For some people, this guide might come as a surprise. After all, Tunisia is renowned for a lot of things – but horses probably don’t fall into this category. In fact, if we’re talking about animals, it’s usually camels that are the main one in question.
However, if you delve deeper into this country, you’ll quickly find that horse riding is very popular in Tunisia. In fact, it’s something that’s offered by umpteen tour guides, who will take you to countless destinations so you can take in both the culture and beautiful environment that Tunisia has to offer.
Following on from this, we’ll now take a look at how you should prepare for your horse riding in Tunisia, as well as what you should expect once you mount.
Table of contents
How should you prepare for horse riding in Tunisia?
There’s a common misconception surrounding horse riding – and that is that you don’t have to be fit. Unfortunately, we’re going to dispel that myth today.
While there’s no doubt that the horse is going to receive the brunt end of the exercise, at the same time you, the rider, need to be in peak physical condition. Sure, it doesn’t have to be the standard of a professional athlete, but let’s not forget that these animals will be travelling at pace and you will be riding forward for much of the journey. It means that anyone who isn’t in shape is going to really struggle to last for the duration of the experience.
On a similar note, and this one probably won’t come as a surprise, there’s generally a weight limit.
This is going to vary somewhat between horse riding operators, but as a rule if you are over 85kg
you might not be able to embark on one of these journeys and you need to lose weight.
To stay on the topic of misconceptions, this isn’t likely to be a journey where you are on the horse’s back for the entire time. When difficult terrain is encountered, you will generally have to dismount your horse and lead it over the area.
Naturally, this means that you need to prepare for a different form of physical activity; in other words, there will be some occasions you’ll be on-foot.
As well as this, there are the obvious weather-related actions that you need to prepare. Firstly, as your ride could be based mainly in the desert, it goes without saying that there’s going to be lots of sand flying around. It’s for this reason that you’ll need something to protect your face – with a scarf being the choice for most.
This leads us onto the next topic, the rest of the clothing you should wear. If you are riding through the desert in the summer, the heat will be some of the hottest you’ve experienced. On the flip side, winter can bring some exceptionally cold temperatures – so the best solution is to ride between these seasons.
Regardless of the season you choose, the weather is always going to be volatile 1 so it’s always recommended to wear layers. Of course, if you wear too many layers, you might start to breach the maximum weight limit for the horse which we touched upon earlier – so always consider this as well.
As with any activity in the desert, we don’t need to reiterate the importance of carrying sufficient water supplies.
What should you expect from the horse riding experience?
First and foremost, the vast majority of tour operators will cater for riders of all abilities. In other words, your instructor will take care of most of the things for you – you really don’t have to be an expert.
The order of activities really will depend on how long your experience is. If you have opted for one that encompasses more than one day, your accommodation will usually be in the form of camping. However, the term ‘camping’ should be clarified here – you will generally be provided proper beds with real bedding and there’s a huge degree of comfort. There will be some tours where you stay overnight in a hotel, maybe even with spa facilities, but the camping under the stars approach is usually preferred.
In terms of the types of rides that you can expect, again this is a difficult question to answer as each operator will provide something different. Take a look at some of the following examples to appreciate the types of rides and what you can generally expect, regardless of the vendor.
Houidhat Er Reched
This is probably at the extreme end of the spectrum, as anyone who rides to Houidhat Er Reched is likely to experience pretty much everything possible out of a horse ride in the Sahara. You’ll have all of the “standard” features, such as riding over dunes and mountains, but then come across some attractions that you probably wouldn’t even expect. For example, some operators will allow you to bath with the horses, while others will present you climbing opportunities across the glorious Sahara as you make your way to the end destination.
Royal Carriage Club Riding School
While we were a little reluctant to include exact schools during this guide, the fact that this one is so renowned 2 means that we almost felt obliged. Unlike the previous trek that we looked at, this is more designed for those of you who wish to “taste” horse riding and not spend your whole vacation with.
This time, you won’t be venturing to the Sahara, but instead riding on more local environments such as the beach. Considering the fact that picnics on the beach and BBQs are also offered – it’s ideal for anyone who wants a toned-down horse riding option.
This is another example of one of the longer rides – with this tending to take several days to complete. If you decide to ride around Southern Tunisia, you are opening yourself up to a world of attractions on horseback. We’re talking about the likes of El Ksour, which is an old fort hidden in the mountains, or the cave houses which are also camouflaged. It means that this isn’t simply a way to experience horse riding – but a means of sampling some of Tunisia’s best and most hidden gems.
A closing note on horse riding in Tunisia
As you can see, horse riding in Tunisia is somewhat different to riding in another country. Here, it’s not only about the experience of riding horseback, but also about sampling the Tunisian culture and history.
While Tunisia has umpteen attractions, many of which are completely accessible for the standard tourist, it could be said that many more doors are opened when you take to horseback and can navigate around the Sahara. Of course, all of the above is only possible if you take the adequate precautions – and before attempting such rides you really should pay attention to the advice we handed out in the preparation section of our guide.
Sources & References
- Weather volatility in Tunisia (AccuWeather) Weather in Tunisia
- Royal Carriage Club Riding School (TripAdvisor) Royal Carriage Club Riding