Carolina's Wild Horses
Horses of Shackleford Banks (cont'd.)
only way to reach Shackleford to see these horses is by boat. You
can take your own boat, but if you don't have one, you can ride one
of the passenger ferry services or tour services. During peak tourist
season it is advised to call ahead and make reservations for the day
and time you desire.
At left is a photo
depicting the sort of boat you might expect to ride when visiting
Shackleford Banks or Cape Lookout. This one is a charter boat from
Seavisions Charters out of Beaufort.
If you take a
trip to the island to see the horses, you may find them near the eastern
end of the island in plain view. If not, then you will have to go
looking. In that case you'll need good hiking shoes. Keep to the grassy
and sandy areas.
The horses often
will go out into the tidal flats, but if you're tempted to follow
them there you can easily become mired in muck up to your knees. If
the ground is damp and mushy, be very cautious. It's also a good idea
to not go alone. Besides, the more eyes you have helping to spot the
horses, the better your chances of finding them. If you take advantage
of a knowledgeable tour service or guide, your chances of success
are greatly increased. These folks constantly watch the horses movements
and are familiar with their habits. If you're serious about photography
and want to make the most of your trip, it's definitely the way to
go. For the serious photographer, reading this
article will provide some helpful information about what to expect,
and advice on choosing gear, clothing and footwear.
Keep in mind that
these are wild horses. While they are used to humans being nearby,
you cannot predict how they will act, so don't approach them too closely.
If you're going it on your own, it's a good idea to check with the
Park Service office located at the very eastern-most tip of Harker's
Island (at the end of the road) to find out more about the horses
and the park rules before you go. The tour services and guides know
the rules and can give you great advice as well. You can also read
this important (and official) FAQ
which explains the rules and safety issues.
Although there are two compost style toilets on the island maintained by the Park Service, neither is anywhere close to
the eastern end where you will most likely be looking for the horses.
You will need to bring food or snacks, and water enough for the length
of time you plan to spend walking and looking. Having some hiking
or camping experience will be helpful too. If you've taken one of
the ferries over, then you will have to keep track of the time so
you can make it back to your pickup point at the appointed time for
your return trip.
You will probably
want to take photos of these special horses, which will require at
minimum a short telephoto zoom lens if you want to get good shots.
Again, you should not approach the horses too closely. Just take your
photos, keeping your distance, or they could likely just leave and
then you'll have to go looking again. All the photos here were taken
with telephoto lenses of 200mm to 500mm, which on a pocket camera
would be from 4x to 10x zoom. You can see what a challenge getting
some photos can be, especially if you're using a pocket camera or
smart phone without a good zoom.