Tag Archives: game viewing

Day 1 of The Waterberg Challenge Ride 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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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 Jembisa on Day 6 of the TWT Challenge Ride

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

Map of Jembisa

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

Walking uphill on Jembisa

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

Sophie Neville

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

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

Lunch on Jembisa

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

Galloping

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

TWT team after 175kms

Mark, Pippa and Chris

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

Campfire

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Riding through Lapalala Wilderness

Ginny and Anne

We mounted our horses bright and early on Day 4 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride

Following Ant

and set off into Kwalata game reserve with a map drawn on a piece of cardboard. As we rode into Lapalala Wilderness Ant warned us that if a black rhino charged and we found ourselves on the ground we should either get behind a tree or roll onto our back and kick it in self-defense.

Riding through Lapala Wilderness

We were venturing into truly wild remote country with diverse challenges that included walking the horses down a rocky track for a couple of kilometers passing middens that marked the black rhino territory.  The dung itself had quite an attractive smell.

Walk in the Wilderness

We were probably making too much noise to get close to wildlife but saw giraffe wildebeest, impala and a terrapin.

Lapala Wilderness

After nearly five hours in the saddle we were hugely relieved and deeply grateful to find lunch being cooked for us by the Palala River, along with chairs and a table.

Lunch by the hippo pool

Lunch by the Palala River

The intrepid went off in search of hippo. We had been told there were also crocodile around.

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hippo

We found the horses had been saddled up and rode on through Lapalala,

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beyond the airstrip where the horses were to spend the night.

TWT Riders 2016 team photo

Here we found a black rhino in one of the game bomas and felt rather glad that he was safely behind a sturdy fence.

Black rhino

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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.

Cantering

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.

TWT team 2016

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.

Belinda Fordy on Kwalata

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

Kwalata bath tub

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.

Kwalata

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

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Riding through Ant’s Nest in the Waterberg

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On the second day of The Waterberg Trust Challenge  Ride 2016 we mounted our horses and rode through Ant’s Nest game reserve up to Ant’s Hill in two groups consisting of 8 or 9 riders each: the tortoises and the hares.

Ant Baber showing us the ropes

Those going on the fast ride, led my Ant Baber, found themselves cantering alongside a herd of giraffe, which was exhilarating and covered more than 11 kms in about 3 hours.

Riding up to Ant's Hill

The tortoises rode more sedately, coming across zebra, warthog and rare antelope such a herd of Livingstone eland as well as a lone sable bull:

Sable at Ant's Hill

We rode on, encountering impala, blesbok and more zebra before reaching a dam. The hares arrived hot on our tails having spent time watching the behaviour of a herd of buffalo.

Dam on ant's Hill

Some of the riders were able to take their horses in to cool off during the heat of the day.

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After being treated to a delicious lunch of homemade sausages cooked out in the bush

Bush breakfast at Ant's Hill

we had coffee at Ant’s Hill where we received a talk about the Waterberg Biosphere.

Ant's Hill

As we rode out that afternoon, we saw more game including a family group of bat-earred foxes. This was very special as the guides had only seen them once before on the reserve.

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We spotted quite a few wildebeeste along with their calves who, at a few moths old, almost look like a different species:

Wildebeeste calf

It was the group of tortoise riders, going at some speed, who made it to the north of the reserve first, clocking up 26.3kms and reaching the top of the escarpment, 4,500 feet above sea-level. As the horses found hay-nets waiting for them in the paddocks of an old Transvaal farm, the riders returned in a game-viewing vehicle for one last comfortable night at Ant’s Nest and packed their bags for the next two days on the move.

Tsede riding on Ant's Nest

If you would like to find out more, The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. Riders are raising sponsorship for community projects in the Waterberg on Justgiving.com here

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Report on the second Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2016

Sophie Neville and wildebeeste

The dream of riding through the game reserves of South Africa became a reality for twelve British riders this March when they took up the challenge of raising £1,000 each for Save The Waterberg Rhino and local community projects.

Zebra by Sophie Neville

The team was made up of experienced riders

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and, being led by Ant Baber,

Ant Baber

the pace was fast whenever the terrain allowed.

Cantering

The idea was to traverse 175kms  of remote country

Walking uphill

while taking the opportunity to learn about rhino conservation

Sophie Neville watching rhino

and discover more about the Waterberg. For further detail and more photos of this ride, please see subsequent posts.Photographing giraffe

If you would like to get involved or find out more The Waterberg Trust have a Facebook page here. Riders are raising sponsorship on Justgiving.com here

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