and conservation lectures are frequently given. Individual study guides on all relevant topics are provided in which students make further notes.
Programme Facilities and Services
Arrival: Upon arrival into Hoedspruit airport the project leader, Millie or one of her team will meet you. You will then be transferred to the camp, which is about 45 minutes drive away.
Internet: The closest place to access Internet is in Hoedspruit. You will be able to use this about once a week on the weekly trips to town. This will cost roughly R1 per minute.
Telephone : The international dialling code for South Africa is +27. Make sure roaming is activated on your phone, and it is worth unlocking your phone before you leave in case you get the chance to purchase a local Vodacom or MTN network mobile phone SIM card for around R30.00.
There is mobile phone signal at the project, though it can be intermittent so please be patient. Once in town, you will be able to access your phone really easily.
Laundry: Your laundry will be washed and ironed twice a week.
Electricity: South Africa uses 220/230V and a frequency of 50Hz. The plug sockets in South Africa take plugs with two circular pins and a larger circular grounding pin. There is a generator at the camp which comes on once daily and you will be able to use this to charge electronic items such as phones and camera batteries. Please be aware that there is a limited electricity supply, so please don’t come expecting to be able to use hairdryers etc.
Free Time Being so close to Hoedspruit is a fantastic advantage for weekends. On a weekly outing volunteers go to the local bars and restaurants to relax, enjoy a few beers and great local food. South Africans are really friendly and you will find that you settle quickly into the laid back lifestyle!
Extra activities during your stay:
During your time at the project, you will have many opportunities to partake in the optional activities available within the local area. This is a great way to see more of your surroundings and experience adventures that will last you a lifetime. Some of these include:
Micro light flights over local Big 5 game reserves
Game drives on the adjacent private Big 5 reserves
Two-day trip including a sleep out, game drive and bush walk on a private Big 5 reserve
Two-day trip including a sleep out at a hide in the Kruger National Park
Abseiling and caving
Reptile park tour
Day trip to view the Panorama route
Day tripss to Kruger National Park
Boat cruises on teh Blyde River dam
River rafting and tubing on the Blyde River (summer months only)
Game capturing (when available)
*Please Note: All of these activities are at your own expense. They are extremely affordable and can be booked on a weekely basis.
Role of Volunteer
Gap year equestrian and conservation volunteers spend about 40% of their time assisting with the care and welfare of the horses, which are used for horse safaris on the property. Not only will gap year volunteers be working with the horses on an intimate level but also enjoy close encounters viewing wild animals from horseback. Riding lessons and fun horse riding exercises are given on a regular basis. The surrounding game reserves have the Big 5. There are no permanent predators on Off Beat, so safety is not a problem. Here you can enjoy the pleasure of horse riding whilst experiencing nature at its best.
Whether you are an experienced horse rider, a novice or simply have a passion for horses and horse riding you will benefit greatly from the knowledge that you gain at Off Beat. Horse safaris in the African Bush are wonderful and ever changing, from quietly walking through the bush on the look out for African wild animals and birds, to trots and canters.
The Equestrian Horse Courses include:
Stable yard routine and maintenance (no, this does not mean you will be mucking out stables every day!)
Natural Horsemanship techniques
Hoof care - external and internal structures
Basic veterinary skills
Herd behaviour and body language
Grooming and interactive bonding with horses
Use and care of tack and equipment
Physiology and pathology
Different horse breeds and identification markings
Equine nutrition and digestive system
Basic preparations for show jumping and gymkhana games in the dressage arena
Horse riding skills - you don't have to be experienced, we will teach you all there is to know!
A selection of horse breeds at the Off Beat yard includes: Appaloosa, Thoroughbred, Arab, Friesian and the well-known South African Boerperd.
With our horse safaris the combination of horse riding and game viewing is unforgettable
The Conservation Courses include:
If as a gap year volunteer you would like to contribute to environmental conservation, come and experience the real African bush and make a difference.
Approximately 40% of your placement will be spent on lectures, working in the African bush and on projects within our private game reserve in South Africa. The emphasis of the environmental conservation course part of the program is on getting in touch with Mother Nature by taking part in our nature activities and conservation courses - the knowledge you will gain will make you "bush wise" concerning African wildlife and nature. The environmental conservation project will teach you not only about the better known aspects of African wildlife, but also about the small things that make the African bush truly amazing. You will spend time as a group working through the conservation course manuals and then put your knowledge into practice.
Game drives and nature walks are regularly undertaken on the game farm as well as on Big 5 game reserves.
Environmental Conservation course study guides and practical activities includes:
Identification of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects and plants
Identification of animal tracks and signs of the wild
Anti soil erosion work
Sleep-outs under the star-studded African sky
Wilderness trails and game drives in the African bush
Basic weapon handling
Game farm fence patrolling either on foot or on horseback
African wildlife/game Capture
Other Fun Nature Activities during your gap year project
Arts and crafts
Local African Tribal customs and language
Drumming sessions - beat to the rhythm of the local African music
African Wildlife related DVDs are shown regularly to consolidate the lectures
The game farm accommodation at the volunteer project is really special! Gap year volunteers will be living in thatched roof, wooden chalets with large gauze covered windows and roll down sides to keep the African wildlife at bay. Rooms are shared with 1 or 2 other volunteers.
The game farm's camp is set in a riverine area with lush indigenous trees. You will awaken each morning to the different sights, sounds and smells of the African bush - beautiful sunrises from your bedroom window, birds and lions calling, insects buzzing and the wonderful feeling of being close to nature.
The showers and Western-style toilets are located close to the rooms. They are open-air structures with running water - hot water is provided by means of "fire-geysers". Taking a shower under the stars contributes to the overall African game farm experience.
The communal chill-out area is thatched lounge/kitchen/bar and dining area. When it is hot during the glorious summer months, cool off in the quaint splash pool. For those keen on African wildlife or game viewing there is a hide overlooking a waterhole close to the camp for the ultimate tranquillity.
There is no electricity at the camp - solar lighting, gas and paraffin lanterns are used. You will most likely find the rustic lifestyle peaceful and enjoyable - especially at night when the camp transforms into a fairyland.
Enjoy the evenings sitting around the campfire with a cold drink while chatting to fellow volunteers after a hard but satisfying day.
2 weeks - ZAR 6400
4 weeks - ZAR 12000
6 weeks - ZAR 16400
8 weeks - ZAR 21200
10 weeks - ZAR 26000
12 weeks - ZAR 30800
What's included in the programme price:
Project donation: this entails financing that goes directly back into the project that you are involved with.
Airport transfer to and from Hoedspruit Airport
Orientation on arrival
All accommodation during your stay
Horse riding instruction
Comprehensive work manuals
Game drives on the property
Bush walks on the property
Breakfast, lunch and dinner each day.
What's NOT included in the programme price
Personal travel insurance for the duration of your placement, which should include cover for repatriation
All items of a personal nature, such as curios, gifts, clothing (work and other)
E-mail/Internet and telephone calls
Soft drinks, beer, wines and spirits
Any excursions over and above your planned itinerary in South Africa