How To Get A Job In A Riding Safari Camp

by Richard Smith

An intern sets up dinner for guests at African Horseback Safaris

An intern sets up dinner for guests at African Horseback Safaris

So you want to experience a safari ride in Africa? And you want to fund it by working too? Here are some tips from the experts to ensure you get the job and experience you are looking for in Africa:

Search for the right contact details.

Seems obvious right, but it’s not the organization’s manager you should be writing to (so all the people sending me their emails to work for a riding operator haven’t got this one right). Make sure you’re looking at the website of the riding safari you want to work for and find an email address for the person who will be able to make the decision to employ you.

Note that you might have to do some digging: look on their site as well as other travel sites, perhaps even take a guess at their general info or inquiry email address, but these are all tests of your ingenuity. If push comes to shove, send the email to the reservations email address for the attention of the person you're after.

An intern working in the stables

An intern working in the stables – African Horseback Safaris

Does the riding safari camp have jobs you can do?

Just because you want to work at a riding safari camp in Kenya or Botswana doesn’t mean they can employ you or will employ you. They may need to get you a work permit or have a short period they can employ you for as a foreigner. There’s more of a chance of them doing this if they already have Europeans or other foreigners working for them, so do some research to find out if the riding safari camp you are interested in working for employs people from abroad.

In some cases you’ll be working for a rather low wage and mucking in to help, rather than having a job or being paid a significant wage. Be sure to ask yourself these questions: Can you afford to do this as well as pay to get there? If not, how much do you really want a job in a riding safari camp? Is the experience worth it for you?

Riding safari camps with jobs they already offer to foreigners should be your first targets, with riding companies that don’t currently provide work to foreign staff as a second, less likely, tier. 

A child with an intern at Ants Hill and Ants Nest

A child with an intern at Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest

What do you offer the riding safari camp if they offer to employ you?

Turn your original thinking around. You want to work for a riding safari camp, so you can ride in Africa, but what do they get if they employ you?

You’re hard working? Prove it.

You're good with people? Same again, how can they tell?

You’ve got a history of working with horses? Oh yeah, show them.

You could help in their office? What are your skills? What is your experience? 

You need a good CV, some references (ideally letters saying how super you are from people who aren’t directly related to you), and a good covering email. These are essential to obtaining a job in a riding safari camp.

Ants Nest & Ants Hill staff and guests

Ants Nest & Ants Hill staff and guests

What should you avoid doing if you want a job with a riding safari camp?

Here are some tips from some of the best in the business, to increase your chances of getting a job in a riding safari camp:

Punctuate and use the correct grammar. If you're not very good, get someone to help. In my opinion, if you can’t be bothered to spell check and re-read your email for mistakes, your work for me will be sloppy too and I’ll either spend my time correcting it or have to replace you. - Richard Smith, Aardvark Safaris
Bear in mind there are costs to cover and you’ll need to come for three months. For much of that time you’ll be in camp working in the office or moving muck. You won’t be leading rides or riding as back up rider, but work hard and be impressive and, if you decide you like it, this might be a good leg up into a full time job abroad. - John Sobey, African Horseback Safaris
My suggestion is that people introduce themselves with names, ages, and where they are coming from, and first just ask if there would be any vacancy or volunteering position. I don’t need a three page email about their life if I don’t have a position anyway. Try and think about it early, which means like at least a year in advance. - Gerti Kusseler: Wait A Little 
An intern looking after a foal, Okavango Horse Safaris

An intern looking after a foal, Okavango Horse Safaris

We really appreciate university leavers or young people in between jobs. Generally it is helpful to get those who are keen on working at the stable, schooling horses, etc. and having someone around in the busy season to help with entertainment in the evenings; someone who can do both is obviously great. It is worth contacting us on the off chance, but plan in advance so as not to be disappointed. - Nicky Dyer: Borana 
Wildlife survey  buffalo capture at Ants Nest & Ants Hill

Wildlife survey – buffalo capture at Ants Nest & Ants Hill

I simply send out the volunteer information and application form, and if potential volunteers are happy with what they have to do while they are here for the 90 days, they fill in the application form and we will then see if they are suitable and have the ability firstly. Secondly, if I have the space to accommodate them. - Gail: Ant’s Collection
You need to be a better than an average rider, with the ability to train young horses both on the ground and in the saddle, so provide a video of you riding...Do not lie about your capabilities. Be prepared to be self sufficient. Remember Africa has a lot of people that need employment so your application has to prove that you have something to offer. - Barney: Okavango Horse Safaris
An intern enjoys a sunset ride at Ants Hill

An intern enjoys a sunset ride at Ants Hill

Don’t be put off by all the things you need to keep in mind when applying for a job with a riding safari camp in Africa; the most important thing to do is go about it the right way, and you’ll increase your chances of getting a job dramatically!