Tag Archives: Ant Baber

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

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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

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What the wildlife thought was beyond us.

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No one guessed we would be actually handling reptiles

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or riding a spotted animal

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

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We faced unexpected challenges

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along with a bit of precipitation

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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

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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,

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no one was eaten by a crocodile

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and good fun was had by all.

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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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Thanks to the Back-up Crew

 

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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!

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Lunch cooked in the bush was much appreciated

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as riders were hungry and the food fresh.

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

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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

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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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Riding North to Kwalata Game Reserve

We had a bit of a problem on the third morning of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride. Some of the horses spurned their comfortable camp and tried to run home in the night. Luckily they were not able to get far but it meant we set off later than intended at 9.45am. Once in the saddle we were able to canter for miles along sandy roads over the top of the Waterberg Plateau and made up the time.

Cantering to Kwalata

We needed to cover a fair distance but it was cool and the going good.

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The third day is typically the most tiring for members of the team and we managed to break two stirrup leathers which slowed us down. We would have battled if the sun had been out.

Road to Kwalata

We are actually riding down a government road here – a very beautiful one.

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Thankfully we made it to the gates of Kwalata private game reserve just as it began to rain at 1.30pm and were able to reach the lodge for a late lunch. Everyone was tired but grateful for a cool drink and a plate of lasagne, while the horses enjoyed fresh grass and a good feed.

Lunch at Kwalata

The rain cleared and we had time for a swim that afternoon before mounting up again.

Belinda at Kwalata

We rode through the reserve for about 11kms, passing warthog and a few impala.

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Our horses spent the night in a boma originally built for elephant. This gelding didn’t seem to think much of the way they’d left the bathroom.

Horse inspecting elephant bathroom

The riders were able to relax back at the lodge where there was a much nicer bathtub

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and very good food, cooked outside on the fire. The sponsored ride was led by Ant Baber in aid of Save The Waterberg Rhino and associated community projects in the Waterberg. If you’d like to make a donation we have a Justgiving.com  page here.

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If you would like to keep in touch, The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here.

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Meet the people striving to Save The Waterberg Rhino

Tessa Baber, who appears in this short film, started ‘Save The Waterberg Rhino’ in 2013.

Those taking part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride in March 2016 will be able to observe a number of white rhino living on Ant’s Nest game reserve, while being updated on anti-poaching initiatives by Tess and her husband Ant Baber who is leading the six-day ride.

The plan is to cross the Waterberg on horseback, traversing Kwalata private game reserve to Lapalala Wilderness where riders will meet the warden Anton Walker, who also appears on this film. He cares for both black and white rhino re-introduced to the area by his father, the author and wildlife artist Clive Walker when he was warden about thirty years ago.

While on this reserve riders from the UK will visit the Lapalala Wilderness School where children, often from deprived communities, come for a week’s residential course on wildlife conservation. Many of them testify how this experience changes their outlook on life, giving them an appreciation for their environment and the future of South Africa’s wild animals. The children take their enthusiasm into the community whose support is essential if poaching is to be combated.

The ride will end at the Palala River on Jembisa private game reserve who have been supporting Save The Waterberg Rhino and the Lapalala Wilderness School for some time.

The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2016 promises to be quite an intrepid adventure. The route has not attempted on horseback before. The riders face early starts and long hours in the saddle but they are busy getting fit and packing carefully in preparation for the challenge.

Riding safaris at Ant's (60)

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:

 

Find out about Save The Waterberg Rhino

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As a UK registered charity, The Waterberg Trust can claim Gift Aid on eligible donations, and organise transfer of funds to South Africa efficiently. Add a note to specify ‘Save the Waterberg Rhino’ or ‘Lapalala Wilderness School’ with your donation.

Riders are gaining sponsorship on individual pages:

Anne Lester – https://www.justgiving.com/Anne-Lester

Susie Airy – http://www.justgiving.com/SusieAiryTheWaterbergTrust

Fiona Worlidge – https://www.justgiving.com/fiona-worlidge

Belinda Fordy – http://www.justgiving.com/Belindalfordy

Becky Overy Owen https://www.justgiving.com/bexoo

Belinda Chaffer – http://www.justgiving.com/Belinda-ChafferTWT

Sophie Neville – http://www.justgiving.com/Sophie-Neville-TWT2016

  • If you’d like to organise your own fundraising event, and learn more about the charity contact sophie@sophieneville.co.uk
  • makeapage_your_white justgiving

 

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