5 Fabulous Once-In-A-Lifetime Riding Holidays

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As destinations continue to relax their COVID restrictions, we are rediscovering our freedom and travelling more. Once-in-a lifetime, bucket list experiences are no longer on wish lists, they are the norm, but our will to see the world is tempered with an awareness of travel's negative impact. The pandemic was an awakening. Offering handpicked riding holidays, specialist tour operator Ranch Rider has rounded up five dream horseback adventures that align with our new-found consciousness. The list includes a saving of £465pp on September 2022 stays at Argentina's Estancia Los Potreros.

1. SIWASH LAKE LUXURY GUEST RANCH, BRITISH COLUMBIA

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Luxury might be synonymous with once-in-a-lifetime journeys, but it is no longer the only ingredient, as our desire to protect the environment has never been more heightened. Combining the two, British Columbia's Siwash Lake Luxury Guest Ranch sits on 80,000-acres of pristine wilderness, the property featuring boutique lodge rooms and luxurious safari-inspired glamping tents.

Horse-riding, fly-fishing and lake swimming are just some of the refreshing pursuits on offer, and the guided eco-adventures will leave you in no doubt as to nature's regenerative powers. Billed as an “Indiana Jones” type experience, the Waterfall Ecology Hike, is part reflection – the journey detailing the devastation of the 2017 wildfires – and part inspiration – the adventure prompting you to heal the planet after giving you the rare opportunity to see climate change up close. There's also the option to tune into your own natural rhythm at the Star Camp (set in its own private dark sky reserve), the site located deep in the Cariboo wilds. Seven nights with Ranch Rider from £10,173pp (two sharing) including accommodation, meals, most ranch activities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes car hire and return flights. Prices available on request. Departing June to September.

2. FOLLOW THE BEDOUIN, JORDAN

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How we experience destinations and who we travel with, are also questions we are all keen to explore in the post pandemic era. A bucket list country, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan made CNN's 2022 list of dream destinations, and Ranch Rider's new Follow The Bedouin horseback adventure, which starts and finishes in Amman, includes a visit to the Rose City of Petra and six days of exhilarating riding through Wadi Rum. 

More eco-friendly than travelling by jeep, and guided by the bedouin, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appreciate the wonders of this vast lunar-like landscape through the eyes of the locals. There is all the more reason to visit this year, as December 10 will mark 60 years since the release of the classic cult movie, Lawrence of Arabia, its dazzling desert cinematography driving the initial influx of tourists to Jordan. 10 day Follow the Bedouins' ride from £1,500pp with Ranch Rider (two sharing) including all accommodation, (half board hotels in Madaba, Petra and Aqaba, full-board (including mineral water) Wadi Rum, Bivouac tents, guides, entrance fees and transfers. Excludes gratuities as left to discretion and return flights. Price available on request. Departures available in spring and autumn. Riders must be able to trot and canter comfortably. From 12 years. Red Sea or Amman extensions available.

3. BORANA LODGE, KENYA

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In some regions, our covid forced absence caused nature to hit the reset button, in others we learned the critical importance of travel in uplifting communities and supporting conservation. Nowhere moreso than in Africa, where the pandemic was an unfortunate gift for poachers. Located in Northern Kenya in Laikipia's rugged wilderness, and overlooking Mount Kenya, is one of the most successful rhino sanctuaries in Africa: the Borana Conservancy. The conservancy's original eco haunt, Borana Lodge, is home to the official pride rock, the landmark featured in Disney's Lion King movie.

​​The eight bedroomed boutique lodge has few neighbours in its 32,000 acre backyard ensuring safaris here have a more intimate feel than those in the better known Mara. Built from local materials, the property sits atop a rocky hill with panoramic views over the Laikipia Plateau. Primely positioned, the infinity edged pool allows for 24/7 wildlife viewing as the animals make their way to the waterhole, and there's a range of exciting activities from horseback safaris to ranger walks, and even paragliding. For next-level horseback adventures, ride across Lolldaigas, the Monkey Valley and Mpala, and camp out under East Africa's starlit skies. Five-nights with Ranch Rider from £2,730pp (two sharing) in low season which includes a £650 donation to conservation.  Price includes transfer from Lewa Downs, all Borana Conservancy activities and full board. Excludes return flights.  Prices available on request. Departures year round.

4. ZAPATA CATTLE & BISON RANCH, COLORADO

10796277495?profile=RESIZE_400x​The call to halt climate change grew even louder over the course of the pandemic, as people began to see the dramatic effects of a sudden curb in emissions. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, and run by forward thinking Ranchlands founder, Duke Phillips, Colorado's 103,000-acre Zapata Cattle & Bison Ranch is tackling climate change the cowboy way. In this south-central portion of the Centennial State, responsible farming and conscious cattle-grazing work together to conserve the soil and regenerate the earth. Philips' methods are a mirror of pre-settler times when herds of bison (the ranch has a herd of 2,000) would pass through the high plains, their movementmimicking nature, their hoof action an ecosystem process in the same vein as wind, water, and fire.

​Where the legendary American cowboy, and cowgirl, stands tall, play a part in Zapata's holistic plan and take in the spectacular surrounds, the landscape composed of meadows, wetlands and cottonwood groves, and the property overlooking the Sangre De Cristo mountains and the huge rolling sand dunes of the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Six-nights with Ranch Rider from £2,510pp (no single supplement), the ranch holiday including opportunities to gather cattle and ride alongside the herd of wild bison. The price includes accommodation, meals, most ranch activities and use of ranch facilities, taxes and gratuities. Excludes return flights. Prices available on request.  Departures May through October.

5. ESTANCIA LOS POTREROS, ARGENTINA

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​Authentic travel is connected to culture and long held traditions, the benefits of this type of tourism trickling down into local communities. Set on 6,500-acres in a beautiful reserve at the top of the Cordoba hills, Argentina's Estancia Los Potreros is more homestay than farmstay. A fourth generation, Anglo-Argentine family ranch, the Beggs have lived and worked on the property for over 100 years. An authentic introduction to the gaucho lifestyle, the ranch combines pleasure riding across the pampas with opportunities to rope and round up the 700 strong herd of Aberdeen angus cattle. The weekly Gaucho Games and polo matches offer more in the way of adventure, but for pure exhilaration ride to "The Top of the World, " the highest point on the property, and appreciate the spectacular views out over the Sierra Chicas. 

Off ranch, the owners support several community projects including a nearby rural school, and they are also working with local authorities to re-introduce endangered wildlife to the Cordoba hills. SAVE 18% or £465pp: Seven night stays during September (known to be one of the best months to travel to Cordoba) with Ranch Rider from £2,080pp (no single supplement) including accommodation, meals, drinks, ranch activities, use of ranch facilities and taxes. Excludes return flight. Full price £2,545pp.

Ranch Rider offers riding holidays in the US, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, Jordan, Mexico and Eswatini. The specialist tour operator is part of the Frontier Travel collection, which also includes Frontier Canada, Frontier Ski, Frontier America, American Round-Up, Holidays 2 and Independent Traveller's Africa programme. The company offers tailor-made skiing holidays, bespoke itineraries, including fly-drives and escorted holidays, and ranch holidays.  

For more information on Ranch Rider please contact (020 8776 8709; ranchrider@frontier-travel.co.ukranchrider.com). ATOL PROTECTED No 5405 ABTA W3207.