Words & pics Shan Routledge
Ever dreamt about flying? About watching the ground flash beneath you and the wind whip through your hair? About the salt stinging your face and your heart pounding in your ears? You must be dreaming about the feeling of riding a horse along the beach, about feeling free.
Cape Town is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I am constantly looking for different ways to enjoy them. And for my money there’s no better way to enjoy them than horseback riding on the beach.
Noordhoek, famed for its long white sandy beach and stunning location below the southern slopes of Chapman’s Peak Drive is Cape Town’s rural treasure with a farm atmosphere and several riding stables.
Its beach is the most popular one on the peninsula for horse rides, as it is unspoilt and pristine. Stretching for miles from the base of Chapman’s Peak to Kommetjie, it’s the perfect location to experience a beach ride whether you are an experienced rider looking for a different adventure or a novice excited to try out the sport in an idyllic environment.
A leisurely ride along a deserted white sand beach is the stuff of dreams, and Noordhoek rarely has that many visitors beside some surfers, kite surfers and locals walking their dogs, so you will be able to let your imagination run wild as you become that free-spirited Indian or Arabian Prince sprinting along the beach.
There is nothing quite like the thrill of riding a horse with your hair whipping in the wind and the horse’s hooves beating beneath you as you ride alongside the crashing surf. Whether you want to go for a casual leisurely walk or an exhilarating gallop along the beach, it is an experience that will enthrall.
Both Imhoff Equestrian Centre and Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding offer two-hour long trail rides to the beach. Horses are picked according to your experience level. If you are a complete novice and have never been on a horse before you can even arrange a half hour lesson beforehand so you know the basics and are comfortable, ensuring that you will fully appreciate the experience.
Most rides also include a walk through the wetlands where you can view the indigenous bird life, before you cross over the snow-white dunes to the beach. A highlight is a visit to the massive boiler, rudders and ribs of the SS Kakapo, wrecked in 1900 when the captain mistook Chapman's Peak for Cape Point in a big storm and turned left.
There are morning, noon and afternoon rides with times depending on the time of year. I suggest an afternoon ride, as you will catch the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean. But no matter the time of day, your experience level or the season, it is a truly special experience which will leave you wanting to go back time and time again.
Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding: 021 789 2341, http://sleepyhollowhorseriding.co.za
Imhoff Equestrian Centre: 082 774 1191, www.horseriding.co.za