Tag Archives: South Africa

Visiting the Waterberg Living Museum on 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.

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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.’

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Arriving in South Africa for The 4th Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018

Something very special happened the night riders gathered at Ant’s Nest in South Africa on the eve of The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride this January.

We were having a drink out on Ant’s Nest game reserve when some local residents approached us:

Rhino at Ant's Nest

Five white rhino emerged from the bush at the same time as six members of the team arrived on horseback, led by Ant Baber.

It was as if the rhinos were coming to thank us for raising funds to assure their security.

Ant Baber approached the animals to assure them all was well.

And as the sun went down we were able to observe the rhinos in their natural habitat.

They are docile animals, sadly under threat as markets in the Far East place a high value their horn – even though it is no more than keratin, akin to human fingernails.

Please read more about Save The Waterberg Rhino, here

To find out about other projects supported by The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride, please click here

~Riders taking part in The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 proves a great success

 

Sophie Neville on the waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018

‘It was demanding but the greatest fun.’

Fifteen riders crossed seven different game reserves in six days, covering 187kms while learning about Save The Waterberg Rhino and visiting community projects that benefit young people in the Limpopo Province of South Africa.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018 ~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Horse Ride 2018~

The ride began at Ant’s Nest game reserve where team members from the United Kingdom and Bermuda learnt about Save The Waterberg Rhino.

~Rhino walking up to riders gathered on the plains at Ant’s Nest~

The challenge ride was led by Ant Baber whose family have lived in the Waterberg for five generations. He has spent the last twenty-one years re-introducing wildlife to the area.

~Ant Baber~

Today, white rhino, giraffe, buffalo, warthog, baboon, zebra, wildebeest, eland, kudu, nyala, impala, blesbok, a variety of other antelope can be spotted from horseback.

 ~TWT riders observing zebra on Ant’s Hill game reserve~

January proved a good time of year for there were many newborn animals.

We were able to observe breeding groups of rare species such as sable and roan antelope.

Sable antelope at Ant's Nest

The riders helped to capture a sick eland so it could receive treatment from a game vet.

The game vet ministering to an injured eland on Ant's Nest~A sick eland cow receiving veterinary treatment~

We learnt more about the area while traversing six other game reserves.

The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride crossing Lindani game reserve in 2018~TWT Riders crossing Lindani game reserve~

~Observing young giraffe from horseback on Lindani~

We saw golden wildebeest, red heartebeest, vervet monkeys, ostrich, black-backed jackal, bushbuck, oryx and waterbuck as well as species we’d seen previously.

Descending the Waterberg escapement on the Water~Descending an escarpment on foot~

~Reaching the Palala River on Jembisa game reserve~

Over the week riders were able to visit a number of charitable projects supported by The Waterberg Trust, which gave us a chance to meet local people.

~Discussing conservation issues with Clive Walker at the Living Museum~

~The Waterberg Trust Riders at Lapalala Wilderness School~

~The ‘Back to School’ project at Lethabo Kids Club in the township of Leseding~

~Nurse Grace telling TWT riders about her work in local schools~

‘What a trip. It was totally WOW!! I can’t quite believe I have done it …’The Waterberg

~The Waterberg Trust Challenge Ride 2018~

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-

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-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-

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

The rains had been late and we saw newborn animals

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-Hilly Collinson from Yorkshire, grabbing photos of giraffe-

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

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

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-Janie Beardsall from Yorkshire in her bush hat-

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-Elisa Spearmann from Wiltshire on her mare-

– A roan antelope photographed by Mairi Hunt-

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-Camilla Newton from Rutland-

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

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

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-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 –

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-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 –

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