Hacking on Kenya’s Great Plains

Guests dine in the shade of a tree at Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
Al fresco dining at Ol Donyo Lodge in Kenya © Beverly Joubert

The east African safari takes many forms. Riding out onto the vast plains amid giraffe, herds of antelope and the occasional old tusker with the silhouette of Kilimanjaro in the distance has to be one of its more memorable permutations. At Ol Donyo Lodge, on the edge of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills national park, the riding is a hallmark of the experience. Along with 18 sturdy warmbloods with temperaments to suit everyone from the relative novice to the advanced equestrian, there are state of the art stables, kitted out with English and Western saddles, along with full tack – boots, jodhpurs, chaps, hunt caps and gloves – so even the unprepared can opt in for an impromptu canter. Skills are assessed, and riders matched with the right guide; groups are kept to small numbers, both for safety and personal attention – and to make the highlights, like coming upon a full bush breakfast after a few hours of exploration, that much more special. Guests can even depart camp on horseback, riding out to the airstrip, where they’ll be met by their luggage. greatplainsconservation.com, Ol Donyo Lodge from $750

Out of time Transylvania

A view of the Bethlen Estate in Romania with rolling hills in the background
The Bethlen Estate in Romania © Philip Vile
The hills and valleys around the Bethlen Estate in Romania
Transylvania is home to some of the most extensive virgin forest left in Europe © Philip Vile

Transylvania’s hinterlands are still genuine wilderness, home to bear and bison, dozens of endemic bird and wildflower species, and tracts of what is some of the most extensive virgin forest left in continental Europe. The Romania experts at UK- and US-based travel fixers Black Tomato have put together an itinerary that combines cycling and riding to experience the best of what this countryside has to offer – including, if they like, experiencing the Carpathian mountains (one end of the adventure spectrum) or a private after-hours supper in the castle that inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula (the very cushy other end). You’ll stay at Bethlen, a gorgeously restored family estate. But, our favourite part: your riding supports Foundation Conservation Carpathia, a local conservation NGO that works to keep the forests you explore protected and pristine. blacktomato.com, seven nights from £6,550 for two

Trotting out on Menorca’s historic trail

Exercising the horses at Torralbenc in Menorca
Exercising the horses at Torralbenc in Menorca
A lawn and loungers next to the pool area at Torralbenc
The pool area at Torralbenc

The 185km-long Camí de Cavalls trail, which traces the circumference of Menorca, dates back to the 1300s; long used to defend the island – soldiers ran from watchtower to watchtower along its hilly stretches – it was inaugurated as a footpath in 2010. But an equally enjoyable way to experience it is on horseback. For this, consider a stay at the gorgeous 27-room Torralbenc, whose owners have created a whole portfolio of equestrian tours that accommodate various levels of rider and appetite for adventure; they range from a few hours to several days exploring the path’s beaches, coves and ravines in full, around the circumference of the island, broken up throughout your stay. The purebred Menorquín horses are calm and strong; the multilingual guides bring the insider knowledge and historical narratives; farm stops are built in along the way, so you can sample local cheeses and sausages, even buy a pair of handmade Avarques sandals. torralbenc.com, from €215

New Zealand’s high country, seen from the saddle

Horses canter along a track in Mahu Whenua, New Zealand
Horse riding in Mahu Whenua in New Zealand
A rider crosses a ford on horseback in Mahu Whenua
The property boasts dozens of miles of purpose-built trails

In May, New Zealand will re-open to international travellers – which is happy news indeed for enthusiasts of its epic landscapes. There are now myriad ways to enjoy them, from heli tours to fly-fishing expeditions in the deep reaches of Central Otago, or long hacks on horseback into native beech forests and glacial valleys. Mahu Whenua, whose 55,000 hectares of land are protected under the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust, constitutes one of its more impressive conservation efforts. The station’s own stables house easy-going, high-country horses – unshod, able to manage all seasons. You can ride out all day – there are dozens of miles of (sensitively) purpose-built trails – or have a private dressage or jumping clinic. Or, if you’ve never mounted a horse in your life but want a bit of quality equine therapy time, have a guided stable visit and a lead ride around the ring. mahuwhenua.co.nz, from about £1,030 per night, full board; riding experiences from about £155

Living the cowgirl dream in Montana

Paws Up, the 37,000-acre dude ranch in Montana, has quite a few things to distinguish it from its competition; one of the ones we like best is that its equestrian manager, Jackie Kecskes, is a woman – not nearly as common as one would think, or hope, in these parts. She’s a master of matching guests to the right mount and cultivating enthusiasm even in riding neophytes. In April, she’s participating in something truly unique: the three-day Cowgirl Spring Roundup, a program of scenic trail rides, demonstrations, interactive horsemanship clinics, a cattle drive experience (observed or partaken in, based on your riding levels) – and, come dark, good old-fashioned drinking and storytelling sessions around the campfire. You’ll be hosted by Paws Up and a few honorary members of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and stay in one of the Paws Up Wilderness Estates (including three-bedroom rustic log cabins, writ luxe). pawsup.com; Cowgirl Fall Roundup, September 9 to 12, from $2,001 per person, including all meals and transfers from Missoula airport

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