Tag Archives: riding horses in Africa

Highlights of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, 2019

 

Skies looked threatening at the start of The 5th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride but the game viewing was excellent with herds of zebra and antelope enjoying lush grass.

The ride was hosted by Ant’s Nest who had prepared some of their best horses for what proved to be a 208 kilometre marathon.

Since Ant’s horses usually graze in the bush we were able to get exceptionally close wildlife while riding around the property.

Riders were able to observe rare breeds such as Livingstone eland and sable antelope.

We made our way up to Ant’s Hill in search of rhino, finding the dominant male.

Jessica Babich of Save The Waterberg Rhino gave riders a talk on how funds raised by TWT are being used to install high-tech security equipment to combat poaching.

Early on 31st January, everyone was ready to cross the Waterberg, heading north towards the Palala River.

The horses wore head-collars, lead ropes and long-distance saddles for the journey.

Ant Baber led the team of twelve ladies who soon found themselves passing one of his breeding herds of Cape buffalo.

We then rode through neighbouring game reserves, crossing wide open plains where wildebeest and blesbok roam.

Lunch was taken at the Waterberg Living Museum established by Clive Walker and his son Anton Walker, who showed us around. They have a room dedicated to information on rhinos and the poaching situation.

The Waterberg Trust has donated picnic tables, benches and information boards to this centre of environmental education created for local schoolchildren and visitors.

We rode on, spotting giraffe, impala, blesbok and golden wildebeest as we made our way

through another reserve to spend the night at Waterberg Cottages on Triple B Ranch.

It is home for the Baber family who began rearing cattle in the Waterberg in the 1880’s.

There was a solar-heated pool to relax sore muscles and reviving ginger drinks for all.

Dinner was served on the veranda of the farmhouse built by Ant’s grandfather in 1928.

The next morning, we rode through the traditional Transvaal farm, passing herds of Bonsmara stud cattle.

Summer rain had filled some of the twenty-two dams built by Ant’s father.

We cantered down through woodland, where baboons could be heard barking, and stopped for breakfast at Horizon Horseback Safaris where hippo were in residence.

After crossing plains inhabited by ostrich, we reached another lake on the Melkrivier.

Egyptian geese,  African fish eagle and rare spur-winged geese flew up as we passed by.

We crossed through an old cattle farm and cantered along red roads to Lindani game reserve where we stopped for lunch at a dam where crocodile are known to flourish.

After a relaxed lunch, when we could rest the horses, we rode into more hilly country.

Lindani game reserve has a high population of giraffe, warthog and other plains game.

Two nights were spent at Motseng Lodge where the horses enjoyed excellent grazing.

This enabled us to pay a visit to Lapalala Wilderness School where we met a python and

enjoyed a game drive on Lapalala Wilderness before exploring a remote corner of Lindani on horseback.

Crossing reed-choked stream beds could be challenging but the horses were brave.

One of the highlights of the ride was reaching the crest of the Buffleshoek escarpment.

After coming across giraffe, we dismounted to descend through thick vegetation for a couple of miles.

It was difficult to believe we had brought thirteen horses down the towering cliff face.

After perhaps the greatest of many long canters up the sandy tracks of the Waterberg

the riders made it to Jembisa game reserve where, after following oryx though seringa woodland,

the team was greeted by chilled champagne set out under a tree.

Our goal had been reached, the ride had ended. Most riders had spent a total of 38 hours in the saddle over 7 days: quite an achievement.

~Photographs by Ant Baber who led The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2019~

The next day, riders were able to visit Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding where we met children who had benefited from TWT’s grant to the ‘Back to School’ project and handed over a donation of sports clothes and underwear for Nurse Grace to distribute. She updated us on how successful Dignity Dreams sanitary packs were proving in enabling  schoolgirls to remain in lessons whilst they have their periods.

TWT Trustees saw some of the 24 security camera erected to combat rhino poaching in the Waterberg and discussed plans to install more of these effective deterrents.

Very many thanks to Ant’s Nest and Jembisa who hosted the ride and enabled so many of us to visit community projects in the Waterberg.

Highlights of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

Ant Baber led the fourth Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, taking a new route across the Waterberg Plateau from Ant’s Nest to Jembisa on the Palala River to the north, covering 187kms on horseback over six days and crossing seven different game reserves.

Team members from the UK and Bermuda had been busy raising sponsorship, 50% of funds going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and 50% to community projects that uplift the people and place of the Waterberg in the Limpopo Province of South Africa

White rhino on Ant's Nest

While we had excellent game viewing, we also enjoyed very good food.

Meals were served in a variety of different settings, enabling the team to get to know each other and have time to chat to guides and directors of the game reserve. It was a true safari, in that we went on a journey through the African bush.

Coming across wild animals made our spirits soar.

We were able to get unusually close both on foot and on horseback.

What the animals thought can only be guessed.

But the riders wrote to say how amazing it was. ‘I think you have a winning formula as the riding is wonderful but all the extra experiences such as the school, youth club, church and visiting Clive Walker, enriched it and made it a truly unique experience and insight into the Waterberg.’

On the second day we had a real life adventure, helping the local vet.

‘It was a truly memorable adventure’

The horses were used to approaching wildlife as they graze with other animals in the bush.

It was high summer in South Africa so the afternoons could get hot and tiring

and the road was sometimes steep

but each day was full of variety

and we developed a huge sense of camaraderie.

‘…it was just pure fun and I felt so carefree’

We each had time to develop a relationship with our horse.

While the herd enjoyed the grazing we loved finding out about the projects supported by The Waterberg Trust.

It was a privilege to meet the local people.

These included exceptional women changing the lives of children.

‘Apart from the riding, we so enjoyed seeing all that The Waterberg Trust supports. There are some incredible people involved.’

We met the conservationist Clive Walker and learned of  what he had achieved for the UNESCO Biosphere and good to hear his new plans for the Waterberg Living Museum.

It was a privilege to be able to watch wild animals from horseback.

The landscape was ever-changing.

After five days in the saddle we reached the Palala River without mishap and thanks to the teams at Ant’s Nest and Jembisa, we were able celebrated the finish in style.

‘It really was a very special trip and a challenge at that.’

Special thanks go to Ant Baber and his family for looking after us and enabling us to ride across the land of their forefathers and beyond.

It was ‘a really amazing experience’.

The horses needed a good rest and the riders were tired but everyone agreed that it had been an incredible week of exploration.

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 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:

 

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 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

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-

twt-ride-day-3-juliet-with-rhino

-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-

twt-ride-day-2-tina-trying-out-her-horse

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

The rains had been late and we saw newborn animals

twt-ride-day-2-hilly-photographing-giraffe

-Hilly Collinson from Yorkshire, grabbing photos of giraffe-

twt-ride-day-3-louise-with-cape-bufflo-in-the-bushes

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

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

janie-beardsall-twt-rider-2017

-Janie Beardsall from Yorkshire in her bush hat-

twt-rider-elisa-spearman-who-hunts-with-the-beaufort

-Elisa Spearmann from Wiltshire on her mare-

– A roan antelope photographed by Mairi Hunt-

twt-ride-camilla-at-the-end-of-the-ride

-Camilla Newton from Rutland-

mairi-and-sally-not-so-sure-about-the-python-twt-ride-2017

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

claudia-with-giraffe

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

twt-rider-lulu-ferrand

-TWT rider Lulu Ferrand from Leicestershire –

simon-williams-thomas-on-ground-support-for-the-twt-ride-2017-Simon Williams-Thomas from Hampshire on ground support –

twt-rider-sophie-neville-2017

-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 –