Tag Archives: Sophie Neville

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.

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.

Ant Baber guiding 2016

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

Visiting Lapalala Wilderness School on Day 5 of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2017

TWT Ride Day 5 at Kolobe

Although the group of thirteen taking part in the challenge ride were briefed over breakfast, none of them guessed who they would meet that morning.

TWT Ride 2017 Day 5 at Lapalala Wilderness School

The beautiful snake, a rescued Burmese python, is an impressive teaching aid at the Lapalala Wilderness School. We saw how local teenagers reacted to reptiles during an outdoor seminar on nature conservation.

TWT Ride Day 5 at Lapalala Wilderness School

The students, who came from Metshesethela Secondary School in Vaalwater, were being taught about the importance of protecting South Africa’s wildlife and the environment.

TWT Visit to Lapalala Wilderness School 2017

Their 3-day residential course at Lapalala Wilderness School was sponsored by The Waterberg Trust. The riders explained how funds were being raised in the UK and Australia.

Explaining how TWT Riders raised funds to send pupils to Lapalala Wilderness School

Two of the pupils delivered a carefully written speech of thanks, saying how the course keyed in with their school curriculum. None of them had been to the eco-school before.

Pupils from Meetshesethla School thanking TWT for sponsorshsip

TWT riders were able to met the staff, some of whom had originally come to Lapalala as school children themselves. The eight educators do a wonderful job of inspiring others and run a Youth Development Programme, which entails taking promising individuals from disadvantaged communities and attempting to bring hope and direction to their lives.

TWT riders meeting the staff at LWS 2017

Learning about the history of the school, now it its 31st year, was fascinating. Many confirm that attending a course here was a life-changing experience.

TWT Riders 2017 learning about Lapalala Wilderness School

They aim:

To promote an appreciation and respect for the extrordinary diversity of Africa’s natural world and to develop and encourage a passion and commitment to conserve nature and ecological processes, where possible identifying and nurturing the conservation champions of the future. 

The Lapalala Wilderness School does this through a schools’ programme and by reaching out into the surrounding area through broader youth and community projects. The staff are supported by a Board of Directors, several of whom have an active role in activities.

The plight of both black and white rhino is brought to the attention of students and those visiting the Interpretative Centre at the school where the skulls of poached rhino are on display.

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As the learners put on life-jackets and went to experience paddling a small boat deep in the African bush,

TWT riders were given a tour of the school and its vegetable garden by the director, Mashudu Makhoka, who briefed us on their exciting plans for the future.

TWT Riders looking around LWS 2017

It was evident that by teaching children to recyle, conserve water and plant food, the Wilderness School’s community projects are a huge force for the good in South Africa today.

This March, The Waterberg Trust is sponsoring approximately 60 children and their teachers from Mokolo Primary School in Vaalwater to attend a 3-day course at the school. This video shows how they will be impacted:

We enjoyed meeting both the pupils, educators and the python, and would like to extend our thanks to Lapalala Wilderness for accommodating both riders and horses.

~ TWT Trustee Sophie Neville with students from Metshesethela Secondarary School ~

Lapalala Wilderness School

 

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

LWS Anne with python

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

wrapping up the saddles

along with a bit of precipitation

Loving the rain

Although some admitted to getting a little tired

Susie Airy

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

Jane Newton

We had time to relax

Susie Greenwood

and read a bit

Reading Horse & Hound in South Africa

as did the animals.

Cotswold Life's South African readership

Everyone enjoyed being in the African bush,

Dom with giraffe by Anne Lester

no one was eaten by a crocodile

Susie swimming

and good fun was had by all.

Ant after doing the ant dance

We made it safely through to live another day.

Sophie Neville

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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Coverage of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Rides 2016

TWT Ride 2016 newspaper article

TWT’s sponsored ride across the Waterberg on horseback, as well as TWT’s cycle ride through Norfolk on 12th March 2016, received favourable coverage from Marlene Vermaak in South African newspapers including Die Pos (above) with a colour photo in The Post:

TWT Ride 2016 newspaper article in The Post

Marilyn Cook wrote about TWT in The Source – the magazine of St John’s Church at 24 Rivers in the Waterberg – and we have a photo in the letters page of Cotswold Life, July issue:

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Barry Burles continued his TWT cycle ride initiative by holding another last Saturday! The cyclists came from the Cambridge Rugby Union Football Club and completed the same 82 mile route to Langham in north Norfolk. This time there was a head wind…
Barry was interviewed on Radio Cambridge, and did brilliantly, talking about the work of the Waterberg Trust. Jarrod Taylor, who took part, originates from South Africa and once played rugby for Border. Having just retired from the Cambridge rugby team, he was also interviewed on Radio Cambridge and gave his just giving link inspiring listeners to give.
To listen to the interview, broadcast at 15.45 on Radio Cambridge on 15th June, please click here
New bike and old bike
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A transcript of the article in The Post by Marlene Vermaak:

12 RIDERS – 180KM – 6 DAYS: THE WATERBERG TRUST CHALLENGE RIDE 2016

After the success of 2015’s inaugural event, The Waterberg Trust (TWT) organised the second annual Waterberg Challenge Ride, which took place in March 2016, hosted this year by Ant’s Nest and guided by Ant Baber.

This exciting event, held to raise funds for various Waterberg projects, involved 12 experienced riders crossing 180km of Waterberg wilderness in 6 days. This year’s route went through Ant’s Nest, Kwalata, Lapalala and Jembisa game reserves. Funds raised will be going to Save The Waterberg Rhino and other community projects including the sponsorship of 125 local underprivileged children to attend The Lapalala Wilderness School.

The Waterberg Trust has already been able to help Save The Waterberg Rhino by funding the purchase of vital equipment, such as radios and a metal detector for the police officer dedicated to working with rhino poaching incidents in the Waterberg. Being a UK registered charity, TWT are able to access grants that are not available directly to South African registered Non Profit Organisations, and is able to make increase some UK donations by adding 25% Gift Aid. A number of the UK Trustees have long-standing links with the Waterberg and are committed to helping the people who work so hard running grassroots projects.
The first event hosted by Horizon in 2015 went from Horizon, Koshari, Ant’s Nest, and Lindani, to Jembisa, thanks to support from Shane and Laura Dowinton, David Baber, Dean van Heerden, Ant and Tess Baber, Sam and Peggy van Coller and Charles Whitbread. This sponsored ride raised fund for HIV/Aids programme support, involving  nurse training and two year support for an after school club at the Waterberg Welfare Society. This includes the rental of a house in Vaalwater for the homework facility. TWT was also able to support the Northern Education Trust, sponsoring a Waterberg student through accounting studies at Pretoria University. They are also raising money for Lethabo Kids Club in Leseding who run a much needed Back to School programme, providing school uniforms and more for primary school pupils. Riders were able to visit this project and the Lapalala Wilderness School while they were in the Waterberg.

 

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