Photo: Anthony Bannister/Gallo Images/Corbis
There are a lot of great ways to explore new places — by car, on foot, bicycle, even airplane. But there’s something about doing it on horseback that’s different- the connection between you and the animal has a way of making an experience with nature more intimate and real. If you’re considering a horse riding vacation, you may not know where to look, but we can help. To narrow down the list, here are six incredible adventures on horseback, one from each continent (excluding Antarctica, which horses are advised to avoid).
1. Zion National Park, Utah
Not too far north of the more famous Grand Canyon lies Zion National Park. The verdant canyon is a renowned hiking spot but may be even better explored on horseback. Come face to face with wildlife and explore diverse terrain. Thanks to mild winters, you can visit year-round. There are at least seven companies operating tours, so you can pick the route that best suits you.
2. Mont Saint-Michel, France
The Mont Saint-Michel monastery is perhaps the most famous in Europe. Built on a tidal island, the wedding cake-like World Heritage Site is surrounded either by water or beach, depending on the tides. You can explore the bay on horseback with a variety of touring companies, which you can find on the site’s official Web site. It is said that the encroaching tide moves at the pace of a galloping horse; this is your shot to see if it’s true.
Few places have histories as intimately intertwined with any animal as Mongolia’s is with horses. Ghenghis Khan, by far the most famous Mongol, founded an empire that at its height covered nearly a sixth of the planet, and he and his brutal warriors did it on horseback. Equitours offers a week-long tour of the vast, treeless steppe, so you can live like a nomad and ride like a khan.
4. Okavango Delta, Botswana
Photo: Dewitt Jones/CORBIS
The Okavango Delta, hidden in the heart of the deadly Kalahari Desert, is home to a dazzling variety of animal and plant life. You can explore the “jewel of the Kalahari” on a five day tour with African Horseback Safaris or a ten day ride with Equitours.
5. Patagonia, Argentina
Looking to confront among cougars and foxes, magnificent birds and penguins, explore the Andes and gallop across the Tierra del Fuego, all in a land where gauchos still ride? Patagonia is the place to do it. There’s no shortage of tours to choose from in the vast region, but choose carefully. Not even a week-long trip will cover everything Patagonia has to offer, so make sure you’re in the area you most want to see (if you can decide).
6. Snowy Mountains, Australia
The word “Australia” is more likely to conjure images of surfing big waves and scorching inland deserts than snow-capped mountains, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t do something different from most people on you trip Down Under. In Southeast Australia, the Snowy Mountains reach 7,000 feet and are home to diverse wildlife, including thousands of wild horses. You won’t be riding one of these (unless you’re really adventurous) with Reynella Rides or Snowy River Horseback Adventures, but you will have the adventure of a lifetime.