Hanchi Horseback Conservation

Combine horse riding in the African bush with wildlife conservation and reserve management

Set on a vast reserve in the rugged and wild bushland of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, from horseback, you will assist in the habituation of white rhino and disease free buffalo. The sensitivity of the horse makes them ideal partners in traversing the bush and  reserve management, ensuring game are less stressed and by nature alerting you to young and elusive animals.

Equine husbandry and care
  • Equine husbandry and care
  • Equine tack and yard maintenance
  • Training horses both in a small menage and on bush rides
  • Fence line patrols of inner sable and roan camps and the greater reserve 
  • Disease free buffalo habituation from horseback
  • Habituation of resident white rhino on the reserve
  • Assist in reserve management
  • Supporting the Zingela Conservation Project on the same reserve, in tracking species movement through dense bush where vehicular access is limited

Conservation in the field

Monitoring and management from horseback supports this unique reserve, providing a safe haven for predators, vulnerable and rare wildlife in the northern bush of South Africa. The sensitivity of the horse makes them ideal partners in traversing the bush and reserve management, ensuring game are less stressed and by nature alerting you to young and elusive animals, while impacting the natural biodiversity less.

  • Hanchi Horseback Video
  • Riding through the bush
  • Wildlife viewing on horseback
  • Equine care
  • Telemetry tracking at Hanchi
  • The Hanchi herd
  • Rhino tracking
  • Caring for young eland
  • Meet one of the herd
  • Fence patrol
  • Game monitoring
  • Equine husbandry
  • The stable hands
  • Hanchi accommodation

Hanchi Horseback Video

Riding through the bush

Riding is one of the most environmentally friendly ways of monitoring wildlife in the bush

Riding through the bush

Wildlife viewing on horseback

On horseback is a great way to view wildlife as the animals are less wary of the horses

Wildlife viewing on horseback

Equine care

All volunteers take responsibility for caring for the horses.

Equine care

Telemetry tracking at Hanchi

At Hanchi, you will learn how to track rhino using radio telemetry which picks up radio signals from foot collars on the white rhino. These allow for continuous monitoring of the location of the rhino on the reserve.

Telemetry tracking at Hanchi

The Hanchi herd

Many of the horses at Hanchi are local South African breeds, known for their sturdiness in the bush, however Hanchi also have ex racehorses and show jumpers! Horses are matched to volunteers depending on level of experience.

The Hanchi herd

Rhino tracking

The reserve introduced white rhino in 2011, relocating them for safety. Hanchi volunteers track the rhino regularly to check their well-being and location.

Rhino tracking

Caring for young eland

During the reserve patrols volunteers found an orphaned eland, which they then helped hand-rear.

Caring for young eland

Meet one of the herd

Farwell is a thoroughbred gelding around 7yrs old. At 15hh he is small but strong. He is very safe on outrides and relaxed approaching game in the bush. He loves attention and is always keen for a groom.

Meet one of the herd

Fence patrol

The predator proof fence around the reserve is an important tool and therefore needs to be maintained regularly. Horseback patrols take place to check integrity of the fence.

Fence patrol

Game monitoring

On working rides volunteers may be tracking disease free buffalo to habituate them. Some of the riding can be through thick bushveld where the horses' nature gives more access to areas that vehicles are not able to reach.

Game monitoring

Equine husbandry

Volunteers build close bonds with the horses at Hanchi and assist with training to desensitise them during bush rides, with their care and husbandry.

Equine husbandry

The stable hands

The Hanchi bush pigs regularly keep volunteers amused at the camp and while working with the horses!

The stable hands

Hanchi accommodation

Volunteers at Hanchi live in a bush camp of twin share cabins next to the stables. Located within a larger reserve, the camp is basic but comfortable.

Hanchi accommodation

Work with the wildlife

Reserve management on horseback

  • Within the large breeding bomas, roan and sable react much calmer to horses enabling monitoring at a much higher level.
  • Disease free buffalo habituation from horseback on the greater reserve

White rhino monitoring and tracking

  • White rhino were recently introduced on the reserve. Volunteers track rhino on a daily basis as part of the reserve's anti poaching campaign and monitor their movements around the reserve. 
  • The white rhino are currently not habituated to a vehicle therefore monitoring from horseback through dense thickets and bush allows for closer monitoring of the species and less stress to the animals. 

Equine husbandry and care

  • Look after the horses on a daily basis, including feeding, grooming and disease control
  • Assist with the ongoing training and exercise of the herd at Hanchi, training horses in both a small menage and on bush rides
  • Equine tack and yard maintenance

Join the Zingela Conservation Project

  • By horseback you will approach rhino and buffalo and assist the Zingela project in monitoring species movement through dense bush where vehicular access is limited

Assist with reserve management and maintenance

  • Ensure the integrity of fence lines of inner sable and roan camps and the greater reserve, observing tracks and holes from animals that may cause the fence lines to be interrupted.
  • Check and assist in maintenance of artificial water holes within the reserve, vegetation control.
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Hear from other volunteers who've visited Hanchi Conservation Project

As my arrival coincided with the approach of dusk, the first impressions I had of Hanchi were of a h... click for more...

As my arrival coincided with the approach of dusk, the first impressions I had of Hanchi were of a herd of majestic gemsbuck (oryx) galloping across the dirt road silhouetted against a glorious sunset. They are the most stunning of antelope – although also the one least likely to oblige by standing still for a photo, never mind, I won’t forget that first sight of them, it’s forever etched in my memory. Animals just seemed to burst out of the bush from everywhere, kudu with great spiralling antlers, waterbuck with their distinctive white rears, impala and wildebeest – I felt I should pinch myself, this location far exceeded my expectations, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

Lucy Marris, Career Break, 2013

Thanks everyone at ACE! I had a fantastic 2 weeks at Hanchi. I would fully recommend going as it was an amazing experience. As a result, i'm currently working out whether I can afford to return next year for a longer period of time, because two weeks just isn't long enough!

Charley Eden

Everyone involved in ACE is very motivated and passionate about what they do which I found infectious as a volunteer! The project was brilliant - I'd never dreamed of getting so close to wild cheetah, it was like being able to enter their world

Nicholas Abery

The experience of following a cheetah on foot through the bush is mind blowing, sitting with a cheetah as she rests just metres away is a phenomenal experience

Catriona Carr

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Your placement cost includes return flights and carbon offsets (if selected), return transfers from Johannesburg Airport to your project, all accommodation, meals (at most projects), transfers between projects if you are volunteering at more than one project, the 24 hour support of our South African ground manager, ACE T-Shirts, and, of course, the contributions to the projects, without which they could not operate. Read more about the costs, where your money goes and financing your volunteering placement here