Tag Archives: Africa

60 pupils from Leseding Secondary School sent to Lapalala Wilderness by The Waterberg Trust

In February 2018, The Waterberg Trust enabled 60 local teenagers from Leseding Secondary School in Vaalwater to attend a week’s residential course on environmental awareness at Lapalala Wilderness School in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The students were given a grounding in nature conservation and experienced the beauty and importance of South African wildlife.

This python was very much alive as was the chameleon that the young people also handled.

27858732_1LWS wildlife 2

The idea was to take away fear of culturally reviled animals and teach students how to handle reptiles and creepy crawlies they might encounter. When they return to the township of Leseding, the teenagers are given a mentor who they can text if they find a snake in the house or hear of worrying wildlife issues.

Everyone enjoyed the obstacle course in the African bush and learnt how to use maps in a wilderness situation.

One day they donned PFD life-jackets to experience what it would be like to swim in the Palala River. It was a great way to cool off after a hot day in the African bush.

One exercise was to build a raft and get out on the water, which was an eye-opener for many. Mr Mashudu Makhokha, Director of Lapalala Wilderness School said, ‘Raft building is one of the activities that enhance teamwork, problem-solving and communication skills.’

The pupils also studied wildlife in the river system and learnt more about water. They  learnt to identify various kinds of aquatic animals – and the basics of how to use SASS (South African Scoring System) – which uses the presence/absence of a variety of freshwater macroinvertebrates to gauge the health of riverine ecosystem.’

Co-operation, team-building and leadership training were important parts of the course. ‘Students discovered that good teamwork is essential.’

However, recycling, eco-systems, the environment and the significance of South African wildlife was at the core of this inspirational week that ties in with the school curriculum and gives the teenagers a grounding for life.

You can see the students here on an interpretive hike that gave them an opportunity to learn basic ecology and gain a changed attitude towards biodiversity.

Could you help raise funds to enable more local children to go on this residential course? It only costs R380 per person a day (about £24) so is exceptionally good value. All food and dormitory accommodation is included. The Waterberg Trust like to provide the cost of transport from the township of Leseding, to ensure that no one is excluded for economic reasons.

Thanks go to those who took part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017, who raised enough money for these 60 pupils and two of their teachers to enjoy this life-changing opportunity. Hopefully some of these young people will consider a career in nature conservation, tourism or teaching in the Waterberg.

Trustees of The Waterberg Trust took TWT Riders to Lapalala Wilderness School in January, when they enjoyed meeting the staff and learning about new projects.

TWT Riders 2018 learing about community projects in the Waterberg

You can read more about Lapalala Wilderness School here and watch this video made for their 30th Anniversary. It’s fun:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:  Lapalala Wilderness School is immensely grateful for the assistance that The Waterberg  Trust has given. This support has enabled 60 children and two adults to attend an environmental education course in 2018. We hope that with ongoing support from TWT, we can continue to bring young people to LWS and awaken in them a love for the environment and a commitment to conserving it.

Day 5 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

We rose early and saddled up the horses for a day full of promise.

Ant Baber, who had planned the route, was keen to cross Lindani game reserve and reach Jembisa to the north that morning. We had a long way to go.

The riders set off from Motseng Lodge where we’d spent a comfortable night.

We crossed the Melkrivier, a tributary of the Palala River, avoiding the footbridge.

TWT Ride 2018 crossing a stream on Lindani - photo Sophie Neville.jpg

It was a good chance to water the horses.

From here, we made our way up a steep, jungly kloof chocked with dense vegetation.

It is in these valleys that you find the most ancient trees that thrive in relatively sheltered conditions where they have access to water.

Being on an intercontinental convergence zone, the Waterberg is home to over 350 different species of tree from baobabs to wild fig – a greater variety than the whole of western Europe.

We suddenly found ourselves at the top of the hill where the vegetation opened out.

Wild proteas, the national flower of South Africa, were growing here.

TWT Ride 2017 wild proteas.jpg

We climbed higher still, taking a track that gave us occasional views across the Waterberg.

This unique unspoilt wilderness area  has been declared a UNESCO world biosphere.

On reaching the top of the Buffelshoek escarpment we dis-mounted

and lead the horses, on our quest to reach the very north of the game reserve.

TWT Ride 2018 dismounting to tackle a steep hill - photo Sophie Neville.jpg

We walked some way down the steep trail.

It was good to stretch but quite hard work as temperatures had risen.

TWT Ride 2018 walking down a steep section.jpg

After a while, we were able to look back at the impressive escarpment, looking for vulture roosts in the rocky outcrops.

A sandy path led to the north gate of the reserve and out onto the road.

We were able to canter up this track to reach the southern gate of Jembisa,

a 3000 hectare private game where the manager was waiting to let us in.

We were soon able to water the horses and rode through the bush, looking out for wildlife such as zebra, wildebeest, warthog, oryx and impala who had young at foot.

After about five kilometres, we took the chance for another exhilarating canter down an old air strip.

After untacking the horses, rubbing them down and making sure they had plenty of hay and water,

we made it to the lodge in time for a late lunch, which was served under the trees.

It was difficult to leave Jembisa,

especially since they have a wonderfully refreshing pool

but we climbed into two game drive vehicles and were taken to the neighbouring reserve.

We had come to find out about the Lapalala Wilderness School, established in 1985

Funds raised by The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride are being used to enable sixty local teenagers and their teachers to attend a week-long residential course on nature conservation here. You can see photos of the last group sponsored on Facebook here.

For local children, this course costs 375 Rand each per night, fully catered, which is exceptionally good value for a life-changing experience. TWT also fun transport from the township of Leseding.

After meeting the director and learning how the school raises environmental awareness,

riders came face to face with one of the teaching aids – an impressive Burmese python.

Rescued from a life spent in restrictive captivity this beautiful snake is used to show local children how important it is to treasure the wildlife of South Africa and that all animals have a role in the eco-system. To find out more about Lapalala Wilderness please click here.

TWT Ride 2018 Viv Thomas handling a Burmese python.jpg

You can find out about Jembisa, who kindly sponsored the ride by letting riders cross across the reserve and stay for the next two nights in great comfort by clicking here

or watch their marketing video here:


Another successful TWT challenge ride


-Ant Baber leading The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017-

Twelve intrepid riders from around the UK, and one from Australia, successfully completed the third Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride covering 181 kilometers at some speed, crossing rivers and rocky terrain.


-Riders from Yorkshire crossing the Melk Rivier on horseback-

The six-day expedition proved a real adventure, traversing four different private game reserves and stretching everyone to the limits.


-Climbing up from the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve-

The horses were beautifully looked after by the guides and back-up team from Ant’s Nest who hosted the expedition.


-Riders from Yorkshire encountering white rhino at Ant’s Nest on the third TWT Challenge Ride-

Riders, who paid their own travel and safari costs, had to raise a minimum of £1,000 each for The Waterberg Tust to support community projects in the Waterberg.


Funds raised will be divided between Save The Waterberg Rhino, Lapalala Wilderness School and Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding, with support also being given to other health, welfare and educational projects. The 2017 riders were able to visit projects already supported by The Waterberg Trust. They all took part in an inspirational workshop on the importance of wildlife conservation at Lapalala Wilderness School on the Palala River.


-Meeting the educators at Lapalala Wilderness School-

The Waterberg Trust riders’ fund-raising efforts in 2016 made it possible for 125 children and their teachers to attend a residential course here. We met the first group from Meetsetshehla Secondary School in Vaalwater:


-Some of the 125 students sponsored by The Waterberg Trust-

Students from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater will be able to come another week. As The Waterberg Trust also paid for pupils’ transport, local children from all backgrounds will be able to gain a grounding in environmental awareness, develop leadership skills and establish contact with a mentor who can help with wildlife issues.


-Pupils from Meetshesethla Secondary School learning about treats to wildlife-

Having said goodbye to the horses, riders saw an anti-poaching security post donated to Save The Waterberg Rhino by The Waterberg Trust Riders in 2016.


-Save The Waterberg Rider’s new security point ready to be manned on a 24 hour basis-

They also met children at Lethabo Kids Club in Leseding township who showed-off the school uniforms purchased with grants from The Waterberg Trust in 2016 to ensure every child goes to school.


-Lethabo Kids Club that has been running for 15 years in the township of Leseding-

The needs of older students who have shown more than ten years committment were discussed. Some are seeking sponsorship for tertiary education.


-Meeting the youth who help with Letabo Kids Club in Leseding-

It was a joy to meet the people of the Waterberg, learn of their cultural heritage and explore the bushveldt so rich in natural history.


-TWT Riders on Jembisa-

The ride was led by Ant Baber following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather E.A. Davidson, who explored the area on horseback in early 1900’s.


-Ant Baber who has been leading horse safaris for more than twenty years-

The Waterberg Trust, a registered UK charity, was represented by trustee Sophie Neville who, along with the twelve other riders, whould like to extend heartfelt thanks to our hosts, the land-owners and all those who sponsored the ride, especially Ant’s Nest and Jembisa.

If you would like to make a donation to support The Waterberg Trust please click here.



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:


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

A transcript of the article in The Post by Marlene Vermaak:


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.



Visiting Lethabo Kid’s Club in Leseding

TWT rider with Letabo Kids Club

TWT Riders were able to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding, which has been run for the last sixteen years by Marilyn Cook – seen here in purple.

Finding out about the Back to School project

As it was the weekend before Easter we handed out Easter eggs as a treat. The youth who help on the project organised games and dancing for the children with vibrant music.

The children normally receive a glass of fresh milk and a peanut butter sandwich when they come to the club for stories and other activities each Wednesday.

Letabo Kids Club uniform

The Waterberg Trust is supporting a ‘Back to School’ project here, which has been working well and ensures all the children are equipped for the new school year in January.

Letabo Kids ClubThe state provide schooling but require each child arrive dressed in uniform, bringing a school bag equipped with stationary. Some families battle to find the money for this.

Letabo Kids club school bag

Lethabo Kids Club help by providing one item of clothing for each child. They first ask the children’s guardians to complete a form confirming they need assistance. So far, more than eighty children have been aided but the need is ever present. Some children have lost their parents and are being brought up by grannys, aunties or older siblings.

If you would like to make a donation to this project, please click here for The Waterberg Trust Justgiving.com page labelling your gift ‘Letabo Kids Club’.

Marilyn Cook with some of the kids

Thanks to the Back-up Crew


TWT team 2016

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


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


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.


The days were long and could be hot


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.


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


Riding through Jembisa on Day 6 of the TWT Challenge Ride


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


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.


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.