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Day 1 of The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2018

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Jessica taking on Save The Waterberg Rhino
An introductory talk from Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 began with a talk on Save The Waterberg Rhino who will receive 50% of funds raised on the ride to increase security in the area.

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While the rhino themselves were resting under a tree, the riders gathered to embark on an afternoon ride across Ant’s Nest game reserve to gain an understanding of the area.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - riders having tea before setting out

The route was planned by Ant Baber, who would use his experience to lead the challenge ride over the next six days. Everyone had been in training, working on their fitness.

The horse managers at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill had carefully chosen and prepared horses for each rider. They needed to be young and hardy enough to cope with the challenge.

Some riders had found vented hot-weather helmets and wore gloves to keep off the sun. Long-distance McClellen saddles were used with specialist neoprene numnas.

It was magical to be riding through the African bushveldt. Being high summer in South Africa, everything was green and the dams were filling after last year’s drought.

The riders soon came across a number of giraffe browsing on blooming acacia.

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A mature adult male giraffe was happy to let us get fairly close.

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As the horses normally graze out on the reserve, the wild animals are used to their presence.

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We let the horses browse to reassure the wildlife that all was well.

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The riders moved on to see zebra, wildebeest, warthog and a variety of antelope.

Ant Baber was also able to show us his breeding herd of Cape buffalo that tend to prefer thick bush.

This would normally be a rare sighting but the animals were peaceful and behaved naturally.

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We then picked up speed and managed to cover quite a bit of ground.

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It was not a hard ride but we learnt a great deal and got used to dodging thorn trees.

Riders ended up gathering at Ant Baber’s house to as the sun went down to learn more about Save The Waterberg Rhino and the anti-poaching initiatives currently in place.

Here they could observe a number of white rhino who arrived with a few warthog in tow.

It was an opportunity to met some of the armed security guards who watch over the rhino around the clock and are in contact with the South African police.

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The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 proves a great success

 

Sophie Neville on the waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018

‘It was demanding but the greatest fun.’

Fifteen riders crossed seven different game reserves in six days, covering 187kms while learning about Save The Waterberg Rhino and visiting community projects that benefit young people in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 ~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018~

The ride began at Ant’s Nest game reserve where team members from the United Kingdom and Bermuda learnt about Save The Waterberg Rhino.

~Rhino walking up to riders gathered on the plains at Ant’s Nest~

The challenge ride was led by Ant Baber whose family have lived in the Waterberg for five generations. He has spent the last twenty-one years re-introducing wildlife to the area.

~Ant Baber~

Today, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, baboon, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, nyala, impala, blesbok, a variety of other antelope can be spotted from horseback.

 ~TWT riders observing zebra on Ant’s Hill game reserve~

January proved a good time of year for there were many newborn animals.

We were able to observe breeding groups of rare species such as sable and roan antelope.

Sable antelope at Ant's Nest

The riders helped to capture a sick eland so it could receive treatment from a game vet.

The game vet ministering to an injured eland on Ant's Nest~A sick eland cow receiving veterinary treatment~

We learnt more about the area while traversing six other game reserves.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride crossing Lindani game reserve in 2018~TWT Riders crossing Lindani game reserve~

~Observing young giraffe from horseback on Lindani~

We saw golden wildebeest, red heartebeest, vervet monkeys, ostrich, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, oryx and waterbuck as well as species we’d seen previously.

Descending the Waterberg escapement on the Water~Descending an escarpment on foot~

~Reaching the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve~

Over the week riders were able to visit a number of charitable projects supported by The Waterberg Trust, which gave us a chance to meet local people.

~Discussing conservation issues with Clive Walker at the Living Museum~

~The Waterberg Trust Riders at Lapalala Wilderness School~

~The ‘Back to School’ project at Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding~

~Nurse Grace telling TWT riders about her work in local schools~

‘What a trip. It was totally WOW!! I can’t quite believe I have done it …’The Waterberg

~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

Day 3 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

The riders’ drew on their experience and fitness on the third day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, when we covered a more than 37 kilometers riding from Ant’s Nest to Kwalata Game Reserve on the Blocklands River.

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We made up a big group of thirteen horseman with three guides and set off early in an attempt to find wildlife.

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It was white rhino that we saw first, including one cow with a three month-old calf.

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We were able to get very close as the horses are used to grazing with rhino.

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We then rode west through the bushveldt and although we cantered at times,

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we went slowly in an attempt to find game, pausing to watch wildebeest and zebra.

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After a while we came across Livingstone eland, a rare breed originating from Zimbabwe.

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We crossed through recently filled dams

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and came across a number of new-born animals, including impala lambs.

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Once on the top of the escarpment, at some 1,400 metres above sea level, we found a breeding herd of buffalo – the bull looking at us from behind a clump of dense bush.

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He was with a number of females.

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We were also shown a breeding herd of rare roan antelope being re-introduced to the Waterberg.

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We then left Ant’s game reserve and enjoyed riding fast down sandy roads across the plateau

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and down towards the Blocklands River that flows north into the Limpopo

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The horses were fed and watered in a secure boma originally made for buffalo while the riders were housed at the lodge in cottages that looked out over the water.

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Everyone was able to kick off their boots and relax after what had been a long day in the saddle.

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To our relief, there were bathrooms and a swimming pool to sooth aching muscles.

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And even a stuffed crocodile – luckily the only one of his species we encountered on the ride.

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To keep up with news and events of The Waterberg Trust please see our Facebook page

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Coverage of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Rides 2016

TWT Ride 2016 newspaper article

TWT’s sponsored ride across the Waterberg on horseback, as well as TWT’s cycle ride through Norfolk on 12th March 2016, received favourable coverage from Marlene Vermaak in South African newspapers including Die Pos (above) with a colour photo in The Post:

TWT Ride 2016 newspaper article in The Post

Marilyn Cook wrote about TWT in The Source – the magazine of St John’s Church at 24 Rivers in the Waterberg – and we have a photo in the letters page of Cotswold Life, July issue:

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Barry Burles continued his TWT cycle ride initiative by holding another last Saturday! The cyclists came from the Cambridge Rugby Union Football Club and completed the same 82 mile route to Langham in north Norfolk. This time there was a head wind…
Barry was interviewed on Radio Cambridge, and did brilliantly, talking about the work of the Waterberg Trust. Jarrod Taylor, who took part, originates from South Africa and once played rugby for Border. Having just retired from the Cambridge rugby team, he was also interviewed on Radio Cambridge and gave his just giving link inspiring listeners to give.
To listen to the interview, broadcast at 15.45 on Radio Cambridge on 15th June, please click here
New bike and old bike
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A transcript of the article in The Post by Marlene Vermaak:

12 RIDERS – 180KM – 6 DAYS: THE WATERBERG TRUST CHALLENGE RIDE 2016

After the success of 2015’s inaugural event, The Waterberg Trust (TWT) organised the second annual Waterberg Challenge Ride, which took place in March 2016, hosted this year by Ant’s Nest and guided by Ant Baber.

This exciting event, held to raise funds for various Waterberg projects, involved 12 experienced riders crossing 180km of Waterberg wilderness in 6 days. This year’s route went through Ant’s Nest, Kwalata, Lapalala and Jembisa game reserves. Funds raised will be going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and other community projects including the sponsorship of 125 local underprivileged children to attend The Lapalala Wilderness School.

The Waterberg Trust has already been able to help Save The Waterberg Rhino by funding the purchase of vital equipment, such as radios and a metal detector for the police officer dedicated to working with rhino poaching incidents in the Waterberg. Being a UK registered charity, TWT are able to access grants that are not available directly to South African registered Non Profit Organisations, and is able to make increase some UK donations by adding 25% Gift Aid. A number of the UK Trustees have long-standing links with the Waterberg and are committed to helping the people who work so hard running grassroots projects.
The first event hosted by Horizon in 2015 went from Horizon, Koshari, Ant’s Nest, and Lindani, to Jembisa, thanks to support from Shane and Laura Dowinton, David Baber, Dean van Heerden, Ant and Tess Baber, Sam and Peggy van Coller and Charles Whitbread. This sponsored ride raised fund for HIV/Aids programme support, involving  nurse training and two year support for an after school club at the Waterberg Welfare Society. This includes the rental of a house in Vaalwater for the homework facility. TWT was also able to support the Northern Education Trust, sponsoring a Waterberg student through accounting studies at Pretoria University. They are also raising money for Lethabo Kids Club in Leseding who run a much needed Back to School programme, providing school uniforms and more for primary school pupils. Riders were able to visit this project and the Lapalala Wilderness School while they were in the Waterberg.

 

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Thanks to the Back-up Crew

 

TWT team 2016

Riders on The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016 could never have made it –

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without the help of a gallant back-up crew who brought along food for the horses, cool drinks and the baggage. This included tables and chairs!

Back up crew

Lunch cooked in the bush was much appreciated

Lunch

as riders were hungry and the food fresh.

Lunch in the bush for tired riders

Those looking after the horses took it in turns to ride the spare horses.

Amanda

The days were long and could be hot

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but members of the support crew were able to find time to enjoy the bush and even take a dip in the Palala River

Taking a dip

One of the biggest tasks was trailing the horses home again at the end of the ride.

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We are really appreciative of this along with all the work that went into planning the ride and ensuring it was such a success. Our thanks go to the team at Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill as well as all those who helped at Kwalata, Lapalala Wilderness and Jembisa game reserves.

Ant Baber receiving directions

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Last Day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride

After six long days in the saddle, TWT riders made it back to the luxury of Jembisa lodge where they were able to kick off their boots and relax.

reaching Jembisa

The delicious food and beautiful interiors were appreciated all the more for being hard-won. Since Jembisa was sponsoring the ride it was interesting to meet the staff and learn more about the game reserve that stretches up into the hills either side of the Palala River.

Jembisa Lodge

The lodge itself was equipped with anything you would need while staying in the African bush. There was even a salt-water pool where riders could sooth aching muscles.

Pool at Jembisa

Jembisa normally offers safaris for families wanting to explore the African bush. TWT riders enthusiastically grabbed the opportunity to find out more about the Waterberg –

Jembisa

finding out about dung beetles and termite activity

Termite mound

and climbing down the rocky cliffs above the Palala River

Riders on foot

to explore sites inaccessible on horseback.

Intrepid explorers

It was under these overhanging rocks that ancient Bushman paintings were discovered,

Bushmen paintings

along with stone tools and shards of pottery used by the San or ‘People of the Eland’.

Bushman paintingJembisa have been staunch supporters of The Waterberg Trust who aid a range of projects in the region and are doing all they can to help in the battle against rhino poaching by fundraising for Save The Waterberg Rhino. If you would like to know more, please contact us using the Comments box below.

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Riding through Jembisa on Day 6 of the TWT Challenge Ride

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As the weather was relatively cool, Anthony Baber decided to ride north up to the Jembisa wetlands in the morning.

Map of Jembisa

This entailed a bit of hard exercise as we walked up a stony hill past an old Iron Age fort.

Walking uphill on Jembisa

It was worth it to reach a view point that enabled us to look down over the Palala River Valley and the way we’d come.

Sophie Neville

We saw wildebeest, zebra, impala and blesbok along with interesting birds

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and returned to the lodge where Tess Baber and Kelly of Save the Wwaterberg Rhino Trust joined us for lunch outside.

Lunch on Jembisa

That afternoon we rode fast alongside the airfield on Jembisa and along winding tracks through seringa woodland in the low evening light.

Galloping

We saw red heartebeest on our way to a view point where the staff of Jembisa had champagne waiting for us to celebrate the fact that riders had covered more than 175kms.

TWT team after 175kms

Mark, Pippa and Chris

We rode the last 5kms back under dark skies and bid farewell to our gallant horses who were trucked home, two by two.

Campfire

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