Tag Archives: Charity fundraising event

We have dates for The 6th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride in 2020

The 6th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride across the Waterberg

25th January to 2nd February 2020

ARE YOU UP FOR A CHALLENGE?

ARE YOU READY FOR AN ADVENTURE IN AFRICA?

Following the success of our fifth annual ride in January 2019, we are gathering a team of fit and experienced riders to join us on another sponsored horse safari to raise funds for Save the Waterberg Rhino along with educational, health and welfare projects that uplift the communities in the area.

Overall dates: 24th January to 4th February 2019 (inclusive of the option of one extra night at beginning and one at end*)

 Ant Baber, owner of Ant’s Nest, has offered to lead us 200kms through 7 different private game reserves of the Waterberg over 6 days, on his beautiful horses.

To participate you are required to raise a minimum sponsorship of £1000 for The Waterberg Trust. As a registered UK charity, Gift Aid can then be added. 50% of sponsorship raised will go to Save the Waterberg Rhino Trust and 50% will go to community projects in the Waterberg. While we encourage riders to find sponsorship some of us are raising the donation of £1,000 in other ways such as hosting a sale or asking for donations instead of birthday gifts.

Please contact  us for help with fundraising ideas and making a Justgiving page Belinda:bchaffer@btinternet.com

Since we plan to visit a number of the projects being supported by The Waterberg Trust you will get the chance to meet local people and wildlife we are helping.

PROPOSED ITINERARY for 2020

In 2019 all riders opted to fly out a day before the TWT Challenge ride began (at an additional cost). If we do this in 2020 the programme will look like this:

Friday 24th January 2020: Riders fly out from the UK – we suggest everyone books onto British Airways flight BA55

EXTRA DAY – Saturday 25 January 2020: Riders will be met at Johannesburg International Airport and driven north, about 3 hours, to Ant’s Nest Private Game Reserve deep in the African bush. Lunch will be served on your arrival. After settling into the lodge we will go for a game ride looking for zebra and wildebeest so that you can try out your horse. If you are not totally happy you can try a different mount the next day – there are about forty to choose from a mixture of Thoroughbreds, Arabs, Friesians, Boerperds.

DAY 1 – Sunday 26 January: It will be high summer in South Africa so the bushveld will be green. In the morning, riders have the option of going to church, resting and acclimatising by the pool or riding through Ant’s Nest Game Reserve with an experienced guide. We will all ride with game in afternoon and be able to hear about plans for the week ahead as we have dinner by the fire that evening after sundowners with the rhino.

DAY 2 – Monday 27 January: We’ll spend the day riding up to Ant’s Hill, viewing game on horseback and looking for a breeding herd of buffalo, as well as rare sable and roan antelope. Each rider will pack a small bag with a swimsuit, wash-bag and clothes for the next three nights on safari. As the sun goes down, you’ll meet white rhino living on the reserve while Jessica Babich gives a talk on the work of Save the Waterberg Rhino. The Waterberg is home to the third largest population of rhino in South Africa, so their protection on the plateau is vital.

DAY 3 – Tuesday 28 January: We will set off early, riding east into neighbouring game reserves where we can canter for miles. We are planning to have lunch at the Waterberg Living Museum where we can learn more about rhino from the author and artist Clive Walker, one of South Africa’s leading conservationists. That afternoon we hope ride through a reserve breeding rare golden wildebeest up to Triple B Ranch, the cattle stud owned by Ant’s family for over a hundred years. There are beautiful gardens here and a warm pool. We’ll stay at Windsong Cottage – the farmhouse built in 1928 by Alfred Baber, Ant’s grandfather.

DAY 4 – Wednesday 29 January: We will ride past the village school on the farm and down to the game reserve at Horizon, which will give us the chance of seeing impala, zebra, giraffe and eland along with primate species, as we might spot vervet monkeys and baboon. Lunch will be enjoyed at a beautiful dam where the horses can graze.  We’ll have a long ride in the afternoon, as we make our way through Lindani private game reserve for the night. There is a good paddock here for the horses, a pool and we should be able to see game from the lodge.

DAY 5 – Thursday 30 January: We will spend the morning riding through Lindani,  where we should see warthog, zebra, giraffe, eland, red hartebeest, wildebeest and greater kudu. We will then make our way back to the lodge for a late lunch, enjoying fast canters on sandy tracks. After a well-earned rest, we will swap our horses for a game viewer and drive into the stunning Lapalala Game Reserve, looking for wildlife, before arriving at the Lapalala Wilderness School, which runs residential courses in nature conservation and environmental awareness for local children.

DAY 6 – Friday 31 January: We’ll saddle our horses early to ride to Jembisa, a beautiful private game reserve to the north. After climbing a kloof, we’ll walk down a steep escarpment and ride under high red cliffs where vultures nest. The route takes us along African dirt roads and into the reserve where lunch is planned. That afternoon we will reach the Palala River where the ride ends. After saying goodbye to our horses, we will be able to relax at the lodge, and appreciate comfy beds and hot baths.

Saturday 1 February After a more leisurely wake-up, we will take a game drive to see ancient bushmen paintings on the reserve before brunch, and then drive to Vaalwater. Here we will visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding and meet Nurse Grace, before heading to the airport via an community sewing project and excellent curio shop. Flight BA54 leaves at 21.50.

Sunday 2 February: Your flight will arrive back in the UK early morning

or you opt to take an extra day to relax at leisure at Jembisa. Do take advantage of this offer if you can, as it is great to unwind after the demanding ride. Ants Nest are happy to make arrangements for anyone wanting to go on to Cape Town or else where in South Africa.

Monday 3 February: the date you arrive back if you spend one extra night at Jembisa.

PAYMENT DETAILS We are waiting to hear the cost of the ride per person, sharing, inclusive of all meals, local alcohol and soft drinks, accommodation, riding, game drives and bush walks, as well as road transfers to and from the flights specified. Your contract will be with Ant’s Nest. 

Ant’s Nest will invoice you upon confirmation – Full payment is due 8 weeks before the ride on 1 December 2019.

To secure your place on the ride you will need to give confirmation of your flight booking.

*Flights, tips and travel insurance are not included in this price.

*Please note that you will be sharing a bedroom.

EXTRA NIGHTS Riders can opt to stay an extra night at a favourable rate at Ant’s Nest at the beginning of the ride to acclimatise and enjoy more riding, and at Jembisa at the end of the ride to unwind. In Jan 2019 the cost of one extra night at Ant’s Nest was R4,000 per person sharing and £170 at Jembisa, fully inclusive of meals, drinks, activities as before. We are waiting to for 2020 prices.                                                                      

Ant’s Nest, Lindani and Jembisa offer sophisticated lodge accommodation with ensuite bathrooms. The rooms at Windsong are simpler, but nevertheless comfortable, and some may have to share bathrooms. Every lodge has a swimming pool.

FLIGHTS AND TRANSFERS We find it is best if people book their own flights to Johannesburg – try Trailfinders or Flight Centre or the BA sale. Do liaise and fly together. We suggest you take Flight BA55 that departs Heathrow at 18.10 on either Friday 24 January 2020, or Saturday 25 January. These arrive in Johannesburg at 7.15 am. Book the return on Flight BA54 which departs at 21.50 on either Saturday 1 February or Sunday 2 February.  Should you need to arrive at other times, a private road transfer can be supplied but at an additional cost (see above).

Once you have booked your flight, you will need to take out travel insurance in case you are forced to cancel. You need to inform the company you will be going on safari and riding horses (non-competitively, wearing a certified helmet). There might be a small surcharge for this activity. Ant’s Nest and Jembisa will ask for your travel insurance policy number and emergency phone number for their file.

The ride is a unique opportunity to ride alongside wild animals in this beautiful area, now proclaimed a UNESCO biosphere. The itinerary may change – but only for the better! We are hoping for a group of 12 riders who need to be fit and experienced as there will be approx 25-45kms of riding per day.

You can read more about the projects TWT supports here and find out how to make donations here. We will help you raise the £1,000 that each rider is challenged to raise.

The horse safari will be led by Ant Baber who owns Ant’s Nest.                                       Belinda Chaffer, Chairman of TWT, will organise the group.

If you are interested in coming, please contact us using the Comments Box below.

USEFUL INFORMATION

Do I need a visa? Check your passport is valid for at least six months after your return date and has at least 3 blank pages. Visas are not needed for those with British passports.

What vaccinations do I need? We recommend tetanus. The area is classified Malaria free.

What are the horses like? They have been carefully chosen from various South African breeds, known for being able to walk-out while being able to cope with tough going. They live in the bush so are familiar with wildlife. Breeds include Friesan-cross, Boerperds, Anglo-Thoroughbreds, and the S.A. Warmblood. They range in size from 14.3h. to 17h. Long-distance McClellan saddles are used.

Sophie Neville taking part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride

~Vented helmets are recommended. A tennis visor was added to this one with velcro~

Are riding helmets compulsory? Yes – bring your own hot-weather helmet.

What else should I bring? Not too much: it can be hot and sunny and could be overcast or rainy but will not get cold. Towels are provided and we hope to provide a limited laundry service. Bring comfortable riding clothes in earth colours, blues or greens – (not bright red or turquoise) long-sleeved collared shirts, (we have TWT shirts for sale), bandana, riding helmet, bum bag, lip salve, sun cream factor 30, short boots and half-chaps, wax raincoat, camera with extra memory card and charger, sun hat, sarong, sandals or flip-flops, summer dress & comfy clothes to wear in the evenings. (Voltage is the same but expect large round pin plugs – you need adaptor.) Bring a small bag for your swimming costume and washbag, pyjamas, spare clothes and torch that we will take to Windsong. Handbags are not a good idea but remember your passport.

Do bring out any old children’s clothes, especially grey/black/blue/white school uniform or sports gear, bras and underpants as we can donate clothes to a welfare project in the Waterberg. Crayons, blue pens and pencils are also much appreciated and are something we can donate to the primary school on the route.

Do cell phones work? Occasionally. Wifi is weak, We take radio communication and phones.

Useful contact numbers: These can be used the case of a badly delayed flight.  Please give loved ones the Ant’s Nest phone numbers: Tel 1 : +27 (0) 83 287 2885 Tel 2 : +27 (0) 87 820 7233 Tel 3 : +27 (0) 81 572 2624)

Money: We suggest you don’t change too much money into the local currency as your trip is fully inclusive. There are craft shops at Ant’s Nest and Jembisa that take credit cards and we usually give the equivalent of £10 per person per day in tips, which Belinda will see is distributed fairly.

Ant’s Nestwww.waterberg.net

Windsong on Triple B Ranch: http://www.waterbergcottages.co.za

Lindani: http://lindani.co.za/

Jembisa:  www.jembisa.com

Save the Waterberg Rhino:  http://waterberg.net/save-the-waterberg-rhino

You can see photos from previous rides, along with information about the projects and info on how to make donations elsewhere on The Waterberg Trust website.

TWT Ride 2018 cantering across Lindani DAY 4

The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2018, held this January, proved a great success

Please click here and scroll down for a brief  report on the 2018 ride

To read more about the TWT horse ride in 2017, please click here

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-Riders traversing Ant’s Nest on the 2017 Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride-

 

The gift of a vegetable garden

The environmental consulting company Environmental Impact Management Services (EIMS), based in Gauteng, has made the astonishing gift of a vegetable garden to aid Nurse Grace in her work teaching life orientation skills at Meetsetshehla Secondary School at Vaalwater in the Waterberg.

Andrew Smith and his team of twenty environmental scientists wanted to contribute to the work of The Waterberg Trust by making a gift of their know-how before spending a weekend in the African bush.

We never guessed that they would arrive with 33 bags of compost.

The staff and pupils gratefully accepted trays of lettuce, spinach, beetroot and onion seedlings as well as a variety of much-needed seeds. ‘I was speechless,’ Nurse Grace said. It was an answer to prayer. They even brought seed markers.

EIMS also donated garden netting, watering cans, tools and ordered treated poles from a local supplier so that pupils could erect shade-netting to protect the seedlings from birds and drying out in the sun.

The team from Environmental Impact Management Services also bought a year-planner and books that provide information and advice on when to plant and how to gain optimum productivity.  Nurse Grace said, ‘We learnt a lot about keeping vegetables healthy and effective planting methods.’

School exams were in progress but the team were able to meet some of the pupils and explain how best to sustain the vegetable garden established by Nurse Grace a year ago. While Meetsstshehla has been acknowledged as a leading Green School in the Limpopo Province, nurse Grace plans to share the vision with other schools that she visits in the Waterberg.

Nurse Grace had time to discuss other plans for the community. Environmental Impact services are generously donating 95 packs of washable sanitary pads so that all the Grade 8 school girls can participate fully in school activities. A team from Dignity Dreams  in Pretoria will come to instruct both boys and girls on menstrual health when exams finish.

~Explaining to guests about our green school project~

 

Andrew Smith said, ‘We have been involved in developing an air quality awareness campaign for one of our clients over the last 12 months. The programme is aimed at education focused specifically on how burning practices in the homes and communities can negatively impact the air we breath. Burning of waste and the use of coal fires in the home for cooking and warmth during winter are some of the issues the campaign focuses on. We have rolled the campaign out in some primary schools as well and we’ve developed puzzles, colouring books, quizzes and drama competitions. We have asked our client whether they will allow us to use the material elsewhere and we’re waiting for their comments. This educational content might be something Nurse Grace, or other teachers, could use during some of the Life Orientation classes.’

~Showing EIMS part of the garden and how we make compost manure from waste~

Andrew Smith's donation 4

If you would like to make a donation towards the creation of a school vegetable garden in the Waterberg or towards multi-use sanitary pads for pupils please click here detailing your wishes. Sets of sanitary packs cost R220  and last for approx 48 months. We are hoping to raise enough money for all the school girls in the Waterberg to be kitted out.

 

Day 6 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

TWT Ride 2018 - DAY 6 walking down to the Palala River (2).jpgAfter walking the horses down a steep track on Jembisa game reserve, we finally made it to the Palala River. It’s normally too deep to cross on a horse but the drought of 2017 resulted in unusually low water.

The rocks looked slippery but Ant Baber decided we could walk across.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 6 - Riders crossing the Palala River going north.jpg

As we made our way the Rooisloot valley we came across interesting plants such as this Transvaal gardenia.

Greater kudu enjoy eating the green seed pods and had effectively pruned the bushes.

The aim was to ride up to the wetlands at the very north of the reserve.

We had entered at the gate just south of Emily’s Camp. Today we reached Kwarriehoek near the road to Makopane, which you can see at the top right-hand corner of this map.

It was good to have reached the open grasslands after having spent six days in the saddle.

 

Mission accomplished. We could ride no further north.

A highlight of the day was lunch at a house on the game reserve which has a pool with an incredible view, looking north down the Palala River Valley towards Lapalala Wilderness where we had been the evening before.

We mounted the horses and crossed back over the Palala, which flows north into the Limpopo on the South African border with Zimbabwe.

TWT Ride DAY 6 2018 crossing the Palala River - photo Sophie Neville

Without pausing to remove our helmets, we dismounted and climbed up the steep cart track in our hot clothes. The horses were fine but it was hard on the riders.

Once we reached the plateau, it wasn’t long before we were met by the back-up team.

They had brought us champagne to celebrate the end of the challenge ride.

Everyone was tired, but happy, if a little dazed.

No one had fallen off. There had been no injuries or mis-haps. The horses were still in good condition. We had explored a new route, which had proved varied and exciting. Ant Baber decided the ride had been a success.

We’d made it!

We had come so far and seen so much. The experience had challenged and extended each one of us..

We climbed back into the saddle and had a cheer from the team from Newbury, before making our way back to the lodge.

The riders enjoyed one last exciting gallop before bidding farewell to the horses, who had all done so well. We’d covered 187 kilometres in total – 197kms if you counted the ride before the official trek began six days before.

Very many thanks to all our sponsors and donors who encouraged us on our way. The funds raised will go a long way to help Save The Waterberg Rhino increase security in the area and will support community projects run by trusted charitable organisations that uplift the emerging generation by providing education or healthcare.

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

~TWT Trustees: Belinda Chaffer and Sophie Williams-Thomas~

Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 –

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - view from Bushwillow

The fourth day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 was one of contrasts. We woke to clear weather although rain was forecast. This was welcomed as we had a long way to go and needed cool conditions.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Riders leaving Windsong.jpg

We left Windsong Cottage, mounted our horses and rode to Boschdraai Primary School at the nearby Sesotho village.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Boschdraai Primary School who received gifts of pens and pencils from riders.jpg

The riders had brought pens and pencils for the 140 children who expressed their thanks by singing three very touching songs. The headmistress, who has been working at the eco-school for 24 years, needs a new printer with ink cartridges. She needs set pupils work as she only has one other teacher and three classes of children.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Michael riding in the dust

We passed wild fig trees as we cantered down sandy farm tracks to Horizon Horseback’s game reserve and picked our way through the natural rock formations of Ghost Kopjie.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Riders approaching Ghost Kopjie.jpg

Fissures in the old red-standstone, said to be formed in the pre-Cambrian era some 4 millions years ago, is home to nocturnal creatures such as owls and porcupine.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Helena riding through Ghost Kopjie.jpg

At one stage it got too tricky for the horses but we had never taken this route before.

We had to double back a bit but we made it down to the grasslands below.

We saw jackal as we crossed the plans plains, took a break by a lake, and rode on down long marrum roads that run between game reserves. The vegetation became lusher.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - cantering down the road in the rain.jpg

Rain set in and the going became slippery but the horses kept cantering.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 4 - Mary and Pip riding in the rain.jpg

It was not long before we reached Lindani game reserve where the back-up crew had set up lunch in a paddock where we could unsaddle the horses and let them relax.

Ant warned us that there had been a crocodile attack on the nearby dam.

But it hadn’t been seen for a while and the horses were able to roam freely.

The riders enjoyed a barbecue lunch by the wetland.

Some were in need of reinforcements.

That afternoon we saw zebra, wildebeest and warthog as we cantered across the plains.

As we rode into a belt of acacia woodland we came across giraffe with young.

They allowed us close enough to take photographs.

Giraffe have a different gait to other animals, although horses can be trained to walk as they do, which is meant to be more comfortable for the rider.

It was a long but varied day.  Sandy tracks across the reserve to Motseng Lodge.

We were thirsty by the time we reached the paddock where the horses were to spend the night but Ant and the riders were still smiling.

To see footage taken from the helmet of one of the riders on this day – please click here

You can see a little of what Lindani is like and take a look at Motseng, the lodge where we spent the night here:

Day 3 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

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Riders set off early from the stables and were led across Ant’s Nest by Anthony Baber.

We learnt more about the Waterberg as we crossed into neighbouring game reserves.

The African grasslands look benign but tend to be full of holes made by termites or burrowing animals, so it is safer to ride in single file, only cantering along tracks.

We watered the horses at dams and waterholes wherever possible and rode on.

The aim was to cover as much ground as possible before the heat of the day.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - Michael and the team riding north

A herd of zebra and other game were spotted that morning and a fair distance was covered.

We were expected at the soon-to-be-opened Waterberg Living Museum. Here we met one of South Africa’s leading conservationists, the artist and writer Clive Walker, who explained the need for education in conservation, ecology and bio-diversity.

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Clive founded the Endangered Wildlife Trust and set up the Lapalala Wilderness School which we were due to visit later in that week.

The Waterberg Trust had provided the museum with funds to purchase picnic tables and benches, which the riders found useful both during and after lunch.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - Catherine asleep on a bench at the Living Museum donated by TWT.jpg

Back in the saddle, the riders let their horses drink before crossing another game reserve.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

We traversed open grasslands where we saw zebra, blesbok and red heartebeest, spotting a baby waterbuck and rare golden wildebeest that are bred in the area.

It was a joy to cross wide open plains as giraffe looked on from a distance.

At one stage we found ourselves cantering along beside running wildebeest, some of which crossed in front of the horses.

The going was good and as the horses picked up speed it could be difficult keeping a safe distance from the one in front.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

‘Was it dusty?’ I’m asked.

‘When fifteen horses are cantering, it is.’

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - Lizzie arriving at Windsong .jpg

We finally reached  Waterberg Cottages where Ant grew up. The horses were able to relax and roll in a sandy kraal where they spent the night.

The gardens were verdant after the summer rain and birdsong filled the air.

Some relaxed with a cold beer and made new friends or had a swim.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - Michael with the Calcott's dog.jpg

As dusk fell, one the riders held a Pilates lesson.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - Pilates class.jpg

We were entertained by Ant’s sister, Juliet Calcott, who teaches at a local school. Her family had rescued this little bushbaby and were re-rehabilitating it.

That evening we were treated to a home-cooked meal on the veranda of Windsong Cottage, the farmhouse built in 1928 by Alfred Baber, who farmed the land we’d been riding across using horses and oxen. Historic photographs of the Baber family, which hang in the dining room, can be seen here.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 3 - dinner at Windsong

Juliet’s husband, Dr Philip Calcott, who is listed as one of the Great Guides of South Africa, then took the riders on a Night Sky Safari – giving a lecture on the constellations of the Southern hemisphere.  You can find more information on Waterberg Cottages here and see learn how Night Sky Safaris began here:

The Waterberg Living Museum is now open and can be contacted on:  info@livingmuseum.co.za

Day 2 of The Waterberg Trust challenge Ride 2018

 

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The Waterberg Plateau rises to about 1,400 metres on Ant’ Hill: 4,500 feet above sea level. We covered some distance that morning, climbing an escarpment and riding across the game reserve as the sun beat down.

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Although we had encountered a number of waterholes it was only when we reached the highest dam at noon that we took the chance to swim the horses.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - Viv swimming her horse

They loved being able to cool down and play in the water.

As we rode bareback , staying on board wasn’t as easy as you might imagine.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - Lizzie swimming her horse

Later that day, when back in the saddle, we came across a herd of Livingstone eland that hadn’t been seen for some time. One of the cows was badly in need of veterinary treatment.

TWT Ride 2018 - Ant Baber

Ant Baber called in a helicopter to collect his game vet, Paul, and asked the riders if they would volunteer to help by following the eland once it had been darted with anesthetic.

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The riders and horses came into their own, cantering through dense bush after the herd of large antelope while the helicopter was buzzing overhead.TWT Ride 2018 DAy 2 - Helicopter and Game Vet

The vet was able to land in a clearing as one of the guides caught the female eland by the horns and calmed her with a mask before she received treatment to her wounded rear-end.

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It was exciting to take part in the game capture and to be able to observe the procedure. The wound was caused by a tick infestation that had become critical. It would not have healed naturally.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - MC on her horse with game vet team.jpg

The wound was dressed and the cow  given anti-biotics, de-wormed and sprayed with insect repellent to increase her chances of survival, before being released back into her herd.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 2 - eland after vetinary treatment

While the helicopter and vet were on hand, Ant decided to capture the eland bull and translocate him to another breeding herd as it is important to introduce fresh genes.

TWT Ride 2018 - DAY 2 riders help translocate an eland bull.jpg

The riders were needed to help carry the anesthetized bull into the truck, which would transport him into a neighbouring area. Although sprayed for ticks, he was in excellent condition.

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Although cantering some of the way, it was dark by the time the riders returned to the lodge when they still had to pack for the days ahead. The plan was to rise early and ride out of the reserve and across the Waterberg, heading north-west towards the Palala River.

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You can get a feel for what it’s like to ride at speed through the African bush in this video:

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.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - 5 rhino sleeping.jpg

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.

TWT Ride 2018 - DAY 1 Sarah with giraffe.jpg

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

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Viv with giraffe.jpg

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

TWT Ride DAY 1 - Mary with three giraffe.jpg

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

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - giraffe and riders

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.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Ant showing Pip buffalo.jpg

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

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Sarah and Mary riding in evening light.jpg

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.

TWT Ride 2018 DAY 1 - Sophie with armed guards at Ant's house.jpg