LIVING THE DREAM: Abelana Game Reserve's Horse Safari Guide

In the words of Helen Thompson Wooley, "In riding a horse, we borrow freedom". For those who understand the wonder of seeing the world from the saddle, Abelana Game Reserve offers a very special safari experience in which riders are able to explore the African wilderness as though part of nature itself with exemplary horse safari guide, Tamlyn Whitebread.

When asked how her love of horses began, Tamlyn simply confesses: "It’s in my blood," like a strand of DNA she has no control over. Growing up with her sister in the Free State, Tamlyn began riding at the age of seven. She competed in show jumping as a young rider and when she was 16 years old, a glossy travel magazine published a story about Big Five horse safaris that caught her interest. She was sold.

However, it was years before Tamlyn was able to lead her first real horse safari. The road was long and began with nature conservation school and safari guide training with Tamlyn finding herself working as a qualified safari guide at a luxury safari lodge near Hoedspruit. From there she roamed between guiding at lodges and running a horse-riding school and even spent time completing further guide training in different parts of Africa. She was determined to hone her skills as a guide and active conservationist.

"I knew nobody in the industry would take me seriously if I didn’t take myself seriously," admits Tamlyn.Walking into a male-dominated industry took courage, and she quickly realised that in order to fit in, she had to know more and be more resilient than any of the other guides around her. Tamlyn recounts, with a laugh, how one guide resigned from a lodge the day he found out they’d hired a female guide. Experience has shown her that most guiding teams are open-minded and even excited to work with her, once her trust and respect has been earned.

It may read like a fairytale, but on one of Tamlyn’s jaunts into Kenya, she met an Austrian Princess who spoke of wanting to own a horse safari company in Africa. A business partnership was established, and the two started buying horses for their venue just outside Phalaborwa on what is now Abelana Game Reserve. This venture was sadly short-lived, and Tamlyn’s path led her to Swaziland for a stint, but having tasted the horse safari life, she could not let it go and started buying horses with what little money she could save and muster. Hearing that her former venue had been re-launched as Abelana Game Reserve, Tamlyn reached out to the new custodian, Ian Beauchamp, and Abelana Horse Safaris was born.

Ian urges competent riders to indulge in a horse safari through the magnificent reserve and take the opportunity to see Tamlyn’s real talent and passion shine through. When talking of the typical reaction of her riding guests, Tamlyn admits that this is the highlight of her work. Leading visitors into Africa on horseback is both adventurous and emotional for many. Being

both vulnerable to and fully accepted by Mother Nature leaves guests awestruck, and often tearful. It's a deeply immersive wilderness experience led by a tenacious, sensitive and strong but self-effacing guide - a moment of absolute freedom that stays with guests for a lifetime.

Abelana Horse Safaris leads trails across the 15 000- hectare private reserve, offering a variety of safari options from three nights to seven nights. These packages are available all year round, and riders are accommodated in tented luxury at the beautiful Abelana Safari Camp in the southern part of the reserve. Leading groups no bigger than eight people, Tamlyn and the Abelana team are able to tailor a deeply personal experience for smaller groups and far exceed guest expectations.

Read more about the Abelana Horse Safaris here

For more information about Abelena and the Abelana Horse Safaris, or to make a booking, please contact reservations at 061 952 4302 /

Content Credit: Phoenix Media

Image Credit: Supplied

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