Tag Archives: Ant Baber

Highlights of The Waterberg Trust Ride 2017

Bringing you some of the best photographs from The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride in January, featuring each of the riders who took part and gallantly raised funds for Save The Waterberg Rhino and community projects in the area. Thank you for all your help and support!

-Ant Baber leading the riders in search of game re-introduced to the Waterberg-

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-Juliet Madden from North Yorkshire who gathered together the group-

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-Sam Scott from Cumbria with giraffe on Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg-

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-Tina Fox-Edwards from Berkshire riding across the Waterberg –

The rains had been late and we saw newborn animals

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-Hilly Collinson from Yorkshire, grabbing photos of giraffe-

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-Louise Horsely from Australia coming across a herd of buffalo-

-A white rhino arriving while we were being given a talk

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-Janie Beardsall from Yorkshire in her bush hat-

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-Elisa Spearmann from Wiltshire on her mare-

– A roan antelope photographed by Mairi Hunt-

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-Camilla Newton from Rutland-

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-Sisters, Mairi Hunt and Sally Milvertson being introduced to a python-

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-Claudia Smythe-Osbourne from Yorkshire with two very young giraffe-

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-TWT rider Lulu Ferrand from Leicestershire –

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-TWT Trustee Sophie Neville observing the endangered white rhino-

Many thanks go to Tessa Baber for hosting the ride and having us to stay at Ant’s Nest

-The lodge at Ant’s Nest some three-and-a-half hours north of Pretoria-

twt-riders-and-back-up-guides-at-kolobe-2017-The team: TWT riders and guides at Kolobe Lodge on Lapalala Wilderness, January 2017-

– Sunset at Ant’s Nest photographed by Sam Scott –

Reaching the Palala River on Day 5 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

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While the TWT riders were looking around Lapalala Wilderness School on the morning of Day 5, the horses were able to enjoy a rest and a good feed.

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Ant Baber, who was leading the expedition, had them tacked up before coming too collect us from the environmental project.

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The riders put on their chaps, helmets and suncream getting ready for the day ahead.

Camilla and Mairi preparing to set off one morning TWT Ride 2017

Ant’s horse was eager to get going.

A team photo was taken of the sixteen horses by Save The Waterberg Rhino and we were off.

TWT Ride team photo 2017

It was a hot sunny day, the bush teeming with life after the rains.

A peaceful section of TWT Ride 2017

We saw quite a bit of game on the plains, including warthog, zebra and wildebeest.

We also took time to learn a little about the trees and flowers.

TWT Riders Sophie Neville and Hilly Collinson 2017

Ant then took us down the valley to the Palala River, which flows northwards towards the Limpopo.

TWT Ride Day 5 Reaching the Palala River

The back-up vehicle got stuck in a stream running down the the river. It looked serious as the ground was being washed away from under the Landcruiser but Ant winched it up the bank and all was well.

TWT Ride 2017 Day 5 Claudia at lunch

Most of us were pretty tired and a little dehydrated by this stage but horses and riders were able to relax in the shade at lunchtime.

That afternoon we were able to enjoy a long canter down the old road where the going was good.

Cantering down the road towards Jembisa

We went through an old Transvaal cattle farm,

TWT Riders Janie Lulu and others walking through Jembisa

crossed the Melkriver and made it to Jembisa Lodge.

TWT Ride 2017 at Jembisa

The horses had comfortable accommodation in the manager’s garden.

TWT Horses enjoying a feed

We passed a pod of hippo in the Palala River and drove up to the lodge for the night.

TWT Ride Day 5 Hippo in the Palala River

Dinner was held under the thatched veranda where everyone was able to relax for the evening and look forward to another day.

TWT Ride Day 5 Jembisa dinner table

Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

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We were woken by weaver birds nesting above the lodge where we spent the night at Kwalata Game Reserve deep in the Waterberg hills.img_4270

We tacked up our horses, tying rain coats behind our long-distance McClellan saddles, and left head-collars underneath our bridles so we could tie the horses up in the bush.

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We set off in good spirits and rode through Kwalata into Lapalala Wilderness, a private game reserve of approximately 100,000 hectares.

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Since the Waterberg is on an intercontinental convergence zone there is a greater variety of trees and shrubs on Lapalala than in the whole of Western Europe.

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There is also a great diversity of birds, reptiles and mammal species with a range of different antelope from solitary steinbuck to herds of kudu.

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The annual amount of rainfall can be pretty much the same as in London but in the Waterberg it usually only rains in the summer months with occasional downpours.

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We enjoyed blue skies all day, walking beside the horses as we followed a rocky track down the escarpement as we made our way north.

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We rode up a small river, making a number of crossings until we came across a dam where it was safe to swim.

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By this time our leader, Ant Baber needed a break. He had missed breakfast.

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We rode on up the valley, coming to a bigger dam known for its population of crocodile and hippo.

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The horses were able to take a long drink before resting for a few hours at mid-day.

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We were grateful to find table set out by the water with drinks and bowls of salad.

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The riders, who were exhausted, appreciated the chairs and needed a sleep after lunch.

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We opted to take the scenic route that afternoon, riding past herds of giraffe, impala,

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kudu and wildebeest, while vervet monkeys were spotted in the trees.

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GPS readings revealed that we covered a total of 41 kilometers on this day when we grasped just how wild the Waterberg is.

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That evening the horses ate well, appreciative of the lush summer grazing.

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Ant Baber drove the group of tired but happy riders down the valley

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for a well-earned drink

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and a swim at Kolobe lodge

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before gathering around the fire

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where they met up with the back-up team and members of Save The Waterberg Rhino.

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The director of Lapalala Wilderness School joined us, giving a short talk on what we could expect to see the next morning.

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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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Riding through Ant’s Nest Game Reserve on Day One of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

We started spotting wildlife the moment we drove in through the gates of Ant’s Nest, a private game reserve in the Waterberg. This young roan antelope was in our path.

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Twelve riders had flown out from the UK and Australia, at their own cost, to learn about the Waterberg by riding across the plateau with Ant Baber and his experienced guides,

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TWT Trustee Sophie Neville, who was once a horse safari guide in the area, met the group at Johannesburg airport and explained about projects supported by the Waterberg Trust, as she accompanied riders on the expedition.

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Although we covered some distance on the first afternoon, the important thing was for riders to try out their horses and get used to the long-distance saddles while there was still a chance to make changes. Juliet Maddan, who had gathered the group together, was also wearing a hot-weather helmet for the first time.

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It was a delight to come across wild animals who are used to grazing in the reserve with the horses and allow riders to get very close.

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The wildebeest were unperturbed by our presence and the horses were relaxed.

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We saw a variety of plains game and had time to take a few photographs.

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Some riders came across white rhino with Ant Baber that very afternoon, and were able to learn a bit about their territorial behaviour.

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Disaster struck at the end of the day when a gasket blew on a landcruiser as it was going up a steep slope. With no engine power the vehicle slid backwards but the riders were fit and jumped out as the guide steered it into a bush. It proved the start of an adventurous week.

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That night there was plenty to talk about as we gathered around the fire and made plans for the long ride ahead of us.

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For an overview of the Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017 please click here

If you would like to make a donation to support the work of the trust please click here

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Another successful TWT challenge ride

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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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.

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-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:

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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-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.

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TWT Challenge Ride March 2016

Horse swimming

Not everything on The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride went quite as expected.

Giraffe at Ant's Nest

Taking photographs on horseback is not always as easy as it looks

Horse scratching

What the wildlife thought was beyond us.

Banded Mongoose

No one guessed we would be actually handling reptiles

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or riding a spotted animal

Dom on Kwalata

It is difficult to take picture of horses cantering – but it felt we were flying

Horse flying

We faced unexpected challenges

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along with a bit of precipitation

Loving the rain

Although some admitted to getting a little tired

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others graciously hid the fact they were  exhausted.

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Despite the thought of hidden danger

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the intrepid wildlife photographers survived

Hippo hunting

the hippo remained safely in the water

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We had time to relax

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and read a bit

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as did the animals.

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Everyone enjoyed being in the African bush,

Dom with giraffe by Anne Lester

no one was eaten by a crocodile

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and good fun was had by all.

Ant after doing the ant dance

We made it safely through to live another day.

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You can subscribe to these news articles below and follow The Waterberg Trust on Facebook. If you’d like to sponsor any of these intrepid riders, their Justgiving pages are still active – please click here.

Sundowners by Anne Lester

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